Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘The Triumph of a Humble King: To Wash Away the Remnants of the World’
© April 9, 2017, by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #134: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna; Choruses
Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #625: The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21 and Mark 11)
Let us pray.
Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Today is Palm Sunday, where Christians observe the launch of Holy Week, leading to Good Friday, and culminating at Easter Sunday.
Speaking of Good Friday, as we have for the past several years, the BLCF Church congregation will join with members of the Toronto Vineyard in conducting a Communion Service to remember the great sacrifice and finally given by our Lord to pay the debt owed for the sins of humanity.
For our lesson today, which bears the somewhat long, but self-explanatory title of ‘The Triumph of a Humble King: To Wash Away the Remnants of the World’, we will examine some of the significance and symbolism of the actions of Jesus, the disciples, and those gathered at two of the significant events recorded in the days of Easter Week, just prior to the arrest and crucifixion of our Lord.
Those two events are the account of Jesus riding to Jerusalem, on a colt or donkey, and later the account of the Lord electing to wash the feet of his disciples just prior to the Passover meal.
In the Christian church, the Holy Week of Easter begins on Palm Sunday, a day where we observe the triumphal arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem just prior to his crucifixion, which we find in John 12:12-19 (ESV):
The Triumphal Entry
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
Many of the actions of the Lord, including riding a donkey into Jerusalem, are the fulfillment of prophecies found in the Old Testament, including 2 Kings 9:13 (ESV):
13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare[a] steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”
Footnotes: a. 2 Kings 9:13 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
Another example is found in Zechariah 9:9 (ESV):
The Coming King of Zion
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
We see in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ arrival, that people in the crowd placed cloaks and tree branches upon the road in the path of Jesus, as he rode upon the donkey.
Let us look at the significance of elements of this account, beginning with the use of the palm branch, which we find described at the site, jewishencyclopedia.com:
The Palm Branch
|HOSANNA – …The cry which the people of Jerusalem were accustomed to raise while marching in procession and waving branches of palm, myrtle, and willow in the joyous Sukkot festival, especially on the seventh day, when …the willow-branches of the “lulab” procession were piled up and beaten against the altar (Suk. iii. 9, iv. 5). The willow-branch thus received the name “hosha’na” (Suk. 30b, 31a, 34a, 37a, b, 46b); and the …carrying of the palm branches as described in I Macc. xiii. 51 and II Macc. x. 7.According to John xii. 13 (in the Sinaitic codex), which has the story preserved in its original form, the same cry was raised by…|
|ATTAH HORE’TA – …Tabernacles; and it appears also in the melody sung by the cantor while waving the palm-branch (Lulab) during the Ḥallel on the first days (LULAB – …Name given to the festive palm-branch which with the Etrog is carried and waved on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The three constituents of the lulab are: (1) a shoot …twigs and willow-branches are tied to the lower end of the palm-branch—the former on the right, and the latter on the left—by means of three rings of palm-strips. These branches constitute with the etrog the “four …the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” Aside from the palm-branch and the willows the passage does not specify what shall be used; and the…|
|HALLEL – …is given out separately.On Sukkot the palm-branch is shaken in all directions while the first hemistich is chanted (“Hoshiahna”).Hallel is closed with this benediction: “O Lord, our God, may all …In the case of the Feast of Tabernacles the wavingof the palm-branch (see Lulab) is the most characteristic feature of the celebration of the festival; and consequently the…|
Some secular sources reference that, in the time of Christ, the Greeks awarded a palm branch to the victorious athlete, while the Romans used either a palm frond or the palm tree to signify a military victory.
