Do you know how easy it is to preach a sermon on Palm Sunday? 90% of you could do it:
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowd put down their cloaks and palm leaves for Him. They sang “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Someone once said to me, “to make a long story short…”
and I replied, “Huh, it just occurred to me that a sermon is taking a short story and making it long.”
So for your Palm Sunday sermon you would hand out palm leaves, parade kids around waving them, talk about how the disciples, especially Judas, must have been eating this up. They were part of a hero’s parade, and thought Jesus (and by default themselves, too) were finally going to get the respect He and they deserved. The three+ years of following and learning were finally going to pay off. Then you would talk about how quickly all the fans were going to turn on Jesus. How the shouts of “Hosanna” would turn to cries of “crucify Him” in just a few days.
And you would send everyone out of here with a souvenir palm leaf. We would all go eat and have an Easter egg hunt, and another Palm Sunday would be in the books. And in 10 years of ministry, that’s the routine I followed. Not this year. This year, we’re going deeper…
Exodus 12:1-7: “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month will be the first month; it will be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole Israelite community: On the tenth day of this month (this month is known as the month of Nisan) they must take a lamb for each household, a lamb per house. If a household is too small for a lamb, it should share one with a neighbor nearby. You should divide the lamb in proportion to the number of people who will be eating it. Your lamb should be a flawless year-old male. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You should keep close watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month. At twilight on that day, the whole assembled Israelite community should slaughter their lambs. They should take some of the blood and smear it on the two door posts and on the beam over the door of the houses in which they are eating.”
That night the 10th plague would come and every home that didn’t have the blood of the lamb over the doorway would lose their first born son, including Pharaoh. The Israelites were then freed by Pharaoh, or more precisely ordered to leave. And from that day forward, Jews have celebrated the Passover. The time when God spared them and delivered them. When death passed over their homes, because of the blood fo the lamb on the wood. Passover is an eight day event. We Christians do not do extended holidays very well. We have a day, maybe a long weekend. And then it’s over. Not Diane – April 1 she began celebrating her “Birthday month”. But I digress.
The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan (this year 2018, it’s March 30-April 7). It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Jews observe Passover by avoiding raised bread, and it’s highlighted by the Seder meal that includes four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus – God using Moses to lead His people out of Egypt.
At the Passover meal, The Zeroah – Page 37 Mysteries by Johnathan Cahn:
One of the most mysterious objects on the Passover table is called the Zeroah. Hebrew Scripture says the Lord made the heavens and the earth by the Zeroah. So it was by the Zeroah that everything you see, and even the universe itself came into existence. When God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt on Passover, with miracles and wonders, it is written that He did so by the Zeroah. And concerning salvation, it is written that that Lord will make known His Zeroah and all the earth will see the salvation of God. And what is the Zeroah, you ask? The fifty third chapter of Isaiah contains a prophecy of One who will be wounded and crushed for our sins, who will die for our judgment, and who, by His death, will bring us healing, life, and redemption. The ancient rabbis identified this One as the Messiah. But the opening verse of this chapter, Isaiah 53, is this: “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the Zeroah of the Lord been revealed?” Did you miss it or get it? Isaiah 53 is the revealing of the Zeroah, the One who dies for our sins. And do you remember I said the Zeroah is on the Passover table? The Zeroah on the Passover table is the bone of a lamb. It has to do with the death of a lamb. The death of the lamb would be the death of the Messiah, and is connected back to Isaiah 53. And going back to the Zeroah of creation, the Zeroah is the power of God, that which accomplishes the will of God, the arm of the almighty. And the arm of the Almighty becomes weak, broken, and dies on the cross.
