Luke 19:28-44, “As Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.’”
“So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of him." Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.”
“Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
On October 1, 1932 something took place that would not only become the subject of great debate, but would forever go down as one of the greatest moments in Baseball history. After taking the first two games of the World Series and with the score tied four-all in the fifth inning of game three, New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth stepped into the box to face Chicago Cubs hurler Charlie Root. As the story goes after Ruth took the first strike the Cubs bench began to ruthlessly heckled the Bambino while the home town fans viciously berated him with insults. Annoyed, angered, and even more determined that ever to silence his detractors Ruth held up his hand and pointed to the centerfield bleachers. After taking strike two he repeated the gesture. Root’s next pitch was a hanging curveball the famed slugger had no problems handling. As the Sultan of Swat made his slow trot towards first base watching with all as the ball sailed through the sky towards the centerfield flag pole, the thousands of fans sitting on the edge of their seats heard broadcaster Tom Manning shout into the radio microphone, “The ball is going, going, going, high into the center field stands… And it is a home run!”
Root was left in the game, but for only one pitch, which Lou Gehrig subsequently drilled into the right field seats for his second homer of the day. The Yankees would win the game 7-5 before completely the four-game sweep over the demoralized Cubs the next day. Ruth’s homer that day would have gone largely un-noticed if not for reporter Joe Williams. His headline in the New York World Telegram that evening read, “Ruth calls shot as he put home run no. 2 in side pocket.” Almost immediately legend of the event spread.
Though recently discovered film from the game, as well as the eyewitness testimony from those at the game validate the reality that Babe Ruth indeed pointed before hitting the home run there has been much debate as to whether or not he actually “called his shot.” Whether the story was truth or lore, one thing is abundantly clear… The phrase “calling your shot” enter the American lexicon as a result of the events of that day and has now come to indicate the bravado of a person who heralds an accomplishment even before they act.
I mention this because the events of “Palm Sunday” known as “The Triumphal Entry” are akin to Jesus “Calling His Shot.” As He began the final week of His earthly ministry (known as His “Week of Passion”) Jesus entered Jerusalem declaring Himself the victor even before doing anything to actually gain a victory. The champ called His shot before throwing a punch!
Before we unpack the significance of this day, I want to provide you an outline for the week.
In order to understand the backdrop for our text you need to keep in mind Jews from all over the Roman world had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.
Passover, as one of the three pilgrimage festivals (Pentecost and Tabernacles being the other two), had been instituted by God to be a memorial recognizing His liberating of the Hebrew people from Egyptian captivity. It was a feast celebrating God’s deliverance!
Though Passover wouldn’t officially begin till 6 pm on Thursday evening, like Jesus, it was customary for pilgrims to arrive the Sunday week before which meant the population of Jerusalem would swell up to 3 times the normal size (estimates around 2-3 million people).
As Jesus entered the city the atmosphere is already electric for two reasons…
What’s truly interesting about Palm Sunday was not necessarily the reaction of the crowd (conditions were perfect for such an occasion), but instead the fact that Jesus not only allowed but in many ways encouraged all of the fanfare.
As you study the life of Jesus you will notice that time and again He actively and repeatedly discouraged public praise and adulation; however, in this instance it would seem Jesus intentionally orchestrate events in order to garner attention. The passage is clear Jesus openly embraced and even encouraged the praise He was receiving.
Because of this stark departure in protocol, we must consider why? Answer… His arrival marked the moment Jesus officially presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah.
It would appear by Jesus’ response to the request of the religious leaders to command the multitudes to stop praising Him that this “kingly reveal” had been His very intention. Jesus said, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
His intentions move from subtle to being even more direct as He grew closer to the city and began to cry… “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
In order to understand what Jesus meant with these three statements “the stones would immediately cry out,” “in this your day,” and “you did not know the time of your visitation” you must place this event and the day itself in context to a prophecy given to Daniel.
While exiled in Babylon Daniel had become worried God may have been done with Israel. So in order to calm his fears and temper his concerns God gives him a prophetic vision concerning His future dealings with Israel (known as Daniel’s “70 Weeks Prophecy”).
Daniel 9:24-26, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
3 Important Components to Understanding this Prophecy:
Understand… Palm Sunday is a significant day in God’s prophetic plan for Israel for on this exact day April 6, 32 AD Jesus rode into Jerusalem presenting Himself as the Messiah.
This then explains why Jesus so sternly rebuked the religious leaders. As the experts concurring the Old Testament Scriptures they had no excuse for not knowing the Messiah would be appearing in Jerusalem on that day… “The day of their visitation!”
As Jesus is traveling from the Mount of Olives down the Kidron Valley and back up into Jerusalem, we’re told the people begin to exalt and proclaim Jesus as their coming King.
