Read Matthew 21.1-11

                When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”  This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

                 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you,

                                humble, and mounted on a donkey,

                                and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

                 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

                 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”  The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

From Rev. Darwin Collins,

Vice President, Christian Church Foundation

                As I am writing this devotion the world is in awe of the after-effects of the peaceful demonstrations in Egypt. I too watch in amazement at the unrestricted joy of the Egyptian people as they taste freedom. Their hope for the future of their nation and themselves seems without limit. Still, as the future unfolds there is the uncertainty of what will replace the old regime’s dictatorial control. Will their hopes be achieved? Will this new freedom bring a better life for the people of Egypt?

                Our familiar Palm Sunday text resonates the same unrestricted joy and excitement. The people have gathered in the streets to welcome a new leader. The Gospel writer certainly means for us to assume that they were anticipating a great leader who would welcome in a period of new freedoms and a scattering of the Roman rulers and their compatriots, the Herods.

                Regardless of the number greeting Jesus, the message was clear…they were welcoming the one who they believed was the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies… “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were longing for a royal leader to break the foreign dominance and bring freedom to the people.

                Matthew then describes that the effect of Jesus’ arrival was like an earthquake, translated in the NRSV as ‘in turmoil’. Yet the liberation that Jesus offered was not what the crowds sought. Jesus offered a spiritual freedom that would liberate his followers from the powers of fear, isolation and alienation from God and one another.

                Evidently, the parade crowd wanted a different freedom. For when the shouting had stopped and the streets cleaned of palm branches, the throne where Jesus rested was a cross and the crowd returned to stand with the Herods.

Hosanna to our Christ who truly sets us free!

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