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It was only a matter of days before He would be crucified, and Jesus had just entered Jerusalem. The crowd had been waving palm branches and shouting His praise. The onlookers weren’t sure what was happening. in Matthew’s words,
When [Jesus] had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ — Matthew 21:10
“Who is this?” This question does not belong only in first-century Jerusalem. Throughout the centuries and continuing today, people have been opinionating and speculating on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Some say He was a sort of guru, a wise and gentle teacher of trite platitudes and object lessons. Others say Jesus was one in a long line of prophets. And more than one apologist has argued that there are only three possibilities as to Christ’s identity: He was a liar, falsely claiming to be God; He was a lunatic, bona fide crazy and delusional, out of touch with reality; or He was, in fact, who He said He was, the Son of God, Lord.
Jesus was not low profile when He entered Jerusalem. Matthew reported that when He entered the city on Palm Sunday, “all the city was moved” when He arrived (Matthew 21:10). in their puzzlement, they asked, “Who is this?” Do you desire to see God move in such a way that your own city is stirred and your neighbors begin to ask, “Who is this?” Who is this who put your life back together and made something beautiful of it? Who is this Who restored your family? Who is this who delivered you from addiction? Who is this Who turned your sadness into joy? Who is this?
What does it take for God to move, shake, and stir an entire city? We can learn from this singular day two thousand years ago. It happened when Jesus’ followers began to experience Him, to extol Him, and to extend Him to others. The result? The people around them began to ask, “Who is this?”
We come to know Jesus when we experience being in His presence. And the way to genuinely experience Him is to listen to Him and obey Him. Such was the case two thousand years ago. The stage was set for the city to encounter and experience Jesus when He instructed two of His disciples to go into a nearby village, find a donkey, and bring it to Him.
So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. — Matthew 21:6
No doubt. No defiance. No delay. They just “went and did” in obedience to Jesus, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy that
Your King is coming to you;… lowly and riding on a donkey. — Zechariah 9:9
These two followers who were sent to get a donkey could have decided that a white stallion would be much more appropriate for their Master. But they didn’t. They simply obeyed Him. Too many Christ-followers today, however, let what we think ought to be take priority over His actual commands. Yet one reason God moved the city that day to ask, “Who is this?” was the tremendous spirit of obedience among those who listened to Him. Jesus is still on His throne today, He is still speaking to us, and He is still commanding us to obey His commandments as set forth in His word. when we honor Him by obeying Him, when more of His own people begin to experience Him through obedience to His word, we will find that He is also still in the business of moving cities to ask, “Who is this?”
As Jesus began His descent into Jerusalem, the people began to honor and extol Him. They literally carpeted the road with their coats and palm branches as they shouted their praise:
Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! — Matthew 21:9
What brought about this outburst of praise? Put yourself in the crowd and you’ll soon find out. Look over there at Bartimaeus. Just last week in Jericho, he was blind and begging by the side of the road. But then Jesus noticed him, stopped, and gave sight to his darkened eyes with a spoken word. Now Bartimaeus was seeing everything around him. No wonder he was praising Jesus! And look over there at that man with tears of joy streaming down his face. Why, it’s Lazarus of Bethany, who not long ago was dead and in the grave… until Jesus gave him new life. And there, over there, is that formerly crippled man who for thirty-eight years could be found lying by the pool of Bethesda. But look at him now, dancing and singing and shouting his own hosannas to this King of kings.
Do you and I have any less reason to extol Jesus, to shout our own hosannas today?
We have seen His greatest miracle ever: His provision of new birth through His death and resurrection. We were dead in our sin until He brought us new life.
Yet, sadly, some of us have lost the joyful spirit of praise — and we desperately need to recover it. God will move in our cities and prompt those around us to ask, “Who is this?” when we, like those of old who have experienced Him — we who choose to obey Him — extol Him with our praise.
Those faithful followers lining the street on that original Palm Sunday did not only praise Jesus, they began to extend Him to others. They wanted others to meet their Savior and Lord. Nothing could keep them from sharing the good news that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah and that they had found in Him their hope. Enthusiasm filled the day.
Caught up in the excitement of this moment, the people began to ask, “Who is this?” And the crowd lining the street responded with,
This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. — Matthew 26:10-11
The people who had gathered not only experienced Jesus that day, they not only extolled Him, but they extended Him to others. “This is Jesus!” was their cry.
When we do the same — when we praise Jesus for what He has done in our lives and share our stories with others — the people around us will also ask, “Who is this?” Who is this… Who transformed your life? Who is this… Who put your family back together? Who is this… Who brought you peace in the midst of such tragedy? Who is this… Who enabled you to be victorious over your addiction? Who is this… Who gave you hope in the darkness of your circumstances? Who is this? Who is this? “This is Jesus!” You have experienced Him, so now extol Him and extend Him to others.
Q & A: “Who is this?” Ultimately, each of us must answer this question for ourselves. Who is Jesus to you? Was He a liar — a figure out of history who made some outrageous and completely untrue claims about Himself? Was He a lunatic — some crazed prophet from the middle of nowhere with illusions of grandeur and delusions of deity? Or is Jesus Lord? Your eternal destiny rests on your answer. May you join with the crowd in exclaiming, “This is Jesus!”
Excerpted with permission from The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins, copyright O.S. Hawkins.
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HOSANNAH! Hosannah in the highest! Who is Jesus to you? Have you experienced Him? Extolled Him? Extended Him to others? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you this Palm Sunday! ~ Devotionals Daily