Text from message presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, March 24, 2013:
In order to win friends and influence people, you need to be friendly, courteous, and good-natured. It is much more difficult to convey friendliness when you are mean-spirited. Your messages to others are best received when there is an underlying calm instead of those delivered with nervousness and tension. It’s true that words used that are normally perceived as being courteous can have their meaning changed if they are spoken with forcefulness and with a negative intensity. In order to have a positive influence on others, you need to show yourself as peaceful and approachable. True, effective leadership rules with love and not with tyranny.
Jesus came to earth because He loved His greatest creation—mankind. He wanted to reach them and culminate His plan of salvation and create the opportunity for everyone to have fellowship with Him for all eternity. He would do so with His message of love and peace.
10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
His plan was to bring peace to those persons that recognized Him as Lord and Savior. This is exactly what the gospel message is all about.
Fast forward to just a week before Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion, He was traveling with His disciples to Jerusalem at the culmination of His ministry on earth. One of His comments as He approached Jerusalem, the main city of the Israelites, reflected His love for the Jewish people, the chosen nation, and at the same time His frustration with the people because of their inability to recognize who He was to them—their Savior of peace.
41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
His entry into Jerusalem in what we recognize today as the celebration of Palm Sunday. It was a day of great celebration for the people who acknowledged Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah—the Savior of their people; yet, Jesus lamented that those who saw Him yet chose to ignore Him as the Messiah were already suffering from spiritual blindness.
Isaiah had already made the same declaration about Israel in the midst of His prophecy of Jesus’ coming.
18 “Listen, you deaf!
Look, you blind, so that you may see.
19 Who is blind but My servant,
or deaf like My messenger I am sending?
Who is blind like My dedicated one,
or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 Though seeing many things, you do not obey.
Though his ears are open, he does not listen.”
21 The Lord was pleased, because of His righteousness,
to magnify His instruction and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
all of them trapped in holes
or imprisoned in dungeons.
They have become plunder
with no one to rescue them
and loot, with no one saying, “Give it back!”
Note Jesus’ words to the physically blind man who had previously spoken to the Pharisees about Jesus’ healing power, and the response of the Pharisees:
35 When Jesus heard that they had thrown the man out, He found him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” he asked.
37 Jesus answered, “You have seen Him; in fact, He is the One speaking with you.”
38 “I believe, Lord!” he said, and he worshiped Him.
39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.”
40 Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and asked Him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?”
41 “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see’—your sin remains.
In spite of Israel’s continual inability to maintain a relationship with God all throughout their history and even see the true Messiah with their very eyes, Jesus still declared His love for His people. He came to them in peace because He knew that those who would follow Him would do so with His message of peace. He also knew that those who would not accept Him would cause division.
49 “I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it consumes Me until it is finished! 51 Do you think that I came here to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on, five in one household will be divided: three against two, and two against three.
53 They will be divided, father against son,
son against father,
mother against daughter,
daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law,
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Jesus came to us in peace, but the results of His ministry were anything but peaceful. He reached many people with His message of peace beyond human understanding, and he also brought change that stirred the people towards a true worship and fellowship with God—much to the consternation of the Jewish religious leadership.
1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.” (Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9)
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Psalm 118:25-26)
10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”
There are several items of note to consider with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.
1. The donkey
Jesus chose the donkey because it was a humble way to enter the city. It was an Eastern tradition that the donkey was an animal of peace. Most kings or noblemen used horses in the day, which symbolically represented a declaration or presence of war. The donkey was more of a communication that Jesus came in peace with a message of peace. He came as the Prince of Peace.
For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
2. The clothing and the palm branches
In many lands in the ancient Eastern region, it was customary to cover the path of someone who was worthy of honor. This honor was bestowed upon Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, in 2 Kings 9:13. In Jesus’ case, there were people putting their clothing on the ground along with cut palm branches (from the Greek word phoinix). There was an existing Jewish tradition—the Feast of Tabernacles—that involved the use of palm branches as part of the celebration (Leviticus 23:40).
In Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, the palm branch was also viewed as a symbol of victory and triumph. In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions as a representation of eternal life. It later became a symbol of Christian martyrdom as a symbol of spiritual victory over death. Take a look at Revelation 7:9 for another significant use of palm branches:
After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.
Jesus entered the city with humility and the people responded to Him as royalty. Imagine His presence with the showering of clothing and palms with the joyous shouts of the people. What a glorious moment it must have been for the people! It was a celebration, and He was the reason for the celebration.
3. The use of the word “Hosanna”
Hosanna comes from the use of similar words in both Greek and Hebrew to mean “save” or “rescue” (possibly “Savior”).
Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
8 Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting:
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
10 The coming kingdom
of our father David is blessed!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
The people who saw Jesus were making a public declaration—with a loud shout—that He was the Messiah that brought salvation to their people. He was the provision, and it would be less than a week from that time when Jesus was the One who would sacrifice Himself for their sin in order to them to receive eternal life. He was the Lamb without blemish who was slain for all of us.
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
When we look at Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week, let us remember the symbolic significance of the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the very nature of who Jesus is to each of us and how much He gave to us:
- The One who loves His people unconditionally
- His example of humility
- His deity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (clothing dropped before Him)
- The representation of eternal life (the palm branches)
- His presence of peace that surpasses all understanding
27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.
In a few short days, the joyful celebration experienced that day would be a distant memory because of the shocking development when Jesus went to the cross. No one, at that time, would understand why it happened or that it even had to happen the way it did, but we all know today that it had to happen in order for Him to provide salvation from our sins. His holiness, through the sacrificial blood of Christ, covers our sins. He saves His people. It all started with how Jesus loved us, and He still loves us—each and every one of us. It is a reason to celebrate Jesus Christ for everything He has done for us. Hosanna in the highest!
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.