A Matter of Faith: Palm branches replaced with crowns

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    By Jan Davis
    Special to The PREVIEW

    Along the dusty road into Jerusalem, the rumor spread. Children sat on the shoulders of their fathers, while moms held the hands of older ones. The large throng of well-doers pushed and shoved their way to the front to gaze upon the slender man straddled on the back of a donkey. 

    Everyone wanted a glimpse of Jesus. Was this humble man the Promised Messiah? In hopeful anticipation, the multitude placed clothing and palm branches along the trail as Christ drew closer. The crowd hailed him as king, Son of David, and rightful heir to the throne of Israel, their long-awaited deliverer from Roman persecution.

    In one week, the same people turned into an angry mob and yelled, “Crucify Jesus. Give us Barabbas.” Judas, one of Jesus’ closest companions, betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter denied any relationship with him. Others cowered in the darkness as armed men dragged Jesus off to face authorities and trumped-up charges. His fearful supporters remained silent as his accusers nailed him to a cross. 

    Crouched together in a tight circle, the Pharisees whispered, “Justice for the Blasphemer who declared himself equal to God.” The co-conspirators ranted. “He thought himself higher than the law. Stripped of all dignity he hangs in shame on a cross like any ordinary criminal.” 

    On the other side of this public demonstration of ridicule and mockery, soldiers bartered over Jesus’ robe as they taunted and scoffed. “Son of God, free yourself from certain death. Or, better yet, call 10,000 angels to your rescue.” 

    “It is finished.” Jesus cried out and dropped his head, crucified by the people he came to save.

    Satan looked on as demons rejoiced. Their greatest threat dead. Jesus ended their celebration and met them head-on when he descended into the abyss to defeat death, hell and the grave. 

    Three days later, the brilliant light of an archangel blinded the guards and rolled the stone away. Jesus left his burial clothes folded on the cold, hard bench and walked out of the clutches of death. 

    Mary hurried to tell his followers the good news. “He is risen. Come look. The tomb stands empty.” 

    Peter and John rushed to the site. Still in a daze, the watchmen searched the garden for any clue of a corpse. The sunlight cast its light into the dismal hole and revealed nothing but a discarded shroud on the slab. A thorough search of the dark corners found no sign of a body. 

    The anxious disciples huddled around the table and reported personal encounters with the Messiah. The intense conversation came to an abrupt end as Jesus entered the room. 

    Thomas stood to his feet. “Master?” He wanted to believe his friends, but he needed proof. 

    “Look at my hands and side, Thomas.” Jesus turned his nail-scarred hands upward and opened his tunic to display where the sword pierced his side. “You believe because I stand before you, but those who cannot see me share a greater faith.” 

    Centuries later, Christians worship Jesus as Savior with grateful hearts. He sacrificed his blameless life for the sins of humanity. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, mankind received the gift of salvation and eternal life. 

    When Christ returns to establish his kingdom on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the saints of all ages will lay their crowns at his feet as he rides into Jerusalem. 

    “Behold, your King comes unto you, lowly, and sitting upon a donkey. A colt the foal of donkey. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees; and spread them on the road.” — Matthew 21:5, 8 (NKJV). 

    I love you, but Jesus loves you more.