There is a ridge that runs parallel to the Kidron Valley just east of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. It rises some 100-feet above Jerusalem. It is known as the Mount of Olives. We begin here. It was a week that not only impacted you and me, but a week that impacted the entire world.
It began as more of a hopeful celebration. As Jesus made his way from Bethany over the crest of the Mount of Olives, people began to gather. Jesus had just recently raised Lazarus from the dead. Word had spread. People were curious.
They were looking for the Messiah to free them from Roman domination. Surely, this is him!
As Jesus made his way toward Jerusalem, people responded to him by waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna,” which means “save now!”
Yet Jesus was not entering Jerusalem as king, but as God’s Lamb.
In preparation for the Children of Israel leaving Egypt, the Lord told Moses to select a lamb on the tenth day of the month of the year. It was to be a spotless lamb or goat, without blemish. That Passover lamb was to be killed on the fourteenth day of that month. The blood of that lamb was then to be put on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses…That blood would save the people from death.
If Passover was on Saturday that year Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the sacrificial lamb would have been killed on Friday. The selection of that lamb would have been made on the first day of the week, Sunday.
It is no coincidence Jesus entered Jerusalem that Passover week on the day the Passover Lamb was selected. This Passover Lamb was not chosen by any of the priests. This Passover Lamb was selected by God himself.
On that day, the day of the church year referred to as Palm Sunday, Jesus was saying to the crowds by his actions, “Yes, I am the Messiah you have been waiting for, but I am not coming to you as king. I am coming as a Lamb for offering.”
And on that Friday, just as the shofar blew at 3 p.m.to signal the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God breathed his last. His shed blood was the final sacrifice for the sin of the world for all eternity. God selected that spotless Lamb… for you!
The Rev. Paul Johnson is pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.