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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Palm Sunday

It must have been an exciting, and memorable, occasion – that day on which Jesus of Nazareth, the Galilean Teacher, rode into the great city of Jerusalem, on the back of a donkey! Certainly, the evangelists, who have recorded the event for us, speak of great crowds; of cheering and rejoicing; of the Eastern custom, when a person of distinction is passing by, of strewing the road with the branches of trees, and with their cloaks. It was the first Palm Sunday!

Some, however, appear to have been unaware of the identity of the One Who was the centre of attention. For Matthew records that “… when He entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying ‘Who is this?’” (Matt.21:10)

“Who is this?” The answer given was that “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” (v.11). However, that may be considered to have been a somewhat superficial response. There is, indeed, a much better, and timelessly relevant, answer. It is a question that, when directed at Jesus of Nazareth, becomes the most important question in the world; the most important question of all time!

There are, in the end, only three possible answers, and I hope to share each of them over three days of this Holy Week. The first answer is that He is a Liar! His own claim, both implicitly and explicitly, was that He was God. But if, when He made that claim He knew, consciously, that He was not God, then He was lying. And, if He was a liar, then He was also a hypocrite, because He taught others to be honest – whatever the personal cost might be – while Himself teaching, and living, and perpetrating, a colossal untruth.

More than that, He was a demon, a very devil, because He told others to trust in Him for their eternal destiny. But if He was unable to back up His claims, and was aware of that, then He was unspeakably evil.

And, of course, He would have been a fool, because it was this very claim – that He was God – that led to His crucifixion! (see Mark 14:61-64; John19:7).

If this is a liar, then He is also a hypocrite, a demon, a fool. But here is what one man has written: “How, in the name of logic, common-sense, and experience, could an imposter have invented, and consistently maintained from the beginning to the end, the purest and noblest character known in history, with the most perfect air of truth and reality?” (Philip Schaff; The Person of Christ, pps. 94-95). The unspoken answer is that he couldn’t!

Someone who lived as Jesus lived; taught as Jesus taught; and died as Jesus died; simply couldn’t have been a liar. I’ll offer a second suggestion in tomorrow’s post!

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