This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week. It begins the most powerful of weeks; the week in which we remember the events leading to the culmination of our faith: the salvation of our souls.
Read MATTHEW 21:1-17
The events of Matthew 21, happened on a very important day for the Israelites. Many years before, prior to their release from bondage, the Lord announced His tenth and final plague upon the Egyptians. At the same time the Lord told the Israelites about the final plague, He gave them the following instructions:
Read EXODUS 12:1-14
Shortly after these instructions, the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn of every man and beast. When the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors of the Israelites, he passed over them. They were quickly released from their bondage in Egypt and went out to serve the Lord with great joy and gladness. God declared that this celebration would signify the first month of their year and would be an everlasting celebration known as the Lord’s Passover.
In obedience to the Lord, the Israelites called the first month of their calendar year “Nisan” which means “fresh, green, new growth” and instituted the annual celebration of Passover. On the tenth day of Nisan, the first month of their calendar year, the Israelites choose a male lamb, without blemish and set it aside to be held for four days and then slaughtered at twilight of the day of preparation for Passover.
The triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem occurred on the tenth of Nisan, the day of the choosing of the Passover lamb. On the same day of the choosing of the spotless, unblemished lamb for slaughter, Jesus entered Jerusalem. He rode into town on a donkey. The people laid their clothing on the road before Him which in Israel, was a sign of the recognition of royalty. They also cut down palm branches and laid them before Him which was a sign of victory for a conqueror. The entry of Jesus and the manner in which it was done fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah, the great prophet of Israel’s future which alerted Israel to the appearance of its Messiah.
As Jesus entered, the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” – the Son of David being their affirmation of Him as Messiah and the cry of “hosanna” being their cry for salvation.
On 10 Nisan, Jesus was “chosen” by the people as Messiah and source of salvation for the Jewish people.
The entire city was moved at Jesus’ entry. Never in history had a man been affirmed as this Man was. The Romans became watchful and the leaders of Israel became jealous. Jesus immediately went to the temple and began the process of cleansing it and proclaiming it, “His house”. He drove out all that bought and sold. His fearlessness frightened the Pharisees and Sadducees. He began to heal the sick. The release of power and the praise of the children in the temple so unnerved the chief priests and scribes that they became indignant. In one day, by His actions, Jesus had done something that the priests and leaders had not been able to do the whole time they had been in charge: He restored purity, power, and perfected praise to the house of God!
Of course at the triumphant entry the multitude did not understand that they were choosing the Lamb of God to sacrifice, but they believed they were choosing a king who would set them free from Roman rule. In less than a week, they would turn against Him as an imposter and the high priest would order Him sacrificed for the nation.
John 11:47-52: “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.”
In the days preceeding the killing of the Passover lamb, Jesus would be “tested” and “inspected” by the priests with hard questions. His answers and actions proved His fidelity to His Father and His freedom from sin and impurity.
But, the more clear His lordship as Messiah became, the more obstinate and rebellious the leaders of the people were. By the end of the week, all the people: those who had at one time declared Him Messiah just a few days before, those who had seen His power and had partaken of His kindness and goodness – they turned against Him and by their words and actions demanded His death.
Walk with Jesus this week – Celebrate His choice as the Passover Lamb, crucified for the sins of all. Find your place in the joyful congregation as we celebrate His entry into the world, not as a baby but as the greatest gift of the Father – the Son of Man who gave His life so that you and I might live!