Palm Sunday … Reflections

Matthew 20:17-19 (NIV)

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!”

Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of a solemn time to reflect on the events that culminated in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Verse of the Day affirms that Jesus told His disciples in advance what would soon take place. Jesus prophesied His condemnation to death by the authorities; His abusive treatment and torture ending with crucifixion; and His triumphal resurrection on the third day!  Jesus had shared and explained these things before (Cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22), but it appears the disciples could not comprehend what He was saying to them.  And I wonder if today we truly comprehend the significance of a Suffering Messiah becoming our Passover Lamb. (Cf. Genesis 22:8; John 1:29: Revelation 5:6)

Jesus explained the events that would happen to Him because He knew that a blood atonement was required for our iniquities and transgressions. God the Father had ordained this sacrifice for atonement of sin before the creation of the world. (Cf. Revelation 13:8) And I think Jesus did not want His disciples to miss the significance of what would take place … the prophetic requirement that must be fulfilled through Him … or that there would be a New Covenant mediated by Him through a final sacrifice. Yet, there are people who resist the thought that God would require such an act of justice for sin. There is some notion that a loving God (as they define loving) would never have assented to the unjustifiable murder of His Son. Such a proposition is implausible and incomprehensible in their eyes.  But that is what Jesus foretold would happen, before it happened, so that we might know the truth. Hebrews Chapter 9 affords us a theological explanation of this requirement, and I have provided some excerpts here:

Hebrews 9:6-15; 24-28 (NIV)

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

The blood of Jesus, through His sacrificial death on the cross, not only atoned for our sins and transgressions committed under the Old Covenant, but He removed the power of sin through His resurrection to life again! He is seated at the right hand of God. (Cf. Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1) It is there that our Lord Jesus is interceding for us! (Cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) It was the Father’s intent for Jesus to accomplish His will … our reconciliation … through a mechanism of substitutionary justice so that the penalty for sin (death) would be met. Jesus is the MERCY of God toward us! Jesus is the LOVE of God toward us. Consider what Paul wrote in Romans 5:8 on this issue: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And in 1 John 4:10 we find this affirmation: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” There is no question or vagueness here. In His mercy toward us, God ordained that His One and Only Son would make the atonement for us because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Indeed, the crucifixion was intentional on the part of God because of His passionate love for us! 

My friends, I hope we will think deeply about what God has done to reconcile us to Himself – to clothe us in righteousness and to empower us for sanctification and holiness.  God did so because of His great and enduring mercy … His everlasting love. I believe all God has ever wanted for His people is our holiness … for us to bear His image as we were created to be. And He has made it possible through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus! So, as the Season of Lent ends this coming week, I pray we will take time to prepare our ourselves for the table of communion to be served on Easter Morning.  Let our celebration be a foreshadow of the wedding supper to come!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then, the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” ~ Revelation 19:6-9

2 thoughts on “Palm Sunday … Reflections

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s