Ride on in Majesty
Ride on, ride on in majesty, ….. It must have been a great day. Crowds of excited pilgrims streaming into Jerusalem ahead of the great festival. With the end of their journey in sight, sore feet forgotten, the atmosphere in Jerusalem was electric. For Jesus’ disciples, this must have been doubly exciting as the crowds treat their teacher to a triumphal entry; waving branches, shouting out encouragement. The event has gone down in history as Palm Sunday; from the palm branches waved as Jesus passed by. Little did anyone know how quickly the scene would change.
On Palm Sunday we recognise that we stand on the verge of something special. The Passover festival, to which Jesus and his disciples, together with thousands of other pilgrims, were heading, marked the moment when God had led his people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. That Promised Land, where they still lived, was now occupied by Romans. In Jesus’ day they felt like slaves in their own land. Passover was, for them, not just a religious celebration, it was highly significant politically. The implications were not lost on Rome – nor, I suspect, on Jesus’ disciples.
Whatever Jesus’ followers were expecting, what happened next changed the course of history; though I suspect also, few realised it at the time. By Friday, Jesus was dead and the hopes of his followers died with him. Yet it doesn’t stop here. With the advantage of hindsight, we know that Easter, the Day of Resurrection, is but a week away. Jesus’ crucifixion, is a painful, necessary step on the road. We know, also, that the path to the freedom God offers lies ultimately in peaceful service, not violent revolution.
How often, particularly in the past couple of years or so, have we looked forward in eager anticipation, only to have our hopes dashed. From Covid to Climate, and beyond, so many pitfalls.
See I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19) That first Palm Sunday, God was indeed about to do something new and exciting. First, though, the disciples had to learn to let go of their expectations, before they could begin to see what God had in store. As we come to celebrate Palm Sunday, as we too look out on a world full of uncertainties, what expectations might we have to let go of, before we can see what new thing God has in store?
Rev’d Philip Payne Palm Sunday 2022
The Notice Sheet for 10th April can be found here