In 1 Corinthians 1:18 the apostle Paul writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Scripture does not simply present the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as isolated events. God’s redemption plan was unfolding from the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. The context of history and culture helps us to better understand the fullness and completeness of the story. There are no coincidences with our God. His plan unfolded purposefully and perfectly. And in God’s plan, his Son completed the work of redemption according to God’s calendar.
God’s calendar designated the day for the lamb to be selected. Exodus 12 provides God’s instructions. God brought his people out of Egyptian bondage. He gave them a system so that they would never forget him. On the 10th day of the month families were told to select a perfect lamb for sacrifice, keep the lamb for a few days, and then on the 14th day of the month slaughter the lamb. On the 14th day, Israelites then and Jewish people to this day celebrate Passover. As God said in Exodus 12:14, “This is a day that you are to commemorate; for generations to come you are to celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance.”
The 10th day of the month is Palm Sunday. Most Christian churches remembered the beginning of Passion Week with palm branches. In some of the churches children paraded down the aisle waving those branches. In one sense it is a picture of Jesus approaching Jerusalem that day, and that is helpful. But it is at least worth asking the question, “Does that picture capture God’s intent?” After all, the cheering crowds caused Jesus to weep, because they had missed the point of his coming (Luke 19: 41-44) Might we be missing it too?
The 10th day of the month is lamb selection day. Families who were coming to Jerusalem often purchased a lamb from the temple vendors on that Sunday rather than carrying an uncooperative animal from Galilee or other far distant places. But make no mistake, everyone in Jerusalem was looking for their Passover lamb on that day. And then, coming from the Mount of Olives is Jesus. He could have arrived in Jerusalem on any day. But he chose to show up on the day of lamb selection.
Do you see the picture? The Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world, showed up in the place where the Passover would be celebrated on the very day that the Passover lambs were selected. Jesus is the ultimate Lamb of sacrifice. He died so that we might live. His death completed the covenant promise of God to send Messiah to deliver his people.
Jesus cried on Palm Sunday when the people greeted him as a king like David. That is not why he came. Jesus arrived on lamb selection day to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. God promised. John the Baptist said it would be so (John 1: 29). Jesus finished it (Luke 23: 44-46).
Biblical leaders tell the story of God and his redemptive plan, because the next generation must know it. They must be equipped to retell it. In the Passion Week, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves: Are we focusing on the right thing?
Without the cross there would have been no resurrection. Without the Lamb there would have been no sacrifice on the cross. If Jesus would have accepted the accolades of a coming king on that day, there would have been no Lamb of God in Jerusalem that year. But because the Father sent his Son and because his Son became our Passover lamb, we have life in his name.
The Lamb of God gives the day that we call Palm Sunday its true significance. The Palm Sunday Lamb of God became our crucified Savior and our Resurrected Lord and King. Leaders – tell the story of the Chosen Lamb!
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services