1. WHAT THIS STORY REVEALED
Verses 1-3 “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
As they made their way to Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples stopped neat the Mount Of Olives in Bethpage
This is no booming metropolis. Just a small town (Bethpage means "house of crudeness")
That morning in Bethpage, like every other morning there, began with a early sunrise and the sound of merchants opening their shops...farmer prepared to head to the field as planting season had arrived and mothers busied themselves with chores
In one home, though, things were different.
It was the home of Mary and Martha, two sisters who lived together along with their brother, Lazarus
A few days earlier, He’d raised Lazarus from the dead They’d been celebrating! How could they not!
But Jesus wasn’t there to stay. He was on a mission!
IT WAS THERE IN BETHPAGE THAT THE STORY OF THE HOLY WEEK REALLY BEGAN
In our text, Jesus instructs two of His disciples to go into a nearby village and bring back a donkey
It was on the back of this colt that Jesus would sit as He rode into the crowded city of Jerusalem
Jewish historian, Josephus: population of Jerusalem swelled to upwards of three million people during the Passover festival
The city is teeming with people! Music, laughter, the sound of children playing in the streets // festive atmosphere unmatched
BUT this particular year, there was also tension
Political tension always existed in Jerusalem, but it had been ratcheted up of late (under Roman rule)
Three main political parties in Judaism:
- Pharisees– tolerated Rome’s oppression
- Sadducees– High Class Jews who ruled the Temple complex and cooperated with Romans fully
- Zealots– always plotting for overthrow
As for the Romans in the city: Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas would have been bundle of nerves. They have one Caesar appointed job: don’t let the Jews become a problem.
Recipe with trouble in Jerusalem with this many Jews gathered. That's the conditions that were in play at the outset of the Holy Week.
But it wasn't only political tension that filled the atmosphere, there was something else going on that could potentially be a far greater problem
The name Jesus, for both positive and negative reasons, had become a household name
Everybody was talking about Jesus and it had been this way for a while: Certainly since...
- He spoke with authority that was obvious
- He’d challenged the religious leaders of the day
- There were miracles attributed to Him
Just days before, hundreds were gathered a the Tomb of Lazarus, mourning his death...Jesus called Him out of the grave
The animosity of the religious leaders toward Jesus was rapidly growing to the point that they had, in essence, put bounty put on Jesus head
THE CROWD HAD TO BE THINKING: “No way he shows up, right?”
Then word begins to spread throughout the city that He was coming and a large group of people rush out to meet him
By the time they reach the Kidron Valley, just outside of Jerusalem, he’s surrounded by people singing, shouting, dancing and chanting….
The gates of the City open and here he comes, riding on the back of a donkey
Imagine what the Roman authorities had to be thinking! I have no doubt they were laughing their heads off. The whole thing had to be hysterical to them.
When Roman Generals, War Heros and Kings came into town, they did so in pomp and circumstance: mounted upon great war horses, surrounded by formidable soldiers with weapons drawn
Yet Here: A pauper King makes his grand entrance on the back of a borrowed donkey, his saddle a makeshift layer of cloaks, surrounded by an army of common jews who’s weapons were palm branches
It certainly wasn't something that they'd take seriously!
This explains why the Roman authorities sat idly by when he came to town
BUT THE JEWS understood what was happening!
A. Revealed Prophecy Fulfilled
“All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
The Jews gathered in Jerusalem were steeped in Old Testament scripture. They'd studied it thoroughly, particularly the prophecies concerning a coming Messiah.
They’d read from the Prophet Isaiah: A Messiah was coming!
Prince of peace, mighty God, everlasting father that would put the government upon His shoulders and usher in a Kingdom that had no end
They’d memorized the words of Micah: From Bethlehem will come a redeemer
They’d studied the Words of Hosea: out of Egypt, I will call my Son
THESE OPPRESSED PEOPLE were longing for a Messiah to liberate them, saw Jesus coming into town on a donkey and recalled the words of the Prophet Zechariah, recorded 500 years before(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.”
They saw Jesus coming in and knew immediately what this signified...fulfillment of prophecy
His entrance into Jerusalem: While laughable to the Romans was understood by every Jew who bore witness to it
2. THE RECPETION OF THE CROWD
Look with me at verses 6-8
“So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road”
As the procession makes its way into the Holy City the crowd only swells even more. The shouts of the people grow louder and louder. The line the streets on both sides. People begin to take off their cloaks and lay them along the path (red carpet).
THEY BEGAN TO SHOUT (two things)
Verse 9 “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna! - Hebrew “save us now”
“Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”
AGAIN: Not coincidental (knew Messianic Psalm 118)
Psalm 118:5-6 “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
By the reaction that the crowd that day gave: Can only conclude that they believed, at least in that moment, that this man riding into town on the back of a donkey was the promised Messiah who had at long last come to deliver them!
And they were right!
OFTEN OVERLOOKED: Before this day, even after performing miracles, Jesus would tell people not to spread the word
On Palm Sunday, He gladly accepts the praise and considers silence an insult….utterly inconceivable.
We see that clearly when the Pharisees hear the crowds chanting for Him and demanded that He silence them // Luke 19:40
“He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should be silent, the stones would immediately cry out. In praise”
THEY WAVE PALM BRANCHES
In the Old Testament: Jews instructed to wave palm branches at the Feast Of Tabernacles (celebrating God delivering Israel from Egypt)
200 Years before Palm Sunday: Maccabean rebellion (Jews overthrew the Syrians)- celebrated by waving Palm Branches
30 years after the death of Christ: Jews minted coins with an image of palm branches to remind them of freedom possible
The waving of palm branches at the Triumphal Entry: Liberation has come! Our Messiah is here!
SO THE REACTION OF THE CROWD: Raucous praise
THEN SOMETHING STRANGE TAKES PLACE (only Lukes account of this day tells us about it)
At the height of the celebration: Jesus begins to weep
He looked beyond the cheering crowd to the mob that would soon demand His execution
He knew on Palm Sunday that Good Friday was just 5 days away
In the midst of all this joy– Jesus saw the future clearly
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes”
He knew the crowd that shouted Hosanna today would shout crucify soon!
He knew that the religious leaders were plotting a scheme at that very moment to end His life He knew: betrayal was coming, sweat drops of blood would fall in the garden of Gethsemane, His disciples would abandon Him, He knew the nails were coming, a crown of thorns would soon sit atop His head
He knew on that Sunday what would happen on Friday…that a bloody cross lay directly in His path
HE KNEW: But He was on a mission of love
In Verse 10
“And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
ALL THE CITY WAS MOVED: Hebrew word– stirred
Literally translated: shaken
WHO IS THIS MAN? The question indicates that they understood the messianic prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus but wasn’t sure what to do with it
Verse 11“So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
They acknowledged facts but did not place faith.
- They were curious but not converted
- They responded but did not receive
- They were fand but not followers
3. THE REDEMPTION THAT’S POSSIBLE
As I read over this passage, I was struck by these thoughts
-Spiritual Opportunities Don’t Last Forever
-It’s Not Enough To Be Interested Of Even Excited About Jesus
-Salvation Is Here Today