Palm sunday at the reunion church in peoria az
Palm Sunday: Living to Die – Dying to Live
(John 12:12-19) ESV
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;behold, your king is coming,sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So, the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Living to Die
The final entrance of Christ into the city of Jerusalem while alive here on earth was one of those things that no matter how many times we hear, read, or tell it – it always seems say something new to us. But most importantly it tells us all these years later about Jesus preparing.
Most of us know the story – For many years, the reputation of Jesus for miracles, profound teaching, and claims to being the Son of God had been building. This momentum had arrived days before Jesus actually rides into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey on the first day of the great Jewish festival – Pesach (Passover). Of course, the whole event was not only foretold by Jesus but hundreds of years earlier by the great Hebrew prophets Isaiah and Daniel. As Jesus enters the Eastern gates (called “Golden Gates”), the city is electric and crowded to overflowing for the festival. Jesus and His small entourage are spotted quickly, and the crowds began chanting the Hebrew word “Hosanna.” The people cried out to Jesus as if a true king were arriving – the religious people were outraged. It is obvious to us now, in hindsight, that the expectations of the people were completely focused on Jesus saving them from Roman rule and occupation, religious tyranny – and nothing more. What they wanted from Jesus was strictly a temporal rescue – nothing of eternal salvation. But how does one man riding on a donkey (no army and no weapons) qualify in meeting those types of expectations? And yet, if that had been His mission, we know now that Jesus very well could have done that. In fact, later that week, He would tell Pilate that very thing. But this was not His mission, and was not why He had come, and one of many reasons why the people would not see or accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah, Daniel, and the others. The message of Jesus during the week of Pesach would not be about deliverance from Rome, His message and mission were different and far more important. The Jews, of course, thought what could be more important than what they wanted? Well, the message of deliverance and freedom from sin would be more important would it not? But the people and the religious community did not see it that way, and so, the tension and hostility grew as the message of Jesus deepened. It was all a plan, and it was all beginning that first day of Pesach (Passover).
Dying to Live
Without hindsight and from purely a surface viewpoint it really seems that the circumstances of Christ’s triumphant entrance into the Jerusalem Passover, makes this more like the beginning of the end, and everyone in this scenario seems destined for a disaster. Because as we know within a few days of this triumphant entrance that Jesus was viciously and violently turned on by most, (but not all) of the same crowd who cheered Him, and even more remarkably betrayed and denied by very His own disciples. The crowd appears destined to carry the guilt, shame, and remorse that mobs usually carry… because they are usually just pawns used as a means to an end by leaders who were more evil than they. This mob was no different. The hypocritically religious characters involved in this story all stay true to religious to their hypocritical form. They did exactly what religious people do… they seek to kill and destroy anything sincere, true, spontaneous, and real. And in the end, religion and religious people always die and so did they. And finally, the all-powerful and evil empire Rome, was suffocating, choking on its own power and greed. Here they all were each playing a role; watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem beginning His journey towards His death. And even though His entrance truly was the beginning of something tragic, it certainly was not the beginning of a tragic ending. It was as we can see clearly now without a doubt the beginning of the beginning. Think about everything that Jesus had said up until this moment, to anyone who would listen, and think how His arrival into this city was not just the culmination or end of it all, but rather it was the truly the beginning of it all. Irony of all ironies! Remember how the quotable Jesus had said in one-way or another,
“Die to live. Follow to lead. Serve to rule. Be last to be first. Get to give. Sacrifice to receive. Be silent to be heard. Be the least to be the most. Humble yourself to lift yourself. Surrender all to be free of all. Lose yourself to save yourself. End the old to begin the new. And of course… Love openly, forgive quickly, give freely, pray faithfully, and speak truthfully.
This was a value system that no one in the city for the Passover seemed to really understand – not even the disciples. And even knowing what we know now, it seems that we ourselves have struggle to fully understanding. Somehow when people hear the message as Christ preached it seems as though they were expecting to hear something different. Almost as if they are saying like the mob that day in Jerusalem, “Help me son of David, please save me” but when He tells them what they need to do to be saved the response was as it too often is today… What? That can’t be right! That’s not what I want – what I want is for you to…
Words that Mean Something
ONE – The word Hosanna is from two elemental words. The first is hosha; meaning help or save us. The second is nah; meaning please. The people cried, “Help us, please save us.”
TWO – The meaning of the word “Pesach” (the Hebrew name for the Festival of Passover) is; to pass over
While that is a correct translation, an equally valid, and older translation is; to have compassion for.
The background for both comes from the root name of the spring holiday – pehsamachel. This is based on a description first found in Exodus 12:12-13, where God declares, “And I shall pass through the land of Egypt on that night [of Passover], and I shall smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt from human to animal… and I will see the blood on the doorposts.” The root pehsamach is commonly translated as “To protect, I will pass over in mercy.”
Interestingly, an ancient Aramaic translation of that same verse, the word for pesach is “ve’eychos,” which means; In compassion I will pass over.
The common notion that pesach means “pass over” is certainly not incorrect, but knowledge of this additional translation and meaning adds much needed depth to our non-Jewish understanding of the heart of our God for His people.
And so, it begins… another Holy Week Journey – another opportunity to worship God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Living to Die – Dying to Live.
Retrace the final footsteps of Jesus’ last week on earth. Download the Holy Week Journey devotional HERE.
The Reunion Church is a non-denominational Christian church in Peoria, AZ. If you are looking for Easter services in Peoria, AZ, we invite you to join us for our gatherings throughout Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. The entire Holy Week schedule is located HERE.