Today is Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Many hundreds of thousands were gathered in Jerusalem for the coming Passover, and John tells us that the people were focused on Jesus because of crowd spreading the word that he had risen Lazarus from the dead just days before. (John 12:17-18 (“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. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.”))
As Jesus entered the City, people lined the streets with palm branches, threw their cloaks on the road in front him, and venerated him with shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the king who come in the name of the Lord!”
This is Luke’s account:
As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:36-38)
And here is John’s account:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)
As we celebrate Palm Sunday today, we know that story is about to take a very drastic, tragic turn for the worse. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is not the precursor to celebratory times, but the darkest of times. We should consider the incongruity that just days before Jesus was condemned by an angry crowd yelling, “Crucify him!”, he was hailed King of the Jews by an adoring crowd – and it was likely the same crowd!
My Christmas Thoughts have taken me to the prophecies in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, which is the Greek term for Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, and he said the Old Testament is about him.[i]
The concept of a Messiah is unique to the Abrahamic religions. A messiah is a savior or liberator of a people Group. The Messiah predicted in the Old Testament (Tanahk) is the Savior of the Jewish people, and he is the Savior of the world. The Messianic prediction goes back to Abraham:
I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen. 22:18-10)[ii]
Both the Jews and Muslims trace their lineage and heritage back to Abraham, and Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, is traced directly back to Abraham through David. (Matthew 1:1-17)[iii] That the Messiah would come through the lineage of Judah, of whom David was a descendant, is well documented in the prophetic passages in the Old Testament writings. Continue reading “Christmas Thoughts: Prophets & Fools”→
When Trump first announced his presidential intentions, it seemed to me like a reality show stunt. It was like a distraction from “the real the thing”, the serious business of presidential primaries that will determine the only choices that we have next November.
Now that Trump, the reality show candidate, is increasingly likely to become Trump, the presidential candidate, I have been unsure how to put it in perspective. Trump, the caricature, seems to be Trump, the real deal. Even as he polarizes people who are already quite polarized, he gains in popularity and delegates to the convention where he will likely be the “popular” choice.
I do not need to recount the number of ways that Trump has failed to exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The stories are now legion. The examples of mocking a disabled man, or cheering while people are forcibly removed from his audience or statements about punching people in the face are played over and over on social media like a parade of “fail” videos.
Meanwhile, Trump is not just polarizing the haves and have-nots and the Democrats and Republicans; he is polarizing Republicans and Republicans. More importantly, and more significantly, to me, Trump is polarizing Christians, even those who call themselves Evangelical Christians.
The prophet Isaiah, spoke the word of God and foretold of the coming of the Christ child over 700 years before Jesus was born into the history of mankind in a humble manger.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
As Peter said, “the Lord is not slow about His promise, … but is patient toward you.” (2 Peter 3:9). In the fullness of time, God emptied Himself and entered into the history of His own creation. (Phil. 2:6-7)
The angel appeared to Mary and gave her the news that Isaiah foresaw:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)