Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celebrate Your Deliverer

Where is everyone going you wonder as you make your way through the crowd. The air drips with delight and the noise intensifies. People scurry past you, shoving others out of their way. Everyone strains to see. A procession makes its way down the street as you get hit in the face by some greenery. Some people are pulling branches off the trees, spreading them on the ground, while others are laying down their coats, making a path. What is happening and who is coming?

Gazing to your left, you see the cause of the fanfare. Some guy is riding a donkey down the street and people are waving palm branches at him. Young and old are walking beside him yelling, “Hosanna!” Suddenly you’re caught up in the excitement, shouting with the crowd, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” 

As you make your way with the crowd into the city of Jerusalem, you ask someone standing nearby, “Who is this person?”

She eagerly responds, “He is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Your search begins as you set out to discover who Jesus is and why he is so important. Pushing your way to the city square, you seek answers from anyone who knows. You follow a bunch of people to the temple steps and find Jesus already speaking to the crowd. His words of grace resonate with your soul. 

The day draws to a close, but you’ve hung on to every word, allowing His mercy to heal old wounds. Tears fall as you find yourself sitting beside Him and leaning into His arms. Weariness overtakes you as you fall into a deep sleep. Suddenly a loud thud wakes you. Your eyes begin to adjust to the morning light breaking through your window as you lean over to pick up your Bible. Within the confines of your own home, your search uncovered good news—Jesus came to save you from your sins and breathe new life into your existence. Hosanna in the highest!

Today is Palm Sunday—a day of celebration, rich in the truth of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He comes to you in humility, waiting for you to give Him victorious entry into your heart. Follow the throng of people who are singing His praises and discover who this Jesus is.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Earlier He had instructed two of His disciples to go into a nearby village, locate a donkey and her colt, untie them and bring them to Him. He told them to tell anyone who asked, “The Lord has need of them.” They followed Jesus’ instructions, encountering no problems, and laid their coats on the donkey and her colt. Jesus sat on the colt and began His entry into the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-7). 

Jesus’ action fulfilled the prophecy given by Zechariah, an Old Testament prophet. Zechariah had inspired the Israelites to rebuild the temple and restore the worship of God in Jerusalem. But he also encouraged them to expect a greater deliverance to come by saying, 
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
......and He will speak peace to the nations. Zechariah 9:9-10 (NIV)

Over the years, the Israelites came to expect deliverance from the Romans by a military and/or political conqueror. Yet this king Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, representing peace. Conquerors always rode into cities on white stallions; men of peace always rode on lowly donkeys. God fulfilled His promise spoken by Zechariah through His humble Son Jesus Christ. 

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna!” These actions date back to the time of the Maccabees (nearly 200 years before Christ), after the Greeks invaded Israel, took over Jerusalem, and desecrated the temple. Eventually Judas Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and re-dedicated the temple; the crowds around him were thrilled and began waving palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna.” Judas Maccabees had redeemed the nation from pagan oppression. 

Hosanna means ‘save now’ and comes from Psalm 118 (a Messianic psalm). During the annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests offered a water libation to the Lord as a visual prayer for rain. When the priests began marching around the altar, waving palm branches, the Israelite congregation waved their palm branches toward the altar, singing, 
“Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray send now prosperity.” Psalm 118:25 (NKJV)

Psalm 118 was viewed as a messianic psalm and the Feast of Tabernacles had a messianic emphasis. That’s why Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was surrounded by people waving palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna” and “Save us now.” They viewed Jesus as their deliverer, their Messiah King. God fulfilled His promise spoken by the crowds through His humble Son Jesus Christ. 

Is Jesus your deliverer, your Messiah King? Are you singing His praises and asking Him to save you now? Allow Him to victoriously enter your heart and follow Him into Holy Week. You’ll be glad you did come Resurrection Sunday!

Below is Psalm 118 to help you begin praising the Lord. I’ve heard it said that Psalm 118:8 is the center of the Bible. Strive to walk in the center of God’s will this week and trust in the Savior King named Jesus Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.” 
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.” 
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies. 
(verse 8) It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans. 
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 
They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 
They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 
    The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 
This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you. 
The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever. Psalm 118 (NIV)

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