Today is an important day in Christianity- Palm Sunday
Why? The day that marks the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. That’s cool but what do we care?
It’s the day that all the followers of Jesus celebrated Him as King and in this one action He fulfilled prophecies about being the coming Messiah.
On this side of history, we know Jesus and celebrate Him as the one who came to save us, the Messiah. But back in those times, there were others that had come along and claimed to be the messiah and it turned out to be nothing.
But if you were there that day this event would have played out very differently than you would have expected.
Have you seen on the internet the whole idea of expectation vs. reality? You have all these grand plans for your future, or taking a nice picture or making a cake for your kid’s birthday party and it but the end result looks quite a bit different. Here are some examples:
There were a lot of expectations surrounding this event because it was happening right at the Passover festival time.
Let’s start with the setup.
2000 years ago, the Sadducees (a group of religious leaders) had a tradition in which they believed the Messiah would show up four days before Passover. And because of that they kept the gates of the Temple open, with the EXPECTATION that He could walk right into His rightful place.
And it was Passover time, there were tons of people in the city, getting ready to celebrate and- what’s interesting is that Jesus chose this specific time to proclaim that He indeed was the king and the messiah.
Lets read this together.
Matthew 21 (NIV) saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.")
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Luke 19:37-38 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Earlier in this story it tells us that Jesus came in riding on a donkey which actually fulfilled an old testament prophecy about the messiah. Every detail of this event was meticulously planned for Jesus to announce himself as the king. The timing, how he came riding in. everything.
And for the people watching they had seen grand processions of conquering kings come through like this but Jesus was different coming riding in on a donkey instead of a warhorse meant that He was coming in peace. He’s called the Prince of Peace.
And here’s a distinction about this moment: All up until now we see Jesus telling everyone to keep it quiet. Don’t tell anyone who healed you. We see him “slipping away in the crowd” and now look at what it says.
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
They knew this was an unsafe thing to do- They were under Roman occupation at the moment, and they didnt want any extra trouble brought upon themselves AND in this context they didn’t believe Jesus was from God. Look what he says:
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
He’s like, go ahead, let them worship me, let them get loud! Yes I am the King, I AM the Messiah.
But the story goes on to tell us that they laid palm branches and their very own clothes on the road in front of Jesus- We don’t really have a context for this -palm branches = like their national flag, honor and majesty of a king or something special -like rose petals before a bride coming in.
And the clothes- We have no context because we open our closets and say that we have nothing to wear and we have tons of clothes- sometimes to goodwill. But this audience would only have had 1 maybe 2 changes of clothes for their whole life and here we see them laying them down for Jesus’s donkey to walk on all the while shouting this very important phrase- (these examples paint such a great picture)
“Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Referencing an old testament passage:
Psalms 118:25-29 (NIV) 25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Hosanna = We praise you, the one who comes to save us! Save us!
How many people have claimed to come through Jerusalem in righteousness? All the crusades, wars, and take over that city has seen.
But as Jesus is coming through, and He hears the people shouting Save us! He knows whats in their hearts. They dont care anything about their hearts or souls, they’re thinking about their checkbooks. They are hoping for, have an EXPECTATION for Salvation… from the Romans. From taxation. Hoping that he would rise up and form an army that would defeat Rome-
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
And there is the twist- The expectation vs. reality.
The reason this story is important is not just because Jesus came to town and people waved some palm branches and we get to go to lunch after this. Great.
It means that everything He said about himself is true. That Everything written about Him scripture is true. That He is the fulfillment of all the old testament prophecies and to take it a step further…
This is a story about me, about you. He comes riding into the temple. And Jesus comes riding in peace into your heart and mine if we let him- And our hearts, our body has been called the Temple of the Holy Spirit.- Peace- He doesn’t force his way.
He doesn’t come in on a war horse.
Expectation: (even as Christ followers sometimes is) that He’s coming to condemn us.
Reality: He’s coming in peace with love and grace.
Expectation: He’s coming to fix all my worldly worries and give me the best parking spaces and make sure my internet loads quickly.
Reality: He’s coming to save us from our own self destruction, from an eternity separated from Him.
When a person of nobility came in on a procession like this they would go to the most prominent place, the temple and make a sacrifice. But scripture tells us that Jesus went in and what did he do? He cleaned house! He went to the temple alright, He threw out all the money changers and charletons and he said my
“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers!”
South East Asia- visited this temple that was built into the side of a mountain. At the bottom you could stacks of fake money to present to the Gods at the top to look like you were bringing a lot. And then at the end of the day, they’d collect it all, bring it back down and sell it again the next day.
Similarly people were selling birds and special coins at 200-300 times their street value. And it says that Jesus clears them out with a whip! HA
And your expectation might be: See!! Jesus wants to come at me with a whip! No, no, no, He wants to come at your SIN, your short-comings, your failures, all the places you can’t measure up and frankly don’t have the strength to fix within yourself. And he wants to drive it far from you- for eternity. Why?
So He can take his rightful place as the king of your heart. As the true Hosanna in your life, the one who comes to save you! This is not about behavior modification (or sin management), or meeting some list of rules made by man.
This is about a true and lasting relationship with him reigning in your heart as King and savior.
But for a lot of us, we’re buying and selling things in our own hearts that are straight up lies about ourselves, about others, about how we think God feels about us, about what we think we “Need” to fill emptiness inside us.
Expectation: If I TRULY come to God, or give him that habit, or allow him to lead, I’m going to lose something.
Reality: Yes. You are, and that part scripture calls dying to self-becasue in dying to self, we’re dying to the part of us that isn’t working and He fills us with love, joy and peace.
Psalm 31:19 MSG What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you, Ready and waiting for all who run to you to escape an unkind world.
Blue door- Big door vs. small door.
So the action step of this moment- the “so what do I do with this” moment today is this- is to recognize that this is a moment. Maybe your expectation today was just to come, sing some songs, hear a message and be done with this. But this is a moment to recognize what God wants to do IN you. He wants to come triumphantly into the temple of your heart- through the big doors.
you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”