The Triumph of Palm Sunday
Text: Luke 19:28-44
Proposition: God will have mankind know the coming of Christ… the Creator, the Sustainer, the Redeemer, will be proclaimed to all even in the midst of their ignorance.
Introduction: It would seem that the more important the message the greater the means of advertising it. When the Second World War ended, allied bombers dropped millions upon millions of leaflets into cities, jungles and war zones proclaiming that a peace had been reached and that the war was over. In a similar yet greater way God declared His peace plan to the world on a day which we still call, ‘Palm Sunday’. It is referred to as the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, the beginning of the Passion Week. But is it called the Triumphal Entry because of how the crowds hailed Him or was it indeed a Triumphal entry for another reason altogether? Clearly the opinion of the people was that Jesus would remove the pressures of Rome from their land yet within just a few days they would be calling for His crucifixion. So it was not a triumphal entry because of the crowd’s response that day for within one week’s time Jesus would suffer a criminals death. On the other hand it was very much a triumphal entry in God’s eyes. This was a day that He had planned since before the world was created, a day seen by the prophets of the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel, about 540 years before Christ was born, saw this event of Palm Sunday happening and foretells it in Daniel 9. The prophet Zechariah also knew of it as did others. It was on God’s calendar, foreordained, appointed in time to take place and its significance was enormous. How God located the Triumphal Entry in Time, Circumstance and Purpose determined the eternal value of what Jesus was about to do that Palm Sunday. Let’s read the description of it in Luke 19:28-44.
I. Located at a Point in Time, the Events of this Day Were Unavoidable.
For the last three years Jesus had been avoiding crowds, He’d instructed the disciples to be quiet about what they had seen and about who He was. The Pharisees were trying to draw Him out but He was always staying at a distance, that is, until this moment. Then comes Palm Sunday and as you read these verses you see Jesus giving what looks like insignificant instruction to the disciples to go and get this donkey’s colt that was just ahead of them. How Jesus knew it would be there, who it belonged to, how they would bring it… these were details that are insignificant in comparison to what Jesus directed the disciples to say should anyone resist them. They were simply to reply, “The Lord has need of it.” We know that the need wasn’t just to make the trip easier, Jesus had walked over 90 kilometers from the Galilee and was within two kilometers of Jerusalem at this point. What we soon realize is that Jesus had need of the colt for completely different purposes. Reading the parallel accounts in Matthew, Mark and John, we see that there was a prophecy made over 500 years earlier in Zechariah 9:9 about this colt… “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” What was the significance of this colt, what was the picture it portrayed?
First, it introduced a paradox. It was meant to trigger a question, ‘Why is this King not on some majestic steed?” It would be like Justin Trudeau coming to Blackfalds and the crowds line the street and there’s the motorcade, the secret service guys jogging along, but look what comes next, the Prime Minister of Canada is riding in a rusted out 1991 Ford Escort. It doesn’t fit the situation, it’s a paradox that’s meant to catch your attention. Jesus the King had come to serve. The Savior had come to die and by dying overcome death. You could even say that Palm Sunday was the day that death died.
Second, as their attention is awakened, there is the recognition of this very fragile scene. The colt moves slowly, anyone could walk faster than it, anyone could stand beside it and be at eyelevel with it’s rider, anyone could approach it. That’s it, that’s the message the colt was meant to convey. This King Jesus was not coming to dominate the people, He was coming close to the people that any could come close to Him. His mission was like that of the colt, it was to bear a great burden in obedience, to serve through subjection and bring a great peace between man and God.
Third, could the Lord ever really ‘need’ anything, yet that is exactly what Jesus said. Look at verse 31. Perhaps it refers to the way that God has preset things in place and now calls those things into play. Is there anything that God needs from you and I? I think in the same way that the colt was preset, God has preset many details about our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God calls His good works into action at His appointed points in time. Had the disciples not found the colt, had the owners been away somewhere with the colt, God would have had a wild colt from the desert if necessary come prancing in to fill the role. In other words this particular event of the Triumphal entry was so set in time that if the reasonable means of carrying it out should fail, then God in His sovereignty would still have accomplished it. The Pharisees try to quiet the disciples in their praise of Christ, yet look what Jesus said… “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out.” Why? Because this was a moment that was to be, it was the unveiling of the Christ, it was the undoing of Satan, it was the unraveling of sin, it was the unimaginable restoration of mankind to righteousness. Rocks would indeed cry out! The events of this day located at a certain point in time were indeed unavoidable.
II. Located at a Junction of Circumstance, God Overrules Plans.
God has an amazing way of changing up the plans of man. The crowd planned to be in on the ground floor of a political uprising that would make life easier for them. They came to see miracles, they came for the power of God but missed the person of God. The crowd and the cross had opposite goals. The disciples were in the midst of planning where they would sit in authority, who would be at Jesus right hand in power? The disciples put their coats on the colt as a way of honoring the emerging new Messiah of Israel. That was what the disciples had planned. The crowd recognized that this was a victory parade where the conqueror is greeted as king and they begin to lay their coats down for the colt and it’s rider to enter their city on. They planned for a new king, a new and better way of life for all Israel. The Pharisees had planned on dealing with Jesus in a much more sophisticated way, a quiet extraction behind the scenes. But this crowd, their exuberance, the zeal behind the proclaiming of Jesus as their Messiah, now forced their hand. They would have to take Jesus out of the way much sooner and with more public exposure than they had planned for. God comes into our lives in very unexpected ways sometimes, He changes what we had planned and introduces a door to life. It is at this junction of circumstance that God overrules the plans of many and presents the Lord Jesus Christ. Watch for the times of His ‘visitation’, to ignore them is to invite ruin.
III. Located in Purpose, God Causes the Plan of Redemption to Unfold. Was the Triumphal Entry of Christ a misnomer? What was really triumphant about it? The answer lies in the Sunday of Palm Sunday, it was four days before the Passover, the 10th day of the month on the Jewish calendar. In Exodus 12:3 this was the day prescribed by Law for the Passover lamb to be selected and set aside. The Passover meal reminded the people of God’s deliverance in Egypt through the death of the first born in Egypt, even Pharaoh’s son. It pictured what Jesus Christ would one day do as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Triumphal Entry was the Lamb of God being presented for the sacrifice of redeeming mankind from sin, it would be Jesus’ perfect life as the Son of God being exchanged for the sinful life of all mankind. The triumph of this moment lay not in the pomp of the parade but in the perfection of obedience of God incarnate, obedience even to the point of death on a cross. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”(Rom.5:8). The triumph of this day was that it set in motion, in an irrevocable way, the actions that led up to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, wherein God purchased mankind from sin with His own Son’s blood. This triumph would have repercussion over the entire history of mankind, even until Christ comes again. It would forever challenge the foolishness of the crowd by proclaiming the faithfulness of the cross which God has located in time, circumstance and purpose.