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palm-sunday-donkey-landysadventures_com.jpgPalm Sunday is April 10, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel for the Liturgy of the Palms is as follows (emphases mine):

Luke 19:28-40

19:28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

19:29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,

19:30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.

19:31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

19:32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.

19:33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

19:34 They said, “The Lord needs it.”

19:35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

19:36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

19:37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,

19:38 saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

19:39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”

19:40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Last week’s reading was about the dinner at which Mary, the sister of Martha and the recently resurrected Lazarus, anointed Jesus with fragrant nard, most often used for embalming in that era.

That dinner took place at the last Sabbath under Mosaic law. The following Friday, Jesus, through His death on the Cross, ratified the New Covenant.

Luke has written in a continuum here. He begins verse 28 by saying that after Jesus had ‘said this’, He went up to Jerusalem.

Earlier in Luke 19, Zacchaeus the tax collector had been converted. Then Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Minas, wherein the master of an estate wanted his servants to make money for him.

One of the servants did not invest his mina. The master was angry:

24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

Now it was time for Jesus to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem. John’s Gospel has repeated instances of our Lord’s evasion of death because it was not the time.

Now that time has come. Matthew Henry explains why Jesus wanted a grand entrance into Jerusalem for the final true Passover:

It was no ways inconsistent either with Christ’s humility or with his present state of humiliation to make a public entry into Jerusalem a little before he died. Thus he made himself to be the more taken notice of, that the ignominy of his death might appear the greater.

At the Mount of Olives, near Bethpage and Bethany, He instructed two of His disciples (verse 29) to go to the next village, get a colt that had not been ridden and bring it to Him (verse 30).

Some might find that an unusual request, but Henry says:

all the beasts of the forest are his, and the tame beasts too.

Jesus said that, if anyone asked why, the disciples were to say, ‘Because the Lord needs it’ (verse 31).

Some might wonder why Jesus was so certain His plan would work. Remember, He is God the Son.

Henry explains:

Christ has all men’s hearts both under his eye and in his hand. He could influence those to whom the ass and the colt belonged to consent to their taking them away, as soon as they were told that the Lord had occasion for them.

The two disciples went on their errand for the Lord and found the unridden colt just as He said they would (verse 32).

The owners asked why the two were untying the colt (verse 33).

The disciples told them that the Lord needed it (verse 34).

They returned to Jesus with the colt, threw their cloaks onto its back and placed Jesus upon it (verse 35).

John MacArthur explains the significance of the timing and of the colt, both of which fulfilled Old Testament prophecy:

Daniel 9 verses 24 to 27 said in the prophecy that there would be sixty-nine times seven years, weeks of years, sixty-nine times seven until Messiah would come and be cut off Sixty-nine times seven is 483 years. They calculated years at 360 days a year; 483 years at 360 days totals 173,880.  So from the beginning until the Messiah comes to be cut off, you have this duration of 483 years of 360 days.  That’s prophesied in Daniel 9:24 to 27.  When does it start?  It started with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem.  When was that?  445 B. C. Declared by Artaxerxes and precisely from then until this week and this day is the 483 years He comes in perfect fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy Everything is in line.  And so He triggers the event Himself by sending the disciples to get the animal which He will ride into the city.

Though His coronation is humble, He comes riding on the colt, the foal of an ass, the foal of a donkey, as the prophet said, and though there are no crowns for Him, and though there are no dignitaries and there is not the usual regalia that occurs at a coronation, and though the people are fickle and though they are shallow and superficial and though they are hypocritical, and though they only cry “Hosanna” to Him this day and soon after are screaming for His blood, in spite of the shallowness and superficiality of this event, He is nonetheless God’s true King He is God’s true King.  And it manifests itself in this coronation in three ways: preparation, adoration, and condemnation.

Last time we looked at preparation in verses 28 to 35. The very fact that He sent them to get that animal and to bring the animal and He rode in on the animal, as I pointed out to you, is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, very specific prophecy Matthew’s account of the triumphal entry refers to that prophecy, Matthew 21. John’s account refers to that prophecy in John 12 He comes vindicating that He is the Messiah by the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy Also, He demonstrates His omniscience He knew about the animal, though He couldn’t see the animal.  He knew where it was He knew it was tied there.  He knew what the conversation with the owners would be like He demonstrates again His deity and His messiahship in those elements of the preparation for His entry.

As Jesus rode along into Jerusalem, the people watching Him spread their cloaks upon the road (verse 36). They already knew about the resurrection of Lazarus, the news of which had spread quickly. Furthermore, they had all heard about Him and some would have seen Him teaching and performing His healing miracles.

As He came down from the Mount of Olives on the colt, His disciples, who had been with Him to witness His ministry, began praising God joyfully for all the deeds of the power of Jesus (verse 37).

