Yesterday was the first day of what the Christian calendar calls “Holy Week”. Beginning with Palm Sunday which remembers Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. In the space of a week Jesus will experience exaltation at the gates of the city to despite and humiliation at the governor’s mansion. It all begins with Jesus humbly riding in on a donkey with people laying down palm branches on His path while saying “Hosanna! Baruch haba b’shem Adonai” which means “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people of Jerusalem were excited to receive their king who was going to free them from the oppression of the Roman occupation. They had messed up beliefs about the Messiah and what He would accomplish. However, when it became clear that Jesus was not going to lead a rebellion against the Roman rule He quickly falls out of favor with the public and attracts a lot of negative attention from the Pharisees and Sadducees with His teachings about the Kingdom of God. The people assumed that Jesus would declare Himself king and restore Israel to its former greatness and usher in the Kingdom on earth. The Jews had always had a nationalistic view of the Messianic mission and it led them to assume that they were the only people the Messiah would come for. Assuming their righteous standing with God because of their chosen status with God. They were God’s chosen people from among the nations of the world so the Messiah would be on their team and save them from the other nations, not themselves as Jesus taught. Their national pride was one of the causes for their blindness to the real mission of Jesus. Jesus taught from the beginning that He would die in the place of sinners and referenced many Old Testament scriptures as proof of His lordship and mission.
We are all in the same position as the people of Jerusalem who were blind to their own personal need of a Messiah. The real problem was that we have sinned against a holy God and our sins deserve to be punished. The punishment for our sins is an eternity in hell. One sin against an eternal God requires an eternal punishment. Each one of us is steeped in sin from the moment we’re born and are completely incapable of doing anything righteous in the sight of God. But Jesus, being God, was sent from heaven to live a sinless life and die in the place of sinners so that He would be punished by God instead of us. God punished Jesus on the cross to the full extent deserved for every human who would be saved. Only an eternal soul like the one in Jesus could bear the eternal aspect of the wrath for sins. So for three hours God relentlessly poured out wrath upon wrath on Jesus in our place. Because of this substitution those who place their faith in Jesus are forgiven because there is no judgment left for them. On top of that, Jesus was raised from the dead and gave us the righteousness He achieved during His life so that we can have a righteous standing before God until the day we meet Him in the eternal afterlife.
It takes a miracle work of God to reveal this in our hearts and before that miracle we were among the crowds crying “Crucify him!” before Pilate. As C.J. Mahaney says, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us leading us to faith and worship, we must see it as something done by us, leading us to repentance. Only the man or the woman who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.”
I pray that all of us this Holy Week would seek to go deeper into the mystery and wonder of the cross and that we would find that our Savior’s love goes deeper than we had ever imagined before! Seek out the Lord, acknowledge your sins, and find forgiveness and life at the foot of the cross and the empty grave.
2 Cor. 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”