Around two weeks ago, Pastor Albert from Lighthouse here in Alabang asked me if I would speak on Sunday, April 16. Shocked at first, I said, “Yeah! I’d love to.” Afterwards I found out it was Palm Sunday, so I began to dive into the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. I’ve pulled together my notes and I’m going to edit them down here so that I can share with you what I learned from this story (I’m realizing that I’ll need to release this in parts over the next few days, so stay tuned).
In order to take any lesson out of this story, you have to get inside of it and feel the atmosphere of Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, especially this Passover. So what was Jerusalem like during this Passover?
- Israel during this time was ruled over by the Romans. They had not been a free people for centuries, being conquered and decimated by one empire after another.
- But they had a promise of the Messiah. They were holding out for him. Many people had come claiming to be him (they were soon killed and their followers scattered).
- During the time of Passover, Jews would gather from all over the world in the city of Jerusalem. Scholars tell us that there could have been up to 3 million Jews in Jerusalem at this time.
This city is alive with rumor! With almost 3 million people discontent with the current Roman rule and waiting for the Messiah to show up, Jesus takes stride towards the capital city. In every step the anticipation grows. At the point we catch up with him, he’s walking from Bethany and nearing Jerusalem. In Bethany, Jesus had begun laying down miracles left and right, the most significant of these being calling Lazarus (a man dead for four days) out of a tomb. You can imagine the chatter on the lips of those following behind him. All they can think and talk about is Lazarus. A few of them run ahead to tell everyone in the city that this miracle-worker is coming. The word “Messiah” begins to be hushed through the marketplace like a prayer.
Jesus stops a bit away and sends two of his followers into the city to grab a donkey for him. As word spreads that Jesus is coming, those that would risk their hopes run to pull down palm branches (a symbol of victory) and run out of the city to welcome their king, singing “Hosanna”. This word consists of two words: “save” and “now”. In essence, they were both proclaiming Jesus as their coming deliverer and calling on heaven to assist him with divine authority as he met earthly resistance in the coming days. This was not a sweet melody of children playing in the street. It was a guttural bellowing war chant disguised as innocent praise. No one mistook the meaning of the words they were speaking. They knew that the Messiah came to overthrow the powers that held them down and establish them as a moving force in the known world again…