Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday: The Beginning of Passover

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, when Christians commemorate the final days before Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus birth was a significant event, but it is the events of Easter on which our faith is established. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

The passage quoted below, Luke 19:37-48 (GOD’S WORD Translation), summarizes Jesus trip to Jerusalem for Passover. Passover celebrates, remembers, and tells of when God rescued the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. A devout Jew, Jesus observed the Law, worshipped in the synagogues, and taught in the Temple when He was in Jerusalem. Thus, all of these ancient Holy Days coincide with additional significance for Christians.

At one point in this summary is the second mention of Jesus weeping, and He weeps for Jerusalem. Realizing that few will recognize how His mission of deliverance will be fulfilled, He is overcome with sorrow for the suffering the Jews will have to bear in coming years, when the Temple is destroyed, their homeland laid waste, and the people killed or dispersed to wander the earth again as they did after their release from Egypt.

"When he came closer and saw the city [Jerusalem], he began to cry. He said, “If you had only known today what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden, so you cannot see it. The time will come when enemy armies will build a wall to surround you and close you in on every side. They will level you to the ground and kill your people. One stone will not be left on top of another, because you didn’t recognize the time when God came to help you.” (Luke 19:41-44)

It was this level of passionate emotion that lead him to force the trinket sellers and pawn brokers to take their booths and carnival atmosphere out of the Holy Temple when He arrived to begin His teaching. He showed that the ritual of cleaning before Passover had to extend past the physical cleanliness into cleanliness of our hearts and motives, cleanliness of purpose.

"Jesus went into the temple courtyard and began to throw out those who were selling things there. He said to them, “Scripture says, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a gathering place for thieves.”

"Jesus taught in the temple courtyard every day. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people looked for a way to kill him. But they could not find a way to do it, because all the people were eager to hear him." (Luke 19:45-48)

Photo: Antique Victorian Sunday School card illustrating Christ's arrival in Jerusalem to the acclaim of the people waving palms, as foretold in Old Testament prophecy.

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