Luke tells us “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” According to John and Mark’s account the people were also crying out “Hosanna!” which literally means “save now!” Note: Matthew adds “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
What’s amazing to me about the Triumphal Entry is that while it’s true Jesus was officially presenting Himself to Israel as their Messiah the multitudes didn’t understand the implications and the religious leaders refused them still. Understanding why Jesus was presenting Himself as the King is paramount if you’re to understand His greater purpose!
Sadly, the people had been looking for Jesus (as the Messiah) to liberate them from Roman occupation when the reality was that He had come to liberate them from the bonds of sin! Even John concedes their cluelessness as he looks back on the events of that day. He’ll admit in John 12:16 that they “did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”
By revealing Himself to the nation of Israel four days before the Passover itself Jesus was in effect presenting Himself as the ultimate Passover sacrifice.
Exodus 12:1-14, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household… Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year…”
“Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it… It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.”
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations… an everlasting ordinance.”
Choosing to presenting Himself as the Messiah on Palm Sunday was not an accident for it was the very day when the Passover lambs were selected for sacrifice!
Revealing Himself on this of all days was designed to indicate He (as the Messiah) had been selected by God to be the perfect “Passover Sacrifice” chosen to atone for the sins of mankind! Note: The examination to validate His spotlessness would occur the rest of this week as it was mandated in the Law of Moses.
Understand… Jesus’ arrival was “Triumphant” not because of what He had done, but because of the work He had come to do! He was the “perfect Lamb of God” and He had come to Jerusalem to “pay for the sins of the world.”
As I ponder the significance of this day I’m always struck by how resisting the religious leaders were to what was happening right before their eyes. They knew Jesus was presenting Himself not only as the Messiah, but as the Passover Lamb!
Q: Why did they knowingly rejecting their Messiah?
A: Sadly, it’s the same 3 reasons people knowingly reject Jesus today.
1. Jesus was a threat to their authority.
If they conceded Jesus was the Messiah, the implications were more than they were willing to accept for it would mean He possessed the authority to tell them what to do.
People reject Jesus because they don’t want to submit to authority! People want to rule their own lives, be the captain of their own ship, the master of their own destiny. People want to call their own shots… Do what they want when they want to do it!
At the very core of man’s rebellion has always been the desire to be his own God. Knowing that if you were to accept Jesus as King you must also accept the reality that His authority overrides your own explains why so many resist.
2. Jesus was a threat to their way of living.
After years under Roman rule, the Jewish leaders had not only adapted to the governance of Roman but had begun to thrived under the occupation. Because Rome allowed a certain level of self-governance, evidence suggests that (though life was difficult for the population at large) life was good for the Jewish establishment.
Problem: Jesus and His growing popularity had become a political liability.
People reject Jesus because they don’t want to change their way of living. People understand that when you surrender your life to Jesus many aspects of your life will automatically change: friends leave, activities change, lifestyles are effected, and behaviors are adjusted. For many, Jesus is rejected because they’d prefer life without His influence!
3. Jesus upended their religious moralism.
These men had established a religious system that combined Scripture with their own traditions. They took pride and found security in their own moral standing; and yet, Jesus was constantly undermining the flaws within their system.
Truth: Religion has never saved a soul because it establishes the framework whereby man seeks to achieve God’s approval without God’s involvement.
Sadly, many people reject Jesus because they don’t want to admit they need help! For many, acknowledging the need for divine help is seen as nothing more than a sign of human weakness. God is viewed as a crutch for the weak.
Ravi Zacharias, “A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”
The first essential stage of salvation is the admission I’m in need of a Savior. These religious leaders not only resisted Jesus’ Kingship, but they rejected His offering to be their permanent, atoning sacrifice for sin!
These men hadn’t rejected Jesus on the basis of the truth, a lack of evidence, or some glaring inconsistency. These men rejected Jesus because they refused to submit to His authority over their lives, humble themselves by admitting their need for a Savior, or accept the life change that comes with following Jesus.
Palm Sunday is an important day for it’s the day we recognize that Jesus was “Calling His Shot” by presenting Himself to the world as the King who would willingly lay down His life as the Passover sacrifice.
In writing about this very event the prophet Zechariah 9:9 wrote, “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.”
In conclusion… “Calling a shot” is only viewed with admiration if, once the shot has been called, the person proves able to successfully follow through. If after pointing to the centerfield seat Babe Ruth hit a dribbler to the shortstop, I can guarantee not only would the story have not found its way into the annuals of Baseball History, but the Cubs and their fans would have ridiculed him all the more brutally. (And he would have been deserving.)
On this day many year ago Jesus was “Calling His Shot…” If He failed to follow through, you’re free to jeer; however, don’t forget the event that marks “Palm Sunday” is known as a “Triumphal Entry” for a reason. I pray you’ll join us this week for both our Good Friday and Easter services as we continue to look at this important narrative, because friend… Jesus proved more than able!
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