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Our divine flag man

This Palm Sunday, we can cheer with the crowds as we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem to bear our burden of sin.

He shows up at many community events on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Hilson Joseph, carpenter by day, is better known as Flag Man. He leads parades with a large national flag of Antigua and Barbuda while arrayed in colorful, self-designed patriotic dress. Joseph does this without being asked or paid. In fact, he spends his own money to get into events so he can wave his country’s flag and encourage his fellow citizens.

We sinners have a Flag Man too— an individual around whom we can rally and be encouraged. This Flag Man even paid our way into the mansions of heaven. His name is Jesus.

Solving our deepest need

As you gather for worship on Palm Sunday, you will hear how Jesus entered Jerusalem shortly before his death. His reputation caused a rumpus. Crowds spilled out to greet him. Palm branches waved in his wake. Cloaks dropped to the ground to form a quilted red carpet beneath the donkey’s hooves. Hosannas echoed. It was a parade atmosphere with an unlikely grand marshal—a nondescript man atop a donkey.

At a quick glance, Jesus seemed as ordinary as a bundle of wood bound for the temple’s altar of burnt offering. But that’s exactly what Jesus was—kindling to be consumed by God’s righteous anger over our sins. It was, therefore, appropriate for the crowds to root for Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem, even if many didn’t quite understand what he was about to do for them.

King David described another important procession about a thousand years before Palm Sunday: “The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary” (Psalm 68:17). David may have written that psalm to welcome the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. Psalm 68 is quoted in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:8) to describe Jesus’ ascension into heaven, but how well it fits with our Palm Sunday celebrations too! David’s words reveal the purpose of that humble man on a donkey— to be not a mere symbol but our Savior. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. . . . Your procession, God, has come into view, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary” (Psalm 68:19,20,24).

Carrying our daily burdens

The Flag Man of Antigua once marched for 12 hours carrying a large flag to encourage patriotism among his fellow citizens. But what difference did it make? It may have put a smile on the spectators’ faces, but that’s about it. God’s own Flag Man, Jesus, does so much more.

This Palm Sunday, we can cheer with the crowds as we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem to bear our burden of sin. He went there to die for us—but also to rise again. Our God solves our deepest needs, but he also carries our daily burdens. Like the Flag Man of Antigua who pops up at patriotic celebrations on the island, Jesus is there to spur you on when your body betrays you, your bank account dwindles, or your relationships fail. He knows when your heart aches or pounds with anxiety, and he does more than cheer for you—he carries you. He carries you until your last breath, and then he gives you escape from death. “You, God, are awesome . . . the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” (Psalm 68:35).

Author: Daniel Habben
Volume 111, Number 03
Issue: March 2024

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