Palm Sunday 2024

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works 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 called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

As we consider the background of the text we should be reminded that the raising of Lazarus lies in the immediate background. Also, spectacular miracles have taken place in Luke’s immediate context with the healing of blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43).

As you know the context here is also the time of the Passover feast which yearly drew pilgrims from all over Israel to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Some have suggested that Jerusalem could swell to a million inhabitants during this time of year. This accounts for the varying crowds we see here.

It is important to note here that the crowd that initially accompanied the Lord Christ as He descends the Mount of Olives does not remain the only crowd of people. Another crowd, having heard that Jesus was headed their way came pouring out from the Eastern gate to meet Him. John’s account reveals it is this crowd which is bringing the Palm tree fronds to welcome Jesus. This action compliments the providing of a royal carpet made of cloaks to adorn his path provided by the first crowd coming with Jesus.

The spreading of cloaks and branches is an image of enthronement in the line of King David, hearkening back to 2 Kings 9:13 and 1 Maccabees 13:51: “The Jews entered the citadel with shouts of praise, the waving of palm branches, the playing of harps and cymbals and lyres, and the singing of hymns and canticles, because a great enemy of Israel had been crushed.”

The delirium upon the crowd is driven, as the text notes, “by the mighty works they had seen.” The reasoning here behind the excitement seems to be “surely this is the promised King who the OT speaks of as having healing in his hand. This being the Messiah that we have waited for for millennium will he not also now work to throw off the yoke of Rome and once again return us to be the great and independent nation as we were under David?

This is the anticipation animating this large press of people and this is under-girded by their quoting of Psalm 118:26

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

This snippet comes from one of the Hallel Psalms sung during Passover. The idea of Peace in heaven and glory in the highest meant that God was at peace with the human race, especially Israel, and that would in turn redound to God’s glory.

From this we see that these pilgrims are right for all the wrong reasons. It is true that Jesus is the Messiah King. It is proper that He should be greeted with the fanfare and hoopla surrounding the arrival of the King. Jesus Himself by entering into Jerusalem in just this way is enmeshing His Kingship in the prophecies of the OT, Jesus arrives riding a colt on which no one has ever sat. This is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which Matthew’s account quotes directly;

Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: Your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (see Matthew 21:5).

So, Jesus is displaying kingship, but He comes as a different kind of King. He is a King displaying humility and bringing peace.

Using a wider scope lens we see also in the Old Testament, it is often specified that an animal meant for a sacred purpose must not have been put to any ordinary use before. This stipulation can be found in Numbers 19:2, Deuteronomy 21:3 and 1 Samuel 6:7.

It is difficult for us to understand the thrill and the tumult that finds this crowd going senseless. The closest I can come is to talk about a ticker tape parade that is given for some returning war hero.

However Jesus response to this is other than what we might expect. His response is to weep. The Gospels take as a whole tell us why He is weeping. He has predicted His death many times in the Gospel before this event. The Mt. Of Transfiguration lies in the immediate background where even there what is spoken of is Jesus Exodus (death). Jesus weeps because the crowd is so misguided and blind. The mobs wants all exaltation and no humiliation. The mob desires a theology of glory and cannot comprehend a theology of the cross that lies ahead for Jesus.

So, one dynamic that we find in the Palm Sunday account is the misunderstanding of the person and work of the Messiah. This exuberant crowd would have Jesus be King now so they may drink the cup f blessing, quite absent His necessity to drink the cup of woe. Theologies of glory would excuse the sufferings, hardships, and humiliation that comes with bearing the cross. Theologies of glory desire the Kingdom without the Cross.
And yet Jesus is on His way to the Cross and this flash mob, while getting matters right that the King is in their midst, get it wrong as to the type of King that they are praising.

In many respects this exultant reception presents again to Jesus the Temptation in the Wilderness where Satan showed to Jesus all  the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus, on this Palm Sunday, is again being offered a Kingdom without a cross.
For this jubilant, raucous, delirious crowd the thought of a carnal Kingship blinds them from the primary purpose of the coming of Christ and that is to vindicate God’s Holy name from the charge of not dealing with sin the way He had promised that He would. Christ would restore Justice. A secondary purpose of Christ’s Kingship was to make a way for His people to have peace with God. Those purposes could not be achieved in the conceptual framework of these poor misguided groupies.
And so we ask ourselves do we really believe the crowds would have been in this delirium if they knew what was a few days in the future of their King?


