It is Spring, the time the Passover feast took place in Jerusalem. On the Jewish calendar, this event falls in the month of Nisan. Nisan, on our calendar is early April. Passover always began on the 14th of Nisan, so that year it fell on Friday. I’m not an expert at this but using astronomical data, scholars have determined that the date of the Passover feast during which Jesus was crucified was either April 3, AD 30 or else April 7 AD 33. You can tell the difficulty in ascertaining the exact date; even the scholars can’t agree.
One thing we know is that it did happen and that’s good for me. The apostle John says this event took place just a few days before the Last Supper. John 12:1 says it happened 6 days before the Passover – Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany. Which event am I talking about? Jesus’ Triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But if, as they say, this event falls on Nisan 9 on the Jewish calendar, note that it is the day we call Palm Sunday. Just in case some amongst us are wondering why Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is called “Palm Sunday”, the answer is because according to the Gospel of John, the crowds in Jerusalem came out to greet Jesus carrying palm branches, which they either waved or strewed in His path. They shouted Hosanna which meant, Save, O Lord.
But actually, it is more than Palm Sunday; it was Jesus’ coronation. In fact this event was so significant that all the 4 Gospels record it. The Gospels tell us that Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives and headed towards Jerusalem. As He came the crowds lay their clothes on the ground to welcome Him as He triumphantly entered Jerusalem. It was a crowning, riding the colt of an ass instead of a horse. Before then, Jesus always walked. Do you see the significance, riding and only a short distance?
What a day! The crowd was huge and the people were jubilating all over the place. That day was also His last major public appearance before His crucifixion. This was the moment Jesus was crowned King and He victoriously entered Jerusalem! So they shouted Hosanna!
Why were there so many people? We know that thousands of people had congregated in Jerusalem because it was Passover week. But the crowd we read about and whose actions added the word “Palm” to the Sunday had their focus on Jesus. So, why such a huge throng? Look at John’s narrative.
The day before Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, He had supper in Bethany with His friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead (they were giving, NOT taking). Mary had taken a pound of very costly perfume—pure nard—and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping His feet with her hair (another example of giving). In response to some comments, Jesus said that her action anticipated His burial (John 12:3-7). He felt more honoured by what Mary had done than by the shouting crowd waving palm branches—many of whom, less than a week later, would shout, “Crucify him!”
So why such a huge throng? The apostle John provides the answer:
John 12:9-11; 17-18 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
Today, we see similar where millions run to church gatherings where the “name it and claim it,” “health and wealth,” “signs and wonders” preachers are performing. What happened on Palm Sunday some 2000 years ago is being repeated today. John says and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. Doubters, thrill seekers are missing the true Christ and running for the temporal. It is therefore no wonder that they easily turned on Christ that Friday when they shouted “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” Sunday they shouted Hosanna, Hosanna!
There is also another dimension to what the apostle John has written and that is, satan is always around God’s people. Always! Look at vv.10 and 11. satan didn’t want testimonies of what God had done for Lazarus to be shared so the chief priests tried to prevent the truth from going out. But you and I represent the people who bare record.
This Passion Week let us not go along with the usual tradition. Let us be true to the Lord and bare record, tell others about the saving power of Jesus. If you are shouting Hosanna, Hosanna, keep at it and with the Holy Spirit’s power, we can sway some who may be changing their tune to Crucify Him, Crucify Him.
Proposed prayer: Heavenly Father, as I go through each day of this Passion Week, I want to go with You from the Hosannas of Your triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this Palm Sunday, to the joy of Holy Thursday, through the darkness of Gethsemane’s garden, into the mock trial You faced in Pilate’s courtyard and forward to Golgotha where all seems lost. I don’t want to change my cry from Hosanna to Crucify Him. I need the Hosanna in and for my life, I need salvation. Please hear and answer my prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
May this special week bring special blessings to you and all yours.