Today is Palm Sunday. If you are not sure exactly sure what Palm Sunday is, my hope is to change that for you today. God has given me clear direction of how teach on this topic. My hope is that you will come to understand why Jesus did what He did on this day and how this will impact
your life going forward.
I. What is the Triumphal Entry?
The triumphal entry is mentioned in all for Gospel. All four Gospels say nearly the same thing with a few minor differences in each one. The order of some events slightly differ as well.
Jesus and the disciples were heading to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Passover is when the Jews celebrate the time the Lord passed over their homes in Egypt and spared their firstborn children from death. It is also the time when Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go, which ultimately led to their freedom from slavery and the start of their new lives in the Promised Land.
Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead and now the Jews seem to be convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. This was the third time the disciples came along with Jesus to Jerusalem for Passover, but this time was different. The time had come and this was Jesus’s moment to fulfill what He came to do. The world would never be the same!
Matthew 21:1-11: As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.’ ” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Some key things to know about this event's significance:
1. This was a fulfillment of prophecy (one of many)
Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.
This prophecy was delivered 400 years before its fulfillment!
John 12:16: His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
2. Donkeys and palm branches are symbols of victory
When kings came back victorious from war they would ride in on donkeys. This symbolism would have been significant to the Romans.
Revelation 7:9: After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
3. This was a proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah: the Son of David comes in the name of the Lord
4. Jesus was making a statement that His time had come.
We hear throughout the Gospels Jesus say His hour had not come. Now it had and he was no longer hiding but instead forcing the hand of the Pharisees.
Matthew 2:10: The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
In the original text, Uproar is the same verb used for earthquake. In Luke's account the religious leaders tell Jesus to quiet the people, and He says if they don’t praise Him the rocks will cry out.
II. They had the wrong expectation of the Messiah
Most of the Jews could not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Here's why:
Jesus was born in Bethlehem
Jesus was born in a manger.
Jesus' family comes from Galilee.
Messiah was to be the Exalted One.
Messiah would be greater than Moses.
Messiah would sit at the right hand of the Father.
They couldn't accept Jesus despite several prophecies describing the Messiah coming as a servant. Even those shouting for Jesus on the way to Jerusalem had the wrong idea. They were shouting "Hosanna! Save us now!" and that was what they were expecting. They expected Jesus to deliver them from the oppressive Romans, but that is not what Jesus came to do.
He was not the conquering king they thought He would be. Instead he was the suffering servant who willingly died in the most humiliating way possible. People went from shouting praises to Jesus on Sunday to shouting, "Crucify Him!" on Friday.
I wonder how many of us had the wrong picture of the Messiah. I know several people who have put their faith in Jesus and in the work of the cross but have walked away from Jesus because of various things that happened in their lives.
I believe part of the problem is that people put stipulations on following Jesus. I will follow you if you do this for me. Some people have gone through some difficult things in life and wonder why Jesus would let bad things happen to them. Maybe they even blame Him for causing those things to happen.
Some think salvation is about fitting God in our lives instead of surrendering our lives to Him and becoming a part of His life and His plans. When Jesus doesn’t fit our picture, we bail on Him just like the people we are reading about today.
III. Jesus gave us a clear picture of how we are to live
One of the last teachings Jesus shared with His disciples was taught through demonstration.
John 13:12-15: After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.
There are several verses where Jesus is trying to get this message across. The mother of James and John asks Jesus if her sons could sit on the right and left side of Him in His Kingdom, which causes an argument among the disciples. Who would be the greatest?
Matthew 20:26-28: Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus tells the disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.
John 13:34-35: So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
This verse carries on the theme of serving one another through his foot-washing teaching. He is giving them this new commandment. It's new because it presents a new standard - the love of Jesus. The servant-like, selfless love that Christians display toward one another witnesses to the world that they are true disciples.
Let's not make Palm Sunday something that we celebrate once a year. I don’t know where you are at with Jesus today. Maybe you had a different picture of what your life would look like when you decided to put your faith in Jesus. Maybe you had different expectations of what Jesus would do for you and now that He has failed your expectations, you are no longer committed to following Him.
Maybe you have realized that you have tried to fit Jesus into your life instead of pouring your life into Him. You find yourself always consumed with your own life instead of living a life that is selfless and sacrificing.
We need to ask ourselves this question: if those in this world look at us, would they see a group of people that genuinely love one another? Would our love even draw them to a place where they would want to follow Christ?