And the crowds went before Jesus, walked alongside Him, and processed behind—all singing, “Hosanna, praises to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Eternal One! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9, The Voice)
Do you remember this old song from The Lovin’ Spoonful?
Did you ever have to make up your mind;
Take the one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy and not often kind;
Did you ever have to make up your mind?
The crowds answered this question as they followed Jesus into the holy city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. They made up their minds about Jesus. They shouted in joy for the One who had changed their lives.
The Bible tells us there were two groups that day:
1-There were the people in the city (Matthew21:10, NIV). These were not in the crowd. They were the aristocrats, the rulers, and, (to use an American phrase about Washington DC), the people inside the Beltway. Six days later, this crowd would be shouting, “Crucify him… We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). On Palm Sunday, this weekend, there are many who put their ultimate faith in a political system or agenda, organizations or economic systems, or even in their own wits and worth.
2–There were also the crowds before… alongside… and behind Jesus (Matthew 21:11). This was a different group. They truly loved Jesus. They may not have understood his grand plan, but they knew he had changed their lives. Who was in this crowd?
- There were blind men who cried out “Son of David” and now their eyes could see.
- There was the woman at the well who rallied her village to follow Jesus.
- There were the sick who were healed, the dumb who could speak, and the deaf who could hear.
- There were the disciples, not only the 12 but also the 70 that Jesus had sent out.
- There were simple people from Galilee who were there when he fed the 5000.
- There were believing people who put into practice “love your enemy,” and their families and villages were changed.
- There was Mary and Martha who had opened their home and their hearts to Jesus.
- And, there was Lazarus, recently back from the dead. I think he led the donkey that carried our Lord.
The crowd was made up of the ragamuffins, the rift raft, the outcasts, and the children…all the children. In fact, to join this crowd Jesus said you must “become like little children” (Matthew 19:14).
On that great day, Palm Sunday, and in that great parade, a parade of ragamuffins, the words of Jesus came to life,
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last”
(Matthew 20:16; also 19:30)
In fact, Jesus had a word for those who stood on the city walls and looked down their noses at this crowd of people who knew Jesus has changed their lives, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 20:31).
Prayer for Palm Sunday: Lord, let us join the crowd of ragamuffins who know we cannot save ourselves, yet we have hope in you, because “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Copyright, 2014 © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.