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Title:  13. Palm Sunday Speaks


Reading No.1 – Mt 21:1-15

Reading No.2 – Jn 12:12-19


1. What Happened 

Facts from Matthew, Mark & Luke:

  • nearing Jerusalem Jesus sets the stage


 v.2 borrows a donkey – never ridden before – special

 donkey – not a lowly animal as today – a subservient animal for carrying kings

Judg 10:3,4 He was followed by Jair of Gilead , who led Israel twenty-two years. He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys.” (Princes)

2 Sam 17:23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. (a senior counselor)

 a king on a horse = war; a king on a donkey = peace

 Jesus was coming in Peace

  •  crowds & disciples ignored this, so caught up were they with their own expectations of Messiah


  v.4 Matthew notes the prophetic significance

  •  everything is the working out of God's plan , previously spoken about through prophecy
  •  this is GOD IN CHARGE, Jesus working it out


 v.8 large crowd hears and cover the road

2 Kings 9:3 They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, "Jehu is king!"

  • Large crowd – every male within 20 miles of Jerusalem had to attend the Passover – possibly ¼ M people in Jerusalem!
  •  he rides in as a conquering king

v.9 Hosanna – save now, or save us now – a plea

  •  or ‘God save the King! - heralding
  •  WE want Jesus to be a king who sorts everything out!
  •  They were looking for a Saviour to deliver them physically


Facts from John, many years later:


  • same basics
  • prophetic significance only later realised
  • the crowd responds partly because of what they heard about Lazarus
  • The Pharisees are upset (guardians of the Law)
  • WE often don't realise significance of what is happening
  • We SEE with our eyes but don't understand with our minds


2. The Outcome


  •  he goes to the Temple – NOT the fortress
  •  he is concerned with spiritual realities not physical
  •  (physical will follow spiritual)
  •  he sorts out the Temple – house of prayer, not ritual
  •  he's setting the agenda – spiritual realities first please
  •  we focus on jobs, careers, family etc.
  •  Jesus wants to deal with our lives
  •  clean them up to be recipients of his Spirit
  •  clean then up for free communion with Father



3. The Significance of Palm Sunday


  •  is the start of the week of conflict leading up to Good Friday
  •  sees Jesus portraying himself as a conquering king and the crowd responding
  •  subsequently reveals that Jesus' priorities and ours are different
  •  we want a physical kingdom change – comfort & ease
  •  Jesus wants to work on the spiritual side of our lives, knowing the rest will then fall into place
  •  Jesus knows sin has to be dealt with and the only way to deal with it is for him to die in our place
  •  The end play of this week is his death
  •  The beginning of the next week will be resurrection, but this week is all about death, sacrifice for us.
  •  We want Jesus to sort the Romans, he needs to sort the Temple – but that's only a prompt to work towards the end of the week.
  •  Jesus knows dealing with our sin is the primary object of this exercise – and in the course of that, of revealing God's love for us.


Appendix: Palm Sunday - background material


1. Easter - Predicted by Jesus


There was no accident about Easter. Jesus had spoken a number of times to his disciples about what would happen, for example:


Mt 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.


Mt 20:17-19 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem , he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem , and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"


2. Easter – God's Plan


On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter preached and summarised all that had happened:

Acts 2:22-24 Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

i.e. it was God's plan but executed by sinful men.


3. Easter – Controlled by Jesus


 It is clear from the Gospel records that by the various things Jesus did in the week and weeks before Easter, he was pushing the tolerance of the religious authorities to breaking point so that eventually they would move against him.

 He raised Lazarus from the dead and became a hero

 He encouraged a hero's welcome in Jerusalem

 He taught in the Temple precincts and upset the religious leaders.


4. Palm Sunday – the Curtain rises


Jn 12:12-15 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem . They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel !" Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion ; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.”


  •  Jesus clearly stage manages his entry to Jerusalem on the first day of the week before Passover.
  •  It matched the prophecy of Zech 9:9 that the Hebrew scholars had taken to refer to the coming Messiah
  •  It was thus Jesus' way of announcing himself.
  •  The crowd clearly saw him as a conquering king, presumably coming to deliver them from the Roman oppressors.
  •  Note….


Jn 12:16-19 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"


  •  see the effect of Lazarus' having been raised from the dead had on the crowd.
  •  see the effect on the conservative, religious Pharisees.
  •  to arrive at Good Friday a process had to be followed whereby the religious authorities became more and more threatened by Jesus.