Palm Sunday – Why Have Faith?

On Palm Sunday every year we celebrate and remember the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a victorious King on the Sunday before He was crucified for our sins.

    1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
    2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.
    3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”
    4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
    5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”
    6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
    7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.
    8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
    9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
    10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”
    11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
    ~ Matthew 21:1-11

A similar retelling can be found in Luke’s Gospel account:

    28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
    29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,
    30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.
    31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'”
    32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them.
    33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
    34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”
    35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.
    36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.
    37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,
    38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
    39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
    40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
    41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,
    42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
    43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side
    44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
    ~ Luke 19:28-44

“The triumphant entry of Jesus, riding on a colt, takes us back to the prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 9. “Rejoice greatly, O daughters of Jerusalem: shout for joy! For thy king cometh unto thee. But He is lowly; He is sitting on a colt, the foal of an ass.” And so, here He comes riding, the King. Notice, on a colt that had never been broken, showing again His mastery over nature. No man had ever sat on this little colt. Yet, He sat on it.

I would like to point out that the disciples, the multitudes that are crying after Jesus are actually crying forth a messianic psalm, Psalm 118, where David there in prophecy concerning the Messiah talks about the stone that would be set, of not by the builders, but the same becoming the chief cornerstone, “this is the work of God. It’s marvelous in our eyes”(Psalms 118:23). And then he declares, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”(Psalms 118:24). What day? The day that God has made for man’s deliverance. The day that God has set for the Messiah to come. This is that day.

And then as you go in to verse twenty-five of Psalms 118, the Hebrew is Hosanna, “Save now, I beseech thee O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We have blessed thee out of the house of the Lord”. So they are crying out this, “save now”, from the Psalms 118, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Save now in the highest.” And they are crying for the Messiah to save. An appropriate cry. It’s an appropriate psalm for the occasion. This is the day that God had ordained to bring the kingdom of God to man.

When Solomon built the temple, the story is told how that all of the stones were quarried away from the temple site. Actually, on up the hill on Mount Moriah above the site of the temple you can still see the stone quarry today. In fact, you can go into what they call the Solomon’s Quarries and see where many of the stones were taken for the temple building and all out of this huge cavern that comes under Jerusalem. And, of course, the quarried area that ultimately made a canyon between the wall of Jerusalem and the top of Mount Moriah, which was later called Calvary because of the quarrying of the stone the caves left as they pulled the stones out. It left the impression of a skull in the side of the mountain. And so they named the skull Golgotha, or Calvary. And so, the story goes that as they quarried the stones, each of them were marked and sent to the temple site where they were placed in place without the use of mortar. For there was to be no sound of a trowel or a tool, but everything was just there at the site itself, no chipping of the blocks there. Everything was all cut to size according to the patterns, and numbered and labeled and then sent; and the builders just put the wall on up. And, according to the story, there came to the builders a stone which they did not recognize. They did not understand its place in the building. And so, according to the story, the stone was just set aside as a mistake at the quarry. And in the years that it took to build the temple, ultimately they came to the completion and the time for the dedication. But they were missing one stone, the chief cornerstone of the building. And so, the builders sent the message to the quarries, “We’re ready to dedicate but we’re missing the chief cornerstone. You better send it.” And they said, “We’ve already sent it.” They said, “You can’t. We don’t have it.” “Well, here’s our records. Look, it’s been sent. We’ve already sent it.” And so finally, some fellow found this stone. Now the bushes had overgrown and they pulled it out, the stone that had been set aside by the builders. And sure enough, it was the chief cornerstone. And so they put this thing in place and had their dedication. That’s the story, whether or not it is authentic I don’t know. But, here is a reference: “The stone which was set of not by the builders, the same has become the chief cornerstone.” And Jesus, or course, is that stone. The builders of that whole Judaic religious system set Him aside. But yet, as Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The chief cornerstone upon which the kingdom of God is to be built is the stone that was set aside by the religious leaders and of the Judaic religious system. So, it’s definitely a prophecy of Jesus Christ. Peter makes reference to it and the best commentary you can get on the Old Testament is the New Testament, you know that.”
~Pastor Chuck Smith

Let’s look at Hebrews 11 for an an excellent commentary on the Old Testament.

    1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
    2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.
    3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
    4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
    5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
    6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
    7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
    8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
    9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
    10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
    11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
    12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
    13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
    14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
    15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
    16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
    17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,
    18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
    19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
    20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
    21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
    22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
    23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
    24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
    25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
    26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
    27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
    28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
    29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
    30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
    31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
    32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—
    33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
    34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
    35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
    36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
    37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
    38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
    39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
    40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

I love this chapter, particularly it’s message. Every one of these saints of old – faithful believers in the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – believed without getting the chance to see God’s finished work in Jesus Christ.

The first verse in that chapter says: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” These believers of the Old Testament believed without seeing. You see, faith goes beyond reason. Non-believers tend to think we are nuts!

My wife used a metaphor once of a chair. You’ve sat in a chair 1,000 times before, and it’s never failed you. Every time you sit in it, it holds you. Now it’s time to sit in it again, and you sit without even thinking about it. That’s faith. You’ve seen the chair work 1,000 times. Why wouldn’t it work this time?

We have faith in God because we’ve seen Him work in us over and over and over again! First, for me, there was the change in my life. God remade me! He changed me from the sinner I was to the believer made pure and spotless before God by Jesus that I am today. Then He has also worked miracle after miracle in my life. He has always proven to be faithful. Why shouldn’t I trust Him now?

The last two verses in this chapter wrap it up beautifully.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Vs 39-40)

We have been provided something better (seeing and enjoying the completed work of Jesus on our behalf) have much more reason to hold on to faith, and to not let discouragement and tough times defeat us. The idea of perfect is “complete.” They could not be made complete until the work of Jesus; they looked forward to Jesus and His work, we look at it from behind – and enjoy the fruits of His work! ~ Guzik

These believers in the Old Testament looked forward to the day that had been prophesied to them that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem as a victorious King! Now, on Palm Sunday, these Hebrews get to see this same prophecy come alive before their very eyes.

They have reason to shout praise to God!

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

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