A reflection on Palm Sunday from Matthew 21:8-16.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus at the Temple
12 Jesus entered the temple courts…
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” [Matt. 21: 8-16 NIV]
This scripture in Matthew 21 depicts the event Christians refer to as Palm Sunday. This event records Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem the week before He would be captured, put on trial and eventually crucified. Many things happened during this week which the Christian brand has utilized to build around sacraments and other doctrinal points. This day is esteemed as a sort of mini Easter. I want to set aside doctrines and sacraments to talk about the participants Matthew is describing here. I want to especially focus on the last comment Jesus makes; (paraphrasing) …from the lips of children God has called forth praise.
Jesus is indicating that God: the Holy Ghost is the one eliciting this praise. And it is presenting itself as a higher authority than the Mosaic Law (which is the authority the Pharisees represent). If you read further along in Matthew about what happens next we see this same crowd of enthusiasts flocking around Jesus who are in a mood to receive more of His kingdom message. He begins telling them the Parable of the Wedding Banquet and in this parable it’s them, the people He is talking to (and others just like them), who are the protagonists or heroes of the story. They are the everyday, ordinary people who can be found anywhere; on the street corners as the parable indicates.
The next time we encounter a crowd very similar to this crowd in the scriptures is in the Book of Acts (Acts 2: 44-47). The account is recorded after Jesus had been killed and taken off the earth; however, the same divine authority was still in residence. I’m not referring to Peter and the other apostles, I’m referring to God: the Holy Ghost. The reason we know the Holy Ghost was present in both events is as it’s described in the behavior of the crowds. It’s evidenced in the equilateral movement of divinity and the spontaneous response of the people. What is not specifically described in either of these events is the interactive love that undoubtedly reigned over each of them. The one in the temple might be accredited to the presence of Jesus; but Jesus seems to steer the reader away from this idea with the phrase: from the lips of children God has called forth praise. In both events we see God: the Holy Ghost infusing love into a large crowd of people; was He (She) attempting to influence the outcome of something significant as it was about to happen?!