Palm Sunday is this weekend, so for this week’s DHD, I wanted to share six thoughts about what happened on the very first Palm Sunday. This breaks from my recent presentation of offering thoughts from one particular passage of Scripture. Discussing the historic event of Jesus’ ride in Jerusalem, I’ll consider commentary involving all four Gospel accounts (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19).
- Instructions to two disciples
Jesus is aware of the week that is ahead. My imagination causes me to want to know more about why Jesus went about doing certain things and why the Gospel writers chose to share what they shared.
For example, why did Jesus instruct two disciples to go get a donkey? And this is a loaded question because, depending on whose Gospel narrative you read, Matthew tells the two disciples to get a donkey and its colt; Mark and Luke say get a colt, and John doesn’t even give the details of how the donkey was obtained.
I’ll share more in next point about the animal used for riding, but back to the disciples, why were two chosen, and why are we not privy to who they were? This is just my silly curiosity.
And yes, Jesus is fully God and fully man, but I am fascinated with His detailed instructions. He said to go into a village where they will find a donkey that has never been ridden and bring it back. If anyone were to ask about the disciples taking the colt, they were to say the Lord needs it, and they will bring it back.
The supernatural knowledge of Jesus fascinates me, especially how He chose to communicate to His disciples about certain things. This is one of those fascinating scenarios.
- The chosen steed
Jesus chose to ride on an animal that has never been ridden. Did you get how scary of a situation that is? Watch one of those western movies like The Big Country that features a scene involving riding a wild horse, and you’d think twice about riding an animal that’s never been ridden.
I remember when I was much younger being at a church carnival that offered pony rides and witnessing a young child getting bucked off a pony. You talk about the horror everybody felt witnessing that ordeal.
But Jesus chose to ride an unridden donkey colt. Matthew reports this was done to fulfill prophecy in Zech. 9:9. Also, riding a donkey instead of a horse meant Jesus represented a peaceful entry instead of riding a horse which meant he would be preparing for battle.
- Coats and branches
In my younger years, I had a hard time understanding why people would lay coats on the ground as people and animals walked over the garments. Ancient customs say it represented honor to the one who would go over the coats. As valuable as coats can be, this is quite a sacrificial custom.
Waving and laying down palm branches also represented honor and celebration. This is what happened when Jesus made his entrance into Jerusalem. Many were still hearing about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11), while others were just intrigued by his many miracles. Reacting to seeing Jesus on a donkey caused all the people to get excited.
- Praise from the fickle
Have you been to sporting event with tens of thousands of fans? Here in Oklahoma City, we are pretty excited about the Thunder. Russell Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s season record for most triple-double performances this week. It was a loud and exciting atmosphere in the arena when Westbrook made this achievement.
But just as sports fans enjoy the thrill of victory, they can also turn on a team in the agony of defeat.
Reading Matt. 21:9, I love picturing the crowd shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest Heaven!” I naturally think of Michael W. Smith’s song “Hosanna” when I read this passage.
Regardless of who is shouting this praise to Jesus, it is an exciting image as this is one of the few places where the Gospels make known all the people recognized Jesus’ glory.
But oh how quickly the people’s praise will soon turn to hateful shouts.
- Sharing the news with others
The Palm Sunday experience was not without an evangelistic opportunity. Matt. 21:10-11 says the whole city wanted to know who Jesus was, and the people let those who inquired know it was Jesus, a prophet from Galilee.
This challenges me to make known to others who Jesus is, especially when they inquire about Him and His Gospel message.
I read an article this week that will be published in next week’s Baptist Messenger about the chaplain for the Texas Rangers during spring training in Arizona. The story tells about the chaplain leading a Bible study with many players and coaches attending. He was sharing John 3 and the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus (which I shared in a DHD two weeks ago).
The chaplain spoke about Jesus telling Nicodemus that he must be born again. Someone in the study interrupted the chaplain and said, “Stop talking and tell us how we can be born again.” Six team members made professions of faith that night.
- Leading to a powerful week
The historic entrance into Jerusalem begins a heavy, passionate, powerful week for Jesus and His disciples. Some of the great occurrences of the Christian faith happen. Jesus’ second cleansing of the Temple, the Olivet Discourse, the Last Supper, His emotional prayer in the Garden, and His trials before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod will occur in the days that follow.
These events lead to the most anguishing day in the history of mankind – The Crucifixion of Christ. But this leads to the most glorious day in the history of mankind – The Resurrection.
All this began with Jesus telling two disciples to get an unridden donkey for his entry into Jerusalem to be praised by fickle followers.