Join Mondo for this Palm Sunday message. He shows that the cultural and archaeological background of Palm Sunday leaves us with quite a different perspective than what we normally hear at Church. This sermon will certainly challenge and equip you to reach those who need Jesus.Prophecy Watchers with Mondo Gonzales
Palm Sunday was the last Sunday before the resurrection of Christ. We rejoice in Palm Sunday as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But what does Tabernacles and Hanukkah have to do with it? Now 2000 years later, we think in terms of post-resurrection theology. But we need to know Jewish history/background to understand their perspective.
—misunderstanding of the King’s subject
—misunderstanding of the King’s prophecy
—misunderstanding of the King’s disciples
John 6 — Jesus miraculously fed 5000 people.
John 11 — Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead.
John 12 — The beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life, before His death and resurrection.
… Jesus entered Jerusalem on a young donkey, as prophesied
… large Passover crowds gathered/shouted to Jesus with palm branches:
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel”
… many in the crowd had also witnessed/heard about Jesus’ miracles
… the Pharisees conspired against Jesus—desiring to maintain their power over the people
… Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand this as fulfillment of Scripture—until after Christ’s glorification.
Leviticus 23 describes the Feast of Tabernacles as:
… 7-day feast festival celebrating the abundant fall harvest
… celebration of their freedom from Egypt
… living in tents in remembrance of their time wandering in the wilderness
What about the feast of Hanukkah?
Approx 168 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled over this area.
… but he hated the Jews and was a horrible, ruthless king
… forbade circumcision
… sought to subjugate/force the Jews into Hellenization
… installed a statue of Zeus in the temple of Jerusalem
… sacrificed a pig on the Jewish altar
… hated their independent refusal to become Hellenized
In 168 B.C., the Jews rebelled (Maccabean revolt).
… they rebelled against and defeated him
… then they cleansed/rededicated the temple
The Hebrew word Hanukkah simply means to dedicate. Miraculously, they had just 1-day’s worth of olive oil to light the temple menorah lamp—but it lasted 8 days! Thus, symbolic of the 8-day festival/miracle of the oil, menorahs have 8 branches.
By approx 100 B.C., descendants of the Maccabees developed a dynasty. For the first time since the 6th century B.C., a dynasty of kings ruled the land of Israel. So the Jews were somewhat independent, yet under the overall scope of the Greek empire.
… they minted coins engraved with palm branches
… palms symbolic of the Jewish Feast of Hanukkah
The Book of 2nd Maccabees chapter 10 makes historical reference to them creating the Feast of Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, and its perpetual observance. The Book of 1st Maccabees chapter 13 verse 51 says Simon entered into the three and 20th day of the second month in the 171st year with Thanksgiving and branches of palm trees and with harps and symbols and veils and hymns and songs—because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel. He ordained that the day should be kept every year with gladness. Maccabean testimony celebrates the institution of the Festival of Lights and feast of dedication for the cleansing of the Temple against oppression of the Greek kings.
In 63 B.C., Rome had been invited in by one of Israel’s many kings. Rome basically came to bring peace in a dispute between various factions in the dynasty claiming to be the kings at the time. Rome came in, but never left. They came in, established their hegemony over the area. Each king after that could only serve as a king under the authority and permission of Rome.
In 30 A.D., after Rome had been there nearly 90 years, Jesus came along. As in the Maccabean Revolt, the people longed to be free of Greek influence and Rome’s underlying political current. Their coins even reveal the Tasmanian/Maccabee psyche—with palm branches—representing autonomy and freedom from oppression.
Why is this important?
Because when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the people were seeking/hoping for political deliverance from Rome. They wanted a political saviour. Jesus was their spiritual Saviour, but they hadn’t realized that—yet.
… Jesus rode a donkey (not a horse) into Jerusalem, declaring Himself to be the King and fulfilling Zechariah 9:9
… Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, the day before—Lazarus was suddenly famous
… the Pharisees recognized the symbolism of the people laying down palm branches
… they wanted to get rid of this guy, Jesus
… they wanted to get rid of Lazarus (Jesus’ walking-talking miracle)
… they wanted to stop everyone from converting to follow Jesus
… they refused to repent of their sin and recognize the true miracle taking place
Jesus repeatedly said, “my hour has not yet come”. He was referring to the hour of His death and resurrection—the hour when He’d be glorified. Even after feeding the crowd of 5000 people, He departed quickly—knowing they’d try to make Him king by force (John 6:15), but His hour was not yet. John chapters 6-12 is the build-up. Then on this first Palm Sunday, Jesus finally allows the people to worship Him—because His time had come. The Pharisees told Jesus to silence the people. He replied that even the stones would cry out, if He silenced the people (Luke 19:37-40).
Back in John 6, Jesus had confronted the crowd
… He called them out for seeking to use Him for their own wants
… saying they were there for the show, not to hear His message
… many lacked faith and sought only perishable things
… Jesus brought His Father’s message of eternal life
… Jesus came to bring spiritual salvation, not political deliverance
… Jesus came to do His Father’s will
Remember context. The palm branch was a sign of political rebellion. In Leviticus 23 and the Feast of Tabernacles, palm branches were waved because of God’s redemption from the Passover. All the feasts point to Jesus’s death, and Jesus’ mission, and His first coming, and also His second coming. We mustn’t get sucked into misappropriating a palm branch by forgetting the context of what happened—enough that Jesus wept.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they rejected Him. He knew that this same group of people shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” would be shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him!” just a few days later. That’s why the Scripture teaches that this is not the triumphal entry, but an un-triumphal entry. This is a an entry into Jerusalem where, yes, Jesus is the true King of Israel. But they didn’t see it.
That’s what He was doing in Isaiah 53 (an in-depth, detailed description of Jesus’s death on a cross for the sins of others). Jesus weeps because He’d have brought peace to the Jews, but they rejected it. And now, since they’ve rejected it, it’s been hidden.
The message of Palm Sunday is one of sadness, really. Jesus wept because they didn’t recognize He’d come to offer spiritual salvation. Now physical death in judgment would come—38 years later, in 70 A.D. when their temple was destroyed (Luke 19:43)—because the nation of Israel rejected Jesus’ eternal salvation.
Are we any different today? The message of Palm Sunday is certainly that Jesus is the King. But if we truly understand Jesus’ heart… He’s not rejoicing. He’s weeping. He’s weeping because people have sought to use Him for their own ends.