Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

This morning, we celebrate Palm Sunday.  Though this is a man-made holiday, it is based on a Biblical prophecy that both has been fulfilled and also will be fulfilled again in the future.  Like Jesus, we’re not into man-made traditions around here, but we certainly do love prophecy! 

Not only because prophecy is awesome, but because God’s word also tells us to eagerly desire it and not to despise it.  Prophecy is encouraging and reveals God’s plans and purposes for our future that gives us hope. 

1 Corinthians 14:1 

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 (ESV) 

20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 

Although prophecy is great, it is also commonly misunderstood.  God’s ways are certainly not ours and although He always follows through with what He says, it may not be how we expect it to happen. 

In today’s prophecy, the people had it so right and yet so wrong at the same time.  Unfortunately, we often follow in their footsteps still today… 

The prophecy that we remember and celebrate on this Palm Sunday comes from Zechariah 9.  It’s where God promises to come riding in on a colt, the foal of a donkey, to save His people.  He promises to come as a king to deliver God’s people from all of their enemies and to protect them; restoring double all that has been taken.  He is coming to establish His kingdom across the whole earth. 

When the crowds heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, they were right that they were about to personally see this prophecy come to pass.  However, it only partly looked like they expected it to. 

We pick up this morning where we left off last week after Mary anointed Jesus for His upcoming burial. 

Matthew 21:1-11/Mark 11:1-11/John 12:9-19 

A large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was in Bethany and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. 

Jealousy and rage blind us and lead us to make some pretty, well, let’s just call them what they are; stupid decisions.  If Lazarus dying and then being raised again to life caused large crowds to gather and to believe in Jesus, then what could killing Lazarus again accomplish? 

It would either cause the crowds to hate the chief priests for murdering Lazarus or, if Jesus raised him to life again, cause even more people to believe in Him.  I don’t think that their plan was very well thought through…  In any case, they were determined to murder them both. 

Religion desires to put people back into their grave.  Religion prefers to keep dead bones hidden away in the closet so that we can look good on the outside.   

Freed people want everyone to know how exactly how lost they were and yet now they are found; how completely dead they were and now they’re alive!  There’s no denying the truth and no sugar-coating just how sinful we were when Christ called us out of our graves!  All that this does is bring even more glory to God! 

Sadly, these were the chief priests entrusted to intercede between God and man; anointed for this very task.  There were definitely issues with the Old Covenant not because of God nor His covenant, but with His people who were supposed to be representing Him.  In response, Jesus came to fulfill the old covenant and to create a new covenant with us. 

As they approached Jerusalem the next day and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 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. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 

“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.’” 

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut palm branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” 

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 

Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration and praise meaning, “oh save!”  It is essentially a prayer for salvation combined with praise that proclaims that one is mighty and able to bring salvation.  It’s the perfect word to exclaim to King Jesus!  He alone can save us! Hosanna! 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” 

The issue with the Pharisees and chief priests is obvious.  What isn’t as obvious is the issue that the crowds have.  They lay down their palm branches and cloaks rightly honoring King Jesus who was riding into Jerusalem to save His people and to establish His world-wide kingdom.  He was certainly about to do this, but not as the crowds expected Him to. 

They expected a worldly kingdom and for Jesus to put an end to the Roman empire.  Jesus was handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor to be put to death. 

John 18:33-38 

33 Pilate summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. 

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.” 

The same crowds crying “Hosanna!” to Jesus were just a few days later crying, “Crucify!” to Pilate to kill Jesus.  Truth was still truth.  Jesus was and is a king and was coming to save His people, but His kingdom is not an earthly one, but a Heavenly One that supersedes any earthly kingdom!   

The soldiers guarding Jesus placed a crown of thorns upon His head, a purple robe around Him, and a staff in His hand and mocked Him as they bowed down and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 

They spit on Him and beat Him on the head with the staff.  Above His head on the cross, they placed a sign that read His charge, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”  People passed by and hurled insults at Him hanging there on the cross.  Even all of this mockery was declaring the truth about Jesus! 

With palm branches, we declare that Jesus is King and Savior now still crying out to Him, “Hosanna!”  This will happen once again after the great tribulation at the end of the days.  Not before Jesus in mockery, but before Jesus in glory!  John wrote: 

Revelation 7:9-10;14-17 

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.” 

14 The angel 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.’” 

These are people who chose to put their faith in Jesus and to follow Him throughout times worse than this world has ever seen before.  Just check out chapter 6 to get an idea of just how bad things will be as the first six seals are opened. 

They chose to trust Jesus even though it cost them all that they had; even their very lives.  They chose to follow Jesus while those around them were rebelling against God.  And, they are richly blessed for it! 

Every day, we also have a choice to make.  Which crowd will we be a part of? 

Will we choose to get angry and offended by Jesus like the Pharisees and chief priests? 

Will we choose to cry , “Hosanna!” when we need something from Jesus and “Crucify!” when things don’t go as we want or expect them to? 

Will we choose to wave our palm branches before Jesus as part of the faithful multitude who chose to follow Jesus regardless of the cost? 

The crowd that we chose to live our lives with makes all of the difference!  The anointing that others carry are like a slip-and-slide that we can easily get carried away in as well.  If they are negative complainers, then you’ll find yourself whining among them.  If they are fierce and successful outdoorsmen, you’ll find yourself wanting to go shoot or catch a critter for yourself.  If they are obsessed with sports, you’ll find yourself learning names and stats. 

This can work against us becoming who God created us to be, but it can also expedite us becoming who God created us to be when we find our tribe; our people!  Consider this example as a positive example for us to follow.  We start at the beginning when Saul was unexpectedly anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. 

1 Samuel 10:9-11 

9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 

Many years later, Saul’s heart is changed for the worse through a series of bad choices that he makes to disobey the Lord’s direction.  He’s determined to kill David, the one anointed to replace him as king. 

1 Samuel 19:18-24 

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” 

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. 

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 

We should never underestimate the power of prophecy!  Intentionally choosing to gather together with others and to passionately pursue the Lord’s Presence creates a protective covering like no other!  God’s anointing showed up in such a powerful way!   

The more and more men that were sent to capture and kill David, the more and more people who encountered the Spirit of God and were radically transformed and began prophesying along with the others.  Even Saul, himself, very likely coming in a fit of rage determined to murder David, was completely humbled and prophesied the whole trip to Naioth and all day and night when he arrived. 

Which crowd will we choose to join?  There is power and protection and blessing in the anointing of Spirit-filled believers passionately pursuing the Presence of God and proclaiming prophecy! 

This morning, let’s wave our palms to Jesus as we cry out, “Hosanna!”  Save us, Jesus, the only One mighty and able to do it!  The Anointed One who will fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit!  Let’s join that group of prophets and the countless crowd from every tribe, nation, and language praising Jesus with all they are and all they have!