Holy Week: Day One: Palm Sunday

Holy Week is here!!!!  What is Holy Week?  Well, Holy week is a week for us to take some time and reflect on Jesus’ last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Two years ago, I did a series on Holy Week, and I plan to share an updated version of said series this week.  Today, I will post for Day 1 and Day 2.

Timeline of Holy Week (approximate)

Sunday (Palm): Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey where people are lined on the streets waving palms and shouting Jesus’ praises.

Monday: On his way to the Temple, Jesus curses a fig tree for failing to bear fruit. Once at the Temple Jesus becomes angry over the obvious corruption. He overturned tables and drove out the corrupt money changers.

Tuesday: Jesus confronts religious leaders, and does his most preaching of the week. Tuesday is also the supposed day Judas contracts to betray Jesus.

Wednesday: There is no mention of what happens on this day. After three busy days and the big event to come, it is speculated that it was a day of rest for Jesus and his disciples.

Thursday (Last Supper/Maundy Thursday): This is the first day of Passover and Jesus and his disciples meet for their Passover Feast. Before the feast, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. During the meal, Jesus stated that this would be his last meal with them and shared the first communion. Jesus also talked about his forthcoming betrayals. Late into the evening Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was there that Judas betrayed him with a kiss and was arrested.

Friday (Good Friday): In the early morning hours on Friday, Peter’s betrayal (denying Jesus three times) comes to light and Jesus begins the first of 6 trials. It is during these early morning hours that Judas killed himself. After the final conviction Jesus went through brutal torture and mockery and was forced to carry His own cross to Calvary for His ordered crucifixion. Jesus died approximately at 3PM Friday afternoon.

Saturday: Jesus body laid in the tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, until the end of the Sabbath after 6PM when it was prepared for burial.

Sunday (Resurrection Sunday/Easter): Several women went to the tomb early Sunday morning and discovered the stone was rolled away. An angel appeared and told them that Jesus had risen! Jesus made at least 5 appearances that day, meaning people actually saw Jesus after His death.

Day 1: Palm Sunday:

John 12:12-19 (NIV): The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfills the prophecy in Zachariah 9:9. It also marks the first time where Jesus was meted with such praise and honor. It was also this very same praise and honor that sealed His fate. The Jewish leaders could ignore little bits of worship here and there, but seeing the vast number of people coming out to honor Jesus was a reality check. They knew they had to act soon.

Two years ago when I wrote this series originally, my pastor, Pastor Cathy McCoy,  gave a sermon that was a little different from what I had ever heard preached before regarding Palm Sunday. It is still very much applicable and worth sharing once again:

Jesus came in like the King He truly is. Shouts of praise came from everywhere. One would think it did a heart good to finally be accepted. But the truth is more likely that while He may have enjoyed part of it, He knew what was to come. Not only did He know Judas would betray Him and Peter would deny Him, He knew these same people would crucify Him. He knew their praises would soon turn to mockery. He knew the real reason they were there: the miracles and power.

John 12:17-18 (NIV): Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.

A large portion of the crowd was there because they heard what Jesus could do. They went because they wanted to see what Jesus could do for them. As we will later see, they wanted a powerful King. They wanted someone with a sword. Someone who would come in and fight and release them from the control of the Roman government. They didn’t want a meek King who rode a donkey.

We often think badly of these people when a lot of times we are no better. We tend to make God into what we want Him to be and not who He truly is. We pick the parts of the Bible we like and follow those scriptures, all the while ignoring the ones we can’t make fit into our vision. We shout praises when things are going well. Yet, yell curses when things start to go south. We want God for what He can do for us. We love when we see evidence of God’s power. We love to live on the mountaintops.

God really spoke to me with this sermon. You see, my closeness with God often depends on what God is doing in me and through me. When I see evidence of His spirit or feel Him, then my relationship with Him is strong and therefore, my effectiveness. However, when there is quietness, my effectiveness suffers because every day, mundane life bores me. It doesn’t feel enough. I want to live a life for Christ. I want to go out and do something. I don’t just want to get up, go to work, and take care of the kids, house, and husband. I want more. God used Pastor Cathy’s sermon to warn me about becoming power-hungry or gift-minded.  I have to make a commitment to love God first and foremost despite circumstances, despite feelings. I cannot be led by my emotions; I must be led by Christ. God is God even when I can’t see or feel Him. I don’t want to be like the people who came and praised Christ one day and then was yelling “Crucify Him” less than a week later.

Yesterday, Pastor Cathy elaborated more on this sermon.  She expounded on the crowd’s need to make Jesus into what they wanted him to be (a powerful King).  They didn’t want a humble god who rode a donkey.  They wanted a mighty warrior on a white horse who would slay the Romans who had the Jews under their thumbs.  In today’s times, we are not much better.

With the current attitude towards Christians in America today, I very much wanted Jesus to come in and slay our enemies.  I want God to “put them in their place” so to speak or “shut them up.”  Do I want this so they will know Jesus Christ is their one true Savior?  Shamefully, no.  Deep down I want Jesus to step in and show his power so they will know the Christians are right.  This is not at all what our humble savior wants and expects of us.  I don’t think it is far of a stretch to see how this might relate to how the disciples were feeling on Palm Sunday.  I am sure there were feelings of vindication and pride.  After all, they had been following Jesus all this time.  They had been the ones alongside of him, bearing the ridicule and oppression with Jesus.  I imagine them walking in parade style with their heads held high and chests puffed up not knowing or realizing that within days they would abandon their leader, teacher, and friend.

Our pride can blind us into believing we have it all figured out and a faith that is unshakable.  Only to find out when trials and tests come we are no better than the disciples.

I don’t want to be a “Debbie-downer”, I just want us to be aware.  Those who think the will never fail or fall often fall the hardest; unsinkable ships do sink.

Let me leave you with some good news: Jesus is the King of restoration and the God of second chances.  The disciples failed, but God restored and used them to build His church.   The people called for his crucifixion, but Jesus died for their sins too and all who later came to acknowledge Him as the their Lord and Savior were just as saved as those who stood beside him (the very few).

Don’t forget to check out Day 2, which will be posted here shortly.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,



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