How’d We Get from a Parade on Palm Sunday to a Cross on Friday?

Jerusalem was full of people celebrating Passover – the time Jews remember God delivering or saving them from bondage in Egypt – through a series of 10 plagues. Passover gets its name from the last plague, when the destroyer literally “passed over” every house where they had painted the blood of a sacrificed lamb on the door post. This showed their faith in God’s promise that the sacrificed blood of an unblemished lamb would save them from death. Jesus came to Jerusalem at Passover.

It’s no coincidence that Jesus rides into town at this special time. The Jews are hungry to be saved again, desperate for a deliverer once more. You see, they’re oppressed under Roman rule. They’ve heard about Jesus’ miracles and power, so they think maybe, just maybe He might be their Savior – the One who would restore their power as a people by giving them political freedom. This is their expectation. This is why they welcome Him cheering, waving palm branches, and crying, “Hosanna,” which means “Savior.”

So how did we go from a parade on Sunday to a cross on Friday? It’s all about expectations, expectations of what God is supposed to do for people. The people wanted personal and political freedom, life without Roman rules or accountability; they wanted to do whatever they wanted. That was their idea of freedom, but Jesus came to give them a much better freedom – spiritual freedom. You see, the people welcoming Jesus that Sunday were still suffering from a plague — the plague of sin. Much like the coronavirus, sin is invisible to the naked eye and spreads insidiously – gradually, slowly, and with harmful effects. Sin first sprouted in the Garden of Eden in Adam and Eve. It has been spreading its poisonous shoots ever since – entangling mankind and preventing us from drawing near to the Holy God who loves us. Jesus came to free us from the strangling vine of sin, to heal humanity from the most lethal plague in the universe.

After the Sunday parade, Jesus’ words and actions in Jerusalem quickly made it clear that He was not going to overthrow Rome that week. The Jews’ expectations were dashed. Hopes of living without Rome’s rules, with no accountability, were halted abruptly. At the thought of not getting what they expected, what they wanted, their “Hosannas” turned to hate and their welcome turned to wild rage. Failed expectations took them from calling Jesus the Christ to calling for Him to be crucified. That’s how we go from a parade on Sunday to a cross on Friday.

It’s a good thing we modern people would never act like that, right? Careful. Aren’t a lot of us unwilling to let Jesus into our lives – or fully into our lives — because He doesn’t meet our expectations, because He doesn’t give us what we want? How many of us want the same things those ancient Jews did – freedom from rules, freedom to do whatever we want, freedom from accountability – especially God’s perfect moral accountability? Here’s the problem with that. If we crave freedom from God’s perfect moral accountability, then we are truly enslaved to sin, still tangled in the poison vine, still suffering from the lethal plague – for which the only cure is Jesus.

John the Baptist prophetically called Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Just like in Egypt, the way to escape destruction is – by faith – by painting the blood of the sacrificed, unblemished Lamb on the door post of our hearts. We don’t have to crucify Jesus all over again in our hearts with rejection; we can rewrite the story. On this Holy Easter Weekend, will you welcome Jesus fully into the city of your heart? Will you let Him have full run of every street and alley there? Will you choose to cry, not “Crucify Him,” but “Christ, Savior, please come in?”

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