“And when He entered Jerusalem, all the city was in turmoil, asking ‘Who is this man?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.’” [Mt. 21:10]
So what is Palm Sunday without palms or a procession? I wondered about that question a year ago when only a handful of us could gather in our church for this important feast day. There are ten times the number in church today than there was a year ago because of COVID restrictions. So I want to share with you the answer I came up with a year ago to the question of “What is Palm Sunday without palms or a procession.”
The answer is “It’s Palm Sunday,” It’s still Palm Sunday and I mean that in the deepest way—a reflection way. Palm Sunday is not about the palms or a procession. It never was. It has always been about Jesus entering Jerusalem and today, we are all Jerusalem.
Here is why I say that. “And when He entered Jerusalem, all the city was in turmoil, asking ‘Who is this man?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee’”. Turmoil. It’s in the news every day. Turmoil has been a part of our lives for over a year now. It’s been in the air. It’s been in our hearts and it has played like background music in our homes. For one year, our world has been in turmoil.
From one end of the world to the other, schools were shut down; work places were either closed or greatly altered; and the way we shopped, dressed and lived our lives saw unprecedented change. So pretty much the whole world has been in the shadow of turmoil for the past twelve months. For a better part of a year now, we have all felt turmoil in our lives. So as I said a moment ago, “Today, we are all Jerusalem.” “And when He entered Jerusalem, all the city was in turmoil.”
Today, we all are Jerusalem, but our Jerusalem is not a city. Our Jerusalem might be an illness. Our Jerusalem might be a problem or a challenge or a change in our lives. Our Jerusalem is not a city surrounded by stonewalls, but it may be entering the walls of a new job or entering a university for the first time. Our Jerusalem may not be on the other side of the world, but our Jerusalem may be an empty home, a phone that never rings or feeling a little bit more pushed aside every day by a world we once thrived in and thought we understood.
Our Jerusalem is also filled with turmoil, but we should always remember that Jerusalem is the place where everything changed because Christ entered Jerusalem and He brought peace to Jerusalem and He brought light to Jerusalem.
• He is the One Who was sent because “God so loved the world.”
• He is the One Who says, “Come to Me, all of you who are tired and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”
• He is the One Who says, “Do not be afraid.”
• He is the One Who says, “I am the Light of the World.”
• He is the One Who “makes all things new.”
• He is the One Who promised to never leave us “even to the end of the age.”
It’s Jesus Christ Who will walk with us and comfort us and show us the way to turn turmoil into triumph. Today, according to tradition, we will all leave here with palm branches to take home and place in a location for the whole family to see. That is our tradition. For just as Christ entered Jerusalem so long ago, He wants to enter our hearts and homes today and the palm branch is a visual we use to remind ourselves of that fact. The important thing this Palm Sunday is that Christ entered Jerusalem many years ago but He re-enters it every day through our lives.
Let me end with this final thought. One of the most powerful statements Jesus ever made reads as follows: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock and if you open the door, I will enter and dwell within your heart.” The One Who “knocked” on the doors of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday 2,000 years ago is today knocking at the door of each of our hearts, and by letting Him in, He will turn our turmoil into triumph just as He turned death into life in that ancient City of Jerusalem.
So on this Palm Sunday, may we all realize that we are the Jerusalem He enters today. “Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and I knock and if you open the door, I will enter and dwell within you.”
How will you answer His knock? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says the Lord.