On the last week of Jesus’ life, one day stands out from all the others as the happiest day of the week.
We’ve known about Palm Sunday for a long time. There were songs, palm fronds and Jesus on a donkey. Some were convinced Jesus had finally decided to take over Jerusalem and all Israel. He would uproot all the corrupted religious officials and smash the Roman occupiers.
Who would be able to stop a miracle-working rabbi like Jesus? Oppose him? He’ll just call on supernatural forces to fight for him. If you happened to die for him? He can raise you from the dead so you can fight another day!
And for a moment, it appeared Jesus might just go that route.
He turned over money tables, ran off animals and sent trapped birds flying. He was swinging a whip like a man on a mission.
But instead of starting the revolution then and there, Jesus reverted into his more familiar role of telling stories and healing people. Here’s how Matthew recorded the events of that day:
“The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.” (Matthew 21:14-15)
Blind people seeing. Lame people dancing. Wonderful things everywhere! Even the children were singing, praising God and calling Jesus the “Son of David.”
This was the stuff of messianic dreams.
It was also the recipe for trouble.
The people in charge of the Temple Mount area got a big cut of Temple Mount profits. Matthew calls them the “chief priests” and “teachers of the law.” With tens of thousands of people pouring into town, this was the biggest money-making week of the year for the chief priests and religious experts.
Therefore, when Jesus upset the banking system, the free flow of money was cut off at the source.
He was a threat to the authorities, this rabbi from the Galilee.
But he was also a miracle worker for the masses.
Joy on Palm Sunday? Can you imagine the joy of parents whose child had been miraculously healed? Can you envision crutches thrown into the air or bloody bandages thrown into the trash?
No wonder the children sang their praises to God. God was obviously in their midst!
On the other hand, if you’re a priest on the take, there’s no money to be made in beggars being healed. The children could sing all they wanted, but that didn’t calm the anger of the jilted money changers.
If the Temple Mount was going to be given over to healing, preaching and singing? If every day was going to be such a good day as this one?
There was only one real solution.
Jesus would need to die.