Summary: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and the 2 million Jewish people who were gathered there that day. They didn’t get it! They didn’t understand who God was! They didn’t know His plan. They did not recognize that God Himself was among them, offering them peace.
The Day the King Cried
Intro: Four days before Passover, the people of Israel were required to present their lambs to the priest for inspection. This was known as Inspection Day. The law of Moses prohibited Israelites from bringing a lamb from very far away, because an unblemished lamb was required. They were to buy one in Jerusalem to commemorate the Passover.
-In Jesus’ day, the priesthood was very corrupt. People would buy their lambs from markets in Jerusalem and bring them to the priests for inspection. Quite often, the priests would pretend to find something wrong with the lamb, which would require them to sell it for a fraction of its value, (since it was deemed unfit for sacrifice), and buy an approved one from the temple authorities at double the price. It was extortion, and Jesus was not happy about it. That appears to be the main reason He turned over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. They were the ones who were robbing the people in this highly dishonest way.
-Also on this day in the first century, a lamb was chosen by the high priest outside of Jerusalem on the tenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, (This was Inspection Day or Palm Sunday as we know it). Then the priest would lead this lamb 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 Messiah entered Jerusalem this same day, on a donkey. In times of war conquerors would ride in chariots or upon prancing stallions; but in times of peace, the king would ride a colt to symbolize that peace prevailed. So, for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem upon a colt is to declare that He is a King proclaiming peace. He may have entered Jerusalem right behind the High Priest's procession. The crowds that had just heralded the entrance of the sacrificial lamb also heralded the entrance of the Lamb of God - Jesus. Jesus identified himself with the Passover sacrifice by being led into Jerusalem, like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53).
-Enthusiasm filled the air on this day. All of Israel knew that Jerusalem was where Messiah would be enthroned as their King. One scholar notes, “Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast, Everyone was going to Jerusalem, or had those near and dear to them there, or at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a gathering of universal Israel, that of the memorial of the birth-night of the nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends be made; when offerings would be brought, and purification would be obtained and all would worship in that grand and glorious Temple” (Edersheim).
-The High Priest would then take the lamb to the Temple, where it would be tied in public view so that it could be inspected for blemish. In the same way, Jesus sat and taught in the Temple courtyard, and was inspected and questioned as the Sadducees, Pharisees, and teachers of the law, who sought to trip him up in His words and entrap Him. They could not, because He was perfect and without blemish (Lancaster, 1996).
-Jesus presented Himself to the people and priests that day as the Passover Lamb – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He made the crooked religious leaders angry, but many of the common people honored Him as their King – even if they seemed to miss the fact that He had not come to conquer Rome.
-Well, something very emotional and significant happened during this procession into Jerusalem. As Jesus looked over the throngs of people, He must have seen the mixture of expressions on their faces. There were those who loved Him: Bartimaeus may have been there, a man who had received his sight, no longer in his beggar’s rags. Perhaps Zacchaeus, who had paid back his debt to society, & made his peace with God. Even the lepers may have been along the road somewhere. Their skin had been cleansed & now they were rejoicing for the healing that the Lord had given them. Maybe Jairus’ daughter was there back to life again after experiencing death. Lazarus & Mary & Martha & Mary Magdalene they were all there! Their lives reflected the love that was in their hearts for this man who had taught them, & molded them & changed them.
-Other less friendly faces gazed intently at Him, hiding behind their long flowing robes and prayer shawls. The Romans were there, fearing revolt & watching for any sign of rebellion against Rome. They were ready & waiting to crush any uprising.