Summary: The People’s Response to the Palm Sunday entry of Jesus by shouting praises, waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the ground and what each of these means to us.
This Sunday is called Palm Sunday! Do we really understand why we wave palm branches? Why the Jews laid the palm branches on the ground for Jesus to ride over them on His donkey? What is the significance of all this? Let me try to answer these questions for you this morning.
Please turn to Matthew 21:1-10. Please stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God. READ.
This event is also called the “Triumphant Entry” of Jesus. Normally, Jesus did not try to draw much attention to Himself because His hour had not yet come. Now it was time to boldly declare that He is the Messiah. Jesus did this for two reasons:
1. To fulfill scripture from Zechariah 9:9
2. To outrage the Pharisees enough to complete their plan to crucify Him.
As Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, there are thousands of additional worshipers there because of the Passover celebration. Historians estimate the population at 2 million. This event is one of the few that is carried in all four of the Gospel accounts.
The part of the story that I want to focus on this morning is the response of the people to Jesus’ entrance. We see from scripture three things they did:
I. Shouted Praises
What did the people shout?
A. Hosanna is a Hebrew word meaning “Save us now”. You may ask, “Save them from what?” The answer that comes to my mind is “save us” from the Romans. Another commentary said the phrase meant “help us in our oppression”. We see three variations of this phrase in Matthew and Mark’s accounts --- Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest! Hosanna to the Son of David!
B. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord --- Psalms 118:25, 26. William Barclay tells in his commentary that the five Psalms from 113-1118 were the first a Jewish boy would memorize and sing. (John, page 136) Now they were giving these wonderful words of praise to the Son of God, Jesus.
C. Blessed be King of Israel --- this phrase is told to us in John’s account but not the others. Notice the actual word “King” is used. Unfortunately, the people were still thinking a “King like David”. They mistakenly believed Jesus would rise up an army and overthrow the Romans. This was not the kind of King Jesus was. It makes me think back to when Jesus fed the 5,000 the people wanted to force Jesus to become their King then, but Jesus refused. Now He allowed them to express those words of adulation.
D. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David Mark11:10 is the only use of this shout. This phrase picks up on the “coming kingdom of David”. For years the Jews kept alive the promise of God to once again restore the Kingdom of David. They did this all throughout the years of exile and captivity. Through the years of restoration and now this generation was finally seeing the fulfillment of this promise from God. It is hard for me to understand the thrill and joy these people must have felt!
It is the responsibility of our generation to keep alive the promise of Jesus to come again in His glorious Second Coming!
E. Praise in heaven and glory in the highest --- from Luke 19:38 --- reading this phrase makes me think of the angels saying similar words when Jesus was born in Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace goodwill to men”.
F. Luke 19:39, 40 tells us an interesting side note, the Pharisees told Jesus to quiet the people and Jesus told them if the people didn’t give praise that even the “rocks would cry out”. This point made me thinks about how that we can willingly give our love and praise to Jesus now, or we will be forced to bow and revere Him on Judgment Day. You choose when.
II. Waved Palm Branches
I have found three times in scripture where palm branches have been waved in praise:
A. Leviticus 23:39, 40 READ --- in the Jewish worship they observed a feast called Tabernacles. The Jews would march or dance around the Altar waving their palm branches and singing Hosanna!
They would use palm branches as part of the worship by waving them in the air much like we would use a pennant or flag at a sporting event. (pull out your pennant and wave it shouting Go Patriots!)
B. The Triumphant Entry of Jesus --- the event we are studying today.
C. Revelation 7:9 --- one day we shall be lined up the golden streets of heaven and get to praise the Lord Jesus directly as He passes by. Once again we will wave palm branches as an expression of praise. Are you looking forward to that day???