With today’s text, we embark on the last act in the life of Jesus. This is, indeed, a dramatic moment! Since it was the time of Passover Festival, Jerusalem and the whole surrounding neighborhood were crowed with many pilgrims. According to a census, there were more than 270,000 people in Jerusalem. That’s a lot of people. Why did Jesus decide to ride into Jerusalem in a way that invites acclaim? Why at this point in his ministry does he make an almost triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Up until now, Jesus has cautioned his disciples not to talk about all the great works he has done in their presence. But on Palm Sunday, Jesus decided to enter into Jerusalem with full publically and to reveal his divine identity. By this time, Jesus had no real doubt that he would meet many people who were waiting to capture him to kill. All I can say at this point is this. Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not a coincidence, but God’s perfect plan. I do not know what’s going on in your life. I know some, but not all. But I can tell you this. Whatever you may experience in your life right now, they are not coincidence. You are not here at our sanctuary right now by a coincidence, but you are here according to God’s perfect and good will. God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Likewise, Jesus entered into Jerusalem according to God’s plan. In fact, many prophets like Isaiah and Zachariah predicted about this, a long time ago. Aren’t you happy to know that you are in God’s perfect plan and good will?
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples stopped by two villages called Bethphage and Bethany. These villages were only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem. They were close to the Mount of Olive. This mountain was 800 meter from the sea level. Since there were lots of olives trees, it was called the Mountain of Olives. You could see the City of Jerusalem clearly from the mountaintop. On this mountain, Jesus sent two of his disciples to bring a donkey. Jesus told them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately” (vv.2-3). Through this, Jesus revealed his identity
*Jesus revealed his divinity by foreseeing the future.
*A donkey that has never been ridden: Jesus’ purity & sinless nature
*Jesus himself described himself as “the Lord.”
Jesus said to his disciples on verse 3, “If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’”
*Jesus did this to fulfill the prophecy (Zachariah 9:9)
“This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, a foal of a donkey.”
*Donkey was a symbol of peace and humility! Jesus came as the prince of peace and a humble king. Jesus was the king who came to bring peace. The fact he rode a donkey tells us that he came to bring peace—the peace between God and humanity; the peace among people. And God has called to us to live our lives as the peace makers! We are called to involve in the peace and justice ministries!
The Israelites were eagerly waiting for the Messiah, a political and a military Messiah who would deliver them from the Roman oppression. That’s why the people were so excited and welcomed him by waving palm branches. They were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” The word “Hosanna” means “Save us!” Matthews says that the whole city was in turmoil when Jesus entered Jerusalem. The crowd called Jesus the son of David since they thought that Jesus was like a great king David who could deliver them from the foreign nation. When they realized that Jesus was the different kind of King and Messiah, they were so disappointed and were angry and shouted, “crucify him, crucify him” a couple of days later. Within a week, the shout of joy and praise will turn into humiliation and mockery. Palm Sunday leads to Good Friday!
The last verse of today’s text says that “Jesus went into went into the temple and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Beginning today, we are joining the millions of churches to celebrate the Holy Week. I encourage you to do your best to participate our Maundy Thursday Foot washing & Holy Communion Service. It was the day Jesus had his last supper with his twelve disciples. We are also preparing to remember Jesus’ death on Good Friday through the service of Tenebrae, which means the Service of Darkness. On Easter Sunday, we offer Sonrise Service at Bicentennial Park; Breakfast at our church and then Easter Cantata during our regular Sunday morning worship time.
It is very possible that we can celebrate all these events for wrong reasons, like the many people on the very first Palm Sunday. It is also possible that we can participate some or all of these worship services without understanding why they celebrate. In fact, many Christians throughout the world rejoice these days just because so many other people celebrate this week. I surely don’t want us to be like them. I want us to celebrate each and every special service during this week with proper understanding. I want all of us to follow Jesus with right attitudes and with right reasons.
Luke described in his gospel that Jesus wept as he was looking at the City of Jerusalem. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe that Jesus cleansed the Temple next day! Jesus also cursed a fig tree since it didn’t bear any fruit. The fig tree withered and died immediately. How would Jesus feel when he looks at the City of Ormond Beach? What would Jesus say when he looks at Riverview United Methodist Church? How about our nation? These are the questions I want you to ponder about throughout this week.
When Jesus arrived to Jerusalem, a crowd of people shouted by saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna In the Highest!!” The “Hosanna” means” to save us. They were so happy to see Jesus and expected him to deliver them from their suffering. Let me ask you this? Why do you celebrate “Palm Sunday”? When you say “Hosanna”, what did you wish Jesus deliver you from? Let us pray.