A Coronation Ceremony
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the start of the Passion week leading up to Good Friday and Easter. Palm Sunday is a Coronation ceremony. We will all get to witness the coronation of King Charles in a month’s time, and it promises to be spectacular. We have all perhaps seen footage of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on 2nd June 1953 and it was grand. Jesus, the highest king of kings, far above every power and ruler that was or ever will be, had a coronation which was vastly different for someone of his stature. It was a very humble coronation, but the glorious majesty of our Lord still shines through when we look at the details.

Read Luke 19:28-42 – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem

Some scholars say that this event of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem happened four days before the Passover festival, on the 10th of the Jewish month of Nisan. Passover always occurred on the 14th of Nisan, in the spring. For the Jewish people, Passover was the time of the year when they celebrated liberation from Egyptian bondage, and when they sacrificed a Passover lamb. Josephus, a Jewish historian records that the population of Jerusalem swelled to more than two million as Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple for this annual celebration of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt.

Exodus 12: 3, 5-6
3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. …. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 

In reading the above Exodus account, we see that was the day of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem four days before Passover is not a coincidence. He is presenting himself as the lamb that was chosen before the foundation of the world precisely on the day that the Jewish people would have chosen a sacrificial lamb. During the ministry of Jesus Christ there were several occasions in which the people attempted to reveal his identity more openly, but He carefully avoided it and said, “My hour has not yet come.” On Palm Sunday, Jesus’ hour came, to reveal himself as the Messiah, receive worship and set into motion a series of events that would lead to his crucifixion as the Passover Lamb and his resurrection as ordained by God.

1. Jesus is Sovereign
Jesus triumphant earthly coronation and entry into Jerusalem further fulfils another ancient prophecy when he rides a lowly animal, a donkey’s colt. Matthew’s record of Palm Sunday events specifically tells us that this was in direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 given 500 years ago. Again, this is not a coincidence.
Matthew 21:4-5
 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Jesus not only fulfills earlier prophecies in entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he also displays an uncanny foreknowledge of the exact details and the interactions that the disciples will experience in connection with procuring the colt. All this illustrates Jesus’ sense of sovereign mastery and control. The Gospel writers are letting us know that Jesus is not a hapless victim of events which are spinning out of control when he enters Jerusalem. Instead, Jesus is in complete control and is the sovereign master with every prophecy fulfilled, and every detail prepared and planned. The triumphal entry shows us Jesus’ messianic self-consciousness as to who he took himself to be. He identified himself as the shepherd king predicted by the prophet Zechariah.

Ponder: Think about how the disciples felt as they walked with Jesus that first Palm Sunday. Though they had seen mighty miracles including that of Lazarus being raised from the dead in Bethany just a few days ago, they were also told by Jesus multiple times that he was about to die as he heads into Jerusalem. They are probably faced with fear and uncertainty of what the future holds for them.

Questions for Reflection: In your own walk with God, have you felt fear and uncertainty like the disciples did? Reflecting on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and all the prophetic markers, what does this tell you about God’s sovereignty in Jesus’ life and in your own? How might this affect the way you walk with Jesus in dealing with life’s circumstances?

2. Jesus is the Saviour 
Luke 19:37 gives us more information about the crowd. It states they “began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” John’s record in John 12:17-18, further elaborates: “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 performed this sign, went out to meet him.” There is a tremendous sense of movement and action as they surge out of the city gates to greet this coming King. People are climbing trees and ripping off palm branches and laying it down, while others are laying down their cloaks creating an improvised “red carpet” marking the arrival of a great dignitary (Matthew 21:8).

Mark’s account in Mark 11:9 tells us that the people who followed Jesus were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people are expecting Jesus to liberate them from the current oppressive Roman rule after centuries of subjugation under foreign rulers. They are expecting Jesus to ride into Jerusalem and storm the Antonia Fortress, a military base near the Temple remembering what Judas Maccabeus, a Jewish revolutionary leader had done a century ago. Jesus when he enters Jerusalem that day, came and turned their expectations upside down. It was an ironic situation – for the king of the universe to appear peacefully on the most unmilitary mount imaginable, of that of a female donkey. You may have heard the term the “upside down kingdom” before. That’s what it is with Jesus. The first will be last. The last will be first. The meek will inherit the earth. You must lose your life to find it. And the creator of the universe will inhabit the flesh of humanity and enter Jerusalem riding a lowly donkey. The paradoxical Kingship of Jesus shines so bright at this moment!

Ponder: Hosanna literally means “save us now.” This is often how we cry out in our situations as we walk with Jesus. We expect Jesus to do something and change the difficult situation we are in right away. When that does not happen, we get disillusioned. We expect God to come through on our terms, our agenda, our timing. Here Jesus very well understood the political situation and the cry of the heart for political salvation, for salvation from oppressive taxes and from the cruel Roman rule. However, Jesus had a bigger picture that He was addressing.

Questions for Reflection: Jesus was all about addressing the salvation of the world, your salvation and mine even as he entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. What are some situations in your own life where you expect Jesus to fix things immediately? In reflecting on Jesus’ mission on Palm Sunday, do you think God might be working out a bigger plan for your own life? Share with the group on how this might comfort you as you persevere in your walk with Jesus even through difficult circumstances.

3. Jesus deserves our Surrender
We read in Luke 19:36, “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” The spreading of cloaks is significant. The spreading of the cloaks was a sign of respect for the king. For example, in the Old Testament when Elisha the prophet anointed Jehu as king, we read that the people ‘quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”’ (2 Kings 9:13). Spreading cloaks under the feet of the king was a sign of submission. It indicated willingness to yield to the king and to his rule. Thus, the crowd were proclaiming Jesus as Messiah and king and they are worshipping him. We too need to worship our Savior Jesus, in full surrender.

Ponder: We can wonder how many of these same people who were praising Jesus and worshipping Jesus, a few days later cried, “Crucify Him!” How many of them sold out on Jesus when it got tough and joined the crowd when he was brought in front of Pontius Pilate? In our walk with God, often we worship him and surrender to him. It is easy to worship Jesus when we are in church and in Christian community and when life is going well. However, when things get tough, do we still worship him, or do we abandon Him?

Questions for Reflection: In your own life, reflect on whether you continue to praise Jesus even when the establishment and the culture around you revile and reject him? Is there a temptation to compromise your faith, ignore his commands and withdraw from professing your faith and devotion to Jesus? How might Jesus’ resolute ride into Jerusalem knowing what awaits him, cause you to be consistent and resolute in your own walk in total surrender?

The Jewish people on that first Palm Sunday were connecting dots that went back to the Maccabean revolt and were expecting a political salvation. However, Jesus was connecting dots that went all the way back to the first sin, all the way back to the first Passover, and all the way forward to the recreation of heaven and earth. Did you know there is one other time in the Bible that people wave palm branches and praise Jesus? It’s in heaven.

We read in Revelation 7: 9-12
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

There is the ultimate Palm Sunday and a glorious coronation ceremony of Jesus we can all look forward to in heaven!

Reflect and Pray: Reflect as a group on what you are looking forward to on that ultimate Palm Sunday in heaven! Pray for one another that we will be resolute like Jesus in this life and that we will join Jesus for his coronation ceremony in heaven.

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