Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord! – Part 1
“… the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37 NIV)
Our Palm Sunday tradition was born on a day that stood out in the Bible for the tremendously different emotional reactions that came about when Jesus, now at the end of his earthly ministry, was coming to Jerusalem for the last time. Within a week, he would be crucified there.
As Jesus came riding on a donkey, the people began laying down their outer garments as if they had been a royal carpet, and to wave palm branches and yell, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna meant “God saves us; God is awesome!” It was an exclamation of praise. The common people were praising Jesus, not only for the miracles they had witnessed, but also for Jesus’ kindness and love and mercy. He had touched lepers and restored men and women who had fallen by the wayside. And so the people continued to shout and praise and say their hosannas.
Oh, but the religious leaders did not like it at all. They were bothered by the commotion—by all that praise, all those hallelujahs, all those hosannas. And they angrily said to Jesus, “Why don’t you stop them? Who are you anyway? Only God deserves that kind of praise. Besides, we don’t like all of that emotion. You have this mob assembled, but we’re the experts in religion, and we can tell you that this isn’t the way to be religious and proper!” So you have the crowd happy and celebrating, while the religious leaders are critical and angry, spitting out their words: “Shh! Don’t you know what religion is about? Don’t you know how to be respectful?”
That’s one of the biggest con games played on all of us even today. Religion has lost its emotional and celebratory aspect as people have bought into the narrative that when we come to church, we have to talk in hushed tones in order to be reverent. Yes, God says in Scripture, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), but the Bible also tells us to “shout to the Lord with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). And the Psalmist David cried out, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).
If the people in Jesus’ day sang and praised him before he died on the cross, how fervently should we be singing and worshiping him after he died for our sins? They were praising him for some miracles. How ought we to be praising him today when we know that he not only died but three days later rose from the dead. We know that the tomb is empty, and that Jesus is alive!
When the people were praising God, Jesus didn’t get embarrassed and say, “You shouldn’t be doing that.” No, he received it as legitimate praise; and he answered the Pharisees, saying, “If they don’t praise me, the stones will cry out!”
This joy and happiness and noise is so far from our public worship today, and yet in Scripture we read that in heaven the sound of praise will be like “the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder” (Revelation 19:6). Why then are we so quiet here on earth when he’s done so much for us?
They were praising Jesus so loudly when he came riding on a donkey on his way to Jerusalem, yet not one of their lives had been changed, not one had been born again, because he had not yet died on the cross and shed his blood.
As Christians, let’s take some time to praise him out loud today, saying, “Thank you, Lord, that our sins are gone. We’re free from all condemnation! There’s no record of anything we’ve ever done wrong. It’s all been washed away by the blood of Jesus! Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
To be continued…