BUV 2022 4-Part Easter Series: Love Beyond Measure
Part 2: Palm Sunday – The Humble King
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event is recorded in all the four Gospels. For the last time before his suffering, Jesus took the arduous trek of 17 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem. Portrayed as a King, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, being royally welcomed by a crowd who laid palm branches and garments across the road. Paradoxically, this triumphant entry initiates a major literally section in the Gospels concerning the rejection of the king!
The Majestic Character of King Jesus
Jesus instructed His disciples to acquire a colt that He could ride into Jerusalem (Luke 19:30-31). In the ancient Near East, a donkey was a royal animal for kings and Jewish monarchs (1 King 1:33, 44, 2:32). Jesus was presenting Himself to Jerusalem as their King.
The Gospel of Matthew associates this event with Zechariah’s prophecy of the coming of the humble King of Israel (Zechariah 9:9). Yet comparing Matthew’s quotation with the original, you notice that he omitted “He is just, and having salvation.” In His supreme love, He entered Jerusalem to extend mercy, peace and grace, not justice and judgement. As the prophecy declared, Jesus is a gentle and a humble king.
The Majestic Capacities of King Jesus
In a royal procession into Jerusalem, the people rolled out the red carpet as they welcomed King Jesus. They threw their garment on the colt and across the road (Luke 19:35-36). This was all part of a traditional Jewish reception for royalty.
Deploying the Messianic Psalm 118: 25–26, the crowds cried out for the- help of the anticipated deliverer. They expected a military-like king, the Messiah, that would deliver them from the oppression of their Roman enemies and establish the glorious kingdom.
They requested the king to “save now.” Jesus did not refute their declaration, yet He didn’t share their plan of rescue. He was the victorious King, who had the capacity to conquer the enemies of God’s people: Death, Satan, and the sinful system of the world. Yet, He had a better plan. He chose to suffer for the sake of His people to deliver them. His selfless victory on behalf of His people was accomplished through suffering on a cross, not military power.
The Response to the King of Peace
Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). This is the second mention of Jesus’ weeping. Over Lazarus, He wept quietly, but here He lamented loudly as one mourns over the dead. He was foretelling the suffering that awaits the rebellious city in the events of the destruction of the Second Temple (around 70 AD). Jesus’ heart was broken over the spiritual condition around Him.
Jesus knew that these people would turn their backs on Him, rejecting His spiritual reign (Luke 19:14). The initiative of the King of Peace was not recognized or accepted, leaving them to face unavoidable turmoil.
Every initiative demands a response. How are we responding to the King’s loving initiative that offers eternal peace?
In pairs, share an experience where you were genuinely taken aback by someone’s unexpected initiative or act of kindness.
Reflecting on your experiences as a group, how did you respond to the person who initiated kindness towards you?
For context read Luke 19:28-40 (also Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 10, and John 12)
On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem initiating the greatest act of kindness imaginable. He extended peace and deliverance that would ultimately cost His life.
Read Luke 19:28-40, and respond to the following three questions:
- How can you summarize this narrative in your own words?
- What is the significance of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey as a fulfilment of the prophecy documented in Zechariah 9:9?
- The Israelites expected a conquering Messiah to deliver them for their oppressors. They cried out to Jesus: “save us now.” Yet just few days later they cried out just as passionately: “crucify Him”! Why did they refuse to accept the Messiah’s plan of deliverance?
Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they didn’t recognize the day of their peace. His heart was broken over their condition. Their expectation of a military-like king collided with God’s unexpected plan of rescue. They were unwilling to respond to their King’s initiative of unimaginable kindness.
- “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” What moves your heart or breaks your heart as you observe the world around you? (What do you do about it?)
- In what area of your life do your expectations collide with God’s unexplainable plan?
- How can you practically respond to the kingship of Jesus over that (or any other) area of your life? (That is, in what area of your life do you need to surrender control to King Jesus?).