Several years ago, the song “Applause” by Lady Gaga was in heavy rotation on top 40 radio. Perhaps you’re familiar with it. Well, recently, I was reading the Gospel of Luke’s account of the triumphal entry, and thought of Lady Gaga.
Stay with me.
The repeated line of “Applause” says: “I live for the applause, applause, applause, the way you cheer and scream for me. I live for the applause.” Hey, I gotta give it to her for her honesty. But isn’t that all of us sometimes? The lure of approval, of human praise, of the admiration of peers — it’s powerful. Yet, when we look at the life of Jesus we see the embodiment of the opposite of all of these things.
And that’s what is so powerful about the way Jesus’ came into Jerusalem, just before he knew he’d go to the cross. Triumphal entries were a common tradition of the time, reserved for commanders and leaders of armies after important victories. They would proudly ride in on impressive stallions, accepting the praise and adoration of all.
But here is Jesus: he came to rule, but not with force or weapon. He came to save, but not through wielding power. Here is Jesus, not on a horse, but on a lowly baby donkey. Here is Jesus, the servant-King who comes not to kill, but to be killed. He comes in humility, not to take life, but to give it, once and for all.
See, Jesus had every right to “live for the applause” in the words of Lady Gaga. He had all the power of heaven and earth in his hand. Yet, the triumphal entry shows us that Jesus knew deeply the worthlessness of celebrity. In this moment, the one true King reminds us that the praise of man is fleeting. As he faces His impending crucifixion, Jesus embodies everything we needed him to: humility, selflessness, and sacrificial love. And so together with the Saints we cry, “Hosanna!”
~ Rachel Trammell, Sponsorship & Programs Manager