Palm Sunday Message 5th April

Bible readings

  • Zechariah 9:9-13
  • John 12:1-19

Text “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your King comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Introduction

The Passover was one of the three compulsory festivals of the Jews, the other being Pentecost and Tabernacles. It was the desire of every Jew to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. They would come from the ends of the earth to do so. To this day, when Jews in foreign lands observe the Passover, they say, “This year here; next year in Jerusalem.” So you see the stage was set, the whole Jewish world had gone to Jerusalem to worship and celebrate the Passover. In Exodus 12:13-14 we have the reason, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will Pass over you…” This is a day you are to commemorate; for generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance.

God Save the King

Today they are welcoming Jesus as their King, but in a short time later, He would become the Sacrificial Lamb. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13

Hosanna is the Hebrew word for ‘Save Now!’. So the people were shouting, “GOD SAVE THE KING.” Look at Psalm 118:25-26, “O Lord save us; O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. From the House of the Lord we bless you.”

The Revd Allister Kennedy points out from Northern Ireland that His arrival was orchestrated as a royal visitation. His choice to come seated on a donkey was a deliberate enactment of the vision of Zachariah 9:9, 550 years before it happened, “See your King comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on the colt the foal of a donkey…”

Here we see the King riding into His capital, being welcomed home, being given a heroes accolade. You can feel the air full of excitement, the King has come.

On this Palm Sunday I feel as if I’m transported back in time (not that I’m actually am). There I am, part of that vast crowd, pushing my way through, having cut a branch of a nearby palm tree. I had been told that our long awaited King was about to parade down the street. I we heard of such parades, but they had always been Roman, and who cares about them?! Pushing my way through, I hear myself say to a man, sorry, didn’t see your little dog, or apologise to a lady for bumping into her and her little one. All I just wanted to do was to get to the front and see the King. When I do, there He is, riding on a donkey smiling and He is smiling down at me. Going forward, I lay my palm branch on the ground, the King, the Deliverer, my King. the King of the Jews. One is awestruck; my eyes were transfixed on Him. Yes I had heard of Him, one of my neighbours told me, how He came and brought back to life a local lad Lazarus by name, his wife had met the lad’s sister Martha at the well and she told her while waiting their turn to draw water. (Not in the Bible) Yet a few days later my attitude seems to have changed, I don’t understand? All the people in my city along with Jews who were visiting from afar wanted the Roman authorities to kill this same King, putting Him to death on a Cross. I just don’t understand my feelings and at Passover too. (Ken Martin)

Dr William Barclay writes, “Seldom in the world’s history has there been such a display of magnificently deliberate courage as the Triumphal Entry. We must remember that Jesus was an outlaw, that the authorities were determined to kill him. It was an act of the most superlative courage, for it was the defiance of all that man could do; and it was an act of the most superlative love, for it was love’s last appeal before the end.”

That same crowd a few days later cried, “Away with Him, crucify Him!” John 19:15. J.C. Ryle points out, “Nothing in truth is so fickle and uncertain as popularity: it is here today and gone tomorrow.”
But Christ never changes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. Caiaphas the High Priest that year had this to say of Jesus, “You know nothing at all. You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation. John 11:49-51. This is how God showed His Love among us. He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is Love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1st John 4:9-19

Have WE welcomed Christ as King into our lives into our homes, into our hearts? I can’t help but think of that song, “The King is coming, the King is coming for me.”