Daily Reading & Prayer

Matthew 21-22

June 23, 2024

Read: Matthew 21-22

Matthew 21:7-11 “They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’”


Palm Sunday kicks off Holy Week, and for centuries, the church has remembered this day by recalling how people spread palm branches and coats before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Imagine the scene: a crowd gathers, excitement buzzing in the air, as this miracle-working Jesus rides into the city. But he didn’t come in like a king on a majestic horse; instead, he rode a humble donkey, dressed in the simple, tattered garments of a fisherman. People laid down fresh palm branches and their own cloaks, creating a path of honor for Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. But not everyone was thrilled about this celebration.

The Pharisees saw a problem—not with the palm branches, but with what the people were shouting. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowd started praising God, shouting, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38). This wasn’t just a casual cheer; it was a declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, straight from Psalm 118, a psalm celebrating God’s triumph and the coming of salvation. The Pharisees knew exactly what this meant and told Jesus to silence the crowd. But Jesus responded that if the people were quiet, the stones themselves would cry out, confirming Jesus was the Messiah.

The crowd’s excitement was real, but their understanding of salvation was different from what Jesus came to bring. They expected Jesus to overthrow Roman rule and restore their nation with power, much like the great deliverance during the Exodus. By Friday, their expectations were crushed. Instead of a triumphant king, they saw Jesus, beaten and standing in Roman custody next to the criminal Barabbas. Their cheers of "Blessed is he!" quickly turned into "Crucify him!" as they rejected the salvation Jesus offered.

As we think about Palm Sunday, it’s easy to judge the crowd and the Pharisees, but we need to look at our own hearts too. The same voices that praised Jesus on Sunday called for his crucifixion by Friday. We, too, can be guilty of shallow praise and misunderstanding God’s plans. Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners like us.


Are you looking for a Messiah who conforms to your desires, or are you open to the transformative work Jesus wants to do in your life? Pray for a heart that seeks his will above your own.


Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus who entered Jerusalem, not with grandeur but with humility. I admit I can be like the Jewish people at that moment and seek your blessings instead of a relationship with you. Teach me not only to really worship you, but to be grateful for your sacrifice. Open my eyes to the needs of people around me and renew my faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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