What are you doing for
26, Mark 14, Luke 22
“Hey sanna, ho
sanna, sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna sanna sanna , ho sanna, hey
sanna, Hey, hey JC, JC won’t you smile at me.
Jesus Christ, if you’re divine, turn my water into wine.
Prove to me that you’re no fool.
Walk across my swimming pool.
Hey sanna, ho sanna, sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna.”
With these words,
Weber and Rice’s rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar” have
captured the glimmer of that first Palm Sunday parade; that
nationalistic religious fervored carnival of Hey sanna, ho sanna,
sanna, sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna; Jesus Christ if you’re divine,
turn my water into wine.
What a day.
You couldn’t believe it. It was like a carnival. It was
like a circus. It was like a parade.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews were jammed into the holiest of
holy cities. Hundreds
of thousands of pilgrims were jammed into those narrow little
streets. It was like a carnival. Shoulder to shoulder. Arm to arm.
Body to body. You couldn’t walk. You couldn’t squeeze through
this mob of people crammed into those little narrow streets of
It was Passover
time and the city was jammed. It
was like a mob at Mardi Gras. Just jammed. And you were there. The
hockers were hocking their wares, “Lambs for sale. Lambs for
sale.” “Good deal
on matzo. Matzo here in
our tent.” “Come and have your Passover dinner with us.
What a mad house.
Dirty streets and dusty mules. Dusty streets and dirty mules. Camels
baying off in the distance. Pilgrims chanting their prayers. Roman
chariots and Roman charioteers riding back and forth.
Just like it the movies with John Wayne and Charlton Heston
and Cecil B. DeMille, and they were all there. What a mad house.
What a mess. But it was a great week for business and a great week
for making money. And the kids? They loved all the commotion.
The reputation of
Jesus had already spread. You
see, the day before, Jesus Christ had produced the mightiest miracle
he had ever done. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He had actually raised
Lazarus from the dead yesterday, and then coming into town, Jesus
healed two more men, blind men, and they were now able to see. The
masses of people had heard about these miracles, and everyone wanted
to see if he could pull off another trick like that. The crowd
wanted to see more miracles. They
wanted to see another deaf person hear. They wanted to see a blind
man be given sight. They wanted to see the skin of a leper made
pure. Just like on television.
They wanted to see the healer in action, this mighty miracle
worker. And if they saw
a miracle, let me tell you, if they saw a man actually raised from
the dead, they would believe. If
they actually saw a blind man be given sight, they would then be
true believers. If the Houdini of the Holy Land could pull another
trick out of his bag, they would believe.
“Hey, hey, JC, JC
won’t you smile at me. Jesus
Christ if you’re divine, turn my water into wine.
Prove to me that you’re not fool, walk across my swimming
pool.” There are people who are
like that, you know. They
will only believe if they see a sign.
That is the way it
was on that first Palm Sunday parade. There was that group of people
there to see the Houdini of the Holy Land in action. It was the Big
Top, the Big Tent, a carnival, the center ring in action. That was
one group who was present on that first Palm Sunday.
These people said, “Lord, if you give me a miracle, then I
will believe.” … Have you ever been like that?
Then there was a
second group of people that day. This second group didn’t want a
religious carnival; they weren’t looking for the Houdini of the
Holy Land; they weren’t looking for one more magic trick. These
people were much more serious. They were looking for a
political revolution. It was like a mass political rally, with all
its intense fanaticism. Imagine yourself in Iran or Iraq. And your
great political leader and savior has been exiled in France, and you
read in all the newspapers and see it on all the television news
that your Khomeni is flying back home to Iran after many years of
exile. What a mob at
the airport. What a mob in the streets. What a mob everywhere
because the great political leader was returning to save his nation.
That is the way it was on that first Palm Sunday. There was a mass
political revolution, and to understand Palm Sunday, one needs to
understand this rising, nationalistic fervor.
The revolution had
started years before. We
will briefly examine four dates in this rising political
nationalism. It was 63 B.C., and Pompeii was the Roman general who
conquered Israel, and now the Israelites found themselves again in
slavery after three hundred years of freedom. The Israelites were
trying to get rid of the Romans.
The Jews hated the Romans for many reasons.
