Remembering a death; celebrating a new life
Palm Sunday. I remember it well. Ten years ago (2007), I helped lead a team that organised a street march in Cooranbong, New South Wales, the week before Easter. Almost 600 people marched. The police closed half of Freemans Drive in the Avondale Village area for about 20 minutes as we marched to Cooranbong Park.
The march reminded us of the time the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus as He rode into the city on a donkey the week before His death.
Ours was a happy, festive occasion that included a Jesus and a donkey. A brass band added a modern flavour and students from Avondale College of Higher Education in Eastern costume gave it a first-century feel. Most of us wore Eastern headwear.
And where the people of Jerusalem called out “Hosanna” and “Hail to the king of Israel,” we gave away balloons with the words, “Jesus is king,” stamped on them. We who are Christians still proclaim the kingship of Jesus.
Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine the dramatic change in Jerusalem from that Sunday to the following Friday. The crowd mood shifted from cries of “Hosanna” to chants of “Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!”
Before the day was out, Jesus was dead—crucified.
Many find the next part of the story unbelievable. Resurrection.
But this is the most important part of the Jesus story because Christianity stands or falls on this point. That’s something that’s been recognised from the beginning. The apostle Paul wrote to the first-century church in Corinth, “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:14, NLT).
Paul was a believer in the resurrection and he challenged non-believers to do something we can no longer do. He told them if they didn’t believe him, they should talk to witnesses to the risen Jesus. He calculated there were more than 500—most of them still alive at the time.
The resurrection will continue to be challenged by those who find it unbelievable. Nothing’s surer.
But for someone who takes the story as gospel, Easter is a time of remembering in wonder at the death of Jesus and of celebrating the promise His resurrection brings.
And I know I’m not alone. I marched with almost 600 others down Freemans Drive the Sunday before Easter in 2007. They also believe the Easter story. If you weren’t there, you probably know someone who was.