• Christ Church, Willesborough

Palm Sunday Morning Prayer (28 March 2021) Matthew 27:11


On the seven days before the Passover feast, Ancient Israelites used to hold palm branches and walk around the altar once shouting Hosanna. On the last day, they used to walk around seven times with a big shout of Great Hosanna. Hosanna means ‘LORD save us now’. The word hosanna has a few other meanings also: Thank you for the Salvation, Praise God, Glory and Blessed. It also represents the triumph and victory to the king. On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus entered into Jerusalem with His disciples to celebrate Passover. When they came near the mount of Olives, Jesus asked two of His disciples to go into the village to find an ass and a colt which no man had sat on. The disciples brought the ass and the colt and put their clothes on them. Jesus sat on the colt. The great multitude also spread their garments and cut down branches from the trees and laid in the way. The multitude “cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest”. The chief priests and the scribes were displeased with this. After this Jesus ministered among the people.

The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people gathered at the palace of the high priest and planned to kill Jesus. But they were hesitant because they feared uproar among the people during the festival season. On the day before His crucifixion, Jesus had the last supper with His disciples. He then went to the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples to pray. Judas came with the high priests and the army and betrayed Jesus for thirty silver coins. They took Jesus to the high priest Caiaphas’ place and sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death. Jesus suffered there when they spat on his face and smote him. In today’s reading from Matthew 27:11 we read, “Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest”.

So was Jesus really the king of Jews?

When the angel Gabriel told Mary about the birth of Jesus, he said, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end”. The king of Jews was not born in the royal palace. They could not find a room for Him in the inn, He was born in a manger. Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and enquired about the birth of the king of Juda. They asked king Herod, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?”. When Jesus came to Jerusalem riding on a donkey, The people took branches of palm trees, went forth to meet him and cried, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord”. In Matthew 21:4 and 5 we read, “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass”. Nearly 500 years before Jesus was born, prophet Zechariah prophesized that Jesus will ride on a colt. We read the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass”. Prophet Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled on the first Palm Sunday.

Meek and Lowly King

Jesus came as the meek and Lowly King to fulfil His Father’s plan to redeem the world by offering Himself as the sacrificial lamb on the Cross. Matthew 21: 5 and Zechariah 9:9 say the Jesus who entered Jerusalem was meek and lowly. Let us briefly meditate on these two characters of Jesus:

Lowly: Kings used chariots as their mode of transport, but the King of Kings rode on a colt. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He came in a lowly position riding on a borrowed colt. Psalm 138:6 says, “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off”. 1 Peter 5:5 encourages us to, “be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. Kings live in palaces. But the lowly king of Juda was born where cattle live. Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”. The people who shouted Hosanna on the first Palm Sunday shouted to crucify Jesus before Pilate. When Jesus hung on the cross, Matthew 8:20 was fulfilled in Jesus’ life.

Meek: The King who entered Jerusalem on a colt was meek. He came as a king but did not exalt himself or show His importance anywhere. He submitted to do His Father’s will. We read in Jesus’s sermon on the mount, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”. Similarly, Psalm 37:11 says “the meek shall inherit the earth”. In Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, Paul said, “Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”. When Jesus was before the governor, He did not open His mouth. He submitted to fulfil His Father’s vision. The prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 53:7 was fulfilled. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”. When He hung on the Cross, the prophecy in verse 5 was fulfilled: “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”. He offered Himself as the Passover lamb and hung on the cross between two thieves. He sacrificed Himself and offered salvation to everyone through His precious blood. He redeemed everyone of us by His precious blood.

The Bible encourages us to cultivate these two qualities like Jesus. We are to be meek and lowly not only in our outward appearance. The God who searches our hearts expects these qualities in our inward beings.

Last week we meditated that when the day comes, He will come again.Just as the prophecies in Matthew and Zechariah were fulfilled, the second advent of Jesus will happen in the pre-appointed time.

- On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a meek and lowly king. But when He lands on Mount Sinai, He will come as the last king in David’s tribe to rule on the throne of David.

- Jesus offered salvation to everyone during the first advent. We who are given the chance to accept Jesus will not get a second chance. We will have to face His judgement. During His second advent, Jesus will give judgement and cast those who are not saved into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented day and night forever.

- We just meditated that Jesus is meek and lowly. When Jesus ministered in this world, He was full of compassion to save the lost sheep. He asked Peter to forgive his brother seven seventy times a day. But when He is comes as a judge and king, He will be a righteous judge.

Today, as we remember the first Palm Sunday, let us ask ourselves if we are prepared to face Jesus as the judge. Jesus has done His part to save us from eternal death. Have we really accepted Jesus in our lives? Is Jesus the king who rules all areas of our lives? Or do we call Him ‘The King of Judah’ and give Him control when we choose? Like the multitude of people, are we praising Him one day and crucifying Him on the cross the next day? Like Pilate are we washing our hands of Him? Like Judas are we betraying Jesus in our everyday activities? Philippians 2:7 and 8 say the king of Jews “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Are we following Jesus’s example in being meek and lowly?

I pray we accept the King of Jews who was meek and lowly. I pray we exalt His name that is above every name. I pray we confess He is Lord and allow him to rule our lives so we can inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!

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