It was an extremely emotional experience, and one that I will remember
for a long time.
On a beautiful Sunday morning, I stood at the crest of the Mount of
Olives and looked westward across the Kidron Valley toward Jerusalem. The
brilliant sun glistened on the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock, a mosque
that occupies the spot in the Esplanade of the Temple where the Temple of
Solomon once stood. A road, centuries old, from Bethany and the Jordan valley
to Jerusalem crosses the Mount of Olives and winds its way over the western
slope of the mountain.
As I surveyed that scene, I remembered another Sunday morning and the
events surrounding it that occurred nearly two thousand years ago at, or near,
the place where I was standing. On that ancient Sunday morning, Jesus, riding a
borrowed donkey on which no one had ridden, met a large and enthusiastic crowd
of supporters who welcomed him warmly, gladly, and noisily to Jerusalem. They
waved palm branches taken from nearby palm trees, and many in the crowd “spread
their cloaks on the road” ahead of him. Most, if not all, of them shouted
enthusiastically, “Hosanna in the highest!” Then, when he entered Jerusalem,
“All the city was stirred.”
But that enthusiasm and emotional support faded quickly. Before the
week was gone, the loud shouts of “Hosanna” were gone, and they had been
replaced with, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” One of his trusted and closest
friends vehemently denied that he ever knew him, and another trusted friend
placed a kiss of betrayal upon his cheek.
Palm Sunday commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem,
and the day is celebrated joyfully annually. But the day is a poignant reminder
of a significant fact: Emotional enthusiasm, expressive as it may seem to be,
is totally inadequate. It doesn’t last when the going gets rough. When there
is nothing more, loyalties change quickly and abruptly for no good reason.