I have always wondered why in the Anglican Palm Sunday service we begin with a procession around the church waving palm fronds but never actually read the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. the Palm Sunday gospel reading is always the Passion story from the time that Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross. Yesterday for the first our pastor John Leech helped me to understand this.
He talked about the juxtaposition of the 2 parades into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday which I blogged about last week in my post Are We Ready for Easter. He talked about the fact that both the entry of Jesus and that of Pilot were triumphal victory processes. Then he went on to say something that shook me to my roots. He said that Jesus entry into Jerusalem was actually only the first part of his procession. Jesus triumphal procession ended on Good Friday when he processed alone bearing his cross to Golgotha. While the Roman troops proudly bore their standards of golden eagles that proclaimed them as imperial troops, Jesus entered Jerusalem without a standard. His standard, the emblem that proclaimed his Messiahship was taken up on Good Friday. His standard was the Cross which would be lifted high with him on it – God’s royal standard which proclaims the victory of God through Christ – the redemption not just of those who looked upon Christ, or on those who believed because they encountered him after his resurrection, but the redemption of the entire world – past, present and future.
I was struck again by the wonder of God’s redemption as I reflected on this yesterday. From the world’s perspective, then and now this seems crazy. God allowing himself to be crucified and using it as a means redemption and transformation. Nothing speaks more strongly of God’s desire to transform all of us than the Cross. If God can take this symbol of the Roman Empire’s power to destroy and bring death and transform it into a symbol of life eternal then God can transform all of us into life filled and life giving sons and daughters.
Hallelujah “Death has been swallowed up in victory… Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1515: 54, 57)