Christianity teaches that God is love. Jesus showed this throughout his ministry culminating in the epitome of Godly love on the cross. Pontius Pilate is a caricature of all the false gods of the ancient and modern world. Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem mocks false Roman gods and human leadership and is a symbol of the humility of God’s government.
Let us compare human failure to govern itself with God’s wonderful government, the kingdom of heaven.
We will look at the Palm Sunday parade from Matthew 21:1-11.
Matthew 21:5 Jesus the Colt Whisperer
As Jesus calmed the storm, he calmed an unbroken colt. Our lives can be like a wild colt, untamed and unpredictable. But, if we let Jesus take the reigns, he’ll calm things down. In business, if a person does not want to help, bosses yell and blackmail workers with their pay check. We cannot steer a church like a business, because a church is made up of volunteers. Churches cannot be yelled at unpleasantly or blackmailed. People just leave. So, as in all volunteer work, we are grateful for those who help, but we do not browbeat those who do not. We look to Jesus the colt whisperer, to change hearts.
Matthew 21:5 Why a Colt
Contrast the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on a colt with dignitaries of this world. One monarch has over 100 coaches and carriages in the royal collection. One is covered with gold leaf, weighs four tons and requires eight horses to pull it. Contrast that with Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem on a colt with its mother trailing behind. The old world order is over. The new kingdom is already here preparing a people. Old world leadership was self-aggrandizing and arrogant. New world leadership is self-effacing and humble. The colt symbolizes a new day for humanity, a change in leadership style and those who change will join Jesus at his return.
Matthew 21:8 Mocking Pilate
Jesus’ parade into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt mocked Pontius Pilate’s proud tradition as a cavalry officer. History records Pilate as a Roman knight of the Pontii family from the central Italian region of Samnium. He was a cavalry commander appointed military ruler of Roman Judaea to police and collect taxes. Roman Judea included historic Judea, Samaria and Idumea. Pilate insulted the Jews by hanging worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and minting coins with both pagan and Jewish religious symbols. Jewish criticism of Pilate made him vulnerable to discipline from Rome. The Jews capitalized on this and Jesus’ insulting parade to obtain a death sentence on our Lord.
Palm Sunday in the Heart
There is historic evidence that Pilate was marching in parade into west Jerusalem with his army to police the large Passover crowds as Christ entered from the north. Jesus’ procession challenged and mocked the government of the day. Perhaps this is why Pilate acted as he did at Jesus’ trial. The world believes that the solution to human problems is a war horse instead of a peace donkey, using the word “donkey” as an insult instead. A world that more than ever disparages the Gospel and Christianity, is more than ever in need of it. Let us rejoice with a Palm Sunday parade in our hearts that heaven’s king is coming.
Matthew 21:8-9 Easter’s World Change
Easter heralds a change in world power. Jesus conquered the powers of this world: death, sin and evil. Jesus triumphed over death and we celebrate the beginning of a new creation. Jesus’ new world order has put an end to a world overrun by sin. Palm Sunday remembers a parade celebrating that victory. Forgiveness of sin is now a way of life. Jesus offers humanity the freedom of life without condemnation. This evil world only had the power to put Christ on the cross. He willingly allowed it because he has power beyond the grave. Our dead lives have been raised with Christ as a new creation where love prevails.
Matthew 21:8-9 Rage Against the Machine
A younger generation once expressed their struggle against evil as “rage against the machine.” Christianity is a protest movement against all the corruption and greed that has destroyed our world. Jesus’ triumphal entry was a real success, though not in the manner that the world views. The world does not see triumph in the cross, but self-sacrifice is the ultimate victory. It is the victory over self-centeredness. It is a victory over all the forces of evil in our world and worthy of a parade. Overcoming is our triumph and must also be like that of Jesus, refusing to win by worldly means with violence but by godly means with self-sacrifice.
Matthew 21:9 Save Please!
Jesus approached Jerusalem with bands of Passover pilgrims chanting "Hosanna" or “Yashá Na” in Hebrew (“save please” Psalm 118:25) to the King of Peace, who brings a peace that passes all understanding. Worldly business, worldly government, worldly entertainment are not there to give but to get. They are there to get our money, to get power over us and use us for selfish purposes. Palm Sunday is to remind us that there is need for a new king, a king who will bring reconciliation between people and between people and God. Let us welcome Jesus into our lives as the peacemaker between ourselves and between all of us and God.
Pontius Pilate is a caricature of human government and Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem serves as both a mockery of worldly governments and a symbol of the humility of God’s government. Our only hope is the establishment of God’s government in our hearts and Jesus’ return to save the whole world. Be a part of the future and allow God to rule in our hearts today. Hosanna! Lord, save us!