Today, we are celebrating Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. All four Gospels describe Palm Sunday because it was a significant event in the life of Jesus and in the history of Christianity. It marks the beginning of Holy Week, which is the last week of Jesus’ life on earth leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection.
We are going to think about what this significant event means to us and what God is telling us to do with His teaching through it. I will be reading from Matthew 21:1-17. I believe you are familiar with this story. So, at this time, as I read this scripture passage, I invite you to imagine yourself as one of the disciples or people who lined the streets of Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.
Observe Jesus riding on a donkey, surrounded by His disciples and followed by a crowd of people. See how people are reacting and hear what they are saying. As you do so, sense your feeling in the event and reflect on how this significant event can be relevant to your life today.
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.’”
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 to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
The Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
It was the beginning of Passover. The Jews remembered God’s deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery. Many Jews from various regions were gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate it, and the city was filled with people.
This Passover crowd was composed of at least three groups: the Jews who lived in Jerusalem, the crowd from Galilee where Jesus spent most of His life and did His ministry, and the people who had witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
The people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem likely knew about him from various sources, including his teachings, his miracles, and the rumors that spread about him. Jesus had been traveling throughout the region for some time, preaching and performing miracles, and his reputation had grown, which convinced many people that he was the promised Messiah.
The Jewish people had been waiting for a Messiah for centuries, as prophesied in the scriptures. They were familiar with the prophecies about a king who would save them from their enemies and establish a new kingdom. When they saw Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, they recognized this as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, which says,
‘Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
They welcomed Jesus with great excitement and shouted, ‘” Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”’
The Jews’ Expectations from Jesus
However, later, they changed their attitudes towards Jesus and killed Him.
There were various factors that contributed to it. But one of them was a big difference between what they expected from Jesus and what Jesus was going to accomplish.
The Roman Empire had conquered Judea and established its rule over the Jewish people. This meant that the Jews were subject to Roman taxation, military occupation, and the enforcement of Roman laws. The Roman occupation was deeply resented by the Jews.
So, the Jewish people expected a Messiah to come with political and military power who would overthrow the Roman government, free them from Roman oppression, and restore their national independence.
But Jesus’ focus was totally different. He came to establish the Kingdom of God, to proclaim the good news of salvation, and to fulfill God’s plan for the redemption of humanity including Romans. This was a significant departure from their expectations, and it might have disappointed even His disciples.
Another reason was that Jesus’ teachings challenged the man-made traditional Jewish beliefs and practices of the time, which many Jewish leaders found threatening. They were concerned with protecting their own interests, authority, and power.
Our Expectations from Jesus
Before I read today’s scripture passage, I invited you to imagine yourself as one of those who were on the streets of Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday. I trust that you welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem or into your life. What were your expectations from Him? What did you hope he would free you from? Maybe from your struggles or heavy burdens in your lives that you are facing.
Our life is not easy in this broken world. We all face numerous struggles and life issues, and they are always included in our prayer requests. People struggle with physical or mental health issues that can greatly impact their lives. Financial issues can cause stress and anxiety for many people.
Conflicts with family members, friends, or others can cause emotional pain and a lot of stress. People may struggle with addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other vices that are damaging to their health and relationships. Losing a loved one is a very difficult and painful experience. Grief can take various forms and can impact us seriously.
Like the Jews, it is easy for us to become caught up in our own problems or our life issues right in front of us. We often forget about the most fundamental reason that causes all the sufferings, pains, or struggles in our lives and about Christ’s mission to bring all His people back to His kingdom.
It’s certainly important for us to find relief from life’s burdens, but we won’t be able to fully experience this freedom until His kingdom has been fully established. That Kingdom of God is the focus of Jesus and should also be our focus.
The Way of Jesus for Victory: Obedience and Humility
In the Garden of Eden, humanity fell into sin through disobedience and pride.
Adam and Eve focused on what they wanted rather than what God wanted for them. They prioritized their desire over God’s desire. They put themselves in the place of God and became the center of their lives. They chose to follow their will rather than God’s will and took their own path. As a result, they became sinners, lost without hope.
In Jesus, we see the perfect obedience and humility. God, out of love, wanted to save us. Jesus left the glories of heaven and took on the form of a servant. Adam and Eve wanted to become like God, but Jesus put Himself in the place of a servant. Adam and Eve wanted Pride, but Jesus became weak to be judged to save the weak. He chose to sacrifice Himself to follow God’s will. He willingly submitted to the will of the Father and became obedient unto death on the cross for us.
The Way of Jesus for Victory: Peace
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in order to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. Then, what does riding on a donkey signify? In Roman times, kings or conquerors would ride in chariots or war horses to show their authority and power over a conquered land. However, in times of peace, the king would ride on a colt to symbolize that peace prevailed. So, riding on a donkey or colt was a symbol of peace in Jesus’ time.
It was also seen as a sign of humility and gentleness, rather than grandeur and power, and was associated with a ruler who sought peace and justice rather than conquest and domination. So, for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem on a colt was to declare that He was the Prince of Peace, comes in humility and gentleness, not as a conqueror but as a servant.
As the followers of Christ, we need to embrace humility and gentleness in our lives. This world is always seeking power and control, but we should strive to be peacemakers and servants. Christ shows us that true strength and authority come not from power or control, but from love, humility, and gentleness. Just as Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace, we should bring His peace to our neighbors and this world as His followers.
The Way of Jesus for Victory: Submission
Jesus planned and promoted a public demonstration on Palm Sunday. Up to this time, He had cautioned people not to tell who He was, and He had deliberately avoided public scenes. But now, He allowed it to be said in public.
On Palm Sunday, the crowd publicly acclaimed Jesus as their king both by their words and deeds. They shouted Hosanna. Jesus knew that the Jewish leaders would conclude that Jesus had to be destroyed and take actions. He knew He would be crucified on Passover. But He didn’t hesitate or stop. He still moved on.
And Jesus won victory through his sacrificial death and resurrection. He willingly submitted to God’s plan of redemption for humanity and suffered on the cross, taking the punishment for the sins of all people. His death was not the end. He rose from the dead three days later, proving His power over sin and death. Through his victory, he made a way for all who believe in him to have eternal life and be reconciled to God.
Jesus the King Comes to You
God led His people out of slavery in Egypt and towards the promised land, using signs and wonders to demonstrate His power and glory. In Jesus, we see the ultimate Exodus, as He leads us out of slavery to sin and death and towards the promised land of eternal life, using signs and wonders to demonstrate His divinity and authority.
We live in this sinful world. This world is full of broken people who are self-centered and only look at what benefits them. There was no hope. But Jesus won victory through humility and obedience to God, and full submission to God’s will. Jesus opened the way to the Kingdom of God for us, and we are full of hope.
As we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, we need to remember that Jesus took the very humble and challenging course that He didn’t deserve at all, to come to us, and to save us. The way of life for true victory is in Jesus. The life of Christ is not just something we need to know but is something we should live out.
Jesus is the perfect model who we can fully trust and follow. Jesus comes to each one of us individually through the Holy Spirit, inviting us to continue to follow His lead towards the ultimate victory.
Leave a Reply