Theme: The Lord’s Own Thoughts about Palm Sunday
In this week leading up to Easter, we focus on an event that shows how Jesus would have received the crowds on Palm Sunday if they had truly come to him in faith and repentance.
Scripture: Luke 13:31-35
It’s an interesting feature about the critical moments in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ that His own comments about them are seldom found in conjunction with the events themselves, but rather you find them somewhere else in Scripture. Think of the incarnation or the birth, for example. You don’t find our Lord’s comments there in connection with the birth narratives, naturally, or for that matter even anywhere else in the gospels. You do find it later on in the New Testament in the book of Hebrews, in chapter 10, verses 5-7. That author writes, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, “Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.”’”
It’s the same way with the crucifixion. Our Lord’s thoughts about the crucifixion are not found primarily in the crucifixion accounts, though there are suggestions there of what He was thinking; but rather, in this case, in the Old Testament the greatest expression of the thoughts of our Lord about His death are in Psalm 22. We know He was thinking about that at the time of the crucifixion, because when He was hanging on the cross during the period of darkness He began by quoting the first verse of that Psalm: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Toward the end of the three-hour period of darkness we find Him saying something that is very close to a quotation of the last verse, namely “It is finished.”
Now I find the same thing to be true of Palm Sunday. You say to yourself, “What was the Lord thinking about on Palm Sunday? What were His personal reflections on the event?” All four gospels recount Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12). You have the words of other people, but nothing there really reflects the Lord’s thinking. Where you find our Lord’s reflection on Palm Sunday is several chapters earlier in Luke’s gospel, in chapter 13 in the passage which is our text.
Jesus says there in verse 34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” I like very much how the Authorized, or King James, Version puts it at the end of that verse: “And ye would not.” What an extraordinary statement that is! The Lord Jesus Christ wanted to draw the people of Jerusalem to himself in salvation but they were not willing. He loved them. He wanted them to be saved but they rejected Him. The question is, “Why would the citizens of Jerusalem not have Jesus as their Savior, and what can we learn from that?
Well, the most obvious reason why they wouldn’t have him is that as they would probably have said, and as we certainly would say, “They were just too busy.” Their day was not as busy a day as ours, of course. Things moved slower then, and we tend to move with all the means of technology that speed it up for us. Nevertheless, this was Jerusalem, the capital city. It wasn’t a little town in Galilee, for example, and things did happen in Jerusalem. There was coming and going, and buying and selling, and there was political intrigue. It was the political capital and it was a spiritual capital, too. So there was a lot going on in conjunction with the great temple and its services.
People undoubtedly said in that day, “Well, I’m sure Jesus means well and He does say some good things, but I’m really too busy with my affairs to spend much time with that.” Jesus apparently was aware of that because he told a parable about it. As a matter of fact, it occurs just one chapter further on in Luke’s gospel, in chapter 14. He said there was a certain man who was preparing a great banquet and that he invited many guests to come. When the time came for the banquet and everything was ready, he sent a servant out to call them and they all began to make excuses. One guest said, “I have just bought a field and I must go and see it, please excuse me.” Another said, “I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen. I’m on my way to try them out, please excuse me.” Still another said, “I just got married so I can’t come.”
As Jesus tells the story, the man who was giving the banquet was offended by that and he said to the servant, “Well, go out and bring in everybody that you can from all of the alleys of the city, and the back roads, and the distant towns, all those who would normally be passed up for an affair such as this.” Then he said of those who had been invited, “I tell you not one of those men will get a taste of my banquet.”
What are the Scripture passages that reveal something of how Jesus viewed both his own incarnation and crucifixion? What do you learn from them?
From the lesson, what is one reason people gave for rejecting Jesus? How do you see that same reason being used today?