Matthew 21: 1-11
His entire life had been orchestrated for this moment. The Virgin Birth, the exile into Egypt, the return to Nazareth, the Temple experience at age 12, the baptism in the Jordon River by John the Baptist, the Temptation Experience, the 3 years of public ministry—all of those were events that were propelling Him towards His destiny, His reason for existence, His mission in life.
And now Jesus had reached His final week –a week in which the Gospels include more details of his life than all the rest of his 33 years combined. And today, Sunday, the First Day of the Week, the day immediately following their Sabbath—this day in history was the launch day for His final week before His mission would be accomplished.
I. AND SO IT BEGAN WITH A DAY WE CALL PALM SUNDAY—HIS TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
a. From the western slopes of the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead. They found a donkey and its colt and brought them to Jesus. It would seem this had been pre-arranged, though many scholars believe that it was not. They hold that this was a display of Jesus’ omniscience, all-knowing, Divine ability. I have to say it would have been very unlikely that a pre-set time and place could have been arranged so precisely. Jesus had been out of Judea for several days. They had no cell-phones to call ahead to announce the exact time he would be arriving. It must have been one of those divinely orchestrated events. The owners of the animals immediately gave their permission when they were told “The Lord needs them.” They must have been acquainted with Jesus. They must have looked upon Him with favor. Pre-arranged agreement or divinely orchestrated event—the disciples found the animals, secured permission to use them, and took them back up the mountain slopes to Jesus. And Jesus chose to ride on the colt—a young donkey that had never been ridden before. And the colt allowed him to do so without any objection.
b. When I was a young teenager my hometown had a contest that included giving away a Shetland pony. A friend of my dad’s won it, but had no place to keep it. So my Dad agreed to take it to our farm and keep it until the man could decide what he wanted to do with it. We didn’t have a horse trailer, but our farm was only a couple miles out of town, so my dad had me and a friend to walk the pony to our home. The pony seemed so gentle and did not at all resist the halter and leash and walked calmly with us all the way home. In fact the pony was so gentle that, after we reached our home, I decided I just had to ride it. The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground the pony was running full speed back towards town. My dad jumped in is pickup and we finally caught up with it and brought it back to the pen, but though we tried several times, none of us were successful in breaking the pony to ride. It was really humiliating.
c. But the colt that Jesus rode was on a divine mission and it freely submitted to its rider—the Lord Jesus.
d. Word that Jesus was approaching reached the streets of Jerusalem and people by the 100s turned out and lined the mountain lane down the mountain slope and into the gates of the Holy City. Coats were spread along the pathway, and people waved Palm Branches as they cried out “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” We are told in Luke’s Gospel that some of the Pharisees objected, but Jesus refused to silence the Crowd, saying, “…If these keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19: 40).
e. As we consider this event, remember these things:
1. Jesus and the Twelve had been away from Jerusalem for several weeks because the leaders had sought to have him executed. Coming back in such a public display was a confrontation—and “in your face” gesture by Jesus letting those enemies know that He was back in town. “You want me? Here I am!”
2. The whole description of the Triumphal Entry was an enactment of the prophecy in Zachariah that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a colt of a donkey. Jesus was in fact demonstrating to his followers that he was the long-expected Messiah!
3. The Reception of Praise by the crowds served as a demonstration that not everyone was His enemy. The religious leaders would see the multitudes and have to regroup to plan a way to arrest Jesus without becoming victims themselves of the wrath of Jesus’ followers.
4. The whole Event served as an invitation to make a choice as to what they would do with Jesus. That is a choice we still are making today: What will you do with Jesus?
II. THE WEEK’S EVENTS.
a. This final week in the public life of Jesus was filled to the brim.
i. There was the Cleansing of the Temple—again an open affront to the corrupt practices of those who were supposed to be the Religious leaders in Israel.
There was the cursing of the fig tree—Another display of Jesus’ Divine Power, that served as an object lesson to teach the disciples the power of faith in God that was at their disposal. There were the hours Jesus spent in the Temple Compound teaching about the Kingdom of God. There was the incident in the Temple when a widow gave a small offering and Jesus praised her because she gave her all! There was the discourse on the end of our age, and the Second Coming of Christ that Matthew records in chapters 24 & 25. And then the time of the Passover arrived…
III. THE CLIMAX OF THE WEEK…
a. Jesus and his disciples met in an upper room to eat the Passover meal together. It would be what we know now as “The Last Supper.” We read in John’s Gospel how, as they were all settling in, Jesus shocked them by donning the servant’s towel and washing the disciples’ feet. This shocking move must have burned on their hearts as Jesus demonstrated the role they were to imitate—the role of a servant. The words Jesus had uttered just a short time before when James & John had asked for seats at his right and left hand: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He shocked them again by declaring, “One of you will betray me!” And Judas slipped out into the night to inform the authorities where they would be able to find Jesus. And then, He shocked them again when he departed from the traditional ceremony of the Passover Meal and broke bread and gave to them to eat, saying, “This is my Body.” And then he passed to them the cup, declaring of the wine,”Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…” John recalls that Jesus spent time giving them instructions about the Holy Spirit and about loving others, and keeping His Commandments. And then they sang a song and left the room to go to the place called Gethsemane, literally, “The Oil Press.” It was a grove of Olive Trees, probably where Jesus and the 12 had often camped when they were in Jerusalem.
And there Jesus was arrested…
b. The Climax was at hand: The arrest, the mockery of a trial, and finally the crucifixion that seemed like an execution but was really the Battle for the souls of Humanity. Jesus deliberately went to the Cross. He willingly took our sins upon himself, becoming the Scapegoat for our sins, the Ransom for our freedom, the Redemption price to release us from slavery to sin, the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the entire world!
The cry of the crowds on that Palm Sunday so many centuries ago was, “Hosanna to the Son of David”—literally meaning, “O save us, Son of David.”
And today, some 2000+ years later, our cry must still be, “O Save Us!” For In Jesus alone do we have hope of salvation.
In just a moment we will once again receive the Bread and Juice of the Last Supper. We are instructed by Jesus to partake of it “In Remembrance of Him.” It is a sacrament that points us not only to His death, but also to His Resurrection and Coming Again.
Search your heart today, and allow the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Christ—to reveal your soul’s condition to you. And then cry out to Him for His Mercy and forgiveness and Cleansing.
Jesus: Hosanna! Save us, dear Jesus! Our hope is in You alone!