The Jews desired a Kingdom without a Cross. They desired glory without suffering. But Jesus has another agenda. The Jews desire that Jesus turn away from them the wrath of Rome. Jesus is intent on a far greater agenda. Jesus’ work is to turn away from God’s people the wrath of God by taking upon Himself the just wrath that they and we had so certainly deserved. The Jews desire Jesus to overturn Roman law which they saw as burdensome. Jesus intends to completely satisfy the just demands of God’s law by His perfect sacrifice.
Only by the curing of the sin problem could men be right with God and this necessity for men to be right with God is the requisite precursor for any attempt at just government. The Jews wanted what they envisioned as just government apart from man’s sin problem being dealt with. Jesus going to the Cross was the only way all of man’s broken relationships might be one day healed.

It is interesting here that despite the frenzy that all of this, this is part of the sufferings of Holy Week that we can trace. Jesus’ anguish and suffering here is anchored to the misconception of the Jewish crowds and where that is going to eventually lead for some of these same people. It is celebration and festivity for the clueless, but it is suffering for our Lord Christ.

We have said that the crowd was right for all the wrong reasons. Now Luke introduces us to another group who we will note is wrong for all the right reasons. This next group are the bad guys who wear the black hats throughout the Gospels. Enter the Pharisees.

Of course you remember that the Pharisees were those group of men who were the keepers and interpreters of the religions of Talmudism. They were not the protectors of God’s Word but were the protectors of their twisting of God’s Word.

Here the Pharisees are intent on raining on everybody’s parade. They insist that all this exuberance be brought to an immediate end. They demand that Jesus “rebuke His disciples.”

What is driving all this is of course envy. The Pharisees would die for this kind of adulation and they can not handle someone else — no less one considered a commoner – to have this kind of praise. These fools are not interested in the claims of the crowds. Indeed, John tells us that they had already planned to kill Jesus. Even if Jesus were the Messiah (and He was) these lizard people intended to hoist Him up on a cross. These people and their types in every generation are the most vile people on the planet. Not only are they not interested in truth, they have a vested interest in making sure nobody else comes to truth with the purpose that they themselves would be seen as the wise ones.

The Pharisees had no more love for Rome than the crowds had. They had the same desire for Independence as these crowds. However, their drive for Israeli Independence found them in the drivers seat and not some worthless Nazarene. Not to put too fine of a point on it but they were the elites who were horrified by the notion of a populist movement offering up a man of the people to be King.

God’s irony finds the Pharisees being the agents through which He accomplished His intent to provide a sin offering wherein His people might be saved. In their maniacal efforts to make sure Jesus was not the Messiah King, they did the work that found Him being raised to the right hand of the Father to the end of ruling the nations.

This demonstrates to us that old Dutch saying that God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. These enemies of Jesus who hated Him because He claimed to be God, would be used to the end of being owned as God by scores of billions of people over the course of history.

Jesus rebukes their request to silence the children and the crowd by saying that if they were silent the rocks would cry out.

Is this not the way of the truths of God? They must be published. All God’s truths must be published and especially those which men would cover up just as the Pharisees sought to cover up the truth of Jesus being the Messiah-King. Should we keep silent on any of God’s truths the stones will instead cry out in light of our being mute.

We have examined the dynamics of the crowd. We have examined the disposition of the Pharisees. Now we turn to examine Jesus description of the future.

He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus is here speaking to the leadership who had rejected Jesus so that it was true that Jerusalem had officially rejected their Messiah. Jesus wept over that fact thus demonstrating His great compassion for those who chose to drink the Hemlock as opposed to drinking the elixir of eternal life. Jerusalem had sewn the wind and now Jerusalem will reap the whirlwind and Jesus weeps over that eventuality.

Note, also the divine imposition of blindness mentioned here. Jerusalem had scorned and rejected their Messiah-King and the consequence was that things that make for peace is hidden from their eyes. There will be no national repentance. Jerusalem is in the chute for destruction and nothing can change that.

