Palm "Sunday" In Focus
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
I was recently reading John 15, particularly from verse 17 to the end of the chapter. The focus is the world’s hate of Christ and Christians. Our Lord said, "…They hated me without a cause." John 15:25
We can certainly see the world’s hatred of Christ in our day. The latest example of this hatred for Christ is manifested by National Geographic. Here is what they say on their web page –
"The National Geographic Society has been part of an international effort, in collaboration with the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, to authenticate, conserve, and translate a 66-page codex, which contains a text called James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), the Letter of Peter to Philip, a fragment of a text that scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes, and the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas."
"The Gospel of Judas gives a different view of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, offering new insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Unlike the accounts in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in which Judas is portrayed as a reviled traitor, this newly discovered Gospel portrays Judas as acting at Jesus' request when he hands Jesus over to the authorities."
They have timed the release of the "Gospel of Judas" TV special with this special time of year. It will be shown on Palm Sunday evening.
A couple of things you should know, before I move on to today’s message. First, the text is in Coptic. Coptic is the Egyptian language written in Greek letters. Second, the text dates to the 4th or 5th century A.D. Third, though Irenaeus of Lyon, in about 180 A.D. mentions a writing called the Gospel of Judas, we do not know if this is the a copy in Coptic of that pseudo-gospel. Even if it is, Irenaeus warns, "They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas." In other words they make Judas a hero. Finally, every scholar agrees that Judas did not write the Gospel of Judas.
It should not surprise us that Satan is working overtime to trying to get people to doubt Christ and the truths of the New Testament. The New Testament has been under attack since the days of the Apostles turn in your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians 2:2 "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." In Paul’s day false letters, claiming to be penned by him were being circulate. Let’s move from lies to the truth.
Today is commonly called Palm "Sunday." While there are numerous references to Christ’s Triumphal entry, none record that it was on Sunday (Matthew 21: 1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-46; John 12:12-19). In fact, I think the event happened on Saturday. Here’s why I say that. We will have to work backwards, starting with a time we know for sure. We know that the Lord arose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). God prescribed in the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai that the last day of the week to be a "Sabbath" or a day of rest (Exodus 20:10). The last day, Saturday, of each week is the rest day for every Jew.
Next, we see that Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees he would give them a miraculous sign (Matthew 12:40). The sign would be that Jesus would spend three days and three nights in the grave, just like Jonah the prophet spent three days and three nights in the whale's belly (Jonah 1:17). In many places the Bible tells that Jesus was to suffer and die then be resurrected the third day (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:32). Counting back from Resurrection Sunday three days and three nights, we now land on the Thursday, and not the traditional Friday, when Christ was crucified. Knowing that Thursday was the day of crucifixion, we also then know that Wednesday, the day before the crucifixion is the "Lord's Passover Feast" the day that Jesus celebrated the "Last Supper and instituted Communion" with the disciples.
Now, turn to John 12:1 tells us - "Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead." Six days before the Passover on Wednesday will place Jesus at Lazarus' house on the preceding Friday. Therefore, on the next day, Saturday, John 12:12, Jesus and his disciples would rise up early. Many people were gathering for the celebration of the week long Passover Feast in Jerusalem.
Jesus sent two disciples ahead to get a donkey and the donkey's colt for Jesus to ride on His way into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2-9). This was a direct fulfillment of what the Prophet Zechariah saw and wrote about 400 years earlier. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O Daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; upon the colt the full of a donkey." Zechariah 9:9.
Word began to spread that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. Many not only wanted to see Jesus but Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. Let’s look at the context more fully. Turn to John 12:9-18. The people gathered palm branches to wave in honor of their coming King, Jesus. I believed that they expected that He would throw off the control of Rome and return them to glory of the times of David and Solomon. Because Saturday is a Sabbath day it is unlawful for the people to gather branches for their own personal use but it was not unlawful to gather the branches and wave them in an act of worship.
The event of cheering Jesus, as King, would take pretty much the entire day. There would be one dispute with the Pharisees, as they would demand that Jesus silence His disciples. Jesus would reply that if the disciples remained silent that the very rocks would cry out in testimony to the glory of God (Luke 19:38-40).
The problem with many of the cheering people was that they did not grasp the significance of Jesus modest entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:5 "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass."
Most of the people were thinking of the here and
now. They were looking to King Jesus to make their life better: More
freedom, more power, more money a better lifestyle. However, Christ
came as a "meek" and lowly Savior. He came "to give his life a
ransom for many." Matthew 20:28. He came to die for our sins
that we might have life. If you have never received Christ as your
Savior, there is no better day to make that decision than today.