The last time we played at West Point, the Army Academy, I led a communion service and had Max Lucado and Michael W. Smith as my communion stewards! Today, one day before Palm Sunday and the last concert before a break for Easter, I again led a tour communion. Brandon Heath sang a number of songs focused on the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus, and we read John's gospel version of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A great crowd gathered around Jesus- those in the city for the Passover Festival and those who had been traveling with him and recently seen him bring Lazarus back to life. Everyone's expectation was that this victory parade would herald the arrival of Jesus as a conquering king. In one way they were true, but the victory of Jesus first needed the suffering, humiliation, love and sacrifice of the cross. As the crowd shouted out 'Hosanna' -literally 'save us now'-they would have had little idea of how Jesus would actually go about offering that salvation to all mankind. Before long, the palm branches that had been waved at Jesus became symbols of victory. In Revelation, John pictures them again:
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, "Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb!" Revelation 7.9-10.
Our prayer was that we would welcome Jesus again into our lives this week, and that we would know victory where previously there had been defeat, would know light where previously there had been darkness, would know life where previously there had been death.