Series: The Week that Changed the World
Title: The Gate of Sacrifice
Monday, April 2, 2012
Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem is recorded by all four of the Gospel writers. It was the only occasion that Jesus enlisted the support of the crowd for His Messianic role. There is no doubt that the event was something Jesus planned.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? Do you know what gate he might have entered and the significance of that on the eastern wall? Welcome to HT …
Palm Sunday, AD 30, Jesus entered Jerusalem at the time the Passover lambs were chosen. He proclaimed Himself as the Promised Messiah by riding on a donkey as prophesied in Zechariah 9, coming from the East. This event was yet but another fulfillment of ancient prophecy regarding the coming Messiah. 9 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.
But His true Kingship would be demonstrated when He was sacrificed on the Cross as God’s Lamb just five days later.
By riding into Jerusalem on the back of the colt of a donkey Jesus demonstrated that He was a King Who was coming in peace. A king arriving on a white horse was signifying he was coming as a conquering king, one who was engaging in battle and bloodshed. So when Jesus arrived the people were jubilant. Here is how Matthew records this event.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna[c] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
It is reasonable and understandable why the people were so excited because for centuries they have been oppressed and conquered by everybody: The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and now the Romans. One might say their record was 0-5, and their season was not showing any signs of improving. The people were so excited because finally they think Jesus is going to give them a political victory. That is not what Jesus came to do. He did not come to Jerusalem to kick out the Romans. He came to die to take the punishment that we all deserve on Himself. That was not what they expected or wanted. In a sense, I believe that is what is represented by Palm Sunday. Palm
Sunday represents all the times that we get really excited about Jesus because of what we think He can do for us rather than about Who He really is and what He really offers. Too many times we merely look upon Jesus as nothing more than a genii in a bottle to grant us wishes. But He is much more than that. His purpose in coming to the Earth was to give us forgiveness of sins and eternal life in His Presence forever and ever. You see, the gate he entered as the gate of sacrifice.
The praise the people lavished on Jesus at this time was not because they recognized Him as their Messiah. It was not because He was coming in such a humble manner. No, they welcomed Him out of their desire for a deliverer, someone who would lead them in a revolt against Rome. There were many who, though they didn’t believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps He might be to them a great geo-political deliverer. These are the ones who hailed Him as King with their many Hosannas, recognizing Him as the Son of David Who came in the name of the Lord. But when He failed in their world-driven expectations, when He refused to lead a massive revolt against the Roman occupiers and those who collaborated with them, the crowds quickly turned on Jesus. Within a few short days, their hosannas would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:20-21) Those who hailed Him as a hero would soon reject and abandon the Lord and Savior, even his handpicked disciples who had followed Him for the last three years.
A few minutes ago, I posed the question of which gate he entered in Palm Sunday, riding on the donkey. He could have entered and many believe he did enter by way of the Eastern Gate. The Royal Gate. Now if you visit Israel today, the gates you see are built above the original gates, but most around the old city of Jerusalem are still the same. It’s interesting to notice and you can see a picture on our website of the Eastern Gate and the entrance is sealed. Jesus could have entered this gate.
In 1517 the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones.
Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control.
Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.
But there’s another gate on the eastern side, at the northeast corner and it’s narrow gate. A lot of people, myself included, believe that as Jesus rode that donkey down from the Mount of Olives on the old road that winds through the Kidron Valley – a road that you can still make out – he took a right and entered the narrow gate. Jesus chose to come in by way of the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was where all the Passover lambs were kept and washed in preparation for Passover Week. I believe this is the place that the Christ traveled because Jesus is the Passover Lamb for all time, the One John pointed to years earlier in John 1:29, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!”
