The Meaning of Palm Sunday

One of my major gripes is the way we, those of my generation, have politicized the message of Christ. In an effort to stem the tide of abortion and other evils, we sometimes confused a lost world, causing them to think that conforming society to a godly standard through political means is our objective. It’s not. If we were to conform our world to godliness apart from the regenerating presence of Christ, we’d have a world marked by a form of godliness without the power thereof.

This tendency to want to use the gospel to perform social miracles is used not just by misguided Christian leaders; you can be sure it was in place on the original Palm Sunday. Just as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright wants to use the gospel to throw off what he perceives as white bondage and as another might want to use it to end stem cell research, I don’t doubt that there were those present then who had great political hopes for this king riding on a donkey.

But the destination Jesus had in mind that Sunday was something those around him could not begin to grasp. Nobody knew his secret ambition.

Doesn’t that have a definitive 80’s feel to it?

It troubles me when Jesus’ objective is, in the mind of some, as clouded today as it was almost 2000 years ago.

There is no greater cause than the redemption of a human soul.

5 thoughts on “The Meaning of Palm Sunday

  1. It might have an 80s feel, but that song is still relevant today. Every word.

    It’s so hard for people to get, because it’s so easy.

  2. I dunno. Do you object just to the methods of the Religious Right (and Left), or to their goals as well? I think Jesus’ objective was a little bigger than redemption of souls- He came not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). He humbled Himself and died so that the rulers of this world would bow the knee to Him (Phil 2:9-10). He asked God for the nations so that He could rule and break them (Psalm 2:8-9). All authority has been given to Him, and the nations have to become His disciples (Matthew 28:19).

    So I think it’s honoring to Jesus to teach the rulers of this world to bow their knees. Jesus wants to save individual sinners, but He wants to save their nations as well. The problem is that He doesn’t want us to do it by politics, because that’s the way of the world. He wants us to rule the world through faithful worship, death and resurrection and preaching the Gospel to all creatures. So I object to the methods, but not the goals.

  3. mhoover said, “Jesus wants to save individual sinners, but He wants to save their nations as well.”

    Except that Jesus said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

    The “new song” is, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God FROM every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

    The Great Commission “to make disciples of all nations” is not a command for the nations to become Christ’s disciples; rather, for individuals from every tribe, language, people and nation to become disciples.

    To be sure, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). The gospel will be preached throughout the whole world, and individuals from every nation – but not whole nations – will be saved.

  4. Matt–
    What I was trying to say was that I feel like Jesus’ fundamental concern for fallen people is redemption and his commission to us is to make disciples by leading people to faith. An “unregenerated bowed knee” is something that makes me want to weep, as did Jesus before his entry to Jerusalem. Any king who prefers the the forced subjection of his subjects to voluntary subjection is missing something that even Napoleon understood.

    I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.Napoleon Bonaparte

    I think he is right. Much of the strength of the gospel message flows from the love of Christ demonstrated most clearly in his death for his loved ones. Any goal or means that misses this point falls short of what God has in mind.

    I love your quote of Matthew 24:14. It makes me want to support international workers who are focused on touching the lives of unreached peoples.

  5. Steve –

    Thanks: I definitely agree. That’s what I meant about methods. I know that Jesus doesn’t lord it over others like the Gentiles. In fact, I think that that sort of coercion is a primary characteristic of what the NT calls “the world”. I think Jesus is displeased with us because of our reliance on the politics of the world instead of on worship, self-sacrifice, rejoicing and trusting in the Gospel.

    And I also think that we don’t really have a clue right now how effective that sort of living is. Slow, like the yeast and the mustard seed, but it overcomes the world. Later!

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