Since the arrival of Jesus was not associated with athletic or military achievement, I think that it is safe to discard associating his arrival with either of the two. This conclusion is supported by the fact that in addition to the laying of palm branches, the crowed also cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
But what is meat when they say ‘Hosanna’? Let us again look at our online reference source, jewishencyclopedia.com:
|HOSANNA – …the multitude on the occasion of Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem. They “took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”—that is, the …verse following “Anna Adonai hoshi’ah-nna” in the Hallel psalm— and then called him “the King of Israel.” Luke (xix. 38), writing for the Gentiles, omits the palm-branches and the Hosanna cry, and changes the …combines the two versions, and changes the words of Luke into “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh. . . . Hosanna in the highest,” the closing words of which no longer give any sense The same is…|
|SALVATION – …to release.”Hosanna. The underlying idea of all these words, save the last two, is help extended and made effective in …passionate appeal “Hoshi’ah-nna” (ib. verse 25; = “Hosanna”) ought to be rendered “Give victory,” a translation all the more assured by the certainty that the psalm is Maccabean. He who leads to victory in battle …the head of the army was greeted with the salutation “Hoshi’ah” = “Hosanna,” corresponding to (II Kings x. 19; Neh. ii. 3). This would appear from II Kings vi. 26, the…|
|HOSHA’NA RABBAH – …recited once in each Hosha’na service (the Hebrew for “save now” is here “Hoshi’ah-na,” which has come into English through Christian sources as “hosanna”>Hosanna”).|
It seems that the crowd recognized that Jesus had arrived to bring victory and salvation to the Jews. But why did Jesus choose to arrive on a donkey? We get part of the answer from the following excerpts, taken from an article authored by Rebekah L. Holt:
Donkeys in the Bible
Christ as the King of Kings to enter in Jerusalem on a donkey was a lowly action. In today’s terms, to select a donkey instead of a horse could be compared to a prince selecting a furniture delivery truck over a rare luxury sports car! Historically, horses are the equine thrones of victorious Kings and Princes. Haman in the book of Esther considered riding the king’s horse in fine clothes, to be attended by noblemen and to have personal praise heralded to a crowd to be a great honor. Even today, we would expect such a procession of royalty. Yet, in Jerusalem, to be astride a donkey was commonplace. Donkeys typically served as everyday transportation, a long-eared daily sight to be seen in the streets.
In following Christ’s example, when serving the Lord, our focus should be on obeying Him with lowliness and humility.
In addition to a degree of humility, the arrival of a king riding a donkey, rather than a horse or in a chariot signifies the peaceful intentions of our Lord, an idea contrary to some who expected Jesus to lead an army against those who oppressed and persecuted the faithful.
One advantage to reading the historical account of the Lord’s arrival on that Psalm Sunday is the fact we may fast forward a few days in that Passion or Easter week and read an account that describes where Jesus taught his disciples an important lesson about the way they should minister his Gospel to others, This account is found in John 13:1-20 (ESV):
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface) d. John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled
We may find an understanding of why Jesus sought to humble Himself as a servant to wash the feet of his disciples in the following article found at jewishencyclopedia.com:
Washing Of Feet
Since the Israelites, like all other Oriental peoples, wore sandals instead of shoes, and as they usually went barefoot in the house, frequent washing of the feet was a necessity. Hence among the Israelites it was the first duty of the host to give his guest water for the washing of his feet (Gen. xviii. 4, xix. 2, xxiv. 32, xliii. 24; Judges xix. 21); to omit this was a sign of marked unfriendliness. It was also customary to wash the feet before meals and before going to bed (comp. Cant. V. 3); to abstain for a long time from washing them was a sign of deep mourning (II Sam. Xix. 24). Though there are no extant laws for laymen in regard to washing the feet, such laws for priests are given in Ex. Xxx. 19-21. There mention is made of brazen vessels, placed between the Tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering, in which the priests had to wash their hands and feet on entering the Tabernacle or before approaching the altar of burnt offerings: hence at all their priestly functions. Just as no one is allowed to approach a king or prince without due preparation, which includes the washing of the hands and feet, so the Israelite, and especially the priest, is forbidden in his unclean condition to approach Yhwh, for he who comes defiled will surely die.
Jesus while literally washing the dust, remnants of the world, from the feet of the disciples, will soon go to the cross to wash away all remnants of sin from humanity.
Let us talk about the “elephant in the room” which is sin if you excuse the pun as a segue.
Christ sought to teach his disciples a ministry of humility by riding to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and by washing the feet of the disciples. But these lessons also foreshadow our Lord’s impending death, where Jesus would pay the price for our sins by forfeiting his life to a brutal death on the cross, as the Apostle Paul described in Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV):
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a]6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:6 Or a thing to be held on to for advantage c. Philippians 2:7 Or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)
Another translation of Philippians 2:5-8 goes as follows:
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #349: May the Mind of Christ, My Savior
Benediction – (Revelation 1:5b-6):
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.