Summary: this message emphasizes the importance of Palm Sunday as compared to Easter Sunday.
Here we are coming together on what is celebrated as the first day of Holy week. We called today Palm Sunday.
The church attendance on Palm Sunday is usually not as numerous as the attendance will be on Easter Sunday. And yet today is the day that began the week of Jesus's final journey while here on earth. Today is the day that began our quest in the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ conquering death. Shouldn't this be an important day to focus upon?
And today is the day that many go to church and expect to hear a message about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey while His supporters laid down their cloaks and palm leaves in front of Jesus as he made his way into the city of Jerusalem. And yes, that will be mentioned. But that’s not our primary focus.
Yeah, this is the week that images and depictions of Easter come into our minds and into our churches. Images of the cross and the tomb and the hands with holes in them and sermons about crucifixion and resurrection and salvation.
But in many churches the major focus is on Easter, and Palm Sunday seems to be sometimes left on the back burner. But this was an important Sunday. This was the Sunday that began Jesus's journey to the cross and to the tomb. So, I feel very obligated to take this day and celebrate it for what it is - the beginning of what Jesus did so that we might have the hope of eternal life.
This was a phenomenal week and many things occurred during that Holy week. But I'll say more about that in a moment.
As I think about the participants that were there on that Palm Sunday, I think about the people who were strong in their support for this coming Messiah. But we're saddened to know that those that waved the palm branches and shouted, "Hosanna. blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," on that Sunday would turn their backs and be shouting, "Crucify Him," by Friday.
Then you have the Apostles that traveled with Jesus, heard Him preach, saw Him perform miracles, but probably most of all were His friends. This group made promises to Jesus but then turned their backs on Him. I can relate to that.
But I think out of all of the participants that first Palm Sunday, I think I would like to be more like the donkey. I know that sounds funny. But think about it. The donkey was commissioned by Christ to complete a specific task of carrying the Messiah into the city of Jerusalem. I would like to be known as someone who carried Christ into every area of my life.
Shouldn't we all be more like the donkey carrying Christ to our workplaces, into our schools, into our homes. Wouldn't this be a good week for us to make a commitment to carry Christ with us into areas of our lives and introduce Him to people that we know? This would be a good week to do just that.
As I said, many occurrences happened this Holy week. Jesus cleansed the temple. He told many parables. So much more that I'll get to in a minute.
Most Christians have heard about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey while participants waved palm branches. But what is the significance of this day? Why did it happen? Why was it so special?
As we open our story, we see that for the past several weeks Jesus and His disciples have been making their way to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration like thousands of other Jews were doing. Along the way Jesus would heal the blind man, cleanse the ten lepers, He met Zacchaeus, and told many parables. He was attracting a lot of people's attention.
His last stop was at the home of his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. They lived in a small town called Bethany a few miles away from Jerusalem. Jesus didn't go all the way into Jerusalem that day because He knew that the Pharisees were seeking to kill Him and it was not yet His time.
As great as it was for Jesus to be able to hang out with some of His closest friends, there were still huge crowds that followed. They came to Lazarus's house that day, too. They wanted to see this man that Jesus had raised from the dead. Wouldn't we be just as curious as they were?
But Jesus had prophecy to fulfill so the next morning, Sunday morning, Jesus made plans to ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. This would fulfill a prophecy that was spoken by the angel Gabriel in the book of Daniel several hundred years earlier.