The Events of Palm Sunday, are recorded in all four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Huge crowds had journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
Passover is a spring festival which commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven or eight days.
Passover or Pesach in Hebrew was and still is an important Jewish holiday.
It’s when the Jewish people celebrate God delivering them from slavery in Egypt.
Passover commemorates the Exodus that took place around 1300 BC, or about 3,317 years ago.
God helped the Children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.
The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday.
Historically, together with Shavuot (“Pentecost”) and Sukkot (“Tabernacles”), Pesach, “Passover” is one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire population of the kingdom of Judah made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Can you imagine the huge crowds that had already arrived for the celebration of the Passover? It would have been an amazing site.
So many people gathering in one place to celebrate, to remember what God had done for them.
So many sights and sounds and probably smells too!
I think it would have been exciting to be part of that crowd of pilgrims, young and old, rich and poor, all walking together to celebrate.
Jews travelling from all over the known world and joining together to follow the route from the Mount of Olives, past the Garden of Gethsemane,
across the Kidron Valley,
then up to the Eastern gate of the city of Jerusalem.
Passover was a special time, but there was something even more special about this specific Sunday.
This was the day that would come to be known as Palm Sunday.
There was a whisper in the crowds that day, a whisper that became a shout, He is on His way! He is coming! “JESUS IS COMING”.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and He was riding on a donkey’s colt in fulfillment of the words of the prophet Zechariah from Zechariah 9:9,
“Rejoice, O people of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.”
In the East, kings rode horses during times of war, and donkeys during times of peace.
The donkey was considered to be a very noble animal. Kings, princes, & judges rode upon donkeys.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah He was righteous, victorious and humble and also riding on a donkey.
Jesus was coming, the King was coming and a crowd of people ran to greet His arrival shouting “Hosanna”
“Hosanna” it’s the Hebrew word for “Save now!”
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the son of David!”
Luke 19:36-38 describes it in this way.
36 As Jesus rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of Him.
37 When Jesus reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of His followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
Can you imagine the scene?
This was an important moment, a significant moment,
riding towards the city on a donkey,
a symbol of kingship,
the crowds gathered all around Jesus,
shouting, singing, praising, worshiping,
and almost like today when we roll out a red carpet for someone important to walk on,
the people were throwing their coats on the ground before Him.
Maybe in the crowd there were some of the people Jesus had healed.
Maybe in the crowd were some of the thousands He had fed with just 5 loaves of bread and a couple of fish.
Maybe in the crowd were some who had seen some of the many other miracles Jesus had performed.
Perhaps many in the crowd that day would have heard Jesus preach and teach before.
Perhaps they had listened to Jesus and their lives had been changed.
But, some people were not feeling the same way, some it seems, thought that the crowds were taking it a little too far, listen to Luke 19:39-40,
39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”
40 Jesus replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
Reminds me of Psalm 19:1&2,
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.
“If the people kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
There was joy in the crowd that day, it was a time of celebration, of shouting and singing and praising and worshipping, but...
there is another but in the narrative, Luke 19:41-44,
41 But as Jesus came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.
Here is Jesus heading towards the city, surrounded by a mostly cheerful, happy crowd, with all the singing, all the excitement, all the joy, yet He weeps.
The Gospels tells us Jesus reacted to many things.
When Jesus saw the sick, the poor, the hungry, “He had compassion for them”.
There were only two occasions recorded when Jesus wept.
Once was at the grave of Lazarus.
Mary & Martha were crying and in His compassion, Jesus wept with them.
The other occasion is here as Jesus looks out at the city of Jerusalem.
Why did Jesus weep?
I think He wept for many reasons.
Jesus wept because He knew the future of Jerusalem.
This prophecy was fulfilled forty years later in 70AD when the Romans invaded Jerusalem and killed more than a million Jews.
Jesus wept because He knew that there would be those who would reject their opportunity for salvation.
Jesus wept because He knew that there would be those who would not understand or accept Him - they did not understand the purpose of His coming.
Jesus wept because He knew that there were those who would never believe that He was the Messiah.
They had eyes, but they could not see the truth.
They had ears, but would not listen to the truth.
The people who were so busy waving palm branches really didn’t understand what the Jesus was about to do.
