“Who Is That Man?”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
For some reason, some of the people in
my previous churches have had trouble remembering my name. For example, when I
served the church in New London, New Hampshire, there were a group of people
that called me “Chris.” Chris is close to Scott. It has a couple of the same
letters in it. I served there for six years. I never corrected them.
When I served the church in Norfolk,
Massachusetts, there were a number of people who called me “Steve.” That was
understandable since the interim minister’s name was Steve. (It still is. As
far as I know, he has not changed it to Scott.)
When I was in Norfolk, there was
another name that I was called by some of the folks. (Careful … it was not a
naughty name.) Some of the children called me … Jesus! There was actually one
little boy that elevated my status. He called me “God!” I will never forget the
day that I was out weeding the flower bed in front of the parsonage and as a
car drove by a little face in the backseat window yelled, “Hi, GOD!!”
If I was God, I would not have been
weeding the garden by hand! I would have been like Bruce Almighty and just
waved my hand and made them disappear.
Anyway, it was very cute! And I was
humbled by it. Now, I have no delusion that I am either Jesus or God. But I recognize
that in their young and innocent eyes I do represent God and Jesus in their
world. However, it is a tough standard to live up to! I will say that I have
never had anyone take off their coats and lay them on the road in front of me.
I know that the circumstances are a
little bit different here, but as you heard, there was a slight case of
mistaken identity in our story this morning. And I have to wonder if that was
not all part of Jesus’ plan.
He knew the history of kings riding
He knew the prophecies that foretold
the coming of a king riding on the back of a donkey.
He knew of a colt … a foal … that
had not been ridden, and he made the proper arrangements.
He knew that the city would be
teeming with people that were there for the Passover festival. He knew that the
city would be electric with energy and enthusiasm.
He knew that was the time.
The people knew their history as
well. They heard the buzz that a “king” was riding into the Holy City of
They remembered the story of King
Jehu riding into the city and the people laying their cloaks upon the road to
show their loyalty to their king.
They remembered Simon Maccabaeus
riding into the city after defeating the pagan army and the people cutting palm
branches and waving them as he processed toward the Temple to cleanse the
Temple after the pagans had defiled it. (1 Maccabees 13:51)
The knew the words of the psalm and
they greeted him with those words: “Blessed is the one who enters in the name
of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:26)
And they knew the verse that
preceded it: “Hosanna! Save us, we beseech thee, O God!” (Psalm 118:25)
“Hosanna!” “Save us! Save now!”
For us, the modern reader and
listener, the word “Hosanna!” rings differently. For us, it is a word of
celebration that we sing and shout on Palm Sunday. It has become a word that is
similar to “Hallelujah!” However, for the First Century folks, it was a cry of
desperation. We focused upon desperation last Sunday as we explored Psalm 130.
The people lining that streets of Jerusalem on this day long ago were
desperate. “Save us, O God! Save us now!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven” was a
cry to God and the angels. “Save us!”
But then they got a look at the king
and his delegation. “Who is that guy on the donkey?! Hey! Get out of the way!!
The King is coming!!”
Others said, “No, that IS the king!”
“What?! Where is his horse?! Where
is his sword?! His spear?! Where is his armor?! Where is his army?!”
“That is HIM. The prophet Jesus from
“WHAT?!?! You have got to be kidding
me!! That ragamuffin!!?? He could not defend himself from a kid with a stick! How
will he defend himself against the Romans?! How will he defend himself from
How many of them turned around and
walked away? How many of them went home … disappointed?
How many of them followed him?
Curious about this unarmed prophet that people call “king”?
The people wanted the King to save
them from Rome. “Save us from these pagan occupiers!”
The people wanted freedom from the
oppression that they experienced from the Romans and the corrupt Temple
authorities. “Save us, O King! Save us, O God!”
Jesus offered them more than they
were asking. He offered them a greater freedom than relief from an occupying
army. The salvation that he offered relieved a much larger burden. Jesus
awakened their minds to a much more significant reality.
It was customary for prophets to
express their message in dramatic fashion when they felt that their words were
not enough. Jesus had been preaching and teaching the people throughout the
countryside for the last three years. As he entered Jerusalem, he was able to
teach them … show them … what he had been talking about.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem called
to mind the “Anointed One” foretold by the prophet Malachi.
Jesus’ entry on the back of the
donkey fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy of the “gentle” king who came in peace.
Jesus did come to defeat the
occupiers … the oppressors … but not in the way that the people had expected.
Jesus did come to cleanse the
Temple, to remove those who had corrupted the faith and burdened the people.
He did come to establish a new
kingdom, the Kin-dom of God.
Jesus did not come to lay claim to
the throne in the palace. He came to lay claim to our hearts.
Jesus must have known how the people
would react. He must have known that they would be confused, even disappointed,
by his arrival as the gentle king without as much as a sword. But that was all
part of the lesson. He was not waiting for them to get it “right.”
He came to offer salvation to the
lost and confused.
His Way was never the way of
violence or warfare. He came to show, to teach, the Way of God, the Way of
Jesus knew exactly what he was
The question then is for us. Will we
follow him? Will we offer him out hearts?
Or will we turn away … walk away …
and wait for a salvation more to our liking?
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771