Summary: There are important truths for us sprinkled in this passage that I don’t want us to miss… especially as we direct our hearts towards the events of Jesus’ last week and what we focus on at Easter.
PALM SUNDAY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
INTRODUCTION… PALM SUNDAY
This week is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the Sunday where we celebrate Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem, often called the ‘Triumphal Entry’ which begins the last week of Jesus’ life. He enters Jerusalem on Sunday. By Friday, He is dead.
It is also called Passion Sunday, Lazarus Sunday, Willow Sunday, Flower Sunday, Palmzondag, or Blumensonntag (https://religionfacts.com/palm-sunday). I am sure in whatever language Christians speak, there is a name for the Sunday before Easter because it was an important day in Jesus’ life.
The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church around the 280s or 290s. I consider that quite a long time ago. Ceremonies consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons as people moved through the numerous holy sites within the city of Jerusalem. At the last site which happened to be outside the city, the place of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the clergy would read the biblical account of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and then as evening approached, the people would return to the city reciting: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9).
In the 400s, the celebration had spread from Jerusalem to other churches. It wasn’t until the 500s and 600s that the Sunday before Easter was set aside with Palm Branches and such. By the 700s, Christians all over were celebrating “Dominica in Palmis” or “Palm Sunday.” (allaboutjesuschrist.org/palm-sunday.htm)
No, this sermon is not a history lesson, but I thought it was interesting to note that Christians have been celebrating Palm Sunday (what we are celebrating today) yearly for quite some time and for a particular reason. Palm Sunday engages our minds and spirits and has us look forward to next week in which we celebrate Easter. Palm Sunday helps to orient our hearts towards the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ death did not happen all of a sudden, but was the culmination of human plans and more importantly the will of God.
So, what happened on Palm Sunday?
THE EVENTS OF PALM SUNDAY
We find the events of Palm Sunday in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12. So how about this… you all group up and study Matthew 21… you all over there take a look at Mark 11… everyone in the back get into Luke 19… I am kidding of course. We find the events of Palm Sunday in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12.
Let’s read from Matthew 21 and as we go through, I want to stop and see the various truths presented so we understand what this day meant and what it didn’t mean. There are important truths for us sprinkled in this passage that I don’t want us to miss… especially as we direct our hearts towards the events of Jesus’ last week and what we focus on at Easter.
THE PLAN OF GOD
READ Matthew 21:1-5 (ESV)
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
I cannot help but see in these verses the working out of the Plan of God. Jesus was fulfilling the plan of God that had been in the works before God even created the world. How do we know that Jesus was the plan before Creation? Other passages in the Bible help us see this truth.
READ 1 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)
“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
READ Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV)
“Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.”
Before God laid the foundations of the world, Jesus Christ was planned to be the Way of Salvation. God had each stage planned out in His power and knowledge and sovereign will. We see that in a very small way as Jesus was beginning to approach Jerusalem.