The coming days that Jesus speaks of, of course refers to His judgment coming in AD 70 where He serves His divorce papers to faithless Israel. There in AD 70 Rome builds an embankment, surrounds Jerusalem and closes in on Jerusalem on every side. All of this come to pass in AD70.

Read the record written by Josephus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and see how truly our Lord’s words were fulfilled. The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Never did any other people invoke such an awful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses; of thousands of the people slaying one another in their fierce faction fights within the city; of so many of them being sold for slaves that they became a drug in the market, and all but valueless; and of the fearful carnage when the Romans at length entered the doomed capital; and the blood-curdling story exactly bears out the Savior’s statement uttered nearly forty years before the terrible events occurred.’
Geneva Study Bible,

‘The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God.’ (Commentary on Matthew, p. 412-413).

What might we say in light of this? We would note that

1.) God deals with men not only individually but corporately. Not every individual inhabitant of Jerusalem had rejected the Messiah but Jerusalem as a corporate entity had and God deal with Jerusalem as a corporate-covenant unit.

Elsewhere in Scripture we see God deal with corporate-covenant units. For example in Revelation Churches are warned that God is going to come and take their lamp-stands if they do not repent. This is another way of saying that God is going to extinguish the Church.

We as Americans often forget that God deals with men not only individually but in corporate-covenant units. For example, God blesses families who walk in His ways and visits justice upon those who forsake him. God blesses Churches and Nations in the same way.

2.) We learn here that God is patient and long-suffering with generational disobedience but there does come a time when God’s patience ends and God’s judgment and discipline will visit. We should be wise here to resolve to not tempt God.

3.) Finally on this score we would note that repentance is always in order. The Jews were a stiff-necked lot and refused to repent. Would that God would deliver me and all of us from being stiff-necked. May we be a people conversant with repentance.

As God’s redeemed people we know that God will not reject those who are lowly and contrite in heart. We know that a bruised reed He will not break and smoldering flax he will not snuff out. We know that God’s wrath has passed us by in Christ and that we have peace with God. These realities should be the realities that propel our forward to be a repenting people who do not miss, like Israel of old, the things that make for peace.
Subsidiary principles

1.) There is a necessity to go on a brief rabbit trail here. A subsidiary point to the larger point. That point is that mob crowds are not to be trusted. They invariably get matters wrong. Gustav LeBon in his classic work “The Crowd” convincingly demonstrates that the last thing one wants to do is to be driven by the emotions of the crowd.

2.) We must read Scripture in light of Scripture and not in light of our experience. We must beware giving Scripture a false gloss that serves our ends. Note how often this is done in the events surrounding the death of Christ (See Schilder)

The crowd manipulates the Scripture to serve their ends. It plays with the prophets. It employs their texts and the Psalms in the doxology shouted as Jesus comes to Jerusalem. However, what we see is that the people accept Scripture as it fits into their preconceived notions. Praising Jesus as the Christ comes easy when intoxicated by numbers agreeing but how much quoting of Psalm 118 occurs when the pressure upon Jesus begins?

20th century Dutch theologian Klaus Schilder put it this way;
“It is a great grief to our highest Prophet to notice that multitude takes from the Scriptures what it pleases and ignores the rest. Such distortion is unwarranted, for the canvas of the Scriptures is woven of one piece and is seamless. Those who divide the word of God into parts do precisely what the soldiers did with their garment of Jesus…. Depend upon it that as often as someone dismembers the Scripture, Jesus’ perfect soul suffers. It is the same as tearing Him apart…. Whoever looks at the Christ in his own light withdraws himself from the influence of Jesus proceeding through the Word…. To see Christ in our own light is to sin terribly, for it is to deny Him the right to minister His threefold office to us.”

Christ In His Sufferings – p. 121

This danger of reading Scripture in light of our experience or of our errant presuppositions as the Crowd does in this account is to flatten Scripture so that it flatters us. It is to turn Scripture into talisman that can be used to try and manipulate God to fit our agenda. It is a dangerous temptation and one I suspect we all easily fall into. I know I do.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *