Palm Sunday occurs every year on the Sunday before Easter. Today, we remember Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The account is in all four of the gospels. Jesus entered the city, knowing that he was going to be tried, and then crucified. But, he also knew he would be raised from the grave to save us from sin. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Weekor Passion Week, which is the remembrance of the last days of Jesus..
One third of the Gospel writings concern this last week of Jesus’ life on earth. This week, Jesus visited friends in Bethany on Saturday. Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, held a dinner to honor the One who performed this miracle. During the event, Lazarus’ sister Mary worshiped Jesus, anointing his feet. She worshiped, not caring who was watching or what people thought about what she was doing.
This woman was so thrilled with what Jesus had done in her life and for her family, that she took her most prized possession, perfume that was worth a fortune, and poured it all out for him.
The following day was Sunday. This was Palm Sunday, March 30 in the year 33 AD. This date was prophesied in Zechariah 9 and in Daniel 9. The crowd shouted “Hosanna!” which is a phrase directly from Psalm 118. They were crying “Lord save us!” in verse 25. In the previous verse, we find that THIS WAS THE DAY that the Lord has made. This phrase specifically speaks of this day and prophecy is precise, 173,880 days from March 5, 444 BC when the king gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was not just another day, but was prophesied hundreds of years before to bear witness to King Jesus.
Most thought Jesus came to deliver them from the oppressions of Rome. But according to Daniel 9, he was going to come on this appointed day and there would be a celebration, but after that the Messiah would be cut off. In 33 AD, inattentive of the prophecies of old but fulfilling them nonetheless, the Pharisees saw the popularity he had gained and resolved to destroy him. God’s word reveals such great truths in every part of the story. As we spend time considering these scriptures, they draw us closer toward Christ and remind us that he indeed is King.
Many biblical prophecies were fulfilled during this week. Jesus came to earth to save humanity by dying on the cross on Good Friday (Passover) and resurrecting on Easter Sunday. By doing what he did, he swung the gates of heaven open, allowing our sins to be forgiven and ushering in the presence of God. Until then it was impossible for humans to be good enough to be in the presence of God, and be forgiven for our sins. Old Testament sacrifices were used to cover sin by the Jewish people, but Jesus was the perfect sacrifice once and for all, including Gentiles. He went to the cross out of his great love for you and for me so that we could stand in the presence of God.
The story of Jesus’ Passion during Holy Week started on Sunday with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as a king which is why it was triumphant. Monday was Jesus’ first public act as King. He cleansed the temple symbolic of the cleansing he accomplishes in us, his living temple.
On Tuesday, Peter noticed the withered fig tree that Jesus had cursed. Jesus used this as a lesson for us to have faith and recognize the power of forgiveness. The tree was a picture of what God’s people should be, a deeply rooted plant that grows leaves and bears fruit. Jesus will come out against the fruitless temple.
Wednesday is widely known as spy Wednesday. There was a plot developed by the high priest and the authorities to kill Jesus. This is when everyone knew Jesus had to die. Judas made himself available to the plot and agreed to betray his teacher.
Thursday we remember his last meal and the new covenant presented at the Last Supper. Jesus ministered in a personal and intimate way to his closest disciples and counseled them for the last time before his death. He revealed that the Passover meal would now represent his body and blood given for them… and us. He was the lamb that would bring freedom, sealing a new covenant, that through his death we would be free and through his resurrection he would be our King. We celebrate this act of God today by communion when we break bread and share wine or juice, which represents the blood and the body of Christ. On this day, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment that we find in John 13:34,
“Love one another just as I have loved you..”
Friday, Jesus was arrested and the King of the universe was questioned, tortured and condemned, an innocent man led to crucifixion and death on the cross. He was betrayed and deserted by his closest friends. Why would it be called Good Friday? It’s called Good Friday, because by Jesus’ death, he became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death for you and for me.
Saturday would be his body resting in the tomb. It was a rich man’s tomb, which again fulfilled the prophecy from the old testament in Isaiah 53. Holy Saturday is a time for us to really lean into being present in the Lord, placing our own agendas at the door, and coming before him to simply just be with him. The Lord desires a relationship with us, and the requirement of relationship is time together. I would encourage you Saturday not to ask God for anything, but simply just spend some time with him. On Saturday, we remember everything was finished and there was nothing to be added. We join Jesus in his rest and we join him in the Sabbath.
Next Sunday, we will celebrate the day of resurrection. Jesus defeated death and the news of how God’s son died for our sins and rose again from the dead spread. He reigns today, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our King, who on Palm Sunday rode out like a rival king, who on Monday and Tuesday pronounced destruction on the temple and his final victory, who on Wednesday was prepared for burial like royalty and on Thursday announced the new covenant of his monarchy. On Friday he went to war with death on a Roman tree and on Saturday he rested from all of his work in Sabbath sleep. On Sunday, he rose from the dead and proved once and for all that he is who the whole Bible and this Holy Week claim him to be… Our God in the flesh… King of kings… Our Savior who reigns eternally.