by Elaine Pierce
If you were planning to host a world leader on a visit to your city, what would your priorities be? You'd want to make sure that this leader would receive the best possible reception, wouldn't you? You would make sure that the local media would publicize his/her arrival, and you would arrange for a fitting parade followed by an elegant reception at the finest downtown venue. You would make sure that the local dignitaries were in the front row, and you would find out everything you could about the leader's likes/dislikes so that the food, the lodging, and the surroundings were perfect in every way.
You probably wouldn't arrange for this leader to arrive on a donkey, would you? And you wouldn't encourage children to be front and center, singing his/her praises. No, you wouldn't. But of course, Jesus isn't an earthly leader. His agenda is not to conquer the Romans and put the Jews back in power. His purpose, to bring salvation to both the Jews and the Gentiles, is much greater than any earthly leader would ever dream up.
As he entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, there was an adoring, worshipful crowd that welcomed him with shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Jesus healed the blind and the lame who came to him at the temple, which, of course, infuriated the chief priests and the teachers of the law, especially since he also drove the money changers out of the temple.
The religious leaders chastise him for allowing children to join in singing his praises. He reminds them that in the holy scriptures, Psalm 8:2, a psalm of David, children testify to God's greatness:
"From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise."
We know the rest of the story, and we know that those in power weren't looking for the truth. They had made up their minds, and Jesus had to go. They thought that death would silence him, but we know what happened. As we raise our palm branches and enter holy week, let us commit anew to take up our cross and follow him. Take a few minutes and meditate on this hymn. We often sing it on Palm Sunday, and it will fill your heart and spirit as you worship him.
Lord, you met, fought and beat the King of Death. You paid the price for my sin, and I come to you with gratitude and awe. Thank you for the precious gift of life. One day, there will be no more tears, no more sorrow. Thank you Lord, Amen.