The focus of our 3rd study in the book of Luke is Palm Sunday.
Today is Palm Sunday so we jumped to the end of the book of Luke for an appropriate lesson for the day.
At the time of this story Jesus had been ministering to the people for around three years. It was the time of year to celebrate the Jewish Passover and thousands upon thousands of Jewish pilgrims had already gathered in Jerusalem. In the midst of this religious celebration, Jesus presented them with a picture, where His claims of being the Christ (Messiah), would be unmistakable.
***Read Luke 19:28-40
In this story, Jesus is entering Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. He draws near to the city riding a colt. His disciples respond by laying their cloaks on the ground in front of him and waving palm branches. The crowds praise him as they would a king. From our perspective, this seems to be a simple story of crowds of people celebrating the arrival of Jesus. That’s the basic truth of the story, but there is so much more when one looks more closely.
The Mount of Olives was just east of the city of Jerusalem. It was a place with sacred importance. The location of this story being the Mount of Olives would have been significant to the people of Jesus’ day.
As we continue to observe the culture of that day and the scriptures of the Old Testament we can begin to understand much more about this story.
An animal that had never been ridden or wore a yoke before was often used for sacred purposes. One example can be found in Numbers 19:2 where God gives instruction concerning an animal that was to be sacrificed.
”This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke.”
Christ riding on an unused colt was another message to the people about the sacredness and importance of who Christ was.
A third important detail was the type of animal on which Jesus was riding. A conquering king would enter a city riding a horse. A king coming in peace would ride a donkey. (Matthew 21:2; 1 Kings 1:33-34)
Jesus had not come to be an earthly, military king who would free the Jews from Rome. He came as an eternal king that would free many from the condemnation and bondage of sin.
He came in peace…the Prince of peace.
Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 that had been written 500 years before.
”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.”
In contrast to this in Revelation 19, Jesus comes riding on a white horse as a conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.
This was another message to the people who were there that day. Yes, Jesus was coming to be King of the Jews, but not in the way that they desired. He was coming to deliver them from so much more than the Romans. He was coming to save them from themselves and the bondage of sin and eternal separation from God.
Verses 35-36 tells of how they spread their cloaks or outer robes on the road in front of the donkey that Jesus was riding.
This was another way that kings were treated.
In 2 Kings 9:12-13 a prophet of God proclaims a man named Jehu as king and this is what is said of the people’s response…
”They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, ”Jehu is king!”
This was another clear message in the story that Jesus was not coming as just a good teacher or a good man. He was claiming to be the promised King of kings.
THE PALM BRANCHES
In John 12:13 this same story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is told, and it tells how the people waved palm branches. Palm branches were another way to prepare the way of the ”King.” In ancient history, palm branches often symbolized goodness and victory. Some Jewish coins from the first century had palm leaf engravings with the accompanying inscription, ”the redemption of Zion.”
We also find Palm Branches as part of the worship that is described in Revelations 7:9-10:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ”Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’’
The Sovereign God had brought all of these indicators together in one place, at one time, to declare Christ as Messiah and King. In response to all of these signs the people began to praise Jesus, quoting from Psalm 118:26, a verse with clear references to the coming Messiah that had been written in centuries before.
”Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
The location, the colt, the cloaks on the road, the palm branches, and the praises of the people all declared Jesus as the promised Messiah and a king. It was a dangerous statement to be making at that time in history since the Romans were in power, but that is who Jesus was and why he had come.
DON’T LET THE ROCKS SING
In the midst of the cheers there were Pharisees, some of the most religious Jews, who were watching the event take place. They rejected the claims of Christ’s being the Messiah and called for him to rebuke the praises of the people. They told Jesus to silence his disciples but He responded with these words, ”I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Jesus was stating the truth that the praises of God, in Jesus Christ, cannot be silenced.
The disciples were giving glory to Jesus because He was the Promised One from God, but the Pharisees refused to recognize who Christ was. In this brief encounter we see that it is possible to know a lot about God, but not know Him personally. It is possible to be religious without having a relationship with God. Our world is familiar with the concept of glory. We give glory and praise to athletes, actors, musicians, authors, scientists, political officials, and many others.
Glory is an idea of greatness that we give much too easily these days. It is a distinction that one is better than the rest because of their ability, their achievements, or because of who they are. It is the idea of unequaled greatness.
But we must remember that even the greatest athletes of the world were created by God.
Musicians perform well but God created music itself.
The politicians lead nations, but in the end every nation will bow to Jesus Christ.
Even scientists in their greatest discovery, have only found what God had already put in place when the world began.
If we choose not to give God glory, ”even the stones will cry out!” He is of infinite worth!
The names that our world exalts will be forgotten and fade into the past but the name of Jesus will resonate forever. The praise of God cannot be silenced and the Sovereignty of God will not be denied.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of this hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.’‘
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying. ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The praises to God cannot be silenced by governments, by sword, by threats, or by fear. The people of God proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ will continue, unstoppable, until Christ returns…and that will only be the beginning.
In heaven all other glories will be silenced and Jesus Christ will be exalted. God’s Word proclaims and history confirms, that the worship of God will continue forever. Even apathy will not stop the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of God. One can see this throughout church history. When the churches begin to drift away from God and His Word, God calls out to those who ‘have ears to hear” and uses them to carry the name of Christ to its desired goal. God will continue to raise up a people who will give Him praise above all others. God is sovereign. He reigns over all things. He stands completely independent of all others. Nothing will stop His will from taking place.
Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
(He) works all things after the counsel of His will.
From Him and through Him and to Him are all things
This sovereignty of God is also at work in every area of our lives.
He ordered the details of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry centuries before it ever happened. He is moving our world towards its conclusion and Christ’s return.
The sovereignty of God is a comfort for those who belong to Him.
There will be days when life is difficult and we have no hope, but know that we belong to a sovereign God who does not sleep and does not slumber. He is on His throne and is working all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Be encouraged that a sovereign God sits on His throne!
You are not forgotten.
In the midst of suffering, loss and trials trust in Him to bring about blessing.
He is our Sovereign God. His praises will continue for eternity and His children will experience His faithfulness forever. Today submit yourself to our Sovereign God and walk securely in His eternal embrace.
Questions to consider:
Are you sure you are trusting Jesus?
Are you walking in fellowship with Him today?
Are there needs in your life that only He can meet?
If there are needs, if there are burdens, if there are sins, if there is anything at all that needs to be taken care of, bring it to Jesus right now.