Preaching Carefully on Palm Sunday

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Just to be clear: the crowd on Palm Sunday welcoming Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!” is by and large not the same crowd on Good Friday that demands his death with shouts of “Crucify!”

This is a popular point preachers like to make, and I’ve probably made it myself: “Look at the fickle crowd. They sing songs to him on Sunday and five days later on Friday they want to kill him. How quickly we all turn away.” But read all four gospel accounts carefully (and check some good commentaries). The excited throng on Palm Sunday was filled with Galilean pilgrims and the larger group of disciples, not the Jerusalem crowd in general (see Luke 19:37; Mark 15:40-41).

R.T. France summarizes:

There is no warrant here for the preacher’s favourite comment on the fickleness of a crowd which could shout ‘Hosanna’ one day and ‘Crucify him’ a few days later. They are not the same crowd. The Galilean pilgrims shouted ‘Hosanna’ as they approached the city, the Jerusalem crowd shouted, ‘Crucify him.’

Have a blessed Holy Week that sticks closely to all sorts of glorious texts.

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