Day 40

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11
Mark 11:1-11
Luke 19:28-44
John 12:12-19

Introduction to the Holy Week

For the next eight days we will be following Jesus through the most climactic events of His life. The events of the Holy Week — Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday — are so important, that even though they only cover eight days, fully one third of the Gospel accounts are dedicated to recording these events. Our objective during this week is to be with Jesus every step of the way. We will wave the palms and shout hosanna as He makes His triumphal entry. We will sit at His feet as He gives His final teaching in the Temple and on the Mount of Olives. We will watch as Mary anoints Him for burial at Bethany. We will sit with Him at the table in the upper room for the last supper, and we will be a silent witness to His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

When all of His disciples flee, we will stay with Him and follow Him to the house of Caiaphas. We will walk with Him along the Via Dolorosa to the place called Calvary. We will listen to His words from the cross, watch Him take His last breath and behold His lifeless body upon the tree. We will watch as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take His body from the cross and place it in the tomb. We will enter into the wrenching sorrow of utter hopelessness as the stone is rolled into place and seals the Son of God in a cold, dark tomb. And we will wait. We will wait for Sunday. And when it comes we will be overwhelmed with joy from the greatest fact in history: Jesus is alive!

In his masterpiece, The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener, God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.

So let us prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus through the Holy Week and discover the unparalleled drama of the greatest story ever told. The week will begin with the happy shouts of hosanna!, but will end with the horrifying cries of crucify Him! But that end is not the end, for on Sunday a new week and a new world will dawn as we hear the astounding announcement of the angel: He is not here, for He is risen!


Day 40 of our journey together. Forty days is a big deal in the Bible. Often after forty days something big happens. That’s what I’m expecting…something big.


The Triumphal Entry. I always think of it as one of the most joyful events in the gospels…yet Jesus wept during it. Why did He weep? Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they missed the day of their visitation. A missed visitation has consequences: within forty years Jerusalem would be destroyed. Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s impending doom.

Nevertheless it was a triumphal entry. A king coming to claim His kingdom. The coronation would be on Friday. But this triumphal entry was different as would be the coronation. This king rode a donkey’s colt, not a white stallion. And on Friday the king’s crown would not be made of gold, but of thorns.

Jesus came in the way of humility and won His Kingdom on a cross. What a mystery. Among those who did recognize the King were blind beggars whom He had healed like Bartimaeus and rich and powerful elites like Nicodemus. Did Bartimaeus and Nicodemus stand side by side and shout, Hosanna! together? Many missed their visitation, but not all did. Some knew that God was up to something. Among those who knew something divine was happening, a movement would be born a week later that would change the world.