Palm Sunday Reflection

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Psalm 118.19-24
“Open for me the gates of the righteous…”                                               

Matthew 21.1-11
Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king     

“A crowd attracts a crowd”*

Perhaps you’ve seen a street entertainer, a musician or clown being a magnet for drawing a crowd. For a brief time, some years ago, I was asked to work with a team of Christian musicians, singers, preachers and actors on a mission tour in Zimbabwe.  One of the team was a mime artist – his silent performances were based on Bible events and stories. They were captivating. When we arrived in a village or township he would lead us out into the streets. People of all ages, children and adults couldn’t resist following. The small procession would soon become a growing crowd.

Palm Sunday processions around Britain can be exuberant or solemn according to whether the “Liturgy of the Palms” or the “Liturgy of the Passion” is used. You may well have taken part in one or more of these. Jesus and his growing group of followers are beginning to gain a reputation. They are renewing the faith of ordinary people but some of the religious leaders, priests, scribes and Pharisees see them as a potential threat. They might unsettle the traditions that folk have lived by for years. It happened in the Church of England as services were updated from BCP (Book of Common Prayer 1662) to ASB (Alternative Service Book 1980) to CW (Common Worship 2000) – the one we use now!

The traditional route from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem is not a wide road but a narrow, steep and rocky path. It winds through huge burial grounds where the rich and famous have been laid to rest for centuries. Jesus arrival was a sign of hope and new life, not fading memories and the grief of death. Ahead, on the skyline was the destination, the magnificent temple.

It must have been quite a sight – Jesus, this carpenter-preacher riding a young donkey. People make way for him by laying a carpet of cloaks and palm branches while shouting the good news – “Hosanna to the son of David”.  Could he be the “next in line” to the greatest king they ever had a 1000 years earlier? Only time would tell. To be continued…

*Something we can’t appreciate at the present time!

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