“…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9
Good Morning! What a beautiful morning it is. I know I am again jumping off-route with our relationship topic, but there is certainly significance in today’s teaching. We are nearing a time of year where a lot is recognized in our faith. And days like today, Palm Sunday, and next Sunday, Easter, are such significant times of the year to worship, but even a lot of Christians don’t understand what they truly represent. So I wanted to break down the basics of what today really means…
Today is Palm Sunday. Just as the date of Easter changes every year, so does the date of Palm Sunday. You see, these dates are marked by the beginning and ending of seasons in the faith, including the Jewish season of Passover. But Palm Sunday is ALWAYS the Sunday before Easter Sunday. This week between is known as the “Holy Week” because it recognizes the time frame of Jesus’ journey to the cross–His celebration, condemnation, persecution, and resurrection!
So why is Palm Sunday significant? What actually happened? Let’s take a look…
We talked about who Jesus Christ was. We talked about the life He lived, the struggles He faced, and the unbelievable works that He did. We also talked about how, as time passed and Jesus began to acquire followers and disciples, He began to stir up nations. Throughout Jesus’ life, it became harder and harder for people to ignore His teachings. And this infuriated the Pharisees and leaders of the nations. Because they refused to recognize power greater than their own and grew more and more hostile towards this man who proclaimed to be the Son of God. You see, much of the Old Testament predicted that there would be a Messiah. So many of the prophets of the Old Testament had recorded that the Son of God would come, and they had recorded so much detail of what His life and death would look like. As people began to see affirmation after affirmation of these truths, divided opinions grew. People either (1) recognized that Jesus Christ was, in fact, the Son of God and worshiped Him, or (2) became so stirred and shaken, by the fulfillment of these predictions, that they refused to believe the Truth. The Pharisees definitely fell into group #2.
Anyways, one of the final miracles that Jesus Christ performed was raising a man named Lazarus from the dead. (If you want to read about this miracle, look at John 11: 1-43. Or, more specifically, John 11: 38-43.) When Jesus Christ performed this miracle, it sparked a fire. Many Jews who had seen what had happened became believers and put their faith in Him. Then, the word spread like wildfire. People began to worship Jesus, and praise Him, and put their faith in Him. And when the Pharisees found out that He was performing miracles that were stirring nations and gaining great attention, they were livid. They met and decided that Jesus must be put to death. They basically put a hit out on him, and if anyone saw or knew where He was, they were instructed to turn Him in. (John 11:45-57)
So what did Jesus do? Here comes the best part! Jesus knew how all of this was going to play out. He had been predicting His death for some time, and He knew exactly why it was that He had to die–to save our souls. So, rather than run, Jesus took some time to collect himself and then made His way to Jerusalem where He knew, full well, that His trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of humanity. (Now if that isn’t courage and fearlessness and humility, then I don’t know what is. What a boss!) This is where Palm Sunday comes into the history…Jesus came to Jerusalem and made, what is known as, the triumphal entry.
If you want to read the scripture about Palm Sunday and His triumphal entry, look at:
Luke 19: 28-44…or…
There are a lot of really amazing things that occur in this short passage in the Bible. First, as Jesus and His disciples came near the city , they stopped in the city of Bethphage at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus told two of His disciples to “Go into the village ahead of you and find a donkey tied there, with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the LORD needs them, and he will send them right away.” (Matthew 21: 2-3). You’re probably thinking, so what, he asked for a donkey. But hold up, there are TWO incredible things present in this first passage. First and foremost, Jesus refers to himself as the LORD. Which is a definite proclamation of His divinity. Powerful stuff for such a humble man…this proclamation is once again emphasizing, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He is LORD. Secondly, He asks for a donkey and when His disciples brought it to Him they laid their cloaks over the animals and Jesus rode them into the city. What’s so significant about that? BOOM! By riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, Jesus fulfilled yet ANOTHER ancient prophecy from the Old Testament–Zechariah 9:9. This prophecy said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Keep in mind, this was the ONLY instance in the gospel where Jesus rode an animal. And in that humble action, Jesus fulfilled just one of many prophecies that were written thousands of years before His life. It’s not like Jesus carried around a Blackberry and googled the prophecies and figured out, step by step, what He was supposed to do next. No chance! God spoke truth to the prophets of the Old Testament, and God lived truth through our Savior in the New Testament.
Anyways, back on track…So Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem with His head held high. As he entered the city, people rejoiced and cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” They celebrated and cheered Him and the masses threw their cloaks into the path of the donkey and laid down palms along His path. This is why we call it Palm Sunday. you see, laying down your cloak for an animal to walk over, and laying down palms, and fanning Jesus with palms, were acts of absolute homage and respect. This signified people’s submission to Jesus Christ. This represented their recognition that He was the promised Messiah! (And just to clarify, the people’s cries of “Hosanna” originate from Psalms 118:25-26, meaning “save now.”)
You better believe that at the sight of all of this celebration, the Pharisees were FURIOUS! They were so jealous of Jesus and so fearful of the Romans. You’ve got to picture it like this–these high priests were in straight panic mode. All the authority and order they had instilled was being shaken up and stirred by a humble man riding on a donkey–dressed in humble clothes. No riches, no jewels, nothing…Jesus was a man of the masses. He was a carpenter, by trade. He was an average Joe. Yet He brought NATIONS TO THEIR KNEES! Unreal. He was nothing the Pharisees expected. They expected the Son of God to be some unbelievable, earthly man of power and prestige! Everything they expected Him to be…Jesus was the complete opposite. He was the underdog. And the people were beginning to love Him. This sent those Pharisees into fits. They refused to believe.
What Jesus said next were some of the most beautiful words He ever uttered, in my opinion. Luke 19:39-40 tells us this: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.”
HA! Do you understand what He just said here? Let me break this down in the simplest of terms: The Pharisees are telling Jesus to keep His disciples from praising Him because they think it’s blasphemy. And Jesus is like, ‘Listen dude, I’m God. There’s nothing you can do to keep anything on this Earth from praising me. In fact, everything will praise me–even the things that don’t hold life. If you try to silence one thing, the next thing will begin to cry out, and so on and so on until even the rocks will scream that I am God!’ HAHA! AHHHH..I love it!
So long story short, the summary of today is that Jesus is a straight BOSS. He performs miracles…the haters put a hit on Him…rather than hiding, He rides into the city and fulfills a prophecy…the people go crazy for Him…the haters try to call Him out…He makes them look like fools. I love Him! What a humble, gracious, UNBELIEVABLE KING WE SERVE!!
Happy Palm Sunday!