“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!” – Matthew 21:1-9 NIV
Today is Palm Sunday, and it heralds the approach of the most Holy and revered day on the Christian calendar – Resurrection Day (or Easter, if you prefer).
For the believer, the whole of who they are is encompassed in the crucifixion, and eventual resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
We celebrate the price Jesus paid on the cross, taking on the death that was the bill for our sins. He paid it all.
Every mistake, every corrupt thought or deed was carried up Golgatha and put away from us on the ripped and bloodied back of our Savior.
As he died, so did our sin, for those who have accepted the atoning blood of Jesus, and as he defeated death and rose on the third day, so our redeemed spirits shall also rise.
But we begin with Palm Sunday.
Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover. He knew this would be his last trip to Jerusalem, at least in the form of a humble teacher and prophet.
When he told his disciples to go and find a young colt, then said they should tell anyone who said anything that the Lord had need of it, he was declaring his divinity openly.
Some have suggested that Jesus did not fully grasp his purpose, but that isn’t so. He was fully aware, not only of why he was sent, but of who he was.
He was Immanuel. God with us.
As he rode into Jerusalem, the Passover crowd laid either their cloaks or palm branches on the path for him to travel over.
Others waved those palm branches to welcome him into the city.
To lay a cloak down for someone was a sign of high respect, and palm branches symbolize victory.
Many in the crowd were aware of all the miracles and wonders that Jesus had performed, not the least of which was raising Lazarus from the dead, after he’d been in his grave for four days.
Surely this was the messiah, because what man could do such things?
So they called out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
“Hosanna” actually means “please save” or “save now.”
The people were not wrong to call out to Jesus in this way, but their vision of the Messiah was so very limited. It was limited by their circumstances.
They had been under oppression by the Romans and were looking for a great military leader, who would build up an army to defeat their oppressors.
Many zealots had tried and the Romans used uncommon force to bring the people back in line.
The people who saw Jesus’ many miracles saw him as one who could raise up and free them from Roman bondage.
It was the will of God to make them more alive and more free than just from momentary bondage to the Romans.
It was God’s will to free them from their bondage of sin and give them eternal life.
Hosanna – please save – and that’s exactly what Jesus came to do.
He entered Jerusalem meek and willing, the Passover lamb, to a crowd that only saw him through their circumstances, and within days, that same crowd were calling for his brutal death on the cross.
Again, they saw with their flesh, and flesh always fails.
The great joy for us today is that we know the story, and we know how it ends.
Jesus didn’t stay the sacrifice. He died as the lamb, but arose as the lion – a conqueror who took the keys of death, Hell, and the grave from the hands of our enemy before rising again to life.
And in time, he returns as the king, bringing our reward with him.
For believers, just use this week to reflect on the price paid, and ultimately, to rejoice because He is risen, and because he lives, we have the promise of eternal life, as well.