Travels Inspire Thoughts During Holy Week

“Palm Sunday” marks the beginning of Holy Week for Christ Followers.  Palm branches waving. People shouting. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Jesus’ last week on earth before his crucifixion.

Have you ever wondered how the throng of people who were standing at the Jerusalem gate flourishing their palm branches knew that Jesus would be coming through riding on a donkey, at that specific hour of the day?  No cell phones, no Breaking News on CNN.  How did they know??  The disciples did not even comprehend why they needed to find a donkey for Jesus to ride on.  

Palm Sunday Road (Golden Dome stands on the original site of the Temple)

The disciple Matthew tells us the crowd went out to meet Jesus on the road going into Jerusalem. (Matthew 21:6-9)

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Palm Sunday Road — The Eastern Gate (now sealed) is in the center of the Old City Wall

The greatest gift in our regular travels to Israel, is learning to understand Jesus through the culture of his lifetime.  This particular week, Jerusalem was preparing for the Feast of Passover.  Traditionally the High Priest would leave Jerusalem and walk to Bethlehem (6 miles away) to find the “perfect lamb” for the Passover sacrifice.  On this precise day before Passover, the High Priest then carried the lamb through the Eastern Gate up to the Temple area.  People would gather with palm branches and sing to the Lord.  The traditional song was, “Hosanna to the lamb of God who has come to take our sins away!”  “Hosanna.”  A traditional expression meaning “save us!”

It always amazes me how God uses our unique environment and traditions to reveal himself!!  He will use whatever it takes to introduce us to Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was introduced by his cousin, John the Baptist, as the Messiah, “The Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.”  (John 1:29).

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, (the ancient symbol of a King coming in peace) through the same Eastern gate.  In all probability, right after the High Priest had just walked through the gate with the sacrificial lamb. 

The crowd was still there!!  Did any of them shouting “Hosanna” “Save us” realize they were also singing to the Lamb of God, the Savior of the world?  They saw him as their rescuer from Roman rule.  Many had seen and heard him before.  Jesus could save them!!

After the sacrificial lamb was selected by the High Priest, it was tied to the Temple entrance for four days.  To be sure it was perfect and without any blemishes, the people could inspect, examine and scrutinize the chosen lamb. 

That week, Jesus was arrested for claiming to be the Son of God, “King of the Jews.”  After enduring many hours of inspection and scrutiny by the religious and political rulers, Jesus stood in front of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate who declared, “I find no fault with this man.”   Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God was declared worthy to be the Passover Lamb.  

We are told by our Israeli guides that at the very same hour the perfect lamb was sacrificed outside the Temple on Passover Eve, Jesus, the Lamb of God, hung on a Roman cross and took his last loving breath.   Outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus, the Lamb of God, became the sacrifice for the whole world.

A pivotal moment in history!  THE pivotal moment in history, was three days later, when Jesus came back to life. Calendars since then mark this moment in history.  He was seen by many witnesses before he returned to heaven 40 days later. 

Who knew???  How was the meaning of this event missed by so many who were actually there??? 

Does Jesus still show up in meaningful ways we often miss??  Does God still use our traditions and current events to reveal Jesus to us??  I don’t want to miss anything this Easter season, 2020.  How about you?  Hosanna!!

Linda Gingerich

April 6, 2020   

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