Palm Sunday 2021
Have you ever been looking for something in a closet or garage, but couldn’t find it because you had the wrong concept of what you were looking for? You thought that it was in a brown box only after days of looking for it you discover it was in a yellow box. Well, that is what is happening on the first Palm Sunday. John Gospel records that first Palm Sunday in chapter twelve.
Hear now the Word of God:
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and
began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. (Jn.12.12-16)
The Lord’s disciples were not the only ones that did not understand what was really going on here. The crowd that assembled on the streets of Jerusalem to welcome Jesus as their king didn’t understand either. The Jews had not had a king for centuries, but they all knew that God had promised King David that one of his descendants would be the King whose kingdom would be established forever. (2 Sam.7.13; Lk.1.32) The problem was they had the wrong concept of what they were looking for. They were looking for a mighty political deliverer, who would lead Israel to military victory over Rome and any other future oppression.
But days later after Jesus was glorified His disciples remembered that these things were written of Him. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all write about the triumphant entry of Jerusalem and Matthew joins John in telling us that all of this took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” (Mt.21.4-5)
The Prophecies of Zechariah
This is a quote from Zechariah 9.9. Zechariah’s prophecies are part of the Post-Exilic prophetic books (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) – the last messages of God before the Word became flesh through the coming of Christ. (Jn.1.14) The first set of Zechariah’s prophecies focused on the rebuilding of the temple and encouraged the people to continue their work on rebuilding the temple, which had been interrupted for some years.
Zechariah’s second set of prophecies, starting in chapter nine, looks to the future. This second section is full of Messianic references. As a matter of fact, Zechariah’s prophecies are quoted about fifty times in the New Testament confirming that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Chapter nine begins with giving a description of the enemies surrounding Jerusalem and how the Lord plans to deal with their opposition. (Zech.9.1-8) But then the Lord declares, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zech.9.9-10)
What is interesting and highly unusual is that both Jewish and Christian commentators agree with very few exceptions that this prophecy is referring to the Messiah. So, with that special distinction let’s look closer at this prophecy and how it relates to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry on the first Palm Sunday and to us as followers of Christ today.
A Call to Rejoice Greatly
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;” (9.9a) The Lord is calling us into joy! This is very important for us coming out of a global pandemic. Did I just say, “coming out” of a global pandemic? Wow, what a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were in a national shutdown or should I say lockdown. As a church we had never live streamed, but we had to figure it out if we were going to continue the minister the Word of God. Thanks to Emily, the worship team, Kevin, Shawn, and to everyone that helped us through the transition.
The reality is we all have gone through transitions this past year. Some more than others. But now it is time “rejoice greatly and shout in triumph!” We need to respond to the Lord’s call to rejoice! Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. (Ps.32.11) Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice! (Phil.4.4)
But we should not just respond to the Lord’s call to rejoice because He has brought through the last year. We should respond to the Lord’s call to rejoice because our King is coming to you. Of course, Zechariah writing this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is pointing forward towards the first coming of Christ. But on this side of the cross, we are called to rejoice because our King has come.
And this phrase “your king is coming to you” can also be translated “your king is coming for you.” Brothers and sisters, we should rejoice greatly and shout in triumph because our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, has come for us. Thanks be to God! Our King has come to give us all we could ever want or hope for not only in this life but in the life to come.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just.”
Our King is Just
When Zechariah writes, “He is just,” he is telling us that our King is the champion of justice. He is just because our King does not judge by what He sees with His eyes, nor does He make decisions by what He hears with His ears. No! His judgments are righteous because the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, rests upon Him. (Is.11.1-5) He is not like an earthly king who makes judgments to advance his own agenda. No. His judgments are true and righteous all together. (Ps.19.9)
Because our King is the champion of justice, we can trust Him when we experience injustice in our lives. We can trust Him when we are lied to. We can trust Him when we are taken advantage of. We can trust Him when we are deceived. And because our King is just, we can leave room for the wrath of God knowing that our Just King will repay. We do not need to be vindictive knowing that our Just King will bring justice in His time. Brothers and sisters, if we believe that our King is just then we can leave all of the injustice we experience in His hands.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation.”
Endowed with Salvation
Our King is endowed with salvation. The multitude shouted “Hosanna” as Jesus entered into Jerusalem. “Hosanna” means “save us” or “save us now.” As I mentioned earlier the crowds in Jerusalem cried out to Jesus thinking He would save them from the oppression of Rome not knowing that Jesus came to save them from a deeper and mightier oppression. The oppression of personal sin.
As the angel told Joseph, “you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sin.” (Mt.1.21) As John the Baptizer said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn.1.29) As Peter told the Sanhedrin, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4.12) As the writer of Hebrews tells us saying, having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. (Heb.5.9)
Our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is endowed with salvation and will grant forgiveness to anyone who cries out to Him, “Hosanna, Lord Jesus save me from my sin.” I can confidently tell you today that our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to seek and to save the lost. (Lk.19.10) And whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom.10.13) Cry out to the Lord today!