The Romans made the Jews eat pork, which a Jew would never
do. The Romans were forcing them to worship Caesar, which a Jew
would never do. The Romans forbade circumcising their children,
which the Jews would never do. The Romans were seducing them out of
their Judaism. The Jews hated the Romans and there was a revolution
Sometime about the
year 6-4 B.C., the great builder, King Herod, who had rebuilt their
Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, 150 feet long and 150 feet high, a
magnificent temple, turned from being Herod the Builder to Herod the
Killer and he ordered all boys two and under to be killed.
The killer king didn’t want any baby messiah being born who
would grow up to be a political king.
About twelve years
later, Zaduk the Pharisee led a revolution in and around Jerusalem
and two thousand of his followers were killed. The Romans strung
them up; they hung them up on crosses.
Can you imagine Highway 99, from Des Moines to Seattle,
twenty miles of roadway, on every block there were ten men hanging
dead on crosses, not for one mile but for twenty miles. Two thousand
dead men hanging on crosses for the entire world to see? Would that
send a message the Jewish population what the Romans do with
And then, on this
Passover day, when Jesus came riding into town, there had already
been thirty-two political riots …
in five years. Yes, as a young man, Jesus with his fellow
countrymen had experienced thirty-two riots, six major riots per
year for five years. Can you imagine thirty-two riots in Seattle, in
Washington D.C., in a mere five years?
And according to the Bible story for today, they were on the
edge of another riot. That is, the town was ready to blow.
In other words, it
was political pandemonium. It was chaos. The town was ready to blow
up with any spark. We are told that three to five million people
were jammed into that town, and it was ready to ignite.
“Hey sanna, ho
sanna, sanna sanna hey sanna, ho sanna, Jesus Christ, if you’re
divine, throw out those bloody Roman swine.”
And so there were
two groups on that first Palm Sunday. There were the religious
fanatics who said, “Jesus, give me a miracle and then I will
believe.” And then there were the political fanatics who said,
“Restore our freedom and get rid of the Romans.” Both groups
chanted, “Hosanna to the Son of David.
Hosanna to the Son of David. The king of Israel has come.”
And that is the way it was. It was a carnival. It was a circus. It
was revolution on the move.
What was Jesus
doing? What was Jesus doing with this mass of humanity around him?
What was Jesus doing in the midst of this psychedelic kaleidoscope
of madness? Was he standing up on the back seat of his chariot and
waving to the crowd like some politician? Was he riding on that
chariot with arms upward and outward and his fingers spiking a
“V” sign for victory? Was he waving at all those people in their
second story windows as they were throwing confetti on him? Was he
pumping them up with political oratory to get the political
revolution moving? No. Here in this cacophony of craziness, Jesus
didn’t say a word. He
rode in silence. Silence.
Jesus rode on a
jackass into town. The crowds wanted him to ride on a tall white
horse, dignified in the sunlight or on a chariot of war, glistening
in its golden trim. But Jesus rode on an animal of peace, not of
war. The crowd wanted
him to grasp a sword in his hand and wave that sword to show what he
and his followers would do to the Romans, but he had an olive branch
of peace in his fingers. The crowds wanted him to give enflamed and
impassioned oratory to inspire them into revolution; they wanted the
shouts of soldiers but they heard only the songs of children.
And Jesus? Jesus didn’t say a word. Not a word as he rode
into that city.
The crowd was
chanting at the top of their lungs, “Hosanna to the Son of David,
Hosanna to the King.” And slowly, and gradually, the Hosannas
became quieter and quieter and quieter. Then nothing.
By afternoon, another chant had begun, almost in a whisper,
“crucify him,” softly, softly, louder, louder and finally
bursting with power, “Crucify him. Crucify him. Crucify him.
Crucify that man. He’s a bloody imposter. A fake. He’s no king,
that’s for sure.”
They had wanted a
warrior on a warhorse and instead they got a carpenter on a jackass,
and so they killed him and put a poster above his head, “King of
the Jews.” Big joke.
That’s the way it
was on that first Palm Sunday, on that first Passion Sunday.
It is interesting
to me that there were two times in the Gospel of John where the
crowds tried to force Jesus to be king.
Only twice. Once, in chapter six, where Jesus had fed the
five thousand people. When Jesus caused that much food to be freely
available, those people wanted to make him king.
Free food? Much
food? Yes, let’s make that guy king. The
crowd tried to force Jesus to become king after feeding the five
thousand, but the Bible says he would not be their king and he
withdrew into the country. The
second time that the crowd tried to force Jesus to be king was on
the Palm Sunday we are talking about. Jesus had worked big miracles,
raising Lazarus from the dead and then healing the two blind men. If
Jesus had that kind of power to heal, the crowd wanted to make him
king. So once again, the crowds tried to force him to be their kind
of king, and he refused. Jesus disappointed them twice.
crowds brought Jesus before Pilate and Pilate questioned Jesus.