Unlike the spontaneous decision of the crowd to make Jesus King after the feeding of the five thousand, the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was planned. It did not just happen. This was no popular vote on the part of Jewish citizenry. They didn’t even have a vote. Caesar ruled because Rome conquered. Jesus had pre-arranged for His disciples to pick up a donkey and its foal from a sympathizer. Jesus even gave the owner of the animals a password by which the disciples identified themselves in Matthew 21: 3, “The Lord has need of them.” The very public proclamation of Jesus as King of Israel guaranteed His death. He could have remained hidden for years in Galilee or out in the desert or near Jordan River. If Jesus had remained content to be an obscure rabbi with a revolutionary message He could have avoided the Cross. But He was more than that! He was David's greater Son. But He was more than even that. Jesus was the Savior of the world! By riding into Jerusalem as the King of Peace Christ was courageously bringing matters to a head. He was precipitating a crisis, the outcome of which was inevitable and in the will and purpose of His father in Heaven.
Jesus was working according to God's timetable. He forced the hand of His enemies. Jesus was going to die at Passover. He was the ultimate Passover Lamb. He did so in order to bring deliverance to us and to set us free from the bondage of Satan and sin, and into the freedom of the Promised Land which is His body, the church. Ultimately our final home will be with Him!
Jesus was presenting Himself boldly as the Messiah. Jesus knew that Zechariah 9:9 was a Messianic prophecy and He deliberately acted out the passage. He made no effort to stop the crowd acclaiming Him. His supporters’ cries were entirely appropriate: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna means: save now. The entry of the Son of Man into the holy city was a cause for celebration.
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Mark records it in 11:10
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When the Pharisees told Jesus to shut His disciples up He replied,
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
The triumphant entry is the surest of indications that Jesus was not just a rabbi or a prophet. The Jews would never have engineered His death for being a radical, maverick rabbi. The people were correct in all they called Him. But He was more than even they realized. He was, as the Hebrews preacher puts it,
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
May we never forget that Jesus is the Supreme Head of the church universal. We cannot exalt Christ enough!
Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem on a horse as a warrior king. Instead, He entered on the back of a donkey in gentleness and peace in order to bring salvation. Today – 2,000 years later – Jesus still comes quietly and gently to sinful, rebellious, alienated men and women – the depraved and degenerate – and offers salvation and peace with God.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Christ's Kingdom is universal. The Pharisees said with some despair and a lot of contempt in John 12:19:
“See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
What prophetic words! The whole world has gone after Jesus. This is something Zechariah forecast:
10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River[a] to the ends of the earth.
There is nowhere on Earth where there are not today Christians and where people are not coming to Christ.
The Lord’s is a violently opposed Kingdom. It is incredible that a Savior Who comes gently and riding on a donkey should be opposed with such violence. The opponents of Christianity use the very methods renounced by Jesus – coercion, force, discrimination, ostracism, imprisonment and murder. Such was the chief priests' and Pharisees' hatred of Jesus that they planned to kill Lazarus as well as the Master.
This gate of sacrifice that Jesus entered – whether it was the Royal Gate or the gate I believe he entered – the Sheep Gate on Palm Sunday is a time of great invitation. On this day the Jews of Christ's time had to choose a lamb to cover their sins. God chose the One and only worthy Lamb for all humankind to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Just like those Jews 2,000 years ago, we are confronted with the Lamb God has chosen, for Him to become our sacrifice. This Easter week, the week that changed the world, may some of us today, for the first time, meet Jesus Christ, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
The arrival of Jesus probably on the 10th of Nissan in AD 30 was one of the greatest moments in all of history. Jesus hit Jerusalem with prophetic accuracy just as Zechariah 9 promised that He would. Jesus came on the very day and hour God had appointed for His presentation to the nation and the world as God's Passover Lamb. It was an exact fulfillment of a precise prophecy.
God’s word is unstoppable. One thing you can be sure of is that God always keeps His word. You can count on Him, trust Him, and believe His word. Today, as we remember the gate of sacrifice, the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem on what has come to be known as Palm Sunday, we are assured that God will keep His word for the future. How do we know that for certain? Because He’s kept His word so perfectly, so exactly in the past!
What God's word says will happen in the future will come as clearly as it has in the past. Jesus Christ will return again to gather us home to be with Him.
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