Summary: I want invite you to take a three month journey with me on the greatest week in history. This series is devoted to the most important person who’s ever lived on His most important week. This is the week of Christ’s final entry into Jerusalem as well as His death, burial, and resurrection.
Today, I want invite you to take a three month journey with me on the greatest week in history. This series is devoted to the most important person who’s ever lived on His most important week. This is the week of Christ’s final entry into Jerusalem as well as His death, burial, and resurrection. Bracketed by Palm Sunday on one end and Easter Sunday on the other, this is the most important week in history.
Before we read our passage, allow me to set the scene for day one, Palm Sunday. It’s early Sunday morning some 120 hours before Jesus will be crucified. And while He’s predicted His death numerous times, only He feels the countdown to His death at this point. It is the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, either April 2, AD 30 or March 29 AD 33 on our calendars. And Scripture records Jesus doing three items on this day:
1) Jesus triumphantly enters into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday; 2) He enters Jerusalem to look around the Temple late in the day; 3) And He returns back to Bethany. And so begins the greatest week in history…
Today’s Scripture Passage
And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:28-44).
It’s the palm branches that make this day unique in so many ways. For centuries, the church has memorialized today, the first day of Holy Week, as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches and cloaks that the people spread out before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. The Gospel writers tell us a crowd gathered, gushing with excitement, and lined the road in front of Jesus as he slowly rode into the city. As He made his way, one step at a time by the beast of burden on which he sat, a sort of carpet was being sewn together ahead of him. Fresh, green palm branches, presumably picked from nearby trees, and thick, worn clothing, likely from the backs of the crowd, formed a tapestry of endearment toward Israel’s long-awaited messiah.
1. Jesus’ Final Week
All four of the gospels throw the brakes on when they arrive at the final week of Jesus’ life. About forty percent of the gospels focus on this one-week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. When we consider the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, many of us think of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday but everything else gets a little fuzzy. In fact, the four gospels record some forty events over the course of these eight days.
Passover isn’t for several more days but all of Israel is preparing for it. While the city of Jerusalem was normally around 40,000 in population at this time it would swell up for the Passover celebration. Yet, as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jerusalem would have as many as three times it’s normal size. Think of a miniaturized version of Super Bowl time at Jerry’s World in Arlington and you get the picture. The city was alive with people and excitement as Jesus entered the city for it was the time of the Passover celebration. The great crowd is made up of pilgrims have come to Jerusalem for the Feast for Passover. It was an exciting place. It was a crowded place. And it was a busy place.