Crowds are a fickle bunch.
One minute they are on your side,
but at a moment’s notice,
they can turn against you.
People in crowds
find safety in numbers.
They can hide in a crowd.
They can behave in ways
they would never would
if only the spotlight were on them.
Palm Sunday readings
are a fickle set.
We might give them a byline of our own:
A tale of two crowds.
The first crowd is exuberant.
At the gates of the city
they welcome Jesus—
their prophet, their warrior, and their hero.
Their cloaks strewn on the ground
are like a first century version
of the red carpet treatment.
In adoration and greeting
they wave palm branches,
signs of welcome and homage,
gestures afforded only to a king.
But then there is the second crowd.
Assembled in a governor’s courtyard,
they undergo a change of scenery.
their eyes see differently.
Their mouths speak a foreign tongue.
Instead of a king, they now see a criminal.
Instead of a leader, they now see a traitor.
Instead of shouts of “Hosanna”
They now shout for a cross.
Palm Sunday is a tale of two crowds.
We can only wonder
how a people who praise in the morning
can only condemn by afternoon.
Crowds are fickle bunch.
Maybe that’s why we believe in our king
Not as a crowd would, but as a community.
Weaknesses and betrayals aside,
a community remains steadfast
and knows what a king is about.
As we enter the most solemn week of the church year,
we look upon our king on a cross
and see neither a criminal nor a warrior.
What we do see
is the self-offering love of God
who eschews hatred and revenge
who knows only mercy and faithfulness
and whose only desire
is to be with us in all of life.
Who can abandon a king,
who refuses to abandon us?
© Rev. Thomas Mannebach