For Christians all over the world, Easter is the most important celebration of the year. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central theme of Christianity. His victory over sin and death makes Christianity uniquely different from all other religions. In the religious world, this week is referred to as the Passion week (which means “to endure” or “to suffer”) or the Holy Week. For many of the Christian faith, it is a time of great reverence and celebration.
But, something is different this year! Something is gravely different. We, as believers are facing something that we NEVER saw coming – the cancellation of public EASTER services! While we live through this pandemic, we are quarantined in our homes, unable to worship in large gatherings. Thankfully, we have technology and many can still worship from our homes, but we are all feeling the deep loss of community, of celebratory group praise and the shared experience of studying the Word of God together. While this feels terribly tragic in many ways, maybe this is an opportunity to experience Easter in a different way? If you consider our Lord, this was, in many ways, a very lonely week for Him. He knew He was at the end of the journey and everything that happens during these final days is leading up to the cross!
For many of us, we are usually so busy we don’t have time to stop and study daily, but maybe this year is different. In a time where every day is filled with a lot of unknowns, how about taking some time to do this daily devotional of a walk through Jesus’ Final week on this earth and be encouraged in your fears, doubts, grief and uncertainty? Let’s redeem the time and experience Easter like we never have before!
Read Matthew 21:1-11 and Luke 19: 28-40
Reflection: Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus entry into Jerusalem for the final time. He entered Jerusalem on Sunday* for the last time in what is known as the “triumphal entry.. Exactly one week later, he has the ultimate “triumphal” re-entry into the world through the Resurrection! In between these two events, Jesus experiences a multitude of emotions.
The significance of this whole event cannot be overstated. Up until now in Jesus’ ministry, He has shut down all attempts to hail Him as king in an open and public way. Over and over, He has told the disciples that His time had not yet come. When those who had been recipients of miracles wanted to spread it around, He told them to not make it known But today is different. Today is the day He allows them to worship Him as king!
Why is this day different? First and foremost Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel. In fact, the passage in Daniel is very specific about the date that the Messiah will enter into Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:24-27). When studied closely, the day Jesus enters fits the specifications described by Daniel to a tee. The fulfillment of prophecy doesn’t stop there. In Zechariah 9:9, written 500 years before this event, the Messianic prophecy involves how the King will come: “lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Psalms 118:25-26, another Messianic prophecy, is fulfilled by the peoples’ shouts of “Hosanna, hosanna.”
The fulfillment of these prophecies is profound because the statistical probability of Jesus fulfilling even one is quite remarkable, but there are three in this one event. During the whole week, prophecy after prophecy is fulfilled by Jesus, which, is a mathematical impossibility, giving solid evidence for the validity of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God.
Another reason why this day is so profound is the way that Jesus comes: “on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” His entrance in this way emphasized His humility, as one who came to bring peace not the sword, as a humble servant rather than a conquering king. While Jesus deserved all the honor given to any earthly king and exceedingly more, He rejected this sort of reception and chose a less “showy” sort of display of His royalty. He did allow them to worship Him, but it is clear that He allows this because His “time had come.”This praise especially would be the catalyst that caused the Pharisees and religious leaders to finally arrest Him, thus fulfilling more prophecy. Everything about this day was calculated and planned by God to fulfill His ultimate plan of redemption.
A final thought to consider as you reflect on this day: only a few days from this one, the crowds will be shouting a different sort of message: “crucify, crucify.” How could this happen? I think it is because they didn’t know Jesus as Lord. They praised Him because of what they “thought” He was – a king who would set them free from Roman oppression But He never promised that, and in fact, told them that was not His plan! (Luke 19:11-12)
I guess the question for you and I is, do we “really” KNOW Him as Lord? As you approach this week, can you join in the cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” and really mean it? Although “hosanna” may sound like a declaration of praise, it is actually a cry for salvation. It essentially means, “please, save us.” As the people shouted this, they wanted “salvation” from the Romans, but what Jesus’ would bring is something so much more wonderful. His sacrifice a few days from now would give them salvation for eternity, but they didn’t understand. They wanted salvation on their terms rather than trusting in the God who had always been eager to “save.” Do you understand who He is or do you want Jesus on your own terms?
If you do understand why He came, then this day should be a day of rejoicing over the reality of who He is, a king to be worshipped, in fact, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS! (Phil. 2:10-11)
Ask God to help you gain a deeper understand of Jesus’ deity. He came to this earth to live as a man, but make no mistake, HE was no man! He was and is the LORD OF ALL!
*For the sake of historical accuracy, I need to state that the chronology of the events of this week are up for debate. First, the gospel writers did not necessarily write everything in pure chronological order. The Roman and Jewish calendars differed quite a bit, so this could account for differences in the timetable among writers and historians. Some believe the triumphal entry actually happened on Monday while others hold to the traditional Sunday entry. If it is on Monday, then the other days would also have a slightly different focus, particularly Wednesday. From Thursday on, there is little debate. In the end, being overly dogmatic about the chronology of the events of this week doesn’t serve any practical purpose. For the sake of consistency and clarity, this devotion sticks with the traditional calendar but acknowledges that there are other plausible views on this timetable.
Here is an interesting video put out by Crossway Media with some extra historical facts about what was happening on this day – A.D. 33
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