Palm Sunday: A Celebration of Expectations
Good Friday: A Realization of Revelations
Study Guide, April 2, 2023
Pastor Clay Olsen
In the year of 520 B.C. the Prophet Zechariah recorded this: Zech 9:9-10- “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (9) I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.” NASU
The book of Zechariah is heavy with revelations of the coming Messiah. In fact, Zechariah predicted more about the Messiah than any other prophet except for Isaiah. The people of Israel were called ‘People of the Book’. It was expected that these ‘People of the Book’ would understand these revelations from God about the reality of their own times and about the reality of the times to come…about the future to come…and especially about the Messiah to come. God expected them to understand His revelations, as He also expects us to understand His revelations, so as to be prepared to live in light of them and to also help others prepare to live in the light of God’s teachings and to better understand the times in which we now live and the times that are to come.
But, one of the faults of man’s fallen nature is failing to base our expectations upon God’s revelations. And when you fail to base your expectations upon the revelations of God’s Words to us, you then not only distort reality, but you also set yourself up for great personal and interpersonal conflicts. Which brings us to our example here today of Palm Sunday.
The Old Testament was filled with revelations about two advents of the Messiah, with two separate missions of the Messiah. In one of the most precise revelations of the Messiah’s first advent and first mission, God even gave Daniel a timeline that the ‘People of the Book’ were supposed to pay attention to in order to recognize the time of the Messiah’s visitation. Let’s review: Dan 9:25-26- “”So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing…” NASU And then let’s read the NLT for further clarification: “Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing…”
So God gave His people, and the world really, a timeline for them to follow in order to know when the Messiah would come in His first advent, along with Isaiah’s revelation explaining that His first mission would be to die as a substitutionary sacrifice for us all. The seven sets of seven years plus the sixty-two sets of years from the year in which Ezra received his commission from Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem came to the year 29/30 A.D, the time of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His sacrificial death. God gave them this timeline of both the coming of the Messiah, along with all of the proofs of His identity through His miracles and His message, and the revelation that the Messiah would then be sacrificially killed. And yet, many still did not have ears to hear what the Spirit of God was saying through His prophets. And Jesus rebuked them for it: ‘But you still did not recognize the time of your visitation.’ (Luke 19:44)
The Prophets often gave prophecies in ways that have been described as peaks of mountains right next to each other. A striking example of this is in the two verses of Isa 9:6-7, where each verse speaks of a separate mission of the messiah, of two separate advents and events of the Messiah’s purpose and works. Notice: 6- “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” This reveals the coming of our Mighty God to be our Messiah-God in His first advent. And then we have this: 7 – “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over His kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” NASU
So now this speaks of the Messiah’s next mission of taking the throne and establishing His kingdom on Earth. It’s like we have here with Zechariah’s prophecy…two advents of the Messiah with two separate missions. And God expected His people of the Book to base their expectations of the Messiah upon His revelations about these two separate missions of the Messiah, not upon bits and pieces of the Scriptures and their own personal preferences, or their deceived notions about what they expected God to be doing.
500 years after Zechariah’s prophecy Jesus entered Jerusalem in the exact manner as the prophet foretold: Matt 21:4-9- “All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” NKJV
This was truly a miracle of fulfilled prophecy. And thankfully, many recognized it as such. Some of these ‘People of the Book’ were even using the Messianic Psalm 118 as their praise to their King and Savior, especially those who were now trusting in their Messiah. But then, there were others…others with different expectations. But before we get to the others, let’s also join in this celebration of our Messiah, our Savior and our King, as we partake of the Bread portion of the Lord’s Supper. For we, too, have also called out “Hosanna, Lord, save us”, and He has. Jesus has saved us by His loving sacrifice of His sinless and righteous life so that we could be forgiven of our sins and given life in Him and with Him forever.
Matt 26:26- “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” NASU
Let’s consider some further revelations before we drink of the cup…Now, again, some of those ‘People of the Book’ and others in the crowd truly were calling out ‘Hosanna’ for the Messiah to save them from their sins as the promised Savior who had come. But we know that many others expected something different. They were calling out for Jesus to impose His kingdom now, and to save them from their oppressors and from their personal and national problems. Remember, even some of Jesus’ own followers were still basing their expectations about the Messiah’s mission on parts of prophetic revelation, all the while ignoring the whole of God’s revelation. But friends, when you only look for what you want to see in the Bible and ignore what all God wants you to see, and to then act upon what God had shown you…well then you fall into the pit of your own false expectations. And you set yourself up for troubles of your own making. One example of this was from those whom Jesus talked to on a road after His resurrection. Notice their false expectations: “…our chief priests and rulers gave Him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things occurred. Luke 24:20-21 AMP They were falsely hoping and falsely expecting something of God that God had not told them nor promised them. They were not rightly dividing the words of God. And because of their false expectations, they were ruining their lives, and other’s lives, as well as distorting God’s truths.
They had ignored all that the prophets had revealed about the necessity of the Cross for the Messiah before He would return with the Crown as Messiah and King of His new kingdom. They, among many, many others, expected what God had not revealed, but they had ignored what God had revealed…particularly about what we now call ‘Good Friday’. But Isaiah had not ignored it! In fact, Isaiah’s prophecy was to be another key revelation that was intended to go along with Daniel’s timeline of the Messiah plus Zechariah’s presentation of the Messiah. In fact, later when Philip was talking with the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road to Jerusalem, this man had been reading from the prophet Isaiah…Acts 8:32-33- “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” NKJV
And then he asked Philip: Acts 8:34-35- “…of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” NKJV Philip the evangelist, began with this Scripture from Isaiah 53 to reveal Jesus and His mission and His message. Of course, we know that Isaiah also reveals: Isa 53:5-6- “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” NASU
This was the revelation of God about the sacrificial mission that the Suffering Messiah had to complete before He would later return in His sovereign mission to rule over all the earth as King Messiah and Lord of all Heaven and Earth. And God expected His people to know this, and to then communicate this revelation with their world around them. But most didn’t. And since they failed to listen to and follow God’s revelation, they not only suffered unnecessarily for it, but they distorted the mission of the Messiah, and they failed to communicate the message of the Messiah to others around them.
Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and then Resurrection Sunday…are not only the most significant events in the world, together, they are a powerful example to us all of how important it is to base our lives upon the Revelations of God’s Word about His mission and His message to us and to the whole world. And to remind us all, especially in our own personal lives, to be careful to make sure that ‘our present expectations are based upon God’s previous revelations’. Our present expectations must be based upon God’s previous revelations! Otherwise, we only create troubles of our own making by thinking and acting upon our faulty imaginations.
Remember: God’s revelations bless our lives and others, while our faulty expectations and imaginations harm our lives and damage others. We are not only to be called ‘People of the Book’; we are also to live out our lives knowing and doing whatever God has revealed about all of life in His Book.
Matt 26:27-29- “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” NASU