Summary: Palm Sunday often gets overlooked under the shadow of Resurrection Sunday. But it is very significant for four important reasons. Also - how do you act when Jesus approaches your life?
The Significance of Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11 (spread cloaks on road and cut branches from trees - Hosanna)
Mark 11:7-10 (cloaks on road and leafy branches they had cut from the fields – Hosanna)
Luke 19:37-40 (“disciples” praised the mighty works, stones would cry out)
John 12:12-19 (branches of palm trees, Hosanna, crowd came because of Lazarus)
Palm Sunday is recorded in all four gospels. It’s called Palm Sunday because people cut down palm branches and waved them before Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem. The event is often overshadowed by what happened a week later on Resurrection Sunday – but it is no less important for at least four reasons.
Was Palm Sunday an accident? Did Jesus wake up one day and say “let’s go to Jerusalem today – why not?” No – it was very very purposeful. We find Palm Sunday in Matthew 21, but all the way back in chapter 16 Jesus was telling His disciples to expect it:
Matt 16:21-22 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Jesus had an appointment to keep – an appointment written in Israel’s Day Planner nearly 500 years before.
It signaled Jesus as the Messiah (Daniel’s 70 weeks – Daniel 9:23b-27)
70 weeks = 490 years
7 weeks, or 49 years, was spent rebuilding the Temple
62 weeks, or 434 years, later – an “anointed one” comes – anointed one is the Hebrew word: Mashiyach – or – Messiah.
“Most learned men agree that the death of Christ happened at the passover in the month Nisan, in the four thousand seven hundred and forty-sixth year of the Julian period. Four hundred and ninety years, reckoned back from the above year, leads us directly to the month Nisan in the four thousand two hundred and fifty-sixth year of the same period; the very month and year in which Ezra had his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia” (Ezra 7:9 was the commission)
(from Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
If you do your math you will find one week remaining – one 7 year period of time until the rest of Daniel 9 is fulfilled.
For much of Jesus’ ministry He urged people to be quiet about who He was. When He healed he told people not to say anything, when He confronted demons who recognized Him as the Son of God He told them to shut up. That’s because it wasn’t time for Him to declare Himself as the Messiah. On Palm Sunday the time had come.
It meant God’s timetable for Israel was put in pause (Daniel’s 70 weeks) and signals the end of the Jewish system (John 12)
The same people who hailed Jesus as Messiah would go along with the Pharisees later in the week and have Him crucified. Jesus said in Mathew 24:2 that the city of Jerusalem, and it’s Temple would be torn down. In Matthew 21 He talked about a mountain being pulled up and cast into the sea. Both of these can easily refer to the fact that Judaism as a way to approach God was now finished – fulfilled really – in the Person of Jesus Christ.
In many places, including Romans 3, for instance, it becomes clear that the system of the Law cannot save anyone – but only points to one who can save, Jesus Christ. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple confirms that. In fact, Old Testament sacrifices did not really cleanse someone from sin – OT saints were sort of saved “on credit” in that the sacrificial system looked forward and pictured the only real sacrifice – Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9).
Luke 19:40 tells us that the leaders told Jesus to quiet the crowds – they knew what it meant for them to cry “Hosanna.” (a reference to Habakkuk 2:11). Habakkuk said the stones of Jerusalem would cry in judgment over the city’s sins just prior to its overthrow by Babylon. Here the stones of the city wall would bear witness to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews
It doesn’t mean that God is done with Israel. In Revelation 7 we see God move again mightily through a born-again Israel. Zechariah 12:10 says that the Jews will look on the Messiah “whom they have pierced” and will mourn.
I believe that when two things happen: the coming of a replacement Christ making a 7 year peace treaty with Israel, and the snatching away of the church – God will start the clock going again – like a hold in the countdown of a rocket – we are waiting to resume Daniels 70 weeks for Israel.