Summary: Sermon for Palm Sunday that includes the Triumphal Entry and the Crucifixion.
Let me first say that although the title seems a little irreverent, sometimes, the purpose of a title is not just to tell you what something is about but also to catch the eye of any looky-loos that might be passing by.
I think that this ‘sports cliché’ adequately sums up the incredible shift that occurred during the week that we call “the Passion Week.” I want to take a brief look at the events preceding Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion and then focus on the “Passion of Christ.” We will begin our journey in Matthew 21:6-11.
As they drew close to Jerusalem, Jesus told the disciples exactly where to get the donkey on which He was to enter Jerusalem. Things were just as He had said they would be. Now we pick up the story in verse 6:
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
This event is what is known is the Triumphal Entry. Imagine yourself back in time, possibly shopping in the outdoor market, when you hear that the man that has been healing people all over Judea is riding a donkey into Jerusalem. “This is the man that raised someone from the dead just a week ago,” someone says to you. “He’s riding a donkey,” another says. We all know what that means, you think to yourself. He is fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9):
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Jesus knew the Scriptures intimately and made sure that He accomplished the things that were set before Him hundreds of years prior to His birth.
The crowd was ‘very large’ and pressed into the narrow streets of Jerusalem to see the man that just might be the Messiah that they had been waiting for. They began shouting Hosanna. They laid palm leaves down, which is why we call this Palm Sunday. They were celebrating the arrival of the one that would lead them out of Roman oppression and free them from their captivity. They had no concept of the true King they were lauding. This was the ‘Thrill of Victory” that the disciples must have felt as they entered Jerusalem with Jesus.
So with all this celebration about Him, Jesus made a great speech to the people, right? No. The first thing Jesus does is to enter the Temple and overturn the money changers tables and upset a lot of people. This angered the Pharisees and the other leaders of the people, but the crowd was constantly around Him, so they could do nothing about it.
It was Passover week, and the leaders finally found a way to put Jesus out of their misery. One of His disciples, Judas, agreed to betray Him for them.
In our Good Friday service, we will focus more on the Passover meal that Jesus had with His disciples the night before His death and the time that He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane. This morning, we are going to look at the cross.
The Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and accused Him of Blasphemy. However, they did not want to be the ones that actually put Jesus to death, so they created charges of Treason, which only the Roman governor could convict and sentence.
Now, I have to tell you that I have always felt a little sorry for Pontius Pilate. He didn’t want to convict Jesus but was forced to give in to the Jewish leaders in order to keep peace in Jerusalem.
I want us to better understand what Jesus went through leading up to His crucifixion and on the cross itself.
The prophet Isaiah says that Jesus was beaten beyond recognition as a human being (Isaiah 52:14). When they took Jesus out to be beaten they stripped Him of His clothes and beat Him with a ‘flagram.’ Imagine a short-handled mop. This whip was made of leather strips that were tipped with metal and covered with a type of glue and then dipped in broken glass and bone. The historian Josephus said that rebel Jews were occasionally torn to pieces by this instrument, designed to extract information. I cannot fathom a modern-day equivalent to this horrendous torture device. Nor would I want to.