Summary: Palm Sunday

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[from Christianity Today]

Palm Sunday celebrates the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Test your knowledge of that day’s events, recorded in all four Gospels, with these true or false statements.

1. According to the Gospels, the people waved palm branches when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

1. False (Matt. 21:6, Mark 11:8, Luke 19:36, John 12:13). None of the four Gospels say the people "waved" branches but that they spread garments and branches in Jesus’ path. Only John mentions palm branches, a tree not native to Jerusalem.

2. The date of Jesus’ triumphal entry-five days before Passover-was a special holiday in his time.

2. True. It wasn’t called Palm Sunday in Jesus’ day, but each Israelite family chose the lamb they would sacrifice for Passover on the tenth day of the month. As the people shouted "Hosanna," they didn’t realize they were choosing the Lamb of God as their sacrifice.

3. By their actions, the people were publicly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.

3. True. When Solomon was anointed king, he rode into the city on a mule, to the shouts and praises of the people (1 Kings 1:43-45). Zechariah prophesied the Messiah would arrive the same way "gentle and riding on a donkey" (Zech. 9:9).

4. The fact that Jesus rode a donkey portrayed him as a warrior king.

4. False. Conquering kings would ride war horses; the donkey symbolized peace and humility (Zech. 9:9, 10). Jesus’ entry was a stark contrast to the war-like Romans, whose military presence was very visible.

5. The shouts of "Hosanna!" meant "Praise the Lord!"

5. False. The Hebrew word Halleluia means "praise the Lord;" Hosanna means "save us!" or "save!" The Palm Sunday crowd falsely assumed that Jesus would bring political liberation.

6. The route Jesus chose for his triumphal entry was down the side of Mount Zion.

6. False. Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives offering him an excellent view of Jerusalem, which is built on Mount Zion. According to Zechariah 14:4, Jesus will again stand on the Mount of Olives at his second coming.

7. When the people spread branches and garments in Jesus’ path it was to pay him honor.

7. True. The people were boldly declaring that Jesus was their king, an accusation eventually written in condemnation above his cross. It was common in Bible times to spread garments in the path of princes and kings, especially at their coronation (see 2 Kings 9:13).

8. The shouts of "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" were words of a Jewish hymn.

8. True. The phrases "Hosanna" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" both come from Psalm 118: 25-26, one of the "Hallel" or praise psalms (113-118) used every Passover. These Jewish hymns would be as familiar to the Jewish people as Christmas carols are to Christians.

We have been talking about the various paradoxes of Christian faith. Two weeks ago we talked about Good Works of Faith. Last week we discussed finding Freedom in Obedience. Next week we will be talking about Dying to Live. Today our topic today is Jesus as a Humble King.

There is a story called “Baucis and Philemon” in Greek mythology. It is about Zeus and Hermes disguising themselves as poor travelers. They put off their royal – actually heavenly – robes. They leave Mt. Olympus and wander around earth to see how people treat each other.

I want you to notice how different the popular image of the Greek gods was from the image of God proclaimed by the early church. Look at how different this so-called incarnation of Zeus is from the real incarnation of Jesus.

Zeus came because he wanted to see what was going on. It is clear that the Greeks did not think of their gods as all seeing or all knowing. Jesus did not come to find out what we were doing with our lives, but to show us a better way to live.

When Zeus came to earth, he was only disguised as a mortal, he was not truly mortal. When I was a kid I watched Superman on TV. Clark Kent would wear his super uniform under his clothes. By putting on a pair of glasses, he became unrecognizable, but he was still Superman. If you shot Clark Kent, the bullets bounced off. He appeared to be just another person, but his nature was still Superman. Zeus was like Clark Kent. He appeared to be mortal, but he never really was.

It is often suggested by people within our modern culture that Jesus was originally viewed by the early church as a moral teacher, with the idea of Him as divine coming later. This view is simply wrong. One of the earliest heresies in the church was called Docetism. It was the wrong headed notion that Jesus was like Clark Kent. He may have appeared to be human, but he was truly divine. He only appeared to eat, or sleep. He only appeared to suffer and die on the cross. According to this heresy, because Jesus was God, he could not have been human. It was not Jesus’ divinity that people questioned. It was His humanity that they could not comprehend.

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