If the Rocks Will Worship, So Shall We: The Triumphal Entry, Palm Sunday, and Worship
The long appointed time has come. The moment that was foretold thousands of years ago dawned on that day. As Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem on what is now remembered and celebrated as Palm Sunday, great praise burst from the people of the city. At no time was Christ ever worshiped, praised, or exalted like this during his ministry.
Despite his meek and humble entrance on a donkey covered with the cloaks of shepherds and vagabonds, such a praise was shouted on earth that had never been heard nor has it since.
As Jesus approached the city, a great crowd went before him declaring “Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord —the King of Israel!”
Only kings were praised in such ways.
The crowd of people laid their cloaks and the branches of palm trees upon the ground on which he walked. Still others waved the palms about, a sign of victory and conquest. This account of the triumphal entry, penned in Greek to a Greco-Roman world, mirrored the triumphs celebrated in Rome. When a victorious general won a great victory, triumphal entries were given as a way to display the spoils of war and the greatness of the commander over his enemies.
Within the great triumphs in Rome, a man stood behind the general holding a wreath above this head, a sort of crown given in the Greco-Roman world, which in many ways symbolized a temporary “divinity.” The parallel to the later concept of the halo is uncanny.
Here, too, Jesus is displayed in this way. He is declared, with no reserve, king in the line of David.
And though, for the Romans, some great men became divine in a limited sense, Jesus Christ was declared God on that road leading into Jerusalem. The long-awaited Messiah was suddenly revealed. All those times Jesus told his followers to hide the fact that he was the Messiah were over.
It was as if the very curtains of heaven were pulled back and Jesus was revealed as who he truly is, the Christ. The Messiah who has long been awaited for.
They declared, in jubilation,
“Blessed is the King
Who comes in the name of the Lord
Peace in Heaven
and glory in the highest heaven!” — Luke 19:38 (also see Matt 21, Mk 11, and John 12)
He was declared Hosanna—a word which means “save now” and is closely associated with God in heaven.
And while there were many in praise, the Pharisees “knew better.” Believing that he did not want to blaspheme and that the people were mistaken, these Pharisees called to Jesus. “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” These teachers knew what the people were declaring—that this was the Messiah. They did not believe it. Nor did they believe that Jesus thought he was.
This moment of praise, worship, and revelation had long been appointed. He would be praised. He would be declared Hosanna and the awaited Messiah.
In response to the Pharisees’ request, Jesus declared something unthinkable.
“I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”
No doubt they were taken aback. Here they thought Jesus, as a reasonable teacher, would not want himself declared such blasphemous things.
The earth on which they stood and the very rocks about them would praise him and declare him the Messiah if these people were silent. This was no hyperbolic statement.
Jesus must be declared the Christ. He had demonstrated his authority over both the physical and spiritual world countless times. All things will praise him.
The rocks praise him. And if necessary, they will sing and cry out Hosanna! And if all the earth must praise him, how much more does humanity fall sway to his glory?
Both heaven and earth, physical and spiritual, raw materials and fleshly bodies will fall in worship before him upon his awaited triumphal entry into our world. In glory and might, he will be revealed—not as the humble man who entered Jerusalem thousands of years ago, but as the physical form of our creator God to whom every knee will bow.
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth —
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” —Philippians 2:10-11
All will worship. No matter if we feel like it or not, all will fall and revere the God whose glory is revealed. And this worship is not for Christians alone, but for every person who lives and has ever lived. Whether Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or any other religious stripe or creed, all will worship and declare Hosanna on that day.
And this is what Palm Sunday is about. We worship and declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord of all. He was declared this on that day thousands of years ago, he will be declared this here and now among us through our worship, and he will be recognized and worshiped by all on that awaited day.
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