My high school grandson alerted me to the story that KOMO News was reporting earlier this week.
A motorcycle State Patrol officer pulled over a man driving in the HOV lanes in Fife near Tacoma last Monday because the trooper spotted an unusual friend setting beside the driver, thus "legalizing" travel in the fast lane.
The officer wanted to take a closer look.
More than 2000 years ago, over 2 million people had crowed into the city to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. There was talk circulating that something beyond the normal important celebration may be in the works. They had heard that the man from Nazareth had raised Lazarus from the dead. His teaching was becoming more and more controversial.
They wanted to take a closer look.
The religious leaders found places to observe. They were concerned. Very concerned. In fact, John quotes the Pharisees as saying, "Look how the whole world has gone after Him."
As the Triumphal parade of Jesus moved into the city streets, the Roman soldiers watched and smiled---they had seen this kind of Triumphal procession in the city of Rome where war heroes were honored--- but who is this?
Who is this man riding on a donkey? An imposter? Is He a merely a cardboard likeness of what some wanted Him to be? Or is He more---and different?
KOMO News reports, "A motorcycle trooper parked along the left shoulder of I-5 South in Fife Monday afternoon spotted a driver and rather unusual "passenger" pass by him in the HOV lane at 70th Avenue East. The trooper pulled the driver over and discovered the "passenger" was none other than a cardboard cutout of the actor who portrays "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in beer advertisements.
Trooper Guy Gill said the driver knew immediately that he was busted, but did say of the cutout: "He's my best friend."
Gill said they see sleeping bags and other props from people trying to cheat the HOV lane, but this was by far the best.
The Most Interesting Man was not confiscated, but the driver was told not to use him again.
And he got a $124 fine.
To millions gathered in Jerusalem, this Jesus was a most interesting man. They wanted a closer look.
To the religious leaders, He was a threat. To those stricken by miracles and signs, He was an attraction. To the elite Roman soldiers, He was a fraud---an impostor---a joke. They had seen the real thing back in Rome, where Roman soldiers who had conquered and captured were given a Roman Triumph. It was grand and glorious, with white stallions and chariots---pomp and circumstance.
To the mass of ordinary folks gathered, He was a political savior, appearing on the scene to right the political wrongs and vanquish those wicked Roman overlords. Some close to Jesus were even vying for a position in His new government.
The notable and trusted historian Josephus estimated that over 2 million people were there and participating in the festivities. It was like New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square.
Josephus noted at the time 256,500 lambs were slain at the Passover and each lamb represented at least 10 worshipers.
There were many reasons why the crowd pressed in to see this Man on a donkey.
The religious leaders were looking on with concern because they sensed they were loosing power to this Man.
The Roman soldiers were taking a closer look. And laughing at the ignorance of the interested people.
Those who followed sensation were there wanting to be entertained. They wanted to see the show.
There were those who were there because it was the place to be---and to be seen.
And there were Greeks who had come to the feast as well. They told Philip (John 12:21), "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
I am talking about these 5 kinds of people today, live on the radio. You may join me from anywhere in the world at 9 AM PDT and rebroadcast at 7:30 PM PDT. Here's how.
People today are not unlike those who attended the Passover in Jerusalem that memorable weekend.
In today's culture, we sometimes need a friend, or we need to identify as a Christian. Politicians need votes and business people need customers sometimes we simply need to feel better about ourselves---for all these reasons we create a cardboard cutout of who we want Jesus to be, we put Him in the passenger side of the front seat, put on His seat belt and hit the fast lane.
Palm Sunday weekend is a good time to pull over and get real. And consider who Jesus really is.
The crowds shouted Hosanna, Hosanna. Those who truly knew Him, knew that they were welcoming their King---King of Kings, Lord of Lords---whose Kingdom and reign is forever and ever.
Others were merely cutting out a cardboard likeness of whom they wanted Jesus to be. They would return next weekend to shout "crucify Him, crucify Him."
Be Certain. Be Committed. Be Blessed.