Sunday, April 05, 2009

Palm Sunday

The Immortal Story is an 18-page booklet of newspaperman Felix McKnight's dramatic chronicle of Holy Week. It begins on what is now known as Palm Sunday.

An excerpt appears below.
The Immortal Story

On this day, [over 1900] years ago, the 33-year-old son of an obscure carpenter rode triumphantly astride a restless colt through Jerusalem's gates acclaimed as the prophesied Messiah.

The faithful, thousands of them, tossed their mantles and palm branches on the street's rough stones before the sad-eyed Jesus of Nazareth. And they cried out: "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

The day was magnificent in its beauty. It was April and spring. The Sabbath sun's brilliance sparkled across vineyards and orchards. Velvety blue skies canopied the countryside.

Only a few hours before Jesus had gathered around Him on the nearby Mount of Olives at Bethphage village, His Twelve Disciples. He told them of His fate that He was to be outraged, struck and spit upon and finally put to death.

It seemed incredible to His followers. But Jesus calmed them. Death was to be the promise of a second, and greater, life and His Passion was to insure eternal freedom of man.

So with a beckoning gesture He started His triumphal march upon Jerusalem--a condemned man who thrice had escaped death but who now chose to save mankind.

The crowd swelled as a mad river out of its banks as the procession neared Jerusalem. The faithful, caught in a great moment of hope, slashed palm branches and boughs of myrtle from the forests and waved them high. The din grew and some feared a riot at the gates. The Pharisees, gathered to prepare the Sacrifice of the Passover, hurried to the scene and drew cloaks about troubled faces as they heard the rolling shout: "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

The first Christian legion storming Jerusalem's gates irked the Pharisees and some cried out at this strange Jesus of Nazareth: "Master, rebuke Thy disciples?

But the answer withered them; rang like a challenge of war: "If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out!"

Stones? The stones of dusty streets which had twice been hurled at Him in murder attempts. The desert stones which He had refused to turn into loaves of bread upon the dare of His enemy.

The issue was made. On He rode, the trace of a smile on His gentle face as He raised His head slightly to acknowledge the drumming Hosannas.

A tear dropped on His cheek. He was crying softly to Himself; not in self-pity; not for the suffering He would endure; not for the shame He knew he faced; not for the death that awaited Him a few days hence.

No, He sorrowed not for Himself, but for the poor souls who were about to perjure and compromise themselves at the altar of disbelief. Knowing that the Scripture must be fulfilled, that the prophecy must come to pass, He knew they would do just that.

Meanwhile, the Pharisees called hurried councils among the Chief Priests and Scribes to discuss the threat this carpenter's son had brought to their midst. The throngs that tearfully shouted at His heels disturbed them. He was a menace to be destroyed. But Jesus, marching ironically in triumph to His doom, heard only the joyous shouts that pounded over Jerusalem even to the walls of the Temple on the hill; the Temple filled with sin. "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

Tomorrow He would lash from the Temple of God the moneychangers, the bankers, the venders who dared to invade the House of the Lord.

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