Palm Sunday is an easy scene to recreate. We’ve all heard the story over and over again. It is so very familiar to us but what really is going on here as we see a king coming riding on a colt.
I. There were issues at hand to be sure.
The Land was occupied. Romans despised Jews and made life for them extremely difficult. The Jews, on the other hand, hated the Romans; harboring a grudge and they were subject under them.
There were messianic expectations among the people. This was promised throughout the Old Testament that in due time a Messiah would come to deliver the people from their oppressive leaders. Thus the people were wondering if in fact a true deliverer would at last come. What better time then this for a true savior to come?
Finally, Lazarus had just been raised to life. His being raised to life had just recently taken place, within a few weeks. Everyone was talking about these events.
This news was well known by all. People were starting to question; could this be the promised Savior? Could the messiah be at hand? Could this Jesus be the one? This simply brought things to a head. The leaders felt threatened.
It was determined by a consensus of the leaders that this Jesus must die. “It is expedient that one man should die for the sake of the nation”
II. The Intention – why did these things happen?
It was not just to fulfill prophecy. Things didn’t happen just for that. We can not simply say that it was fate that the events of Psalm Sunday escalated as they did. The events prophesied were being fulfilled in the people’s hearing. God was beginning to act.
Events in the world were beginning to unfold and God was at the center.
Christ takes control of His own destiny. He deliberately precipitates a crisis. Fate or luck has nothing to do with it. Jesus instead takes matters into His own hands. He forces the issue. People will now have to take a stand. What will we do with this man Jesus?
These events speak to God’s timing. The whole matter is in the hands of God. This becomes the crucial event for the people of Jerusalem but especially for you and me today what do you do with Jesus?
III. The Identifications
Consider the actions of Christ. He sets self forth as the true Messiah. The colt shows what sort of Messiah He will really be. The leaders completely missed the point. They ask him to quiet the crowd. But the people, they too, no less miss the point also. They linked Jesus to the Psalms. They should have linked Him to the rest of the Old Testament.
There is a plausible explanation of the crowd. They were fickle. Today they flock to Him. By Friday they will ask for His blood. They expected a political Messiah, a bread king. He showed He was not such “My kingdom is not of this world.” They became disillusioned.
People want a kingdom on their own terms. Health, wealth, prosperity: view wants that king of kingdom (a kingdom of glory). Those who want Him as Savior - but not as Lord. Those who want salvation by some other way. If Christ should come, riding into your town today how would people respond?
V. As we review Jesus’ approach to the city we observe that a beast of burden carries our Lord who Himself will carry the burden of the world’s sin –
Consider the donkey. Not a symbol of status but was used for service. Jesus is known as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” according to Revelation. In the Nicene Creed we confess that Jesus is, “…begotten of His Father before all worlds. God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made…”
Yet He will describe His ministry thus, For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
The donkey was not used for battle but for burdens. How fitting that Jesus should be sitting on such a beast of burden for He offers His life for the sins of the world. This is what John had predicted in the desert when he proclaimed Christ. “The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’.” (John 1:29) The donkey is a perfect reflection of Jesus’ person. She will also reflect on His work.
VI. The Colt is a perfect reflection of Jesus’ ministry.
He came to bear the burden of people warn down by sin and strife. Strife due to living in an imperfect world filled with sickness, war, strife, etc. Sin, which is the root ill for all men, is what Jesus came to eliminate. Jesus came to bear the ultimate burden – the burden of our sin.
Sin of omission – when we had the opportunity to do good but failed. Where we could have prevented evil but chose not to get involved.
Sin of commission – offenses against God and our neighbor committed in thought, word and action – only one conclusion can be claimed – we are guilty before God and our neighbor.
The Son of Man the Prince of peace appeared on that first Palm Sunday to offer Himself for the life of the world. Today we offer our praise and we journey withy Him as He offers up Himself for the sin of all and for your salvation and life.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.