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Palm Sunday-Behold the Lamb

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010408AM Palm Sunday John-1

Palm Sunday:

behold the lamb

We have opened our Bibles to the start of the greatest week in the history of the universe since spoken into creation by the Creator. On this day, Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem[1] at the time the Passover Lamb was chosen. He proclaimed Himself as the Promised Messiah by riding on a donkey as prophesied and coming from the East. But His true kingship would be as God’s Lamb, our Passover Lamb.

Palm Sunday is a time of great invitation. On this day they had to choose a lamb to cover their sins, we also need to choose our Lamb. Just as in the 1st Palm Sunday, some chose Christ and others didn’t, so we have a choice today.

Have you chosen Jesus as your Lamb? You can, just bow your heart before Him right now and admit to God that you need an offering for your sins to be forgiven and that Jesus  is the Lamb that you choose! What a day to pick Jesus, the very day He offered Himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Palm Sunday is the day all of Israel was to pick their lamb. Over a million people came up to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the great Feast of the Passover. In AD 30 Passover was on Saturday and so all of the people had to pick a lamb the Sunday before Passover (Palm Sunday) so they could keep that lamb with them 4 days as detailed in Exodus 12. So Jesus came from the East (The direction both the Tabernacle and Temple faced, the way of God’s presence entering the Tabernacle and Temple, the way the ark entered the Land, the way the wise men came seeking the King, where Messiah will return and from where He ascended) on that Sunday.

Jesus also entered the sheep gate on the eats where all the Passover lambs were washed and carried up for inspection in the Temple. He came and offered Himself on the exact day promised by God in Daniel 9 and stayed in the area of Jerusalem for 4 days until Thursday when the Galileans celebrated their Passover before the Judeans celebrated theirs on Friday PM

The arrival of Jesus on the 10th of Nissan in AD30 was one of the greatest moments in all of history. Jesus hit Jerusalem with pinpoint accuracy. Jesus came on the very day and hour God had appointed for His presentation to the Nation and the World as God’s Passover Lamb. It was an exact fulfillment of a precise prophecy. 

So our text this morning in John 12:12-26 is Sunday, 10th of Nissan in AD30, Jesus Christ is leaving a small village 2 miles outside Jerusalem called Bethany. His departure is precisely what had been predicted 1,500 years before by Moses (our Passover Lamb who had to enter on the 10th of Nissan). The way He would come was exactly stated 500 years before by Zechariah (our King riding on a colt). Both stated how He would come: as a Lamb and as a King! You see God’s Plan is PERFECT!

Please turn there, to the Palm Sunday Triumphal Entry of Jesus the Lamb that was to be slain at God’s precise moment in time. John 12:12-26, please stand with me as we read these verses.

Jesus lived thirty years of relative obscurity as a boy, a carpenter with just a glimpse at age 12 going to the Temple. Then followed those three and a half action packed years of incredible ministry. Now we are at the final week! But the last days of Christ are only a continuation of those first days. Lets turn back and see how Christ’s presentation of Himself  as the Lamb of God.

John 1:29 introduces us to Christ as God’s perfect Lamb. The Gospel closes with His perfect death as God’s perfect sacrifice! There before[2] John stood the One whom all the sacrifices of Old Testament times had foreshadowed. It is exceedingly striking to observe the progressive order followed by God in the teaching of Scripture concerning “the lamb”.

  • First, in Gen. 4, we have the Lamb typified in the firstlings of the flock slain by Abel in sacrifice.
  • Second, we have the Lamb prophesied in Gen. 22:8 where Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide himself a lamb”.
  • Third, in Ex. 12, we have the lamb slain and its blood applied.
  • Fourth, in Isa. 53:7, we have the Lamb personified: here for the first time we learn that the lamb would be a Man.
  • Fifth, in John 1:29, we have the lamb identified, learning who He was.
  • Sixth, in Rev. 5, we have the lamb magnified by the hosts of heaven.
  • Seventh, in the last chapter of the Bible we have the Lamb glorified, seated upon the eternal throne of God, Rev. 22:1.

Once more; mark the orderly development in the scope of the sacrifices.

  • In Gen. 4 sacrifice is offered for the individual -Abel.
  • In Ex. 12 the sacrifice avails for the whole household.
  • In Lev. 16, on the annual Day of Atonement, the sacrifice was efficacious for the entire nation.
  • But here in John 1:29 it is “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” – Gentiles are embraced as well as Jews!

Remember that God’s Perfect Plan for the day of His official[3] coming as Judah’s promised Prince was clearly spelled out in the great prophecy of the seventy weeks, as we studied last year in Daniel 9:24-26:

“Seventy weeks (i.e., ‘seventy heptads’ or ‘seven-year periods’) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city… from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself:

The starting-point of the prophecy is believed by most conservative scholars to be the date of the decree of Artaxerxes permitting the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8), known from secular history to be approximately 446 BC. The seventy weeks total 490 years. The first 49-year period was occupied in rebuilding the city and completing the Old Testament Scriptures (the book of Malachi was written about 400 BC). The “seven-year” periods probably were meant to be understood as seven years of 360 days each, as this was the customary Jewish and prophetic reckoning.

John tells us (John 12:1-3) that Jesus came to his favorite home (Mary, Martha and Lazarus) six days before Passover; this would have been Friday night. So Christ had walked from Jericho with Bartimaeus to Bethany on Friday morning. So on Friday night to Saturday night (the Sabbath) He rests with them and Mary anoints His feet with precious ointment.

