Palm Sunday Reflection

palm sunday

PALM SUNDAY

I have always been perplexed by how the people ushering Jesus into Jerusalem with shouts of praise one day, could so quickly turn in just a matter of days into a mob yelling “crucify, crucify”.  As the story, of the first Palm Sunday, unfolds in Matthew 21:9 “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!”

This episode is the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken about this day in the book of Zechariah chapter 9. Some 500 plus years before the event.

THE COMING KING

Zechariah 9:9 NIV

“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.”

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE?

It made me question if I were one of the 1st century Jews, would I have turned equally as easy against the messiah.   I am asking myself what was going through their head, what were they thinking?  There had to be something in play which I am not thinking about in my 20th century life.

I can see by watching our news how people can get caught up in the crowd and do things they normally would not do. Like, storm the capital in Washington DC, or riot in the streets for a cause they seemingly know so little about when questioned why they are involved.   With the help of social media and the news I know some of the insider information which led to the above-mentioned actions in our country.  But what about 1st century Jerusalem. What was going on that would aid in this crazy turn of events.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

 After digging through The Bible, I found several things I was not thinking about. I mean, I had heard about them before, but I didn’t put myself in the position of the hearer, The 1st century Jew.  I did not connect the dots into a full picture.

THE MESSIAH WOULD BE THE COMING ONE TO WHOM THE SCEPTER BELONGS. THE PROPHECY FROM ANCIENT TIMES.

Genesis 49:10 NIV

“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”

 A SCEPTER IS ALWAYS SPOKEN OF IN CONJUNCTION WITH A KING.  BORN KING OF THE JEWS.

This is the prophecy read to Herod by his chief priests and teachers of the law when he questioned why the magi came from the east and asked where is this one who was born king of the Jews.

Micah 5:2 NIV

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

 THE MESSIAH WOULD BE ACCLAIMED.

Psalm 118 was one of the Hallel Psalms (Psalms of Praise) recited at Passover time. All four Gospels record that as Jesus entered Jerusalem in the days leading up to Passover, crowds gathered, acclaiming Jesus as the one “who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26). 

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord, we bless you” (Psalms 118:26).

THE MESSIAH WOULD COME WITH VENGEANCE AND WILL BRING HEALING…

Isaiah 35:4-6 NIV

“Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.”

BECAUSE OF ALL THE HEALINGS CHRIST WAS DOING THIS APPEARED TO BE THE FULFILLMENT OF THIS.

NOT ONLY THE PEOPLE WILL BE HEALED, BUT THE LAND ALSO.

Isaiah 35:6-10

“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.  And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.  No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

 DOESN’T THAT SOUND AMAZING…

 THE CROWD WAS HUNGRY FOR ACTION.

 It is clear to me after reading these prophecies, prophecies I am sure the average man in those days knew about. The messiah was going to bring more than just healing to sick people. He is going to bring divine retribution to save the people. One who will rule over Israel. One who will heal the land.  The crowd wanted this to all happen right now.

PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE

 Zechariah 9:9 Mentioned above speaks of the Righteous King riding in on the donkey victorious. Then Zechariah 9:10-13 Speaks of Christ’s return.

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim (the northern exiles) and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.  “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.  Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.  I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword” (Zechariah 9:12).

Zechariah 9:14, the very next prophesy, speaks of both the past battle where the northern Kingdom was brought down to the Southern Kingdom and how they were victorious over the Greeks. Which had already happened. These verses are also figurative of a future battle which is yet to come. The second coming of Christ.

I borrowed the following analogy from my Life Application Study Bible

Have you ever been traveling along, and you look ahead and see a couple of mountains in the distance? They may look remarkably close together in fact they may look so close together they look like they are touching one another. However, as you get closer to the mountains you realize they were actually extremely far apart from one another. Maybe even separated by a huge Valley. And so, it is with the prophecies in Zechariah 9:9 and Zechariah 9:10

THE LORD WILL APPEAR!

“Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the Lord Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones. They will drink and roar as with wine, they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.  The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.  How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women” (Zechariah 9:14-17 NIV).

Remember when Jesus fed the 5000 in the book of John the story is told this way.

John 6:14-15

“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

MY CONCLUSION

It is clear the people were so anxious to get out from under the oppression which they lived in and they failed to see things how they really were.  No doubt there was a desire within them to live in the times which the foretold prophecies depicted. Times of peace and plenty and freedom. They wanted a king who would take charge and rally an army to defeat the Romans with the power of God at their back.

 When Jesus failed to do what they wanted him to do they retaliated with anger and frustration.

Let us not forget we have an enemy who had a plan to kill the messiah. I am sure he was hard at work trying to sway the minds of people.  I am sure Satan was stirring the pot everywhere. Remember he was even doing it within the 12 chosen disciples.  Event at the last supper it says immediately Satan entered Judas.

It is hard to say what I believe it would have done knowing what they knew. I hope I would have looked at all the signs and saw the Christ as he truly was the son of the living God.

Going Deeper

Have you ever found yourself pondering the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and how praise turned to hate so quickly?

Do you ever wrestle with the notion, “I would not have done that”?

In the light of recent events in the world can you relate more to how it went sideways so quickly?

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