Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023

April 2, 2023 | by Allan R. Bevere

Reading 1 Reading 2 Reading 3 Reading 4 Reading 1 Alt Reading 2 Alt
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29 Matthew 21:1-11


Give thanks to God for God is good;

God’s steadfast love endures forever! Hosanna!

 We give thanks to God who answers us, for God is our saving help!

The stone the builders rejected is now the cornerstone! Hosanna!

 Our salvation is at hand!

It is marvelous to behold! Hosanna!

 This is the day that the Lord has made!

Let us rejoice and be glad! Hosanna!

 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Come save us, Lord! Hosanna!

 Give thanks to God for God is good;

God’s steadfast love endures forever! Hosanna!


The Long Journey Is Just About Over

Allan R. Bevere

I remember when I was a young boy, I hated going to the doctor. I hated it because I did not know what sort of pain might be inflicted upon me. I did not like gagging when the doctor stuck that Popsicle stick down my throat, particularly since there was no Popsicle on the stick; and worst of all, I was scared to death of some needle being stuck into my arm. To this day, I remember being five or six years old and sitting in the back seat of the car while my parents drove me to the doctor. It was a journey I hoped would take forever, but it always seemed to be too short.

Jess has been on a journey in his ministry. That those in authority were the ones who continued to oppose him should not be a surprise. Those in control always have the most to lose when the status quo is challenged. And now, after all this time—on the heels of teaching and preaching and healing and the controversy that also seemed to follow Jesus—he has now reached the place where the battle will end. Jesus knowing what would very shortly take place, probably thought the long journey to Jerusalem was not nearly long enough. Time may indeed fly when we are having fun; it can also move too quickly when what lay ahead is to be dreaded.

But the crowds were not somber in the least. They hailed Jesus as God’s Anointed. They cheered until they were hoarse. They laughed and cried and danced and sang. The people were ready for Jesus’ processional of triumph. They were there because they wanted to believe.

The crowd that lined the road was made up of many different sorts of people. There were old men and women, who had come to Jerusalem for years to celebrate the Passover. They may have had some doubts that this Jesus was the one they had been waiting for all their lives, but it might be so. There were children who likely did not know quite what was going on, but they were mesmerized by the excitement. Who wouldn’t be? There were the wives and the husbands, the single men and women who were there because they were in desperate need of hope. Can we imagine the lump in the throat, the goose bumps, and the eyes welling up with tears as the Deliverer rode past each and every one of them?

Jesus is welcomed by many people as he rides into Jerusalem. Just how many is impossible to say, but it was enough for the Pharisees to take notice. Of course, it was easy for the people to welcome Jesus. From their vantage point, he was now going to take his rightful place at the head of an army of God’s people who would once and for all deliver them from their oppressors, in this case the Romans. They too thought their long journey through foreign occupation and through exile in their own homeland was about to end. Their long desired deliverance, which would be their great destination, was at hand.

Whatever questions the crowd had, however much they wanted to believe in him, it wouldn’t be too many days before the center of attention on this day would be carried out of town in a death shroud. The crown this king would wear was made of thorns. This king would rule, not with a cape and a scepter, but with the glory of the cross. Jesus’ chosen path was not coronation at the palace, but the condemnation of the cross. After that triumphal procession into Jerusalem, the king’s followers weren’t following anymore. Any questions about Jesus they may have had that day were answered. It was now clear to them what it meant to follow Jesus, and it wasn’t what they were hoping for. The path to the king’s triumph led unexpectedly to the cross. It was not the path they wanted.

It is tempting, and frankly, it is easy to praise Jesus without following Jesus. It’s just like that parade that passes before us as we stand on the street corner. People waving as they pass slowly in their cars or as they ride on their flowery floats. We admire them. They must be important people to be in the parade. We would like to talk to them, even be seen having dinner with them. We might even ask for their autograph. While they may be important they are not important enough to follow to the death; so we prefer to stand at a distance, while we wave and admire them.

Like the Palm Sunday crowd we see only what we want to see. We, too, would like a Messiah who makes our lives easier; but in order to follow, we have to give up our ideas about the path Jesus should take, and admit that his way leads to the cross. Most people do not want to follow one who gives away his life away as Jesus does.

The deliverance that was upon them in Jesus would not look the way they envisaged it. And because Jesus will not be the kind of deliverer, the kind of Messiah they wanted, it would be easy to turn against this messianic pretender only days later. Since Jesus would not lead Israel to its desired destination in the way they believed it must be traveled, he must be eliminated.

Jesus’ long journey into the night is almost at hand.


Today, God, we rejoice with Christians everywhere that there was at least one day when Jesus received the recognition he deserved. We rejoice, knowing that his triumphal entry means that truth cannot remain hidden and that good hearts everywhere recognize truth when it appears. We [persist] in hope with people on many continents, in many circumstances who are waiting for the day when their truth can be told. We [persevere] with them in faith knowing that the same God who could have commanded the rocks to shout truth in Jerusalem will not allow truth to be suppressed and good people to be crushed forever. Amen.[ii]

[i] Adapted from Psalm 118:1, 19-29 in the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition and the Common English Bible. UMC

[ii] Written by Safiyah Fosua, The Africana Worship Book Year A (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006), 227.

Allan R. Bevere is a Professional Fellow in Theology. He recently retired from full-time pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church where he served for thirty-eight years. He is the owner of the social media portal, Faith Seeking Understanding ( with links to his YouTube Channel, podcast, blog, and daily reflections. He is the author of the forthcoming booklet, Holiness of Heart and Life: Loving God and Neighbor, and has published several other books including: The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the WorldColossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, and Who Is Jesus? The Puzzle and the Portraits of a Divine Savior.

Dr. Bevere received his Ph.D in Theology from the University of Durham U.K., a Th.M in Theological Ethics from Duke Divinity School, an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Ashland Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Christian Ministries from Malone University.

Dr. Bevere has served the larger church in various capacities over the years including mission, education, and leadership. He brings his passion for teaching to pastors in Cuba at the Methodist Seminary in Havana, Zimbabwe at Africa University, and Cameroon at the local Methodist churches. He has also engaged in mission work in Haiti and Puerto Rico.

Dr. Bevere is married to Carol. They have four adult children and four granddaughters. His hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, and hiking.