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Getting Ready for the Cross

Matthew 26:1-13


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Palm Sunday celebrates the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Test your knowledge of that day’s events, recorded in all four Gospels, with these true or false statements...


1. According to the Gospels, the people waved palm branches when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.


2. The date of Jesus’ triumphal entry-five days before Passover-was a special holiday in his time.


3. By their actions, the people were publicly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.


4. The fact that Jesus rode a donkey portrayed him as a warrior king.


5. The shouts of "Hosanna!" meant "Praise the Lord!"


6. The route Jesus chose for his triumphal entry was down the side of Mount Zion.


7. When the people spread branches and garments in Jesus’ path it was to pay him honor.


8. The shouts of "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" were words of a Jewish hymn.


1. False (Matt. 21:6, Mark 11:8, Luke 19:36, John 12:13). None of the four Gospels say the people "waved" branches but that they spread garments and branches in Jesus’ path. Only John mentions palm branches, a tree not native to Jerusalem.


2. True. It wasn’t called Palm Sunday in Jesus’ day, but each Israelite family chose the lamb they would sacrifice for Passover on the tenth day of the month. As the people shouted "Hosanna," they didn’t realize they were choosing the Lamb of God as their sacrifice.


3. True. When Solomon was anointed king, he rode into the city on a mule, to the shouts and praises of the people (1 Kings 1:43-45). Zechariah prophesied the Messiah would arrive the same way "gentle and riding on a donkey" (Zech. 9:9).


4. False. Conquering kings would ride war horses; the donkey symbolized peace, prosperity, and humility (Zech. 9:9, 10). Jesus’ entry was a stark contrast to the war-like Romans, whose military presence was very visible.


5. False. The Hebrew word Halleluia means "praise the Lord;" Hosanna means "save us!" or "save!" The Palm Sunday crowd falsely assumed that Jesus would bring political liberation.


6. False. Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives offering him an excellent view of Jerusalem, which is built on Mount Zion. According to Zechariah 14:4, Jesus will again stand on the Mount of Olives at his second coming.


7. True. The people were boldly declaring that Jesus was their king, an accusation eventually written in condemnation above his cross. It was common in Bible times to spread garments in the path of princes and kings, especially at their coronation (see 2 Kings 9:13).


8. True. The phrases "Hosanna" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" both come from Psalm 118: 25-26, one of the "Hallel" or praise psalms (113-118) used every Passover. These Jewish hymns would be as familiar to the Jewish people as Christmas carols are to Christians.


SOURCE: Copyright © 2000 by the author or Christianity Today International/Christian Reader magazine. March/April 2000, Vol. 38, No. 2, Page 39.


ill.--A little boy was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch.

The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do you have that palm branch, dad?"


"You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone laid down Palm Branches to honor him, so we got Palm Branches today."


The little boy replied, " Aw man! I miss one Sunday and Jesus shows up!"


You never know what you'll miss, so I'm glad you're here! 


But we're not talking about Palm Sunday...let's fast forward 3 days.  After Jesus rode into town He gave some powerful parables and then gave His end of the world teachings.  The end of the world is only the beginning for the believer!  And what would happen on Friday may have looked like the end of Jesus, but it was only the beginning of all He had planned to accomplish!


So, I believe it is now Wednesday of passion week in our text of Mt. 26...


I.      The Announcing of the Cross – by Christ

v. 1-2       Jesus tells His disciples that He will be crucified in 2 days at the Passover Feast.  It was a lamb that was killed at the first Passover when God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt.  A perfect lamb was killed and its blood was applied to the sides and the top of the wood of the door frame, forming a cross.  And when the death angel approached he would ‘pass over’ those homes where he saw the blood applied.


Every year thereafter the Jews would celebrate Passover and sacrifice another spotless lamb...but this year it would be the sinless, spotless, perfect Lamb of God, Who came to take away the sins of the world.


He would die a volunteer.  He would give His life.  No one would take His life from Him, and even death would not be able to hold His life down for long!  But evil men had their own plan to kill Jesus.  And in the end they thought they had done just that...but you can’t keep the God Man down!


II.    The Arranging of the Cross – by men

v. 3-5       Perhaps 2-3 million had gathered in Jerusalem for the feast, and many were fans of Jesus.  Many were from Galilee where He was very popular.  Many of these had lined the streets just a few days before singing His praises as He rode into town.  So these religious leaders said, let’s not cause an uproar, let’s wait ‘til after the Passover when all these people go home.  But you can’t foil the plans of God.  He’s still in full control even when circumstances seem they couldn’t be any worse.  And God is orchestrating everything according to His plan, and indeed, Jesus is right, He’s going to be crucified at Passover in 2 days.


