The day was Palm Sunday. The year was1865 and the American Civil War was coming to an end. The contrasts on that day were almost innumerable. One side marched off in humiliating defeat, while the other side celebrated victory. One general appeared in his well pressed military uniform, polished boots and sword, while the other wore a private’s mud-splattered uniform and with no sword at all. Before the week was through, the President of the United States would be assassinated on Good Friday. On the original Palm Sunday, the contrasts between Jesus’ mission, the people’s expectations, and the disciples’ confusion were just as stark as the contrast between the appearance of General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant.
Let’s listen into the original version from Dr. Luke’s account… “Then He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For day’s will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” I remember reading Darrell L. Bock, in his wonderful commentary on Luke where he describes the moment, “The nation is missing its moment. Peace with God is not possible for those who reject Jesus. Though this rejection produces Jesus’ tragic death, the national consequences of the people’s blindness are even more tragic and staggering…What follows is a “searing oracle of doom” …national sin will pay its price in judgment on covenant unfaithfulness… Israel’s house will be desolate. A first-century Auschwitz awaits it. Unlike the twentieth-century version, where repulsive ethnic hatred brought death, the Jewish nation of the first century brought catastrophe on itself…By rejecting him, Israel has chosen the way of judgment. It has missed the day and the moment.” For someone to have said to Peter or John this day that Jesus would be crucified by this time next week it would have been as unbelievable as someone saying to U.S. Grant that Lincoln will be dead by this time next week… he would have never believed it!
It’s one thing to walk where Jesus walked, from Jericho to Jerusalem, which you can still do that today. The important thing is to walk as Jesus walked! What’s that look like, you ask? First, Jesus always took the path of obedience to His Father. The Hebrew writer tells us “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” We have a path to take and we must not allow anything to hinder us from obedience. Let’s learn from Jesus and walk in obedience. Secondly, Walking as Jesus walked means that we always walk toward the challenge. I don’t know what your challenge is today but Jesus knew his. He had mentioned to his disciples three times what lay before him, but notice he relentlessly set his face to go to Jerusalem. Please know that what every is before you, there is one who faced unbearable challenges and he will walk with you as you face yours. Third, walking as Jesus walked means that we trust the God of the impossible! If you will remember Jesus told the Pharisee’s that the rocks would cry out if the people kept silent. Well, If Jesus can make the rocks speak, he can do the impossible in my life and yours! I want to walk as Jesus walked!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach