“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.” ~John 12:12-18
“For much of Jesus’ ministry He urged people to be quiet about who He was. When He healed he told people not to say anything, when He confronted demons who recognized Him as the Son of God He told them to shut up. That’s because it wasn’t time for Him to declare Himself as the Messiah. On Palm Sunday the time had come.” ~Tom Fuller
During this final week of Lent, we have now entered into what has become known as “Holy Week”, the week between Palm Sunday, which we read about above, and Resurrection Sunday, when we celebrate Easter.
Palm Sunday is, to me, a rather bittersweet part of this week. On the one hand, it is a joy to see Jesus receive the laud and honor He so deserved. And yet it is hard to read about, knowing full well that those very same people who are praising Him now are about to cry out “Crucify Him!” in but a few short days. How fickle is the honor of fallen human beings, am I right? Just the day before the triumphal entry we see again this separation between those who were truly Jesus’ friends and those who wanted to see Him killed. John 12:1-3 says, “Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
Contrast that with John 12:9-11 – “Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”
The chief priests were so vicious that not only did they want to kill Jesus, they wanted to kill Lazarus, too! Yes, Jesus’ raising of the dead Lazarus certainly pointed to Jesus being more than just a man, but that was all Jesus’ doing. Lazarus had had nothing to do with the miracle of his own raising. And yet the chief priests wanted to kill him, anyway. As you can see, the stage is definitely being set for what will happen on Good Friday.
So, why the triumphal entry? Why the rejoicing over the arrival of the One long ago promised? Why the need for a Messiah in the first place? Well, the Jews of the time would have told you one thing, while we now see that the whole of Scripture tells quite another. The Jews of the time were expecting a Messiah who they believed was promised to them as someone who would free them from the enslaving bonds of Roman rule. They viewed the promised Messiah’s description of breaking the chains and freeing people as obviously referring to civil freedom. But while that will be an aspect of Christ’s second coming, it was not, however, the ultimate purpose for His first.
The purpose for His first coming was to break the chains of sin, death, and hell which we reigning over all of us. Ever since the Garden of Eden when Eve was deceived into eating of the fruit God had commanded her not to, while her husband, Adam, deliberately chose to disobey God (and, in so doing, led to a passing down of a sin nature to each and every human being who would ever walk the earth), we have always been in need of a Savior. In the midst of this darkness in the garden, this pain and separation from God as a result of sin, this punishment that had to come in the form of death, even then our God showed Himself to be infinitely merciful and kind. In a moment where I would have been the fed up parent not even wanting to deal with my kids in that instant, our Heavenly Father behaved far differently. Even then He was already looking forward to a Messiah, a Redeemer Who would come and rescue His people from the bonds of sin. God never wanted to be eternally separated from us, He never wanted sin to come between Himself and His kids. And so He promised, all the way back then, on the very day sin first entered the world, that He would send a Savior.
We read of this Savior in Genesis 3:13-15, “And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.’”
Salvation through Jesus our Messiah was no “Plan B” option God had to quickly come up with when Adam and Eve blew it. No, this was God’s rescue plan for His children, a plan He had secured since before the dawn of time, since before sin ever even came into he world: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6).
Before we ever needed a Messiah, God planned to provide us with One. And that is why there is so much to rejoice over on Palm Sunday.
Take a few minutes just to ponder the depths of what you have read here today. Before you ever sinned, before your parents ever sinned, before Adam and Eve ever sinned, God had already planned a way to rescue you back from the bonds of the enemy. Our salvation does not come from our striving, but from the work Christ already accomplished on our behalf. Journal how that makes you feel and spend some time in worship.
Lord, thank You for this plan of rescue that You had all lined out before it was ever even needed. This realization shows me just how much I am loved and adored by You. You never wanted to have to be separated from me, so You made a way for me to come back to You. Help me to live in light of this realization, not just remembering it on Palm Sunday, but truly considering it and pondering it every day of the year. Thank You for Your grace and Your love. Help me to walk mindfully in it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.’
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, homeschooling mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah’s first book Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them) released the fall of 2017, and the Lies Moms Believe the Companion Bible Study came out the following spring. Since then, Rebekah has written Advent and Lent devotional studies for women, co-authored a book on walking by the Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life, and most recently co-authored a book on friendship. When she isn’t busy homeschooling, writing, or podcasting, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, and listening to Celtic music. You can reach out to Rebekah on her website Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram @rebekahhargraves, or on iTunes via The Home and Hearth podcast. She would love to hear from you!