They said (verse 38), “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Henry tells us why they chose those proclamations:

Observe, 1. What was the matter or occasion of their joy and praise. They praised God for all the mighty works they had seen, all the miracles Christ had wrought, especially the raising of Lazarus, which is particularly mentioned, John 12:17; John 12:18. That brought others to mind, for fresh miracles and mercies should revive the remembrance of the former. 2. How they expressed their joy and praise (Luke 19:38; Luke 19:38): Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord. Christ is the king; he comes in the name of the Lord, clothed with a divine authority, commissioned from heaven to give law and treat of peace. Blessed be he. Let us praise him, let God prosper him. He is blessed for ever, and we will speak well of him. Peace in heaven. Let the God of heaven send peace and success to his undertaking, and then there will be glory in the highest. It will redound to the glory of the most high God; and the angels, the glorious inhabitants of the upper world, will give him the glory of it. Compare this song of the saints on earth with that of the angels, Luke 2:14; Luke 2:14. They both agree to give glory to God in the highest. There the praises of both centre; the angels say, On earth peace, rejoicing in the benefit which men on earth have by Christ; the saints say, Peace in heaven, rejoicing in the benefit which the angels have by Christ. Such is the communion we have with the holy angels that, as they rejoice in the peace on earth, so we rejoice in the peace in heaven, the peace God makes in his high places (Job 25:2), and both in Christ, who hath reconciled all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

MacArthur adds that the disciples thought that the Messiah’s temporal kingdom was at hand:

They were the ones, according to verse 37, who began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice, thinking: Surely this is the moment when He is going to come as the conquering hero, the conquering Messiah, set up the kingdom, defeat our enemies They start the celebration The crowd catches the fever and they all begin to cry out the same things, pointing to Jesus as the Messiah He receives it.  He takes it because He deserves it So we see that He is who He is by way of preparation, omniscience.  Fulfilling prophecy He is who He is demonstrated by adoration He receives worship willingly because He deserves it.

However, the Pharisees were angry, telling Jesus that He should order His disciples to stop praising Him (verse 39).

Henry says:

There were some Pharisees among the multitude who were so far from joining with them that they were enraged at them, and, Christ being a famous example of humility, they thought that he would not admit such acclamations as these, and therefore expected that he should rebuke his disciples, Luke 19:39; Luke 19:39. But it is the honour of Christ that, as he despises the contempt of the proud, so he accepts the praises of the humble.

Jesus replied that if the people had been silent, the stones would have shouted out their praise to Him (verse 40).

That might seem a difficult verse to understand, but Jesus spoke of a prophecy that came to pass on Good Friday.

Henry tells us:

Whether men praise Christ or no he will, and shall, and must be praised (Luke 19:40; Luke 19:40): If these should hold their peace, and not speak the praises of the Messiah’s kingdom, the stones would immediately cry out, rather than that Christ should not be praised. This was, in effect, literally fulfilled, when, upon men’s reviling Christ upon the cross, instead of praising him, and his own disciples’ sinking into a profound silence, the earth did quake and the rocks rent. Pharisees would silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot gain their point; for as God can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, so he can out of the mouths of those children perfect praise.

MacArthur has more, tracing the judgement on Jerusalem back to Habakkuk in the Old Testament:

The opposition to Jesus was so strong that even after the resurrection from the dead, the praise of Jesus was never raised in the city of Jerusalem, or in the land of Israel, except among the few thousand who were saved When Jerusalem grew silent, Jesus said, “The stones will cry out.”  Cry out, kraz, scream, future tense, when in the future these people become silent, in the future the stones will scream.  Screaming stones?  What is that?  What is that?  It’s more than just the expression of praise from some inanimate object, as if God is to be praised by His creation, far more than that.  In fact, in the little prophecy of Habakkuk, chapter 2, we have a very good parallel In the prophecy of Habakkuk we have a statement of judgment on the Chaldeans, the Chaldeans, the wicked, pagan Chaldeans And the Chaldeans had basically prospered as a society, but they had prospered at the expense of other nations, they had prospered by extortion, they had prospered by usury, charging exorbitant interest rate, they had prospered by murder and bloodshed.  They had literally built their towns and cities by the sacrifice and the slaughter and the abuse of other people So Habakkuk, the prophet, is given a message from God of judgment against them I just want to pick out one verse; that is in verse 11.  “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall and the rafter will answer it from the framework.” Then verse 12, “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence.”  The stones in the houses and the buildings that they built were symbols of their wickedness.  The walls of their houses and the timbers of their roofs, plundered from others, gained by bloodshed and usury, scream of their wickedness, scream of their guilt.  And Jesus is saying the same thing here.

There are going to be some stones who will cry out against you as the stones in the past cried out of the guilt of the Chaldeans.  All you had to do was look at their houses and when you saw them, all their prosperity, all their edifices were testimonies to their corruption and bloodshed.  The stones cried out of their guilt and the judgment of God upon them, and some stones are going to do the same in your case That’s explained in the next section, verse 41.  “When He approached He saw the city and wept over it.”

Here are the ensuing verses from Luke 19, in which Jesus pronounced judgement on Jerusalem — the destruction of the temple by the Romans in AD 70 — for having rejected Him and His salvation:

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

However, God will lift judgement on the Jews, when the Gentiles fall:

Since that time, Jerusalem has been trodden underfoot to one degree or another by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles ends. 

Paul wrote about that in Romans 11:25-28:

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers:[a] a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

So, the time will come for God’s Chosen to be redeemed at some point in history.

More readings for Holy Week will follow in the days ahead.

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