Who Is This?

PalmAnyone in Jerusalem would have wondered what was going on. Crowds were gathering along the main thoroughfare into the city. It wasn’t your typical day either. Pilgrims had made their way into the city to celebrate Passover, one of the biggest holy days that all devout Jews celebrated. And to celebrate it in the holiest of cities, where King David and his son King Solomon had restored the nation of Israel to power and prominence, was a once-in-a-lifetime dream to experience. Extended families excitedly gathered, anticipating the week of preparation before Passover. The atmosphere was already electric.

As people bustled through Jerusalem, shopping and meeting up, there was an undertow of something else. People started asking, “What’s going on? Who’s coming?” They stopped to see what all the talk and excitement were about.

People in front were laying their cloaks and palm fronds on the dusty roadway. Is it a new king? Who else could possibly be coming to warrant so much regal fanfare. You knew he was coming near because shouts and hosannas swelled as people glimpsed him coming.

And then he is in your line of vision. And you wonder, “Who is this?” He’s on a donkey! He’s in a plain tunic. He rides alone! No stallion. No weaponry. No brigade. No finery. A plain, ordinary, bearded guy. Who is this?

That’s what this day, known now as Palm Sunday, is all about: Who is this?

How is this guy being hailed as messiah by peasants and lepers and prostitutes and day laborers? Who is this guy that looks like a backwater hick and yet rides into the city like a king?

As the week goes on – when his devoted followers turn on him, his closest friends disperse, and the crowds call for his death – they’ll still be asking, “Who is this?” Who is this that so threatens the religious and political power-elite establishments, they drag, beaten and bruised through the streets, forcing him to carry his own cross to the execution grounds? Who is this abandoned and forsaken person? Who is this?

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
        and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” ~ Matthew 26:1-11


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