Summary: The Jewish Passover that Jesus observed with His disciples was very different from our observance of the Lord’s Supper today. Jesus became our Cup of Redemption through His crucifixion on our behalf.
The Cup of Redemption
Sunday marked the day that all of God’s people began to lose sight of everything other than the preparations for the most important day of the year. There was much to do. People had come from everywhere to celebrate Passover in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The streets were buzzing on Sunday with lambs being paraded through the streets and scrutinized to see if they could pass the test. The Passover Lamb couldn’t be just any lamb; he had to be a lamb without blemish or defect. A perfect offering to God and a reminder to the people of the sacrifice that had been made so long ago when the “Death Angel” passed over the shanty town homes of the Hebrew slaves and spared their firstborn. (Exodus 12)
While all of the Jews in Jerusalem were busy choosing their lambs for the Passover, a disruption happened on Sunday. A man like no other man they had ever known came riding into town on the back of donkey. Oh, they knew who He was, they had heard the stories, many of them had even been present when He had healed the woman with an issue of blood, some were there when He gave his Sermon on the Mount, others had witnessed blind Bartimaeus see with 20/20 vision for the very first time. They had seen Him walking around with a motley group of followers, but there was nothing “motley” about Him…they called Him Master.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey and the prophecy that had been given some 500 years before by the prophet Zechariah was fulfilled. Zechariah said,
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NIV)
In the first century, during the day of Jesus, a lamb was chosen by the high priest outside of Jerusalem on the tenth of the Hebrew month, Nisan. The one lamb chosen by the priest would be led into the city while crowds of worshippers lined the streets waving palm branches and singing Psalm 118, "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."
Jesus, our King, entered Jerusalem this same day, on a donkey (usually ridden by a king), as the fulfillment, the embodiment, of the sacrificial lamb who had just been paraded down the street by the High Priest. The crowds that had just celebrated the entrance of the sacrificial lamb broke out in exuberant praise to the Lamb of God. Jesus was making a bold statement to all the world…He was the Lamb to be slain.
Isn’t that just like God? While the city was preoccupied with examining the little lamb without defect or fault, God paraded the perfect Lamb of God right before their eyes. Evidently some of the people recognized the King of Glory riding on the back of a donkey because they began to wave palm branches and shout,
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. (Psalm 118:26 NIV)
Not everyone in the crowd was impressed. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law, when they saw the people giving Jesus the welcome of a king, knew they had to act fast and they had to act decisively to put an end to the threat to their power. Jesus, knowing who He was and what He had come to do before the crowds had ever erupted in praise, set out to continue His mission. All week long He continued to teach the people everywhere He went and point them to God.