Waving palm branches was what their great-grandparents had done after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian oppressors and reestablished worship in the temple.
By waving palm branches the people were showing they expected Jesus to be a warrior Messiah who would lead them to victory from the Romans.
Instead of praising Jesus for who He really was, they praised Jesus for what they thought He would do.
As Jesus came closer... He began to weep,
“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.”
Jesus had taught, He had preached,
He had performed miracles,
many people had believed in Him,
many people had trusted Him,
many people had been healed by Him,
yet there were many who would continue to reject Him.
Instead of choosing to follow Jesus,
many would choose self, many would choose darkness, many would choose to follow lies,
many would choose to die in their trespasses and sins.
Jesus wept because He had come to bring eternal life to all who would repent and trust in Him and their Lord and Saviour, yet He knew many would choose death not life.
Jesus wept because some of the crowd who were shouting “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” would in a few short days be shouting:
“Crucify Him, crucify Him”,
“We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
“His blood be on us and on our children!”
Jesus wept because of those who would never understand the way to peace, real peace, eternal peace.
Jesus wept because He knew that by rejecting Him, people were rejecting the only way,
the only truth,
the only life,
the only one who could save them from their sins.
Jesus wept because He loves those who were lost, He loved and loves you and me and He was willing to die on the cross so that we could be saved.
Jesus sacrificed His life to give us eternal life.
He was a willing sacrifice for all who would believe.
But He has also given us freewill, He has given us choice, we can choose to accept him or choose to reject Him.
As Jesus came closer... He began to weep,
“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.”
I believe Jesus still weeps today for the lost.
Jesus gave His life for you, He loves you with an everlasting love.
It is easy for us to talk about the love of God.
It is perhaps more difficult for us to accept God’s love.
Jesus wept out of His love for you and for me.
Jesus went willingly to Jerusalem for you and for me.
Do you love Him?
Have you given your life to Him?
On that Palm Sunday as Jesus journey towards His destiny, I’m not convinced the Disciples knew at that time what God was about to do.
The Disciples missed the real significance of that day.
Later they would understand what was taking place.
For them, the journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover would have been one that they had done many times over the years.
For us, perhaps we think we are familiar with the events of Palm Sunday, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in the Garden, the sham trial, the cruel crucifixion of Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection.
The events of that week can become so familiar that we just go through the motions of celebrating Easter without allowing the truth of these events to touch us.
Do we really get it? Do we really understand?
Do we understand Jesus didn’t just weep for Jerusalem - in His compassion He wept for us, for you and for me.
The crowds on that first Palm Sunday wanted a Warrior King who would bring victory over the Romans, but Jesus is the Saviour King,
He came to die on the cross to bring victory over sin and death for all who would turn to Him as Lord and Saviour.
The crowd that day ignored the truth, have you ignored the truth about Jesus too?
Jesus is the Saviour King who has conquered death, hell and the grave.
Jesus is Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit and the Coming King.
The Bible is clear that there is day coming when Jesus will return, not humbly riding a donkey, He will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s.
Jesus is the Messiah,
He is the way, the truth and the life,
He has paid the price for your sin at the Cross,
He is your redeemer,
He is the only one who can save you.
Imagine for a moment that Jesus is standing over there, and instead of looking at Jerusalem He is looking at your life, looking at you.
Now imagine Jesus taking a step closer to you.
As Jesus comes closer... He begins to weep, and says: “How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand the way to peace.”
“How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand I have a plan for you!”
“How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand I have a purpose for you!”
“How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand you don’t need to be afraid”
Jesus looks at you with tears in His eyes and says I forgive your sin,
I forgive your fear,
I forgive your anger,
I forgive your resentment,
I forgive your prejudice!
“How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand I died for you!”
“How I wish today that YOU of all people would understand I love you!”
Jesus stands before you this morning.
What is your response to Him?
Will you commit or recommit yourself to Him this morning?
If you are outside of His kingdom this morning, choose to trust Him, follow Jesus, be changed and transformed by His love, His mercy and His grace.
This Palm Sunday, may each of us truly say:
Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Invite Him into your heart and into your life.
Ask Him to forgive you and save you.
Ask Him to lead you and guide you.