Yesterday (Sunday 5th April) was Palm Sunday. We celebrated the story of Jesus riding a donkey into and through the streets of Jerusalem. The people cut down tree branches and took off their cloaks and laid them on the ground for Jesus, riding on donkey, to walk over. This was a sign of royalty, they were welcoming a king. Some waved palm branches. They shouted Hosanna! with great joy. Hosanna means means “Save us”. There were lots of people in the city that day as they had come to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Passover was their annual celebration of the great escape, the great exodus from Egypt all those years before, led by Moses. Do you remember…we talked about this in our previous stories? It was when the Israelites were spared from the last plague, the one that killed all the Egyptian’s first born sons. The Israelites painted the blood of a lamb over the gateposts of their houses so as death passed over, they would be spared. Then Moses led them out of Egypt via the Red Sea and into the wilderness where they travelled until they reached their Promised Land. This was one of their key national stories which is why they celebrated Passover. The Jewish people still do.
So many Israelites were in Jerusalem. Now they were in their own country but their country was being ruled over by the the Romans…so it was like they were slaves, but in their own land.
They thought Jesus was going to save them …by fighting off the Romans. So that first Palm Sunday they greeted Jesus as the king who was to save them….”Hosanna” “save us” they shouted. Jesus was a king…but not the kind of King they wanted.
Jesus cried for the people that day. He knew they didn’t understand even though he had been trying to teach them about what being part of his Kingdom, the Kingdom of God was all about. It wasn’t about war, hatred, revenge, and violence but about loving other people and fighting, not to win for yourself, but for justice for everyone. It is about showing kindness and generosity and forgiveness. Everybody has enough, everyone is loved, everyone is welcome in his kingdom. Maybe these things are harder than just going and dropping bombs or having a good punch up! What do you think?
Now I wonder - do you think it would be great to live in the Kingdom of God? Do you think it might be difficult to live the Kingdom of God way? Do you think that while we are living through this strange time we can still live the Kingdom of God way?
Into the city I follow the children’s band
Waving a branch of a palm tree high in my hand,
One of his heralds, yes I would sing!
Loudest “hosannas!” Jesus is king!