Sunday, March 24, 2013
We are all very used to crowds, they seem to be everywhere: Sports events, concerts, school, shopping etc We are always witnessing crowds on the news too. Sometimes its poverty stricken people waiting for aid. Sometimes it's chanting crowds screaming at dictatorships, demanding change.
Sometimes it's crowds of people lining the streets at Wooten Bassett as our dead hero soldiers are repatriated and then in contrast, at others, its celebratory scenes. Cheering people celebrating an event (I imagine this will be the situation later this month as people celebrate the Royal Wedding).
There were crowds in Jerusalem on the day we now celebrate as Palm Sunday. Crowds who were no doubt going about their business, carrying on with their daily lives, the shoppping, the carrying and general hubub of life.
There was no announcement that the day would be any different from normal, no email, letter, poster, news flash. The people were just carring on as normal.
Outside the city Jesus and his friends were approaching. as they came near to Bethphage, Jesus told a couple of them to go ahead into the village. "just as you enter, you will find a colt tied there, no one has ever riden it, untie it and bring it to me"
Now I imagine that in a time where punishment could be very hard, they were a little reluctant to approach a strangers place and untie his prized posession and take it, but Jesus said "if anyone asks you why you are doing this?, tell them that the Lord needs it and will send it back shortly"
They went and fetched the young donkey, they were stopped, but spoke the words they had been told and were allowed to take it. Then they put their cloaks onto it and Jesus sat on it.
Back in the city, the noise and bustle continued. As the people went about their daily chores, they would have been chatting, or totally lost in their own little world, but somehow, through to their consciousness, would have come a sound, the sound of joyful chanting and shouting and they'd have stood up and looked to where the noise was coming from.
As a school child I remember sitting on the school firld eatting my lunch when something suddenly drew my attention, was it the flow of people changing, was it the change in noise, I don't know, but a fight was happening and it was as though everyone had to be there, I think this would have been similar, people all going in one direction, surging forward to see the "God Man", this Galilean, this man who spoke such amazing words, who healed the sick and raised the dead and promissed wonderful things. There would have been conversations, stranger talking to stranger, "who is it?", "what's happening?" and then as they found out, they'd have wanted to be part of the celebration too. Palm fronds were hasily cut down and laid on the road, (a jewish sign of victory) people took their coats off as a mark of honor and laid them to be trampled underfoot. Loud chants started up too. "Hosanna", "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"
But, there were those to whom the celebrations brought chills of fear, this was dangerous, this sounded like rebellion. They told Jesus to tell the crowds to "shut up" but his response to them was "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out"