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Palm Sunday

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llAlthough I’m extremely eager to get going on all the various aspects of the Christian life I don’t want to miss the celebration of the most important week in human history. Today is Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry beginning the last week of Jesus’ human life. It would be a great disservice to ignore these events at this time of the year.

llLet’s stand for the reading of the Scripture. John 12:12-17 ~ 12On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 14Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.(NASB)

llThis time of year has been celebrated as the greatest time of the year in Christianity since before 325A.D. The 40 days of fasting and repentance preceding Easter are a remembrance of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert before coming into the promised land and the 40 days in which Jesus was tempted in the desert before the commencement of His ministry. As well as other examples of 40 days of difficulty leading to joy in both the Old and New Testaments. The fifth Christian council in 325A.D. formalized Palm Sunday and the Passion Week, with special supper and the giving of alms on Thursday the Passover day, Good Friday the Crucifixion day, The Great Sabbath of fasting and vigilance as well as the most common day of Baptism followed by Easter Sunday which I like to call Resurrection Sunday which we will celebrate next week. The Sunday following is called White Sunday where those Baptized are given membership in the Church. This council took place in Nikae>a, from nikh>, meaning victory like in Nike shoes. On the coast of extreme North-Western Italy. From this synod (Path-Together) we get the Nicene Creed formally establishing basic Christian Theology. Pope Gregory I, in 600

A.D. officially established the Wednesday 6 weeks prior to Easter as the beginning of the 40 days thus it is known as Ash Wednesday, people wear the ashes as a symbol of the start of Lent. Lent simply means, “Springtime.” People being people total revelry became the order of the day in the time before Lent thus Carnival, Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. Now people give up a vice for the 40 days or at least try to and they’re usually unhappy about it rather than just being who you say you are. Remember this is a Truth Church and part of that is getting all of us to be Truer to ourselves, simply becoming who we are claiming to be. Don’t be a hypocrite. That doesn’t mean you are perfect or never fail, but it does mean that when you do evil it’s not the norm! Of course even by Augustine’s day the people were not living in accordance with relational Christianity, but were operating out of social and selfish reasons. Augustine is regarded as the greatest theologian of the early Church, he was born in and appointed Bishop of Hippo in what was the Carthaginian home base of North Africa, their empire spreading to Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and Spain as well. After the 3rd Punic War it was the Roman Province of Numidia and is in modern-day Algeria just inside the border with Tunisia. (Punic is from the Greek name for the Phoenicians who settled the area and were the ancestors of the Carthaginians.) He wrote in 400A.D. about his despair at the ritual and abuse and hypocrisy associated with Lent, Palm Sunday and Easter. He was killed by the Vandals in 430A.D. the Germanic nomads that raged through and overran Gaul (France), Spain, North Africa (Augustine) and sacked Rome in 455A.D.

llThe triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the Passover is recorded in all four Gospels. Jesus had been staying at Bethany with Lazarus (whom He had raised from the dead) and his two sisters Martha and Mary. Mary anointed Jesus with a perfume worth a years wages. Judas was upset and Jesus rebuked him. This rebuke coupled with Jesus’ persistent talk of dying ultimately led him to betray Christ.

llOn Sunday Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd of people who were with Him at Bethany headed for Jerusalem a short, 1 ½ mile, walk away. Very soon they arrived at Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley East of Jerusalem. He stopped and sent some disciples ahead to bring an unbroken young donkey that had never before been ridden and the donkey’s mother. His crowd spread the word among the other pilgrims and before you know it a massive crowd with great expectation of the savior arrived.

llAs Jesus gets on the young donkey fulfilling the Messianic prophecies the crowd went wild. Understand that for Jesus it was nothing to walk 20 miles in a day, this jaunt was about like us walking out to the mailbox, so He didn’t get the donkey because His bunions were acting up. In the Messianic Prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 it says, “Your King comes in righteousness and with salvation gentle and riding on a young donkey.” That’s as opposed to a fiery war horse. In Philippians 2:6 it says, “Being in very nature God... He made Himself nothing... being made in human likeness.” His humbleness is stressed. The valley He crosses is the Judgement valley and is a short distance, a mile or so across. As Jesus enters the City vast numbers of other people take notice including Gentiles. They are all asking what’s going on and are told by the large crowd accompanying Jesus that the Messiah has come. Imagine the rejoicing, finally we will be rid of the Romans.

llThe palm branches were from the Date Palm in Greek foini>x, we pronounce it Phoenix. Remember the Phoenicians? It’s the same word because the Phoenicians cultivated and exported the dates. The tree grows to 50' and is very useful for many things besides just the dates. Laying the fronds on the ground in the Roman world was a sign of victory and rejoicing. When the victorious Roman legions would return to Rome the people would honor them in this way. The Jews had used the branches for similar purposes as they did under Judas Maccabeus when he overthrew the Seleucid King, son of Antiochus Epiphanes and rededicated the second Temple in 165bc. (Hanukkah).

llThey shout in Hebrew “Yah-shah-naw,” meaning Save Now, transliterated into Greek in the New Testament as wJsanna>, it refers primarily to Psalm 118:25&26. This Psalm by tradition is the last psalm sung by Jesus and His disciples prior to His death. It was the last sung after the Passover meal. According to Ezra, it was sung at the dedication of the second Temple and likely was sung at the rededication. Later, after He overturned the money-changer’s tables the children ascribed the same Psalm to Jesus and when the Jewish religious leaders heard it they were indignant, but Jesus claimed the Psalm by applying another Scripture to Himself, this time out of Psalms 8, “From the lips of children... ordained Praise.” the reference to Psalm 118 starts by taking us further back to Psalm 28:8-9, another Messianic Psalm saying, “... fortress of salvation for His anointed one... save your people... be their Shepherd forever.” In 118 it says essentially, “Oh Lord save us... blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh.” Beyond the primary significance of the people proclaiming Jesus as their King and Messiah fulfilling several Old Testament Prophecies the word Hosanna is a prayer that over time and with use became an exultation of praise, just like our contemporary, “God save the Queen,” It was originally a prayer to God for the leader of the nation, but has become an exultation of praise for the leader.

llOn Monday Jesus goes back into the Temple area and overturns the tables. This does three things. First it fulfills more Old Testament Prophecy about Jesus. Second, it further solidifies the fact that Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah by doing these things. Third, it completely solidifies the Jewish Leaders desire to kill Him which is exactly what Jesus is trying to accomplish. You heard me right, Jesus must continue to poke and prod just as He does today in your life and mine to reveal who we really are. No pretending ultimately. As He continues to push the Jews they continue to fortify their hearts against Him.

llJesus died for you, will you live for Him? Although a cliche it is nonetheless the reality of things. Figure out who you are and be that person. And if you choose to reject Christ, do it in a big way, don’t pussyfoot around. I mean if your going to Hell for eternity and you only have 80 years or so here on Earth you better make the best of it baby. Like they say life is short, live it up!

llIf on the other hand you realize the complete futility of human existence and our total reliance on God, not only to take our next breath or have our heart beat again, but to even stay collated in one piece and not be scattered throughout the Universe. If you can realize that you can never approach God, can never do anything perfect enough for Him and therefore can only know Him if He provides a bridge.

llJesus is that one and only bridge between man and God. He has done everything for you all you have to do is accept it. But make no mistake about it you must make the choice. You can harden yourself like the Jews that day 2,000 years ago or you can live.

llThe question is where will you spend eternity, God will simply honor, at judgement, your choice on Earth.

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