Read Isaiah 50:4-7, Psalm 22, Philippians 2:6-11 and Luke 22:14-23:56)_
“They all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’ a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!.” (Luke 23:18-21)
Today, we begin the Holy Week which commemorates the last week of Jesus’ earthly life on earth. On this day, we recall how Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly as a King truly deserves.
To any onlooker, it would seem as though Jesus had now come to gain so much popularity and acceptance that people could give him a “red-carpet” reception spreading palm branches and even their clothes on the ground for him. However, by the time we come to the passion narrative, we see a whole different picture.
This crowd that followed Jesus chanting: “Hosanna to the Son of David” at the top of their voices truly represents the state of Christianity today.
In our country today, you find churches springing up in every nook and cranny on a daily basis, men and women of God competing with loudspeakers and miracle crusades, churches filled to the brim with people ready to do just about anything in the name of God, (even if it means having the pastor step on their heads). But the question remains: “How popular is Jesus today?”
Amongst the crowd, you find four categories of people: The Praise Singers, the Spectators, the Emotional Followers, and the Genuine Disciples. By going through these four groups, we would know where we belong and see why Jesus may not be as popular as we assume He is today.
The Praise Singers
If you ever attend any occasion, you always find people who come to sing for you hoping you would spray them some cash afterward.
They may not have been invited or have any relations with the celebrant, yet, they sing out their hearts; they are just there for business.
Am I a praise singer? Do I join in the procession because of what I hope to get at the end of the day? A lot of us fall into this category.
We sing praises with our lips while our actions betray and crucify Jesus. We are in the church simply to ask for favours from God only to go home to vote for Barabbas by the kind of life we live.
While the crowd ushered Jesus into Jerusalem, there were many persons who stood behind their windows, or in front of their houses just to watch and entertain themselves.
Am I just a spectator-Christian attracted by the signs and wonders on display in our churches today? Am I committed to Jesus? Am I just a Sunday-Sunday bench warmer who moves from church to church like a palm tree swinging according to the direction of the winds?
There are some of Christians who are just spectators, they listen to the singing but would never open their mouths to sing.
To this category of Christians, Jesus is something rather than someone. They are just there to watch, they lack that personal encounter with Christ.
The Emotional Followers
Amongst the crowd were people who ran to cut palm branches for no reason other than the fact that they saw others do so.
This group represents a bulk of us Christians who are just followers, Christians who do things not out of conviction but because everyone else is doing it.
Such persons are more concerned about what they wear to church and who takes note of them than the state of their hearts before God.
Amongst the crowd were some who shouted the loudest Hosannas, not for Jesus but for people around to hear. Am I just a follower?
The True Disciple
The last group happens to the fewest of all. These were the disciples of Jesus who did not need to shout “Hosanna” that day but whose very lives would continue to shout “Hosanna” even after the resurrection of Jesus.
They would shout their own Hosanna in Antioch when their manner of life would so much resemble Christ to the extent that people would call them “Christians.”
It is sad to say that while there are so many praise singers, spectators and followers in our churches today, true disciples are lacking.
One of the qualities of true disciples is humility. St. Paul teaches us in our second reading today that Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but accepted the condition of a slave.
God has now raised him high and given him a name above all names that every knee must bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.
As true disciples of Jesus, we must ensure that our lives always announce Jesus as Lord in whatever we do.
Each time we commit sin, we actually betray Christ like Judas and deny Him like Peter. By helping others, we become like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry His cross at a time when the crowd simply jeered and rained insults on Jesus.
Again as true disciples of Jesus, we should be able to watch and pray with Jesus. and not sleep as the twelve did.
Lastly, Luke’s version of the Passion which we read today contains that part where Jesus said to one of the criminals “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” This is a strong message for us that it is never too late for God. It is never too late to become a true disciple of Jesus.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may my very life become the palm branch which I throw on the floor for you to pass. Come through me, Jesus to save the world. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Palm Sunday Year C. Bible Study: Isaiah 50:4-7, Psalm 22, Philippians 2:6-11 and Luke 22:14-23:56).