On Sunday morning (John 12:9-10) a crowd comes to see Him and Lazarus He raised last week from the dead. And then later that same crowd leads Him into Jerusalem (John 12:12) in what we call the Triumphal “Palm Sunday” entry. Moses had commanded (Ex. 12:2-6) that a lamb be selected on the 10th, kept to the 14th and then sacrificed. This was part of that irresistible countdown to the cross. What do I mean? Remember Daniel 9:24 ” Seventy weeks are determined”. Exactly 483 years later Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the 14th of Nissan AD30. But it is so sad to see what the people of Israel missed that day. Jesus rode in meek and mild and sitting on a donkey on the very same day the people were to select their Passover lamb and take it into their homes as Ex. 12 instructed them.

Here is Christ paraded into the Eastern side of the Temple as the Lamb of God. On that day 260,000 lambs would be selected and purchased and taken home. Following the 1,476-year-old tradition of Passover the countdown to the cross ticks on. It was the day of the Lamb of God. He may have been crucified as the blood of thousands of lambs was pouring down the temple sacrificial areas and streaming down into the Kidron valley! What magnificent timing! He was Jerusalem’s Lamb arriving on God’s perfect Day!

If this is the schedule Jesus followed, that would make the entry into Jerusalem by Christ to be the same day the Passover lamb was to enter their homes and stay with them until it was killed for each family’s Passover feast. Thus intriguingly, Jesus entered into the home and heart of His people “Jerusalem” as their Passover lamb to be slain on their behalf. His crucifixion on Friday would result in a perfect fulfillment of being the Passover lamb because that was when they also were killing their lambs. He may have been crucified as the blood of thousands of lambs was pouring down the temple sacrificial areas and streaming down into the Kidron valley!

Historian Josephus of the 1st century tells us that at that time 256,000 lambs were sacrificed for the number of pilgrims in Jerusalem. Because the Bible instructed one lamb per family and up to ten could partake. There must have been as many as two and a half million people in Jerusalem that week! They overflowed the walls, spilling out the gates, lining the hillsides with tents. There was no room in the jammed city. Just as at His birth there was no room! Through this crowd streaming into Jerusalem, the disciples entered a village and found everything exactly as Christ said. Remember His omniscience encompasses every detail of our lives! Let Him have your way, your plans, your future, and your life! Don’t miss the Perfect Plan of God.

Remember, God had planned the way He would come; it was exactly stated 500 years before by Zechariah (our King riding on a colt). Both stated how He would come: as a Lamb and as a King!

Look at Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He

[is]

just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. (NKJV)

Imagine all the donkeys among two and a half million people in Jerusalem that week! They overflowed the roads, spilling out the gates, lining the hillsides. Through such pandemonium, the disciples entered a village and found a colt tied and quietly waiting exactly as Christ said. Remember His omniscience encompasses every detail of our lives!

Your Shiloh, your King, your Redeemer is going to come riding on a donkey. And He did and they missed it! He was such a contrast to other kings who marched to town with swords held high, cruelty filling their eyes, captives trudging in their wake. No the King of Kings comes quietly on a humble donkey. Don’t miss the Perfect Plan of God.

The crowds, they worshiped Him with coats, branches, shouting of Hosannas. It sounds so grand, it was but not to the Romans. After all the Romans were experts at parades and official public events. They called this event “the Triumphal Entry,” but no Roman would have used that term. 

An official “Roman Triumph” was indeed something to behold. When a Roman general came back to Rome after a complete conquest of art enemy, he was welcomed home with an elaborate official parade.  In the parade he would exhibit his trophies of war and the illustrious prisoners he had captured.  The victorious general rode in a golden chariot, priests burned incense in his honor, and the people shouted his name and praised him.  The procession ended at the arena where the people were entertained by watching the captives fight with the wild beasts. That was a “Roman Triumph.” Our Lord’s “triumphal entry” was nothing like that, but it was a triumph just the same.  He was God’s anointed King and Savior, but this conquest would be spiritual and not military. A Roman general had to kill at least 5,000 enemy soldiers to merit a triumph; but in a few weeks the “gospel” would “conquer” some 5,000 Jews and transform their lives (Acts 4:4).  Christ’s “triumph” would be the victory of love over hatred, truth over error, and life over death[4].

The tombs of the Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians with the Romans show scenes of triumph with chariots crushing their foes! But He comes quietly and will be praised even if overlooked! 

So today in history, on Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem[5] at the time the Passover Lamb was chosen. He proclaimed Himself as the Promised Messiah by riding on a donkey as prophesied and coming from the East. But His true kingship would be as God’s Lamb, our Passover Lamb.

Palm Sunday is a time of great invitation. On this day they had to choose a lamb to cover their sins, we also need to choose our Lamb. Just as in the 1st Palm Sunday, some chose Christ and others didn’t, so we have a choice today.

Have you chosen Jesus as your Lamb? You can, just bow your heart before Him right now and admit to God that you need an offering for your sins to be forgiven and that Jesus  is the Lamb that you choose! What a day to pick Jesus, the very day He offered Himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Let us sing  #328  “Have you any room?”


[1] Drawn from Ray Vander Laan, volume 4, p. 164.

[2]  Pink, Arthur, W., Exposition of the Gospel of John Volume 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1945, p. 65.

[3] Adapted from Henry Morris, Creation Trilogy, Master Books.

[4] Wiersbe,

[5] Drawn from Ray Vander Laan, volume 4, p. 164.

 
 
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