Palm Sunday and Holy Week – A Time Of Reflection
It is also a time for introspection
A very significant Christian Festival around the world is Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week, and it also signifies the start of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem that He made many years ago. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover.
Christians memorialize the week as one that occurred before Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Back then, as He rode through the city on a donkey, the Bible says He was met by crowds of followers and supporters who waved palm branches [symbol of peace and victory] as they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) The word hosanna means, ‘save now.’
Over the years though, many have become busy and are distracted by the fluster of activities around them in their everyday lives which makes it easier for them to downplay the importance of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. But let us not forget what this festival means to us. Here are a few Old Testament (OT) prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament (NT), the end result is that we have salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
1. OT Prophecy: Jesus Will Enter Jerusalem Triumphantly
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” ~ Zechariah 9:9 NKJV
“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.” ~ John 12:12-15 (NKJV) ALso Matthew 21:8-10; Luke 19:35-37
Today we are extremely blessed not to be riding on a donkey as Jesus did. But symbolic of His final victory for us over sin and death and our salvation through Him is that we now have various models and types of vehicles at our disposal.
2. OT Prophecy of Jesus being rejected by His Own People
In Isaiah 53 we read of the prophecy of Jesus as one who suffered greatly, a model suffering Servant and a man rejected and despised. Verses 1-3 says, “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
He (Christ) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not receive Him. He came to that which was His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:10-11 AMP); John 12:37-38; Matthew 26:3-4
Through Christ’s suffering, we are now the accepted and the beloved of God. God predestined us for adoption through His Son Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will. In Christ we have redemption through His blood. (Ephesians 1:5-7) People may reject and despise us, say all manner of evil against us, but in the eyes of God our sins are forgiven through the riches of His grace, because Jesus paid the ultimate price for us.
3. OT Prophecy of betrayal by one who was close to Him
“Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” ~ Psalm 41:9 KJV “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: ~ Psalm 55:12 KJV)
“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die since it is part of God’s plan. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer!” A mob approached, led by Judas, one of His twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus and greeted Him with a kiss.’ ~ Luke 22:21-22, 47; Matthew 26:47, 49-50; John 13:18, 21, 26.
What lesson can we learn from this? We are representatives of Christ and so the reasonable assumption is that through our natural course in life, people who are very close to us and who we consider to be trusted friends will one day betray us. They will not be from among the unsaved or from our enemies, but will be the very people who over the years were loyal friends and who have always sat and ate at the same table. But like the Psalmist David, occasions like those should cause us to draw nearer in faith to God and to put all our trust in Him.
4. OT Prophecy – The price that was established for His betrayal
“And I said unto them, if you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” ~ Zechariah 11:12-13 KJV
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” ~ Matthew 26:14-16 KJV; Matthew 27:3-4
Think about this word for a moment…Have you ever tried [and you know without a doubt you did your best] to prevent the occurrence of a situation and with all you tried it still happened? Each one of us have a ‘goodly price’ set aside for us that a trusted friend will use to betray us. It may not be thirty pieces of silver which was known to be the price of a slave or what Jesus was sold for, but within the context of scripture we are sure to have someone betray our trust, hurt or disappoint us in a way we never anticipated.
5. OT Prophecy that spoke about His trial and condemnation
“He was taken from prison and from judgement: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” ~ Isaiah 53:8 KJV
“The entire council took Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor. But the crowd shouted louder and louder for Jesus’ death and their voices prevailed.” ~ Luke 23:1,23; Matthew 27:1-2; Acts 4:26-28
Upon reflecting on these scripture verses, I realized that these were not merely a prophecy and its fulfillment through Jesus, but our God given assurance that no more do we have to feel condemnation, guilt and shame for our sins or feel the pain and punishment of being sentenced to die because, Jesus took our place and He paid it all for us.
6. OT Prophecy of Jesus death by Crucifixion and having pierced hands and feet
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.” ~ Psalm 22:14-16 NIV
Mourning for the one they pierced
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on men, the one they pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as on grieves for a firstborn son.” ~ Zechariah 12:10 NIV
“And after they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. ~ Matthew 27:31 NIV; Mark 15:20; John 19:15-16
7. OT Prophecy of Jesus’ death as a sin offering
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” ~ Isaiah 53:5-6 NIV
“By oppression and judgement he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.” ~ Isaiah 53:8 NIV
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” ~ Isaiah 53:12 NIV
NT Fulfillment: Behold the Lamb of God
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29 ESV; “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” ~ Acts 10:43 ESV; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 1:5
Reflection and a time for introspection
God’s plan of salvation and redemption clearly began long before we were placed in our mother’s womb and subsequently, made our arrival here on this earth. As you go through this day/week, take some time to reflect on the word of God and see where you are today spiritually in Christ. You may need to as God for forgiveness for your sins and accept Him in your heart as Lord and Savior or it may just be a time of renewing your vows with Him. Whatever it may be, know that God has forgiven us through Christ and as a result, we have eternal life.