On Praising Jesus – The Palm Sunday Road

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Matthew 21:9 (NIV) The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

As Jesus entered Jerusalem, just as the prophet Zechariah foretold (Zech. 9:9), sitting on a donkey, coming in as a humble King rather than in power as a conquering King. The crowds laid down in front of him branches from trees (which we celebrate to this day with palms), as well as their cloaks, to celebrate Jesus as the King, shouting praises, “Hosanna (meaning “save”), to the Son of David” “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna in the highest.” They were celebrating Jesus as their King, and yet five days later on that fateful Friday, it was the crowds again (probably some of the very same people) shouting “crucify him, crucify him.”

When things seemed to be going the way people expected, because the Messiah had arrived in Jerusalem (Zion) to establish his everlasting kingdom as the prophets foretold, they were more than willing to be excited and shout their praises to Jesus. They believed Jesus would liberate them from their Roman oppressors and establish God’s eternal kingdom of Israel on earth. But when Jesus didn’t do what they expected, when he didn’t raise up a rebellion to overcome their Roman oppressors. When he didn’t fight, or rally the people in a military campaign , but instead was arrested and didn’t even speak up to defend himself, they turned on him. They shouted curses at him.

What is our praise of Jesus based on? Do we praise Jesus only when things are going well? When our prayers are answered the way we hoped they would be? When Jesus seems to be doing what we hope and expect him to do in our life. But then find ourselves unwilling to praise Jesus (or at least struggle with that) when things aren’t going well? When our prayers aren’t answered the way we thought, when Jesus and his power and authority seems to be absent from delivering us from our pain, sorrow, or challenges.

Jesus deserves our praise regardless of what is going on in our life, or how we feel at the moment. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is high and exalted, and lifted up. Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, and whatever is going on in our life (good, bad, or otherwise), we trust that he is doing the most good and loving things for us, and is worthy of our praise. We can choose to praise him regardless of how we feel in the moment, because our praise is based on who HE is, not our our experiences and how we feel.