As He rode along, people were spreading their coats on the road [as an act of homage before a king]. As soon as He was approaching [Jerusalem], near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the entire multitude of the disciples [all those who were or claimed to be His followers] began praising God [adoring Him enthusiastically and] joyfully with loud voices for all the miracles and works of power that they had seen, shouting,
“Blessed (celebrated, praised) is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory (majesty, splendor) in the highest [heaven]!”
Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples [for shouting these Messianic praises].” Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these [people] keep silent, the stones will cry out [in praise]!”
As He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it [and the spiritual ignorance of its people], saying, “If [only] you had known on this day [of salvation], even you, the things which make for peace [and on which peace depends]! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. (Matthew 19:36-42, AMP)
As we approach Easter Sunday, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the days leading up to the Resurrection. Jesus’ last days on earth were filled with lessons for His disciples, which means they are filled with lessons for us.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I know historically the people were looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from the oppressive Roman government and establish the Jewish kingdom on earth. But we know God had a bigger plan.
This is the first lesson: God’s ways are not our ways. We often want immediate relief from the pain or discomfort we are experiencing. We want a better situation. We want to be free from the injustice we’re experiencing. Whatever we’re going through that is hard and painful, we need to recognize that maybe God is working out a bigger plan than we realize. We don’t like that sometimes. But we should take comfort in it. God always has a plan. God is always at work in and around us. God is always bringing good out of even the worst situations. He is the Redeemer of our lives and our situations.
I doubt those who were singing “Hosanna” had any idea what God’s ultimate plan was. He wasn’t just saving people from a specific situation in history. He was saving the world for eternity for those who would believe.
They were crying “Hosanna” which literally means “Save us” without realizing how very much they needed a Savior. Today, I think that’s what breaks my heart the most when sharing the Gospel with this generation. So many do not even realize they need a Savior. We’ve built up people and sold them the illusion of self-esteem and created many who do not have a clue they need a Savior.
Lesson Two: We all need a Savior. We all need to cry out to Jesus, “Hosanna! Save Us! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.” We must repent of our sin (reject and turn away from our sin). We must believe in our need for a Savior and that Jesus is that Savior who paid for our sin with His death and resurrection.
Finally, as we look at Palm Sunday/The Triumphal Entry, we see that as they prepared to enter Jerusalem, Jesus wept.
I can think of twice in the Bible where it says Jesus wept: at Lazarus’ tomb before He raised him from the dead and as He looked down over the city of Jerusalem.
In both situations Jesus was aware of His purpose and what that would entail. He says at Lazarus’ resurrection that He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus knew He would die and be raised from the dead, but He also knew how He would die, why He would die, and the horrible pain and anguish He’d be facing.
But more than that, He knew that the people would not understand. He knew that even though He was showing Mary and Martha that He was the resurrection and the life, they wouldn’t totally understand what He meant. He knew the people of Jerusalem who were waving palm branches and celebrating His arrival had no idea what was really happening. They were looking for a Messiah and did not really know what that meant. He knew that the majority of people would never get past their own pride to understand their need for a Savior. And He wept.
Lesson three: We, too, should be broken-hearted for the lost. We should weep because we know they are lost even when they don’t. And it should bring us to our knees. We should weep because of our own failures and our constant need for God’s mercy and grace in our lives. We should weep for the pride of man and the selfishness in our own hearts. And we should weep for joy in knowing all that Jesus Christ has done for us, never forgetting His awesome gift of salvation and hope. As we weep may we pray especially for those we know by name who are far from God.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NLT)