PASSION WEEK

THE FINAL WEEK OF JESUS

MONDAY – Palm Sunday

After many months absence, I have returned! These last several months have been busy and have kept me from writing as I would like. However, on this night I find myself unable to sleep because of the challenging times – the current economic situation, the talk of potential monetary globalization but more importantly, what this week over 2,000 years ago meant to our Lord. After almost three and ½ years of ministry, the time of His first coming was approaching its termination. He would soon be sacrificed on the cross – a work considered tragic (unhappy events that excite pity or terror) by humans but planned and purposeful by God.

This week we will take a brief look at the final but deliberately planned events in Jesus’ life. It all began on Sunday, the first day of the week that we commemorate as Palm Sunday. The historical summary is recorded in Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44 and John 12:12-19 under the heading of the Triumphal Entry.

Jesus’ ministry to this point has increasingly placed him at odds with people. The religious leadership – the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and Herodians – have turned against Him after tentatively embracing Him at the beginning of His ministry. His followers at this time include the people and the disciples but this is about to change. Excitement has been building over the past few weeks of Jesus life. The Jewish people knew from prophecy that the Messiah was about to appear on the scene. Daniel 9: 24-26 predicts the exact day the Messiah will appear and the Jewish people have been expecting His appearance. Jesus has demonstrated His Messianic credentials (Isaiah 61:1, 2a). He has captured the attention of the Jewish nation waiting for their King to take His throne.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus made His entrance into Jerusalem as it had been foretold by Daniel. He entered on the back of a donkey as Zechariah 9:9 had indicated. The people assembling for the Passover were delirious with the excitement over prophecy being fulfilled before their eyes and they expressed their excitement (‘Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ – Matt 21:9) as they had been taught from Psalm 118:24-26 at Jesus’ triumphal entry.

But the people’s excitement also elicited rage on the part of the religious leadership. Jesus’ was stopped by the Pharisees just before entering the Temple and commanded to rebuke the crowd for giving Him the Messianic greeting of Psalm 118 (Luke 19:39). Jesus’ reply is from Habakkuk 2:11 but paraphrased He said, ‘Even if I command them to stop proclaiming the Messianic Psalm to me, the rocks will take up the cry because prophecy must be fulfilled’ (Luke 19:40).

And then He entered Jerusalem, and then the Temple. He healed the blind and the lame (Matthew 21:14) and then He left for Bethany (Matthew 21:17). An anticlimactic end after such an enthusiastic welcome.

The crowd was disappointed in Jesus’. He had not lived up to their expectations for political deliverance from the Romans and because of this they abandoned their support of Him. Now Jesus’ only supporters are the disciples and in a few days one will betray Him, the others will temporarily abandon Him as well. From a human perspective, Jesus’ is experiencing increasing loneliness.

All this should cause us to ask, “What kind of person am I?” “What unbiblical expectations about Jesus’ am I allowing to dominate my mind?” I think there are three main attitudes that need to be addressed. The first is the apathetic attitude that basically maintains there is no need to pursue an understanding of the purposeful work of Jesus. This mindset does not and is not willing to consider the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God and Son of Man who came to substitute Himself as a sacrifice to receive the just wrath of God for man’s sin. This also carries the greatest eternal condemnation because judgment is based on what you do with the Person and work of Jesus the Christ (Psalm 2:12).

There is a second problematic attitude. This one acknowledges the Person of Jesus but has a focus of an earthly expectation of His work – as the Pharisees and the 1st century Jew did. Those in Jesus’ times expected a Messianic kingdom that would overthrow the Roman rule. When that did not materialize they abandoned their support of Jesus. In doing so they missed the reason Jesus came to earth.

The third and correct attitude shared by the Apostles and taught in Scripture is that Jesus came to redeem us from an eternal spiritual separation from God because of our sin. Although establishing an earthly or material kingdom was a part of God’s purposeful plan, it was not the primary focus of Jesus during Passion Week. Rather, the focus of Passion Week was spiritual rather than material. It was spiritual redemption that would ultimately lead in the purposeful plan of God to material redemption.

During these unstable economic times it is easy to get sidetracked from the reason Jesus came. This is not the time to reject Jesus for not living up to our expectations in the material world but to refocus on the spiritual objectives He accomplished on the cross. It is a time to remain consistent in our praise and allegiance to the KING of King and LORD of Lords as we contemplate this week in the life of Jesus that fulfilled the prophecies of His first coming.

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