Palm Sunday: Who is This Man?

Jesus Palm SundayIntroduction

It is the Time of the Passover in Jerusalem, about 30 A.D., and there were perhaps close to 2 million people in and around Jerusalem. This was the only time in His Ministry of 3 ½ years that Jesus actually planned and even allowed His Followers to give a public demonstration in His Honor. Up until this point in time, Jesus had regularly cautioned people not to tell Who HE was, and He’d been careful to avoid public scenes. BUT THIS DAY was to be different. It was an historic moment, and at the same time, a fulfillment of Prophecy from 500 years earlier. By Riding into Jerusalem in this manner, the LORD Jesus was making a deliberate and unveiled Claim to being the MESSIAH, offering Himself to the nation of Israel as her long-awaited Savior.

Zechariah had written:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout in Triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold your King is coming to you;

HE is just and endowed with Salvation,

Humble, and Mounted on a DONKEY,

Even on a COLT, the foal of a donkey.”

And so, JESUS is Obeying the Word of God and fulfilling Zechariah’s ancient prophecy, while also fulfilling the Scripture of Psalm 118:26:

“Blessed is the ONE Who comes in the Name of the LORD.”

As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, the crowds are spreading a carpet of clothes, palm and olive branches across the road to show their Adoration:

“Save now!” they shout out…

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is HE Who comes in the Name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” ”

Luke (19:37) records that “the whole crowd of the disciples walking with Jesus began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, but some of the Pharisees said to HIM, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” It was then that HE replied, “I tell you, if these become silent, the very stones will cry out.”…

Jesus knew Who HE was and why HE had come, but HE also knew that the Jewish people to whom HE had been sent, for the most part, didn’t know..

And so HE looked over Jerusalem, and we read in Luke 19:41 “He wept over it…for HE knew they were rejecting The Prince of Peace, the only ONE Who

could bring them peace….He warned them, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the TIME OF God’s coming to you.”

(Jesus was prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD under Titus)

And so, as the crowds cheered, the Pharisees said to one another, ‘ the world has gone after HIM.’ And, to an outside observer, it must have seemed truly that “the King had arrived in force to claim His rightful throne”.

Who Is This Man?

If HE had been a conquering general returning to Rome in triumphal entry, HE probably would have been sitting in a chariot of gold, with great white stallions straining at the reins and the spikes of the wheels flashing bright in the sunlight. Perhaps behind him there would be his brave soldiers and officers with polished armor, displaying the colors or banners they had captured from the defeated armies. And then, at the very rear there would come a ragtag procession of prisoners and slaves in chains, living proof of the fate of those who opposed Rome.

Though all 4 of the Gospel accounts include Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, it is only Matthew’s Gospel that mentions: “a donkey along with a colt” and Zechariah also says..”Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” …Mark and Luke’s Gospels confirm for us that although this “colt” was unbroken (had never been ridden before), it did not balk at carrying its Creator into Jerusalem.

Jesus: not the conquering general, proving His power through the brutal enslavement of others….rather, Jesus, the humble, riding on a colt, Who would soon die for the freedom of all who would believe.

Who Is This Man?

It is said that a “man is known by his friends”….Who were Jesus’ true friends on this “Palm Sunday”? Who were among the perhaps “ragtag procession” surrounding HIM, risking the condemnation of the Pharisees. Perhaps those who had been healed? The lame who now walked, the blind,

who now could see, the lepers who were no longer shunned because Jesus had healed them of their disease, and, yes, the children

(Psalm 8 prophesied that “out of the mouth of babes and infants Thou

hast ordained praise”…On this day this prophecy was being fulfilled.…)

There were those coming from Galilee south to Jericho, and even Bethany, captives rescued from Satan’s power….bringing their family members and close friends….These were the ones who knew this MAN Who was entering Jerusalem with MEEKNESS and yet with the foreknowledge of Creator and King…Jesus knew the donkey was waiting for HIM, HE knew that the she=donkey and the foal would be released to His disciples…this was no coincidence, this was the divine providence of God….all quietly taking place , in a sense “behind the scenes”, while the crowd’s roar grew louder…..

Again, …Imagine! Might the “dumb” whose tongues Jesus had loosed have been shouting the loudest “hosannas”? Who might have led the donkey on which Christ rode? Perhaps Lazarus? Can you visualize the “crippled” He’d healed, bounding about with JOY, leaping unabashedly and waving palm branches?

This is Christ’s public offer of Himself as King for the Jews, and yet we know, and Jesus knew, that the Jewish leaders would reject HIM….for the High Priest, Caiaphas, had prophesied earlier “that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish”…From that day one the Pharisees planned together to kill HIM….Even so, fulfilling prophecy about Jesus, “As it is written: HE rides into Jerusalem to fulfill the WORD of GOD and to fulfill the Will of God.”

Who Is This Man?

The British author Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary of C.S. Lewis, writes: “HE is the only GOD Who has a date in history…There is no more astonishing collection of phrases than those which are in the Nicene Creed:

In this Creed

It sets 2 statements pointedly side by side:

1. “Very God of Very God” and

2. “HE suffered under Pontius Pilate”

All over the world, thousands of times (esp. Sundays) a day, Christians recite the name of a rather undistinguished Roman proconsul, Pontius Pilate….…merely because that name fixes within a few years, the date of the Death of God, Jesus the Son.

