20230402 A TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
Psalm 118:19-29 NET.
19 Open for me the gates of the just king’s temple! I will enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the LORD’s gate — the godly enter through it. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me, and have become my deliverer. 22 The stone which the builders discarded has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing! 24 This is the day the LORD has brought about. We will be happy and rejoice in it. 25 Please LORD, deliver! Please LORD, grant us success! 26 May the one who comes in the name of the LORD be blessed! We will pronounce blessings on you in the LORD’s temple. 27 The LORD is God and he has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God and I will give you thanks! You are my God and I will praise you! 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his loyal love endures!
Today is Palm Sunday – that special day each year when we look back and reflect on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem for what we now call Holy Week – the week of his death and resurrection.
I wanted to spend some time in today’s passage because it was a Messianic Psalm. In fact, it appears to be the Messianic Psalm that also served as a prophecy of a special time that was going to come in history, the day the Messiah would come to Jerusalem.
People memorized this song, sang it and chanted it as a reminder that someday God would send his own king to deliver his people. When Jesus prepared to arrive in Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, the people broke palm branches and spread their clothing on the ground. They were giving him what we now call the red-carpet treatment.
Listen, and you will hear them singing and shouting. Do you know what they are shouting? They were shouting Hosannah! Do you know where that word comes from? Let me share it in Hebrew: ANA YAHVEH HOSHIYAH NA ANA YAHVEH HATSLIYCHAH NA!
For those who don’t know Hebrew, I was just quoting Psalm 118:25. “Please LORD, deliver! Please, LORD, grant us success!” The psalm had become a prophecy and a way of pleading for God to send his Messiah to deliver his people and give them success.
Today I want to share seven elements of the prophecy of this psalm that are found in today’s text. I want to share what this prophecy meant to the people who had been singing it for generations before Jesus came. I also want to share how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy of the day of his triumphal entry, and how he will fulfill it completely at his second coming.
You also might need a little help understanding what is going on in the psalm because it tends to jump around between the three main characters. The three main characters are the LORD (Hebrew Yahveh) who is God. The second character is the coming Messiah. The third character is the people of God who are waiting for the Messiah to come to Jerusalem.
The first prophetic element in today’s text is…
The LORD’s gate (19-21)
At some time in history, the Jews expected the LORD to open the gate to his temple and his Messiah would enter it and take up his place as king. They would sing and chant these words on momentous occasions. They would dream of the day when wrongs would be righted, debts paid, and sins cleansed. This psalm had become associated with Passover because just as the LORD delivered the believing Israelites from the destroying angel in Egypt, they believed that the coming Messiah would enter their city and bring new life with him.
Jesus did come for the purpose of bringing deliverance that day, but the deliverance he brought would cost him his life. On that day when he rode into Jerusalem, Jesus said that the time had come for him to be glorified. They didn’t understand what he was talking about. So he told them that a grain of wheat has to die and be buried in the ground before it can produce a crop. He was predicting his death and resurrection, but he was also predicting ours. That is why he said if anyone wanted to serve him, he must follow him. Christ is going through the gates of the old Jerusalem to die. We will follow him through those gates. But we will also follow him into the new Jerusalem when he returns – to live again and never die again.
The second element in this prophecy is…
The LORD’s cornerstone (22)
The image of the prophecy is the building of the new temple. Jesus was the stone that the builders discarded which has become the cornerstone. Nobody expected such a rough character as this man from Nazareth. He wasn’t even from Judea. He was a Galilean. For a while, some listened to his words, and some were amazed at his miracles. But when it came to a vote, they voted now on Jesus.
But the song the people had been singing said that God was going to do something in spite of what the world wanted to do. Isaac wanted Esau, but God wanted Jacob. The Israelites wanted Saul, but God wanted David. The crowd shouted for Barabbas, but God wanted Jesus. When the dust is settled, and the world looks upon the mighty monument of the new eternal temple where God resides forever, they will see this Jesus, discarded by the builders but used by God. He is the building block that was rejected, and he is the cornerstone of a whole new world.
The third element of this passage’s prophecy is …
The LORD’s work (23)
The people singing and chanting Hosannah that day were expecting a great work of God. They were looking for a miracle. They had been singing about that great miraculous time for generations. They said “This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing!” But what was the work that the king came to do in Jerusalem that week? He cursed a fig tree. He cleared the marketers out of the temple. He pronounced woes against his enemies. He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. He was betrayed by Judas. He was arrested and tried, and crucified. But wait. There’s one more thing. We cannot afford to miss the most amazing thing that Jesus did. He rose from the grave. “This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing!”
When our Lord returns to completely fulfill the prophecy of today’s text, he’s going to open our graves. He’s going to fulfill his promise to give us a life that will not end. Amazing!
The fourth element of this passage’s prophecy is …
The LORD’s day (24)
It bothers me somewhat that was are always singing about the day that the Lord has made but we sing it out of context. The day that the worshipers in Jerusalem sang it, it was clear what day they were singing about. One day you and I will sing those words again and the day we will be singing about will not be an ordinary day. It will be the day our king returns to take up his throne and restore the world he created. That will be the day!
The fifth element of this passage’s prophecy is …
The LORD’s king (26)
The psalmist predicted a coming king. The people waving Palm branches were welcoming that king. One day the same king is going to break through the clouds for you and me. Be ready brother. Be prepared sister. Get your Palm branch ready to wave. Welcome the LORD’s king as your king. Oh, but understand. If you cannot welcome him into your life today, he will not welcome you into his eternal life then.
The sixth element of this passage’s prophecy is …
The LORD’s offering (27)
They sang “The LORD is God and he has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar!” They knew all about bringing offerings to the LORD, but they sang about God delivering them with his offering. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy because he is God’s own Son, and he was offered as a sacrifice to redeem us from sin.
And, finally, the seventh element of this passage’s prophecy is …
The LORD’s love (29)
This is CHESED — God’s loyal, covenant love. His faithfulness to his own word, to his covenant. God promised a king would ride into Jerusalem on a colt. That promise was fulfilled that day. But his entry into Jerusalem was itself a prophecy. The Gospel tells us that the king is coming again. The same God who brought Jesus back to life is going to restore the whole universe when the king goes through the gates again.
Do you know this God? He knows you. He knows you are a sinner, but he still sent his Son to die for you. He knows you often fail him, but he has a plan for you to succeed forever. He knows you have nothing to offer him, so he has already provided the perfect offering. He knows you have bad days when all you can do is complain but he is preparing a day in which you can only be happy and rejoice.