I’m not a parade person. I don’t like crowds. Kansas parade season is October-March which is usually cold. Finally, watching a bunch of children run toward a bunch of moving vehicles chasing candy seems like a recipe for disaster. Many others love parades. North Topekan’s love parades. By my last count, North Topeka has at least 5 parades between October and December and my friends love them all. One thing is for certain, parades attract a crowd. When a parade wanders by, heads pop out of windows, people stop and stare, and people crowd to the doors. The same is true regardless of what century you lived in. Every parade draws a crowd but every parade is essentially the same. Animals, tiny cars, marching bands, clowns, floats, and candy. But the two parades at the end of Luke couldn’t be more different.
The first one took place on Sunday; the other on Friday. The first, came down the country road from Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19.28); the other began in the city and wound its way through the crowded streets to just outside the city.
They juxtapose each other. The first being the idea of carried. Jesus sent 2 disciples ahead of him to get a donkey colt for him to ride on. Near as I can tell, this was the only time that Jesus rode. But it was to fulfill prophecy:
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9.9)
Zechariah is talking about how the King will ride in on a donkey, carried into the city on a colt. That was the significance of the palm leaves that we often wave in church on Palm Sunday. It was a sign of victory and this Parade is a celebration of the King. In the second parade, Jesus is carrying his cross. The soldiers pull a man from the crowd and make him carry the cross. The greek word “made carry” [pheroo] is the same word that Mark uses in chapter 11 when they “brought” the colt to Jesus to ride. In the first, the colt is bearing Jesus; the second, Jesus is bearing the cross.
The second parade is full of mourning and wailing (23.27); the first, “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God…” (19.37) The second parade chanted: “Crucify him! Crucify him!; the first, “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21.9) The irony is palpable. The second cried out: “Kill him” while the first shouted “he saves!” These crowds are as opposite as you could come up with. They are as opposite as the direction they are heading and the purpose they serve. The first parade was a victory parade with palm leaves, worthy of a King’s inauguration, the second was a death march with the condemned leading the way.
They each have a scripture, but they are at odds with one another. The first parade, the one of victory, quotes Psalm 118.26: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” The verse that follows in Psalms reads: “The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.” The crowd is relishing their connection with Scripture, interacting with and taking part in God’s word. This day the Lord has saved those one thought to be rejected…and its worth a celebration. The second crowd wasn’t shouting their scripture but heard Jesus quote it. The weeping, wailing, and shouting of the second parade was met with this quote from Hosea: “they will say to the mountains, ‘fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘cover us!'” (Hosea 10.8) It’s taken from a section of scripture where Hosea is laying out the sins of Israel and the punishment that is coming. Jesus sees this future as well. One is a celebration of the future, the other is a dreading of the future.
So many differences in the two parades that happened just under a week apart.
But one thing was the same. This was festival time for the nation of Israel. It was a week long festival where people would come to the city and stay. What was the same? The same voices who shouted “victory” on Sunday would be the one shouting “crucify” on Friday. The same ones waving palm leaves the first day of the week would be holding hammers and nails by the 6th. The same ones embracing Jesus as King on Sunday would be crucifying Jesus as criminal by Friday.
We want to judge those in the easily influenced and simple minded crowd until we realize the transition in my life doesn’t always take 5 days…it can happen in seconds.