Who Is This Man?

1. We find the earliest prophecy in Gen. 3:15:

Adam: “HE is the Seed of the woman that shall bruise the serpent’s head” (meaning HE would deal a death blow to Satan’s head at the cross).

2. Jacob tells us: “HE is Shiloh (Christ) of the tribe of Judah” (Judah, Jacob’s fourth son, is the one of the twelve listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ)

3. Isaiah calls Jesus: “Immanuel” (God with us), “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”

4. Jeremiah tells us: He is “The Branch of David” meaning that Jesus would be in the kingly line…14 generations later, a descendent of King David

5. Daniel: “He is the Messiah”

6. Hosea: “He is the LORD GOD of hosts, the LORD is His Name”

7. John the Baptist: “He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”

8. God the Father (Matt. 3:17) proclaims from His Throne in Heaven:

“This is MY Beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased.”

9. Even the demons acknowledge HIM, saying, “We know Who You are..the Holy One of God!”

10. Finally, his disciples, who would later die, all of them dying martyr’s deaths except John, because of their belief in HIM, their love for HIM: declare: “This is Jesus, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer of the World”…..

Who Is This Man?

Did the crowds greeting Jesus so joyfully, so enthusiastically coming into Jerusalem, get it right as they shouted out, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!” meaning “Save Now!”……..Perhaps the answer is “yes” and “no”…

Most of them wanted to be saved, but from what? From the Romans? Yes. From poverty? Perhaps? ……They wanted a KING they could bow to, even serve and to an extent follow…..but for many, when they realized that this “king” would not ascend to an earthly throne….rather HE would be captured, beaten, despised, rejected….and publicly humiliated on a common cross between two thieves….they realized that this was not the KING they were looking for…..And so many of them turned away, even ran away…perhaps out of fear, or pressure from the religious leaders (They wanted the “praise of men more than the praise of God”) ? ….Others simply lost interest in Someone Who would not further their own interests.

What about us? Would we have been part of that crowd

who had cheered HIM so loudly on Sunday, but then on Friday would have joined with the voices screaming: “Crucify HIM,

Crucify HIM!”………..

Jesus had made a “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem…..but had never entered, had never been invited to make that triumphal entry into their hearts …..HE stood at the door of their hearts and knocked….and said, “if anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with ME”…..but they chose to ignore His knock because they knew that opening the door of their hearts would mean following the Way of the Cross….

As we meditate on that 1st Palm Sunday (Jesus Triumphal entry into Jerusalem), has the “festive” spirit of that day drowned out the underlying tone of sadness emanating from our LORD? Isaiah describes HIM, JESUS, as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. Jesus was sad because HE knew what was in the heart of man. He knew that, despite the evidence (the miracles, the words He spoke), His people had “not believed His message”…

And so, the triumphal entry would lead to the CROSS…that there tragedy would begin to turn into triumph…the CROSS, where He, poor wounded Savior, would pour out His blood in order to do what none of us could do, save us from the sin that separated them from God.

However, as we know, the story doesn’t end here…or in the cold and lonely tomb Jesus was placed in….The first witness, Mary Magdalene, testifies in the very first “Easter” sermon to the disciples: “I have seen the LORD, and HE told me to go to My Brethren and say to them ‘I ascend to My Father your Father, and My God and your God”…..reminding all of them, and ourselves,

that HE will return again, in the air and later into Jerusalem where HE will finally reign as King…..In I Thess. 4 we read, “from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first..Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air, and so we shall always be with the LORD…..Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”

Jesus tells us in Luke 17, “There shall be two in one bed; one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two men shall be in the field; one will be taken, and the other will be left”…Jesus wants us to know that not all of mankind are to be caught up in the air in the clouds. The implication of this parable is, “Be ready, be prepared, take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is. We are not told when “the King is coming”, but we are told that His coming is sure, and we are charged to watch for it. And, the hard things of our lives become more bearable as we keep “looking to Jesus”, preparing for His soon return.

How important is our LORD’s second coming? In the New Testament it is mentioned and referred to more than 350 times. Paul’s epistles mention or refer to baptism 13 times, but Paul mentions the Return of the LORD 50 times.

Colonel Clark, the founder of the Pacific Garden mission in Chicago, put in six nights out of every seven at the mission as long as he lived. One day somebody said to him:

“Colonel, why don’t you take some rest? You are killing yourself by sticking to that mission so close. Why don’t you take a vacation and go away somewhere and rest?”

“I can’t do it, brother,” answered the colonel. “I could never do that, for every time I start for the mission, I think, maybe the last man may be saved in our little meeting tonight, and the Lord will come; and I wouldn’t miss being at my post for anything in the world. When Jesus comes I want to be right where He expects me to be.”

Who Is This man?

Who is this man who has inspired such devotion over the centuries?

He, to many, seemed an ordinary man..and this He had become so HE could walk among us; but, HE was more than ordinary….He was extraordinary

in a way that no man or woman had been, or could have been, or ever will be

because HE was and is the CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD…

He IS THE KING OF GLORY…and one day “every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that “Jesus Christ is LORD.”

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