top of page
St. John.jpg

Wave It

John 12:12-16

The Rev. Jon Roberts

28 March


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.


Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, 1846

Wave with a palm, let the Hosannas sing,
Who’s riding that colt? None other than the king of kings. [1]

What if Jesus entered Jerusalem, at the festival of the Passover, like someone enters the Oscars?
“Known for many of his great accolades such as his miracle at Cana where he changed water into wine; his stellar performance on the shores of the Galilee where he fed over five thousand people single handedly; the eyewitness accounts of several healings of those who were blind, had leprosy and even his latest, where he raised a man from the dead; the popular nominee for the most distinguished man of the year in 33, certainly goes to, none other than this Jesus of Nazareth.
Here he comes now. This is someone who was totally unexpected. His father is a carpenter and there are reports that his mother and father were not married before he was conceived. Rumor has it that the Holy Spirit was responsible for his birth, but we will have to leave that where it is for now. Since he was a little boy he taught rabbis in the synagogue the meaning of the stories in the Old Testament. A true savant. He touched the lives of ordinary people; thousands of them. Listen to the crowd. They love this man. Now we can begin to see the crowd raising palms in the air. That is the signal that he is approaching.

Many are saying he is the One. He is the Messiah. When Herod and Pilate hear about this they won’t be too happy. I have my palm ready as this is perhaps the most exciting moment for Israel since King David came into Jerusalem long ago. I wonder what he is going to ride when he enters? Maybe an Arabian horse, or one of those from Persia? That would really drive his message home and insure he wins the award this year, don’t you think? Certainly what he wears is important as well. I’m thinking he is going to be covered in gold, sparkling in the light. What a marvelous entrance that would be. I can tell he is getting closer.

Oh. Oh my, that is most interesting. I’m not sure what he was thinking here, but this was certainly a bad choice. Just look at him. He’s riding a donkey, with a colt beside him. That is a tragic mistake. There is nothing special about that. A donkey? That is an ordinary animal. The colt is not even grown. Where is the kingliness in that? I’m not sure about what he is doing, but just listen. The crowd is silent. Are they in shock? Nobody is saying anything but those in front and those behind. What are they saying? ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ What type of entry for a king is this? What should we be doing? How do we respond to this? I guess we do what others seem to be doing. Take out your palm, do your part, and just, Wave it.”

There was great expectation felt by the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem. He was the popular choice for the winner of the award for “Most likely to succeed” as the next ruler of the world. They wanted a royal king, and look at what they got. How does that relate to us? We ask Jesus to enter into our lives. We invite him to become our King of kings and Lord of lords. We expect him to make all our problems go away. What do we expect of him?

There are several take away from this story, beginning with the animal of choice. Typically, a king would enter on a horse. It is a symbol of power, might, sovereignty and also one that dictates war. The one who enters in such a way, proceeded by his army, is showing power that can be used to put down any opposition. It is technique of intimidation to some degree. But Jesus did not choose an animal of war. Instead he chose a mutt, a hybrid between a mule and a horse, leashed alongside an adolescent form, too young to be rode; a colt. What is going on with this choice? Most people think a donkey is stubborn, when in fact, it is cautious. The King of kings and Lord of lords came into Jerusalem with great caution and patience, knowing what was ahead of him, and who was watching. He came in with a deafening quietness, and through this we see the essence of his true power.

Maybe you have had an experience with Jesus where he came into your life with a horse, but for most, he comes in with a gentle and ordinary approach. It may be hard to notice at first. He comes into our lives when we need him most and exercises great patience and mercy. When you have someone come by your bedside do you prefer someone who makes demands of what you must do in order to get well? You want someone who says, “I am here for you,” “It’s going to be alright,” “I’m going to lead you and guide you through this.” This is the example of the Messiah that comes not only into Jerusalem but into each of our lives. The prophecy of old is being revealed, lived out and told in this present day.
The illustration is equally important. If you live in the Middle East, you will quickly determine that the difference between life and death is about whether you can find shade from the sun and heat. The palms were cut and sacrificed for such an occasion so these emblems could be waved, giving tribute to the one who would provide them shade from their oppressors. It was kind of like, ‘rolling out the red carpet.’ The one who strolls down it, would be the one who offers refuge.

Finally, the exordium, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” has great meaning. [2] In Hebrew it is two words in one, delivered as a plea to “Please Come,” come into my life and save me. Many suspect it is like a cheer, such as “Whoopee!” “Here he is,” like some giant ‘Amen.’ It is actually a word used by one who has been patient, waiting for the Lord; one who calls out to Jesus, “Please come into my life.” “Save my life.”

What are we supposed to wave with our palms? Life is hard. You wave that to the Lord. Your health has taken a turn for the worst. You wave that to the Lord. People are saying bad things about you. What are you supposed to do? You wave that to the Lord. What do you do when you feel like you are going to lose your job? You wave it. There is no security in your life. What do you do? You wave it. That is what we are supposed to do. “Hosanna!” Are you crying out today, in need of shade? Do you need someone to treat you with gentleness and patience? Are you asking for Jesus to come into your life? He wants to. The problem is that we have these great big expectations. We just need the Lord to come in, the way he knows how to come in. Palm Sunday is a day we received Christ into our lives and we are called to wave it.

Wave it with a palm. Let the Hosannas ring. Who, who could that be? On a colt, it is the King of kings and the Lord of me. Wave it.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] John 12:12-16

Join the Discussion
The category is members only, sign up to join in
bottom of page