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Lord's Day Liturgy

Triumphal Prophecy

What do you think about Palm Sunday, not just as the Sunday before Christ’s resurrection, but as the day of Christ’s triumphal entry? The “palm” part comes from the palm branches laid on the road in front of Jesus (John 12:13). The Sunday part comes from the day of the week, sure. The entry part comes with Him entering Jerusalem. But, knowing what happened the following Friday, where do we get off calling it triumphal? I’ll give two reasons.

It performs triumphal prophecy. Matthew and John made that connection clear (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15) when they quoted Zechariah.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9, ESV)

The king of David (Mark 11:10) was promised as “one shepherd” over His people (Ezekiel 37:25-25), and here is the Righteous One (Acts 3:14).

It provides triumphal prophecy. On their way in, Jesus gave word to His disciples about what was going to happen.

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (Mark 10:33–34, ESV)

This is at least the third time Jesus foretold that He would be delivered over and that He would be raised (Mark 8:31; 9:31; and see Romans 4:25). He was in full control.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18, ESV)

The crucifixion of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8) and His resurrection is His triumph, and this Table is one of victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57, ESV)

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Flaking Out

On Palm Sunday Jesus rode a young beast of burden into Jerusalem to applauding cheers. The crowds cried out, “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9) Five days later the crowds cried out, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22)

It has been popular for preachers in the past to identify the crowds as the same, a lesson about the fickleness of men and mobs. It has become popular these days for more preachers to distance themselves from such a simple platitude, as if it was silly even to suggest the crowds were the same.

There’s no need to throw the baby out with the palm branches, so to speak. We don’t have to say that every single person who praised Jesus on Sunday then cursed Jesus on Friday. We also don’t have to say that no single person who praised Jesus then cursed Him, which requires proving a negative. What’s more, Jesus’ own teaching, and Jesus’ own disciples, point toward the possibility of flaking out.

In His parable of the sower one type of person heard the seed of the word and received it with joy and then at some point later, the story doesn’t stipulate the amount of time, the same person got tired of troubles associated with that word and fell away (Matthew 13:20). Why couldn’t a mob be rocky soil? A mob could be overwhelmed with hate after being overwhelmed with joy. And every one of Jesus’ disciples, those who had been following Him for three years, abandoned Him, at least temporarily, when their shepherd was struck (Matthew 26:31, 56).

A couple things: First, as a church we have affirmed the faith and joy of some who then turn against Christ. We baptized them as believers, and sadly, some have later denied that profession and have fallen away. We pursue their repentance according to Matthew 18, and yet some must be removed from being under the spiritual protection of the church (1 Corinthians 5:4-5) and are no longer welcome to share the Lord’s Table with us. It is always sad, even if it isn’t surprising.

Second, the problem with the crowd on Palm Sunday was not their praise, the problem with the rocky soil was not the joy in the word, the problem is not with professions of faith. The problem was not living by faith. So, Christian, keep praising, keep receiving the word with joy, and keep feeding on the true bread of life and drinking the true drink of Jesus’ blood. Keep abiding in Him and you will live forever (John 6:52-58).