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Our King is Humble
The humility of our King is seen in Him riding into Jerusalem mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Many have said that Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem was a symbol of peace, but the fact is that many distinguished people rode donkeys. The King of Zion riding upon the foal of a donkey is an emblem, not of peace, but of humility and lowliness. It symbolizes the essence of His Kingdom in that He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mt.20.28) Jesus entering onto Jerusalem riding of a donkey symbolizes that He would humble Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil.2.8b) Riding on a donkey showed that the King of Kings is gentle and humble in heart, and all that honor Him will find rest for your souls. (Mt.11.29)
Brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the humility of our King is to your benefit. Let me explain. Our King suffered the miseries of this life in order to come to the aid of those who suffer. (Heb.2.18) Our King was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Is.53.3) And as if His suffering, His sorrows, and His grief were not enough the Scripture tells us that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Is.53.4) Our King has wept at a gravesite of a dear friend. (Jn.11.35) Our King was homeless having no place to lay His head. (Mt.8.20) Our King was betrayed and abandoned by His friends. The actions and words of our King were misrepresented. Our King was despised and forsaken by men. I’m telling you these things because knowing our King was humbled in all the ways we are should cause us to rejoice greatly and shout in triumph. Our King is not some aloof King living in some heavenly palace. No! Our King sympathizes with our weaknesses and promises to give us His peace in the midst of suffering.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zech.9.9-10)
Our King Conquers all Conflict and Reigns Forevermore
Since our King has come with justice, endowed with salvation, and humility He has the authority to cut off all conflict and reign from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Verse nine of Zechariah’s prophecy focused on who our King is. Now verse ten focuses on what our King will do. “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (9.10)
As we have seen before, Old Testament prophecies can have particular significance for audience of that day as well as redemptive significance for work of Christ. So, means of warfare in that day are mentioned the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. But notice both the chariot and the bow are cut off, destroyed, and made useless.
And as I mentioned previously, both Jewish and Christian scholars believe that this prophecy is referring to the Messiah. So, this prophecy was not just meant to encourage God’s people in Zechariah’s day, but it is meant to encourage us even today. So, as we consider the redemptive significance of this passage, we can conclude that King Jesus riding on the foal of a donkey on that first Palm Sunday was the first action of His passion that will cut off the enemy, establish peace to the nations, and His dominion from sea to sea even to the ends of the earth.
On Monday Jesus will cleanse the Temple and curse the Fig tree. On Tuesday and Wednesday, He will teach, and His authority will be challenge. On Thursday there is a plot to kill Jesus, the Last Supper, prayer, betrayal, and arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. On Friday Jesus will be under trial, be crucified, and buried in the tomb. On Sunday He resurrected from the dead. My point is that Jesus riding into Jerusalem begins His passion that would disarm the rulers and authorities making public spectacular of them by triumphing over them through His death on the cross. (Col.2.14-15)
Through the events of Passion Week Christ crushes Satan head and establishes peace to the nations. (Gen.3.15; Rom.16.20) The King’s Kingdom is not of the world and therefore it will not be established through warfare or fighting. (Jn.18.36) The King’s Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and He established peace through the abolishment of the enmity through sacrifice of Himself on the cross. (Eph.2.14-16; Col.1.20) He is our peace! In the world we have tribulations, but we can take courage because He overcame the world. (Jn.16.33) He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. (Eph.2.17-18)
His dominion will be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation will gather before the throne of God to declare, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Rev.5.12-13)
So, on this Palm Sunday 2021 let us rejoice greatly and shout in triumph!
First, let us rejoice greatly and shout in triumph because we are coming out of a global pandemic. Let’s set our minds and hearts to more forward and rejoice in what the Lord has given us. But more importantly let us rejoice and shout in triumph because our King is just and endowed with salvation. He rode into Jerusalem some two thousand years ago humble and mounted on the foal of a donkey. And through His passion He has cut off the enemy from our lives and has established His peace and dominion in our hearts. Therefore, we shout today, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Hallelujah! For the Lord Jesus Christ has saved us!
Brothers and sisters, our King has come with justice, endowed with salvation, and humility. He has cut off all conflict and His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom that has no end. Therefore, let us rejoice greatly and shout in triumph! Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off the curse, to unbind our chains, to open the prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy; deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy in the Gospel of Christ. The believer in Christ is essentially a happy person. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful person. Our sins have been forgiven, our souls are justified, our trials are blessings, our conflicts are victories, our death is immortality, and our future in heaven will be an endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Savior, and such a hope, should not we together rejoice greatly and shout in triumph? (adapted from Octavius Winslow – The Sympathy of Christ)