III.   The Anointing for the Cross – by Mary

A.    A lovely act.

v. 6-7       This happened at Bethany, a retreat spot where Jesus sometimes went to rest or get away from it all.  It seems that Christ spent His days that final week in Jerusalem and His nights in Bethany.  Simon was likely a leper that Jesus had healed, and he’s putting on a dinner.  This Mary is a deeply spiritual woman that we always find at the feet of Jesus when we hear about her.


It was a custom in those days to anoint a special guest with just a few drops of ointment or perfume on their head and feet.  It was an act of courteous kindness.  Hers was a precious ointment that the gospel of John indicates was worth a full year’s wages.  She uses not a few drops, but pours the entire contents out lavishly. 


Great Christians have appeared in all ages, and they have one thing in common – they live their lives with a reckless abandon when it comes to expressing their love for Jesus.  They sacrifice to such a degree that they are sometimes criticized for it.


Ill.—you see some face painter going overboard at a football game and you say, “that’s great, they’re a fan!”  But you see someone get excited about Jesus and say, “good night, they’re a fanatic.”


Ill.—it’s like our deer hunters...they approach their hobby w/ a reckless abandon.  They spare no expense.  You have to have the right gun, clothes, truck, camper, the deer tags, and you can’t go out there w/out a scent so genuine that you probably collected the sample from Bambi herself!  They’ll spend big money, but no matter, you gotta get that deer!  Some of the guys wanted to take me one year, and I know about 4 o’clock, I see it every afternoon...but they introduced me to another one I never knew about!  But no matter, you gotta get that deer.  You’ll hike for miles, refrain from speaking, eat grubs and worms, but it’s all for such a great cause!!  Rain, snow, freezing temperatures...these all pale in comparison to the prize that may be won by day’s end!


I’m not criticizing you if you choose this odd way to unwind!  I’m saying, would to God we could get so excited about serving Him, not in drudgery, out of duty, but w/ the same reckless abandon.


        B.    A lowly attack.


v. 8-9       This sounds more like something the Pharisees would usually say, but it was His own disciples, the ones who were supposed to love Him supremely.  How did they get such a warped perspective? 


John 12 reveals Judas was behind this selfish attitude.  There’s a few in every crowd, and you cannot listen to them.  They are faultfinders, who look for what’s wrong in everything, not what’s right.  They are the chief critics, and feel it is their calling to throw cold water on the fires of others.  At the heart of their problem is the fact that they don’t want to get serious about serving Jesus, and they don’t want you to either.  They never intend to give their very best to Jesus, and they don’t want you to do it either, because it makes them feel badly about themselves, and it puts them under conviction.


They called Mary’s sacrifice a ‘waste.’  That’s how the world feels about us when we give up sleep on Sunday morning and go to church...what a waste!  That’s how the world looks at it when we tithe, or give a big Easter offering...what a waste.  Now, they may have a point if we don't do it in the right order - Make sure you are tithing first before you do anything else in addition to that.  Consider this verse:

1 Samuel 15:22
22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice...

Make sure you obey in the tithe before you give anything else sacrificially, or it will be a waste!


The real truth is that whatever is not done for Christ is the real waste.  I mean, you could make a million dollars, but if you live for yourself, for your house and cars, boats and RVs, your life was a waste!  You can find fame and fortune, or go to school and get more degrees than a thermometer, but if you don’t live for Christ then your life was a waste.


It’s interesting that Jesus later calls Judas the ‘son of perdition’.  Because the word perdition could be literally rendered “waste.”  The man who is calling this act of worship a waste is named by Jesus, the son of waste!


In v. 9 Judas says, we could have given this money to the poor.

John 12:6
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

v. 14-16   30 pieces of silver may have been the equivalent of what we would call ’20 bucks’.  It was the price of a slave.  Judas has been in hell for about 2,000 years now, or, for about a dollar per century!  Some say it was more like a few month’s wages, but clearly, even if so, it proved not to be worth it, even for lost Judas, who in the next chapter gives it back to the chief priests who gave it to him, and went out and hung himself!


C.    A loving approval.


v. 10-13   Jesus says that anything done for Him is not a waste.  There’s a lot of ways in today’s world to waste time and money, but when it comes to giving time or treasure to God, it’s nothing but a good investment!


v. 12        How did Mary have such insight?  Usually such an anointing would be done after the death of a person, not before.  But Mary knew His body would never see corruption!  How could she be so in tune with what was about to happen?  She spent her time at the feet of Jesus!


Don’t be afraid to go overboard for Jesus.  It should be a privilege to be called a fanatic for the Lord!  What we do for Jesus, what we give to God...these are things of eternal value.


And then Jesus gave His all, dying on that cruel cross, taking our hell in our place to purchase heaven for us, and we'll retell that powerful, promise filled story next time, complete with the very happy ending!



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