Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the most somber week of the Christian year – Holy Week. Holy Week leads up to the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Later in the week, many of those cheers would turn to jeers of, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”
Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration. It means to save. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people worshiped Him, believing their king had finally arrived. As we know, many from this crowd were not really committed to following Jesus Christ and just a few days later, they wanted him dead. Today’s lesson is about the depth of our commitment to Jesus. Do we mean it when we say, “Hosanna?”
Read Matthew 21:9.
Hosanna to the Son of David:
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest. KJV
• Let yourself sing the words, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.”
• Let the words “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” fill your soul.
• Let Jesus examine your heart for true commitment to Him.
• Thank God for fulfilling scripture and sending His son.
• Ask God to show you areas where your commitment to Him could be stronger.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
Long before Jesus came, God told us He would be coming. He also told us details of that event. Read Zechariah 9:9.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. NIV
• What city is mentioned in this ancient text?
• Describe the prophesized king.
• What will He be riding?
Jesus knew his time on earth was drawing to close. Everything He did in that last week was in preparation for His death and resurrection. Read Matthew 21:1-5.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" NIV
• What city were they approaching?
• What errand did Jesus send disciples on?
• Who were the disciples to say needed the donkeys?
The disciples may have wondered what Jesus intended to do with the donkeys but they were committed to Jesus and obeyed Him. Read Matthew 21:6-8.
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. NIV
• What did they bring back?
• How did they prepare the donkeys for Jesus?
• How did the crowd respond?
• How would you have responded to see a king riding in on a donkey?
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was so important that all four gospels recorded it. The shouts of the crowd indicated they knew who Jesus was. Read Mark 11:9-10.
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" NIV
• What were the 3 statements the crowd shouted?
• How do we know they recognized Him as the Messiah?
Jesus had spent years teaching the disciples and yet they didn’t understand what was happening until later. Like most events in our lives, the events of Holy Week only made sense in light of the resurrection. Read John 12:16.
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. NIV
• When did the disciples understand what was happening?
• What did they finally understand?
• How does the resurrection help us interpret the events in our lives?
In just a few short days, the disciples went from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the devastation of the cross. They witnessed first hand just how quickly public opinion can change and how weak most people’s faith is. Their own faith went from walking proudly beside the donkey to hiding in rooms, terrified for their lives. When they needed the saving words of Hosanna more than ever, they were afraid to sing them.
Praise God, the story didn’t end there. Jesus rose from the dead. In the light of the resurrection, suddenly everything made sense. His resurrection also resurrected their faith and they could once again sing, ”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” When they understood that God had conquered death, they were willing to give their lives for the cause of Jesus.
I travel America, talking to people about their faith in God. Most people I meet believe in God but few sing joyfully the words, “Hosanna to the Highest.” Many believe in God and are active in church but limp through their Christian life burdened by the cares of their personal life. Countless people confess that they once had faith but then go on to describe how life had completely crucified their faith. Occasionally, I meet people whose faith is so inspiring that they influence everyone around them.
Mark grew up in a Christian family. When he was a teenager, his father left his mother for another woman. “I realized Christianity was a joke. Dad taught me about Christ and even baptized me but Christ didn’t do him much good when he reached 40 and had his mid-life crisis.” Mark had allowed his father’s sin to crucify his faith.
Robert went to church every Sunday until he went off to college. He sang in the youth choir, went to Sunday School, and went on youth mission trips. “College was where I learned the truth. I found out how narrow Christianity really was. My beliefs are much broader now and I feel sorry for Christians,” he smugly bragged. Robert’s cheers of Hosanna turned to jeers as he now shouted, “Crucify Him!”
Susan raised her children in church. She and her husband were faithful to everything and leaders in their church. When her youngest daughter turned 16, the daughter got pregnant without benefit of marriage. “I was so embarrassed. I felt like a failure so I stopped going to church. I couldn’t look people in the face. Now it’s been so long, I’m ashamed to go back.” Like the disciples after the crucifixion, Susan is hiding in her room.
Mary worked hard in her church and wondered why her faith wasn’t stronger. “I want to serve God but I’m tired all of the time. My husband has job problems and it worries me. I don’t like my daughter’s boyfriend. I think my son is taking drugs. I know I should trust God with everything but I just can’t.” Mary needs the hope of the resurrection.
I first saw Edith as she stood up in her church to tell the children a story. I was captivated as she made the characters come alive. Later, she told me her story. She had been married for 45 years when she found out she had cancer. She and her husband went calmly through it together, leaving the outcome in God’s hands. Just days after the doctors declared her cancer free, her beloved husband collapsed and died from a heart attack. She said, “I was devastated. To make matters worse, I had never paid bills and suddenly I had to make critical financial decisions. I did what I always did. I turned to God and the Bible. God showed me everything I needed to know. I now cherish this new adventure. I loved being a wife and now I love being independent. God left me here for a reason. I learned I had a talent for writing and telling children’s stories so I’m using it.” Mary knows the secret – with God, she can overcome anything and still be happy. Her eyes glow with the light of the resurrection.
How is your commitment to Jesus today?
• Are you hiding in your room in fear?
• Has it gotten so bad that you are you shouting, “Crucify Him,” along with the crowd who has lost faith?
• Are you letting the sins and cares of the world crucify your faith?
• Do you stand firm in the light of the resurrection?