Summary: “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
Palm Sunday begins the final week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. It begins with His Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus was known to travel on foot or by boat on a few occasions but this time He chose to ride on a donkey for the first time. He was welcomed with the waving of palm branches and shouts of Hosanna from Psalm 118 meaning save or save now. Biographers normally devote very little space to the death of their subjects but the authors of the Gospels devote nearly a third of their length to the final week of Jesus’ life. Each one of them give a detailed account of the events leading to His suffering and death. The many processions taking place this morning is an enactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem proclaiming that He is the Messiah. He chose a procession, which was different from that of the Romans, where rulers or generals would ride on decorated horses or in golden chariots accompanied by officers in polished armour. Jesus’ procession was different because Jesus did not come to rescue the Jews as a warring king, but to save the world from sin and Satan as a gentle, humble and peace-loving king. The Messiah knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem but He went anyway Knowing that His suffering was for a purpose.
Step One: The public revelation of the Messiah
a) The ride on a donkey
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a public revelation of the Messiah’s presence. It fulfilled in every detail the prophecies made concerning Him. Jesus entered Jerusalem fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy by riding on a colt that had never been ridden and we all know how difficult and stubborn donkeys are. This was because objects used for sacred purposes should not have been used for any other purpose before.
b) The Passover Lamb
The triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a revelation of the Messiah as the Passover Lamb. He entered Jerusalem at a time when people from all over the world had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The occasion provided them with the opportunity not only to hear and witness what was happening but to understand the truth that the Messiah was the Lamb of God, the perfect Passover sacrifice.
c) The worship of the people
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was the moment when Christ publicly declared that He is the Messiah by accepting the praise and worship of the people. He did this at a time the Roman Governor with Roman soldiers were in Jerusalem to suppress any attempted uprising against Roman rule during the Passover Feast and according to Rome only their emperor deserved to be worshipped.
Jesus entered Jerusalem at a time the Jews were preparing to celebrate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Their deliverance was not without battle and ten terrible plagues fell on Egypt before they were allowed to leave. The last of the ten plagues was the death of all the firstborn of animals and men. To save His people God made provision to pass over them. They had to kill lambs that were without blemish and sprinkle the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their homes. When the destroying angel saw the blood, he would pass over them since a death had already taken place. The Passover prophetically portrayed the deliverance from slavery and bondage to sin by the Messiah. Just as the Passover lamb gave the Israelites the chance of a new beginning, so our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, gives us the chance of a new beginning.
The death of the Passover Lamb prevented the death of the first born of the Jews when the blood of the Passover Lamb was applied on the lintels and doorposts of their homes. Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb and His death prevents our death when we apply His blood by “confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead”. (Rom. 10:9)
Step Two: The suffering of the Messiah
a) The shedding of blood
Sin was the reason for the suffering of the Messiah for “The wages of sin is death”. (Rom 6:23) The only person qualified to pay the price for man’s sin is a man without a sin nature. The Messiah was fully man and fully God, was born of a virgin and tempted in every way as we are but did not sin. Jesus Christ, although He is God, humbled Himself and took on the nature of man and shed His blood to pay the wages of sin and give us God’s gift of eternal life. (Rom 6:23)
b) The lack of all things
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor.8:9) Jesus Christ experienced extreme poverty on the cross. He experienced the lack of all things. He was hungry and thirsty and one of His last words were “I thirst”. On the cross He had nothing, He was naked and in need of everything. He was buried in a borrowed robe and in a borrowed tomb.