“You are Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews, are you not?”
Jesus replied, “You have said so.”
Pilate persisted: “Are you king of the Jews?
Out with it, are you or aren’t you king of the Jews?”
Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom
is not like yours, Pilate. My kingdom is not of this world.”
Then Pilate asked the crucial question: “Well, then, Jesus,
What kind of a king are you? What
kind of a king are you, Jesus of Nazareth?”
That is our
question today, “What kind of king was this Jesus of Nazareth?”
Tell me, did Jesus
live in a palace? Did he live in a luxurious palace?
Did he have a beautiful golden throne on which he sat, like
all the other kings? Was his crown made out of diamonds inlaid into
gold, like all the other kings of this earth? Did he wear sumptuous
robes and have a beautiful queen seated at his left hand? Was he
surrounded by valets to do his every beckoning and call? Did he have
swords and spears and chariots and armies, like the other kings of
this world? No, not at all, for his kingship was not of this world.
That is what he told us.
So I ask you,
“What kind of king was this Jesus of Nazareth?”
It is hard to recognize this king because he doesn’t act
like a king. He doesn’t look like a king. He doesn’t behave like
Could you imagine a king doing the following:
Could you imagine a king getting down on his knees and
washing the feet of his disciples? Compassionately washing their
feet? Shining their shoes like poor shoeshine boy? Can you imagine a
king doing such a thing?
Or, what kind of
king is this who dresses up like a carpenter, and not only dresses
up like a carpenter, but also actually is a carpenter and builds
benches and chairs all day long. Have you ever heard of a king doing
such plain and ordinary common labor, all day long? Have you ever
heard of such a king as this?
Or, what kind of
king is it, who goes out and tries to get his subjects to love him?
What kind of king does that? He doesn’t act like a king.
What kind of king is it that is like a rejected father, goes
out and waits at the fence for his son to come back to him? Or what
kind of king is this who like a man, rejected by his wife, goes and
tries to get her to come back?
What kind of king is that? What kind of king is it that
searches for his lost citizens like a shepherd searches for his lost
sheep? Or what kind of king allows you to address him by his first
name, which allows you to address him so personally?
The kings I read about like to be called by their glorious
sounding titles. And then, to top it off, this king does the
ultimate. What kind of king is this, when I have committed a crime,
and I am about to be executed for my crime, this king comes forward
and volunteers to be executed on my behalf? Have you ever
heard of such a king? To die in the place of me? It is absurd.
It is ridiculous. It is absolutely crazy. It does not make
any sense. Jesus himself said, “My kingdom is not like the kings
of this world. Pilate,
you will never get it.”
What kind of king
is this who wants to rule our hearts?
To rule within and not from without? Who doesn’t want outer
compliance from his followers but inner love? Who doesn’t want
duty, but wants hearts doing the will of God.
What kind of king
wants to rule our life styles, our habits, our homes, our marriages,
our jobs, our friendships, and our time?
The king wants to rule everything about us. Not by
using religious tricks. Not by using political power. This
king wants to rule everything inside of us and around us.
What a strange kind of king, indeed.
What a carnival.
What a circus. What a mad house. What a mess. Revolutionary madness
gripped the city of Jerusalem. There was that group of people who
wanted Jesus to be the Houdini of the Holy Land. Jesus. “Hey, give
me a sign and I’ll believe. Work a little magic and I am yours.”
… But Jesus didn’t do it. …
And there was that second group, that second mob that wanted Jesus
to work a political revolution against Roman imperialism. …
Jesus didn’t do it. … Both groups were disillusioned.
There were very
few who recognized his kingship, who recognized that here was a
king who rules from his cross, whose cross is his throne, who
rules through suffering, who rules through suffering love and
humility. Very few people recognized his kingship and very few
people became citizens of his kingdom.
“Hey sanna, ho
sanna. Sanna. Sanna. Sannah. Hey sanna, ho sanna, Jesus Christ if
you’re divine, turn my water into wine. Prove to me that you’re
not fool, walk across my swimming pool. Jesus Christ, if you’re
divine, throw out the bloody Roman swine. Hey sanna ho sanna, sanna
sanna, hey sanna, ho sanna.”