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Waving Palms at the Real Jesus

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:37–40

As you read the story of Jesus, you repeatedly see him do the miraculous — and then tell the object of the miracle to tell no one, to say nothing. The crowds grow, the adulation increases — Jesus goes off alone to a quiet place. As he walked those first century dusty paths, he was the antithesis of so many who seek to be validated by an adoring crowd. And then Palm Sunday. A grand parade. A triumphal entry. Cheering crowds. “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

It was not an accident that Jesus was the object of this amazing parade, he was not a reluctant grand marshall. It was a plan. It was deliberate. It was a statement. It was a subversive comedy regarding kingship, power, leadership. It was a satire about the powers that seem to be the powers and the real power that comes to reign in the humility and peace of Jesus. The people waved palms in praise of him, and yet Good Friday tells us that for so many of them it was infatuation, not worship.

The same is true now. There are hundreds of thousands of people who became fans of Jesus, who at one point waved a palm, but right now have no intention of actually treating Jesus as if he is competent and worthy to be followed. They are spiritual, kind of like Jesus, but not religious. They became infatuated with him, but they have no intention of actually following him. They love Jesus the way they love running or soccer or so many other things in their life.

Somehow so many of us miss who Jesus actually is. Somehow so many never have thought of Jesus as competent, as brilliant, as insightful, as someone who actually understands how humanity is supposed to work. He is all those things and more. And when we understand this, when we actually assign him this kind of worth, it has as a natural consequence that is not merely religious, but is also social. If we assign ultimate worth to Jesus it shapes all spheres of our lives. If we assign the worth that is due him, we actually meet the real Jesus — fully God, fully man, savior and servant, brilliant, competent, knowledgeable about the things of real life and the concerns of our heart, the real power that supplants all of the fake powers that seek prominence in our lives.

When we see the real Jesus, we cannot help but follow — where would we go, he has is eternal life? We cannot help but worship, if we keep silent, the rocks will cry out for him.

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