My grandmother was a huge fan of Elvis Presley. She collected all of his albums and listened to his music often. She even had a giant print of the King of Rock and Roll from his Aloha from Hawaii televised concert hanging above her console stereo.
My uncle (her son) recounted to me a time he took her to see Elvis live in concert. He bought the tickets and accompanied her to the concert hall. Elvis took the stage. What happened for the next couple of hours, according to my uncle, was his ecstatic mother (my grandmother) screaming, crying, and hitting him on his leg repeating loudly, “It’s him! It’s him!”
Grandma was pretty excited!
Two thousand years ago, a bunch of other people got pretty excited about another King who was on the road to Jerusalem to remember the Passover meal with twelve close friends and disciples.
Imagine that you were a Hebrew who was also in Jerusalem during that time. Maybe you lived in the area, or perhaps you were one of the many who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
You have heard of the man whose words and actions resulted in miraculous healings. You have heard stories from your friends and family of this man who threw demons into a heard of pigs (Matt. 8:31-32), or who healed a blind man with some dirt and some spit (John 9:1-7).
Having spent your life listening to the reading of the Torah and the words of the prophets of old, you know about the Messiah, and you agree with those around you that this man must indeed be the King you have been waiting for – for many generations. The signs all point to him!
This King would free your people from oppression.
This King would overthrow the tyrranical Roman empire.
This King would bring victory to the Jews and honor and glory to Jehovah.
This King must be a mighty man – both a nurturing healer and a fighting warrior.
This King is on his way to Jerusalem … in fact, he’s approaching and will be here soon!
You make haste to meet him on the road, even to just catch a glimpse of him. You bring your coat to throw before him as he passes by, the way your ancestors honored kings for many generations (2 Kings 9:13). You find a spot on the side of the road. The crowd is large and you can barely breathe, let alone see or hear.
Suddenly you hear the excited rippling roar of voices. “He’s coming! I can see him!”
The crowd began to shout:
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord —
the King of Israel!”
You anxiously peer around heads and shoulders of those who block your view, wishing you were a couple of inches taller. You follow the lead of others you see placing their coats in the road. Others wave palm branches, the age-old symbol of victory, or place them on the road with the coats.
Suddenly, you see him! He is followed by a crowd, but there he is, just as the prophet foretold, entering the city on the back of a donkey! Ecstatically, you embrace the person beside you, screaming and crying, “It’s him! It’s him!”
As he passes you, his gaze lands briefly upon your excited face, but what is that? Do you detect a hint of sadness in his eyes? Were those tears he was holding back?
That fleeting thought passed by as quickly as it came, and with great excitement, you joined the great throng of people to greet the Messiah.
This Sunday, Palm Sunday, remembers the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Wayne Jackson writes in Christian Courier, “Unique to Luke’s record is the fact that as Jesus came near to Jerusalem, he looked across the Kedron valley and “wept over” the city (Lk. 19:41). This is one of the three instances mentioned in the NT where Christ shed tears (see also Jn. 11:35; Heb. 5:7). The Man of Sorrows grieved over the fact that so many of his people had closed their eyes to the truth of his identity and mission (cf. Jn. 1:11). The very peace they sought would be taken from them and, in its place, would come their enemies, the Roman armies – actually God’s armies (cf. Mt. 22:7). The devastation would be terrible indeed, but deserved entirely because they “knew not” the time of their “visitation” (Lk. 19:44).”
During this coming week, the last week of Lent, if you have “given something up for Lent,” focus on how your own sacrifice has changed you over the past few weeks. And then, take time to focus on how Christ’s willing sacrifice has changed you forever.