Palm Sunday: What If?


March 24, 2021 | View PDF

This coming Sunday is known as Palm Sunday to Christians around the world. It is a day when we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection. It is also referred to as his “triumphal entry” as he was officially presented to the nation of Israel as their Messiah. It was a day of public celebration and excitement about the future as Christ was welcomed by great crowds of people. We remember their shouts of: “Hosanna… Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord… Blessed is the King of Israel!”

However, as we know, those shouts of celebration would turn to cries for Jesus’ crucifixion in a matter of days. He would be rejected by the religious and political leaders of the nation, and condemned to death, while his followers were scattered. He would be secretly arrested, falsely accused, illegally tried, unjustly convicted, unlawfully sentenced, horribly abused and shamefully killed on a cross.

But what if Christ had not been rejected and crucified? What if the majority of people had received him as their king. What if the leaders of the nation would have accepted him for who he claimed to be? What if he could have continued his miracle ministry of preaching and teaching and healing people in Israel and beyond. What if he could have proclaimed the Kingdom of God throughout the whole world. That was the dream, that was the hope of so many of his followers on that exciting day.

What if Christ had not been crucified? That would have been a disaster for all of his followers, including us who believe in him. That’s because if Jesus had not died and been raised from the dead, we would still be living with the guilt of our sin. We would be separated from God. We could not have eternal life. That is why I needed Jesus to be arrested, accused, tried, convicted, sentenced, abused and killed on a cross.

As the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah wrote about Christ centuries earlier: “…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6) And the Apostle Paul reminds us in the New Testament that “…at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)

So as followers of Jesus Christ, we can celebrate his coming to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We can echo those words of praise which he truly deserved. We can acknowledge that he was and is God’s one and only Messiah to the world. But we can also thank God that Jesus died just days later. We can thank the Lord that Christ died for our sins. Most important, we can celebrate the fact that he was raised from the dead, he is alive, and lives in us who have received him as our Savior.

Doug Birky

Pastor, Sidney Evangelical Free Church


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