So five days before the beginning of Passover, the 10th Day of Nisan could be known as “The Day of the Lamb”. What we know as Palm Sunday is in reality, the 10th of Nisan, the Day of the Lamb. Jonathan Cahn says in The Book of Mysteries,
“As the people of Jerusalem were leading the Passover lambs to their homes, Jesus was being led from the Mount of Olives to the city gates. The bringing in of the Messiah to the city with palms and hosannas was actually the fulfillment of what had been commanded from ancient times, the bringing in of the lamb. So on the day when the Passover lamb was to be brought to the house, God brought the Lamb of God to His house, to Jerusalem and the Temple. And just as the lambs of the Tenth of Nisan has to be sacrificed on Passover by those who dwelt in the house, so too the Lamb of God would be sacrificed on Passover by those who dwelt in Jerusalem. The Lamb of God had to come to the House of God that the blessings of salvation could come. So it is only when you bring the lamb home, to the place where you actually live your life, when you bring Him in to every room, every closet, and crevice, only then can the fullness of the blessings of salvation begin.”
Not many who were witnessing it at the time could have understood the significance of Jesus’ parade into Jerusalem. He was the sacrificial Lamb. But the rules were changing. He was the sacrifice that was to end all sacrifices. You see, a sacrifice was and is, to this very day, still required.
Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death was passed on to all men, because all sinned.
Hebrews 9:22 – “For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ.
Luke 12:20 – “Tonight your life will be required of you” – In context, talking about a greedy person who dies and doesn’t get to take their stuff with them. But think about the wording – your life will be required of you.
The sacrifice for your sins is a life. It is not like they used to think and some still think about human sacrifices or goats. There are two acceptable sacrifices for your sins.
You either accept the Sacrifice of the Lamb, the perfect Son of God, who rode in to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday, or you pay the price yourself…. with your own life. Without confessing your need for forgiveness available through Jesus, you will pay the balance due yourself. With Him, your account is paid in full. Without Him, you will sacrifice your own life upon the day of your death.
I have a year and a half old pair of shoes that have shoe strings that are frayed at the ends and too long. Yesterday, for what must have been the 600th time, I stepped on one of the shoestrings and untied the shoe. Something snapped in me and I immediately grabbed a pair of scissors and took 3 -4 inches off of both ends of both shoe strings and then retied the shoes. It only took me a few seconds and I predict that my days of stepping on a shoestring and untying it and then re-tying it is done. (At this moment, I wonder how many calories I have burned off in the last 18 months bending over and re-tying my shoes.) It is such a simple solution and was so easy that I am wondering why it took me so long to do it.
It is only after we take action, with things that are simple or even things that are difficult, that we look back and see how much better off we are. It is only after we quit drinking, only after we quit smoking, only after we lose weight, only after we go on the mission trip, that we can look back and wonder why it took us so long to take action that results in a better way for ourselves and those we love.
The same can be said for salvation. Once we get it, and once we accept the gift of salvation, we wonder how we let it go so long.
When it comes to salvation and forgiveness, it’s very popular for people to believe that God forgives us because He is kind and loving. I’ve heard people say that a loving God would not send people to hell and I respond with the old standby, “He doesn’t send anyone there, they choose to go themselves.”
But I have a different way for you to look at it. God is kind and loving, but He is also fair and just. And there is a penalty for sin. The penalty of sin is death. God would rather that you not have to face those consequences, but He is fair and just and it wouldn’t be right to just ignore your sin. And just when it seemed that God had “painted Himself into a corner”, He did something amazing. Because He is kind and loving, He came to earth in the form of a man – Jesus. And because He is kind and loving, He went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin and then He rose from the dead defeating death on behalf of we who believe that and accept His forgiveness under those terms. He will only forgive under those terms. Those are His terms and there is no negotiating. There is/are not enough prayer, not enough good works, not enough sorrow, and not enough fasting to make Him change His mind about the penalty of sin.
So he doesn’t forgive you because He is kind and loving. He forgives you because He is fair and just and the debt has been paid. Let me say this again: He does not forgive you because He is kind and loving! Jesus did go to the cross because God is kind and loving. However, your sins are able to be forgiven because Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty of sin, making it fair and just for God to forgive you. Or you can choose to settle the debt on your own – for the wages of sin is death.
God doesn’t forgive you because He’s kind and loving. He forgives you because the consequences were paid on the cross, making it fair and just to forgive you if you accept and believe this. And He did that because He’s kind and loving.