On this Palm Sunday we turn our attention to the readings of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1ff; Matthew 21:1ff; Luke 19:28ff; John 12:12ff). This is such a story of juxtaposition. On the one hand we have the celebratory acts of what appears to be a spontaneous parade of welcome. People line the street and then cover i,t with their cloaks and palm branches in advance of Jesus’ passing by on the donkey’s colt. It’s the fulfillment of prophecy (Zech. 9:10-11) and in the tradition of a royal or military entrance into the city. Herod or Pilate, in the name of Caesar would have made these kinds of entrances into Jerusalem, though with more might and prestige.
But on the other hand, Jesus’ entrance into the Holy City of David on what we’ve come to call Palm Sunday, while triumphant, was also humble and surrounded with feelings and acts of sorrow and contemplation. Luke records the pause Jesus makes at a scenic overlook (19:41ff) to weep over the city and announce it’s one day overthrow. He then takes the reader with Jesus and the Disciples to the cleansing of the Temple (19:45ff). How can one day encapsulate such differing outcomes?
This is what makes Palm/Passion Sunday such a perfect entry point into Holy Week. It holds in tension these various and opposite emotions that will continue to play forth through this week. We are alerted from the beginning that things are moving toward a climax, which will involve sorrow, suffering, anguish and triumph and victory.
How often life holds these same tensions together. How often gain is companioned by loss, pain comes with joy, suffering precedes celebration. The oxymoron term “parade rest” feels a fit descriptor of this day and all it stands for. Which is it going to be, a parade, or rest? Turns out, both. Jesus will parade into the city in triumph, with the joy and praise of the people, the climax of his mission within sight. And Jesus will rest with the awful truth of what is about to transpire at Calvary. The Disciples will rest with the tension of a Messiah who is at once both the answer to all they’ve prayed for, and an unexpected if not down right confusing messenger of how those prayers will be answered.
The only fitting response to Palm Sunday is to throw ourselves into the mixed responses. We too should proclaim with praise and joy that the King is coming. We should worship this King Jesus and welcome Him into our day, this week, and our lives. But, knowing as we do what lies past the threshold of the week’s opening act, let us also be prepared to “rest” with our King. Let us be ready to visit the hard places of the week, to reflect, confess, weep and keep vigil in the throws of grief and loss. Let us give these days their due as we join the parade and rest along its route.
One response to “Parade Rest”
Thank you for this perspective on Palm Sun… helpful…… Donna