This week is Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and on through Resurrection Day – Easter. It all centers around Jesus.
Who was this Jesus?
What was the purpose of His coming? Why did the religious Jews, God’s own people, reject Him? Why did Jesus have to die? What was so different about Jesus’ resurrection? This week, I will begin a new series that will look at these days and answer these questions plus more.
During the last week of Jesus’ life and ministry, He fulfilled all the messianic prophecies previously written in the Old Testament.
Let’s begin with Palm Sunday:
Luke 9:20-22 and Matthew 16:16 recorded that while Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked a question: “Who do you say that I am?”
Of course, we know that Peter blurted out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the very next verse Luke wrote that Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” In other words, Jesus just gave the disciples a brief synopsis of what Holy Week would look like, but they were clueless.
Soon after that, “when the time had come for Him to be received up, … He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Starting with Sunday, when He entered Jerusalem, that week was very eventful and explosive. But Palm Sunday itself was a day filled with all emotions:
Just before Palm Sunday, Jesus sent two of His disciples to retrieve an unridden colt for His transportation into the city.
This fulfilled the Scripture in Zechariah 9:9 which said, “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, many threw their clothes in front of Him on the pathway. In those days, this was like rolling out the red carpet for a king.
While Jesus rode along on that donkey, other people waved palm branches in adoration. The crowd began to shout, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
It was such a loud, festive commotion that the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke the crowd. Jesus’ reply was, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
When He answered the Pharisees that way, Jesus not only accepted the praise and honor given to Him that day–but He was also signifying that their praise was legitimate. The whole city knew something was going on because Matthew (in Matthew 21:10) stated that “all the city was moved, saying ‘Who is this?’”
Let me just stop right here and ask:
If Jesus were to come into our city today–or even our church–how would we respond?
Would we join in the festivities with loud praise and adoration? Or, would we be like the Pharisees and tell the people to tone it down? Would we be like some in the city who heard about it but were indifferent?
Even the children in the temple were yelling, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:15). We know that their praise moved the heart of Jesus! In fact, in response to the children, He quoted Psalm 8:2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, you have perfected praise.”
Children love excitement and they have no inhibitions. Are we like that?
Do we get excited about Jesus?
Or, do we have inhibitions? Remember, David danced before the Lord with all his might. He didn’t even care that the whole nation watched. But his wife, Michal, disdained his worship. The tragic judgment on her was that she was childless until the day of her death (2 Samuel 6:23).
Palm Sunday was indeed a day of praise.
But Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him that week. As He drew near and saw the city, He began to weep, saying:
“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment round you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of visitation.”
You know, when Jesus shows up, we had better listen to Him – no matter how loud our praise is or how exuberant our celebration – if He has any kind of warning.
The crowd was celebrating Jesus that day because they thought He was coming to overthrow the Roman occupation and re-establish the kingdom back into Jewish hands.
They hailed the Messiah for political reasons, not religious ones. Are our eyes on the Lord for the same reason? Do we pray that Jesus would come and squash our political opponents, which would heal the political rift in our nation?
We are instructed to pray for those in authority no matter what our political preferences are. Paul wrote to Timothy:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1/3).
So, I am asking you to pray for our leaders in this season so that “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” If Jesus wept over the condition of the city and the people, I think we should pray similarly. Let’s set aside time for special prayer as we approach this season of the Holy Week.
One more event happened on Palm Sunday:
Jesus also entered the temple and drove out those who bought and sold in it.
“My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).
Was Jesus thinking of the prophet Jeremiah, who penned the Word of the Lord, saying, “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes?” Or, was Jesus referring to the prophet Zechariah who said, “In that day, there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” A “Canaanite” was a derogatory or negative term for a greedy, unclean merchant.
Either way, or both, Jesus was telling us about the primary purpose of His house.
That day ended with the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people wanting to destroy Him, but they were “unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him” (Luke 19:48).
Saints, let’s be attentive to what the Lord is saying in our day. Let’s make His house a house of prayer.
The actual term in Greek is proseuche, which means to “pour out.” So, as we look toward Holy Week, let’s draw near to Him and let’s make prayer a priority. We can use our hands to wave before Him in praise and adoration.
This week, I’m setting my heart and my mind to focus on Jesus. Plus, I am open to hear what He is saying. Will you join me?