Holy Week marks Jesus’ final week on earth, and in Luke’s account we need to pay attention to what he is saying and doing. We need to understand from the Parade of Palms to the cross how Jesus is taking center stage, which means we are not going to control him; as Luke says earlier in his Gospel, when Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem, when he decides at that moment he is going to go to the cross (9:51), we can’t stop him. We can only choose to follow him, or not.
Secondly, Jesus’ entrance into the Holy City brings to the surface the expectations of the crowds, the disciples, and the religious and political rulers of the day. And though we call this the Parade of Palms, you will notice that in Luke’s version people are not waving Palm Branches; instead, they are placing their coats and cloaks on the ground as Jesus and the donkey pass over them (19:35). In Luke’s Gospel, we might want to call this a parade of coats and cloaks, as the people welcome Jesus as their king (19:38). As he receives the royal coat treatment!
But it is enough to unnerve his critics. After all, the people are shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (19:38). That’s right, they are calling Jesus a king! There is a new ruler in town. And his opponents can see how they might be losing control. Hence their outburst to Jesus: “Tell your disciples to keep quiet! Stop all this praise. Tone down the joy” (19:39).
The Celebration of the Palms is one of the few times during the year when God expects us to shout and sing and praise the Lord! No need to lower our voices today! No, no! Let everyone say, Amen! Let that “inner Pentecostal” come out!
Hence Jesus’ remarks to Pharisees, to the preachers of his day: “Listen, I am not going to tell these folks to be quiet. It is not going to happen. No, if these disciples are silent, the very stones would shout out” (19:40). In other words, Jesus says, “Stop thinking that you can control what is going on here because just when you think you can, God will prompt the very creation to sing.”
How is that for a comeback? It is as if Jesus is saying, who do we think we are to keep the truth undercover? We can’t.
What are you holding back from Jesus' parade? Is there anything you would like to share but are afraid of doing so? What praises do we want to share? How might this serve as the beginning of a new journey toward God?
Pastor Andy Kinsey