Summary: Do we offer our worship because we expect Jesus to return the favor and make us healthy, happy, and prosperous? Or do we worship Him simply because He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who alone is worthy of our praise?
Today, Christians around the world are celebrating Palm Sunday… also known as the “Triumphal Entry”. This is a special day where we remember the events that happened almost 2,000 years ago… A special day when Jesus rides into Jerusalem… A special day to begin a week of celebration leading up to the Passover…
To the Jews back in Jesus’ time, this was simply another year of Passover… A year like any other year. But to Jesus, the time has finally come… it’s time for the people to proclaim/declare Jesus as King… it’s time to fulfill more prophecy about the Christ… the Messiah. It’s a day for celebration! But it’s also a day of incredible sorrow.
We’re going to do a little people-watching this morning... We’re going to look at the faces in the crowd during Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem... We’re going to see why this Palm Sunday is a day for celebration, and also a day that brings Jesus to weep.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 11, and let’s read Mark 11:1-10…
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; 2 and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.” 4 So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. 5 But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?” 6 And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
To begin to understand the pageantry of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, we’re going to go back 500-600 years before Jesus’ birth, where God reveals to the prophet Zechariah certain details of the coming Messiah. (Zechariah 9:9)
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The events that unfolded on that Palm Sunday match what Zechariah had prophesied over five centuries earlier.
We also need to keep in mind that this is a very Jewish, very Hebrew occasion. This is the beginning of the Passover… one of the most important feasts that the Jewish people will celebrate all year. It is estimated that over two million people were celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem that year. The streets are packed with people… the city is filled with an exciting carnival-like atmosphere. During each day of the Passover week, the “Hallel” would be recited during morning prayers… “Hallel” is a Hebrew word meaning “praise”. The Hallel consists of reciting word-for-word each of Psalms 113-118, as a joyous praise in song to God.
Let’s look at the last part of the Hallel in Psalm 118:25-26…
25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
The Hebrew for the phrase “Save now, I pray” (yosha anna) is translated into the word “Hosanna” in Greek (which we have retained in the English translation). During Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, the people (who were very Jewish) were shouting phrases from the end of the Hallel!
Yoshanna! Yoshanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
In the Gospel of Luke, he records it with the variation, “Blessed is the KING who comes in the name of the LORD!”
You see, the people in the crowd knew exactly what they were shouting. They were proclaiming the Messiah, their King! What a celebration!
But there’s more to the story here. Let’s pause with the people shouting, “Hosanna!”, and go back a few days… let’s look at some of the drama happening behind the scenes. Let’s get a better understanding of some of the faces in the crowd. First, let’s look at the faces of the EXPECTANT CROWD.