This morning, we celebrate Palm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday!
Although we haven’t been meeting for our community services this year, most churches have been moving through the season of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days set apart for prayer, repentance, and sacrifice to remember and to honor the sacrifice of Jesus beginning with Ash Wednesday.
Today marks the beginning of the last week in the earthly life of Jesus where we really see His passion for His purpose to seek and save the lost become clear. It begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where the people honor Him rightfully as their King and Savior. He entered the city riding on a colt indicating that He was entering in peace and in victory.
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Zech. 9:9)
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna (Save Us!) to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Psalm 118:25,26)
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
Oh, the many identity crises surrounding who Jesus was! One thing was certain, though. Jesus knew who He was, what His purpose was, and what He was about to accomplish for you and I and even for the crowds now shouting “Hosanna!” whom soon would be shouting “Crucify!”
All of this was done to fulfill what God had spoken through the prophets.
7 Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared—
who will not fear?
In fact, even the laying down of palm branches was a prophetic act. There will come a day when we lay down palm branches before Jesus not to proclaim Him as victorious King prophetically, but as the fulfillment of that prophecy! As the archangel Gabriel told Mary regarding Jesus’ birth:
For no word from God will ever fail.
The apostle John was given a glimpse into the end times when the roaring Lion of Judah, Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega, is found to be the only one worthy in Heaven and earth to open the scroll which unleashes the great tribulation leading to the end of all things. He then wrote:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leading us to springs of living water, satisfying our hunger and thirst, and sheltering us with His presence. Oh, that day which John foresaw! Those who chose Jesus here and now will enjoy this provision for all eternity; it is our destiny. Today is when we make that choice to receive or to reject His salvation.
All these things God promises to do now for those who place Jesus on the center of the throne of their lives. Today, we throw down our palm leaves symbolic of laying down our lives for Jesus in the ultimate act of true and proper worship. Only when we lay down our lives before Jesus, enthroning Him as our King and our Savior, will He in return be able to shelter us with His presence
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Why not allow Jesus to be our shepherd now? Why not follow His lead and drink from springs of living water so that we will never thirst again? Why not take shelter in His presence and find refuge under His wings?
In this life, we face all of the same trials, troubles, and tribulations that the rest of the world faces, but we don’t handle them the same way. A thousand may fall by our side and ten thousand by our right hand, but that which causes fear and terror and destruction to the world around us is not our fate.
You will tread on the lion and cobra, trample the great lion and serpent. As you follow the lead of the Great Shepherd, He will answer you and rescue you and be with you and deliver you and honor you. You will live a satisfied life as you receive the fulfillment of your salvation.
When you fear God, all other fears melt away in the greatness of His love.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Trusting in the Lord enables Him to shelter us with His presence. It enables us to be kept safe under His protective covering. Following His lead and being right in the center of His will for our lives is the safest place to be.
No, this doesn’t mean that we won’t get hurt in life. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face hardships and trials and sickness and lack. It does mean that we will rise victorious over them all, though! We all know what is coming next week; the ultimate living and historical example of this reality.
Jesus lay down His life, trusting it into His Father’s hands. Yes, Jesus was mocked and falsely accused and falsely condemned. Yes, His body was broken and His blood poured out. So much so that Isaiah prophesied that his appearance would be disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness. Yes, His broken body lay dead in a grave for three days. Oh, but that was not the end of His story!
What Jesus chose to lay down, the Heavenly Father chose to raise up through the power of the Holy Spirit! Jesus calls us to take up our crosses and to follow Him. That may mean that we are going to follow Him through some really difficult seasons, but we’re just passing through them. Jesus calls us to follow Him to a victory from His victory!
This morning, as we lay down our palms and as we lay down our lives, let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author, the pioneer, the perfector, the victor! We’re following Him to a victory!