Palm Sunday

March 24, 2024
Palm Sunday
And it came about that when He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying ‘Go into the village opposite you, in which as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it, and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it? Thus shall you speak, The Lord has need of it.’” 
Luke 19:29-31

Everyone loves a parade! Perhaps that is why – other than the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus – there is no event from the life of Jesus that is better known than His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we refer to today as “Palm Sunday.” Christ’s entry into Jerusalem marks the beginning of Passion Week as Jesus enters the city for the last time. 

Historians estimate that by the time Jesus entered Jerusalem, more than two million people would have come from all over Israel for the observance of Passover, the annual feast that celebrated Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As many as 250,000 lambs were purchased and would be sacrificed as part of that observance. Jesus knew this. In fact, He planned it so that He could identify Himself with the declaration of John the Baptist who had designated Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 

And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it. And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road. And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, saying,  ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 
Luke 19:37-38

As Jesus entered the city, He knew what was awaiting Him there. He knew that He would be betrayed, arrested, mocked, beaten, and ultimately crucified by the Roman authorities. But on this special day He permitted the public demonstration that took place as He rode into the city on the back of a donkey. This, too, was in fulfillment of a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Zechariah that the Messiah would come – not as a conquering king or military leader – but as a humble man of peace, riding on a donkey. 

What an incredible scene this must have been. From the Mount of Olives, as Jesus descended into Jerusalem, He would round a curve and the city would be spread out in front of Him. It was a magnificent sight, a breathtaking panorama.  A crowd welcomed Him, cheering “Hosanna” (which means “Save us now”) and declaring “Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.” And as they shouted, they put down their cloaks and cut palm branches to pave the way.  

Some in the crowd were true believers who recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Others were curious onlookers, pilgrims who had come for Passover and were attracted by the spectacle. Jesus understood that the “Hosannas” of praise would in a few days become shouts of “Crucify Him.” This one who was greeted as a king on Palm Sunday would suffer and die under a placard that read, “The King of the Jews.” His triumphal entry into Jerusalem would force the hand of the Pharisees and the religious establishment and precipitate the event that He had come to fulfill – His sacrificial death on the Cross on our behalf.