Jesus' unique identity creates the paradox that is Palm Sunday.

The church today does not and cannot celebrate Palm Sunday in the same way the original participants did. When the crowds cried, "Hosanna, save now," they were crying out for immediate deliverance from the Romans. The church celebrates Jesus' unique identity which was magnified that day. Palm Sunday gave a window into the hearts of those around Jesus as they responded to who He was.

Mary (John 12:1-3)

Mary is the person we most want to imitate in this passage. She was a learner, lover, and worshipper of Jesus. Because she saw things as they were, she offered something of great value to Jesus. Jesus indicates in verse 7 that she may have even understood what the week would hold for him.

A true worshipper of Jesus starts at His feet. Mary was willing to be undignified, even laughed at and scorned. As the scent of her perfume filled the house with its potency, the influence of her worship touched everyone present.

Judas (John 12:4-8)

Judas was a professed believer with an agenda. He followed Jesus as one of his closest disciples for years, but he took Jesus' identity for granted. He questioned Mary's extravagance and thereby disputed Jesus' divinity. Jesus accepted Mary's worship because it was His due! Judas did not see that ultimate reality. The resurrected Lazarus was in the same room, but Judas could not acknowledge that this miracle was done by God Himself in flesh.

Disciples (John 12:16)

Jesus' followers were confused about Jesus' purpose in the moment of Palm Sunday. They found clarity later when Jesus was glorified.

Feeling befuddled is normal at times for followers of Christ. Clarity will return when Jesus is glorified in our lives, and will come ultimately when we see His glorified self.

Religious Onlookers (John 12:9-19)

Those who followed Jesus from afar were the intellectually curious. Most had political aspirations and were seeking to get what they wanted from Jesus. They were less informed about Jesus' identity than Judas was. They were very respectful of Him, laying their cloaks and branches down in welcome. They were the most emotional of the people in this chapter.

The Pharisees were jealous of Jesus' influence. His silence toward them at this point is frighteningly deafening.

Greeks (John 12:20-26)

These were the seekers. Jesus tells them that the Gospel requires not only His death, but the death to self of anyone who will follow Him. We must lose our former identity in His commands.

Rulers (John 12:42-43)

Some of the rulers of the people believed in Jesus, but were afraid to acknowledge it publicly. They loved human approval more than God's.

Jesus cries out in response to all these people in John 12:44-50. He declares that He is God, come to illuminate their desperate spiritual darkness. Salvation is available to anyone and everyone who will recognize that they live in darkness. Jesus' goal was not to judge, but to save the world. To be saved, people must hear and keep His sayings. Since He is God, His sayings are not debatable. To reject what He says is to reject who He is, because Jesus speaks exactly what God speaks. His Word will judge all who reject it, but He loves to save all who accept it.

Application Points

  • Of the people mentioned above, who are you? What is your response as you interact with who Jesus is? Those who reject His Word will be judged, but those who accept it will find loving salvation. How will you respond to Jesus?
  • If you are a true believer like Mary, are you growing in love for Jesus and expressing that in worship? What costly possession can you submit to Jesus? How will that influence the souls around you?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "Jesus, the Son of God"

Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord of all,
the chosen One, the Son of Man,
The King of kings who gave His life for me--
this Jesus, the Great "I AM"!

We bow down before Him who is worthy of worship,
Worthy of worship and praise.
We bow down before and humbly adore
this Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Righteous One,
the Sacrifice who bore my sin,
The Prince of Life who lives and reigns on high--
this Jesus, He's coming again!