More than enthusiasm 

Published 8:41 am Friday, April 7, 2017

By Howard Coop

Did you know? A look at the calendar reveals that April 9, 2017 is Palm Sunday.

But there is more profound question. Did you ever think about the real meaning of Palm Sunday?

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About 9 o’clock on a beautiful Sunday morning on November 15, 1970, I stood for a few moments in front of the Church of the Pater Noster near the top of the Mount of Olives in the middle of the ancient road that winds its way upward from Jericho to Jerusalem. In the revere of that moment, I imagined what the first Palm Sunday was like. 

In that reverential moment, I imagined two men, disciples of Jesus, leading a donkey from Bethany toward Jerusalem. When they came to Jesus, he mounted the young donkey on which no one had ridden and, symbolizing a king coming in peace, proceeded over the hill toward the holy city. As he began that short trip, a large and enthusiastic crowd welcomed him. They cut branches from nearby palm trees and waved them, spread their coats on the road ahead of him, and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Then, as he entered Jerusalem, the crowds welcomed him enthusiastically shouting, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” What a way to begin a day!

In a moment, the crowds began to diminish, and in my mind, I saw a rocky a hill with three crosses. A small handful of loyal supporters watched a man die on a cruel cross at the hands of the authorities. And I wondered, “Where is the enthusiastic crowd that shouted so loudly?” Most of them were gone, but some were standing near the cross and shouting, “Crucify him!”

For centuries, Palm Sunday has been celebrated by waving palm branches as a symbol of triumph and victory. But Palm Sunday could be more. It could be a time to remember that true loyalty is more than enthusiasm. It is faithfulness regardless of circumstances.