Palm Sunday 2015 – Christ’s Passion Week ~ Leading to His Crucifixion & Triumphant Resurrection ~ The Fulfillment of Prophecy

Vol. 14 No. 14  

He is Risen Thanks Be to God Who Gives Us the VictoryPalm Sunday

This day is commemorated in Christianity as the day when Jesus of Nazareth presented Himself to His people, and the world, as their Messiah, Savior and King, by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.

Christ’s procession was a type of victor’s procession. It was a procession indicating the victory to come. Typically a victor’s procession comes after the victory is won. This was the way the Romans hailed their victors in battle. Yet, because God lives in eternity, even though in time the victory had not yet occurred, in God’s eyes it was completed billions of years ago. So Christ allowed this procession to occur telling the people that their King and Savior had come.

As we have noted in the past, donkeys have a specific role in the assistance to man. They were not normally used by military personnel, cf. Num 22:21; 1 Sam 25:20. Yet, in contrast to earthly kings who used horses, chariots, and other symbols of war to show their might, cf. Zech 4:6; Ex 15:1; Psa 20:7; Isa 31:1-3, this King distinguished Himself by riding upon a donkey, a simple beast of burden used by the common man, Mat 21:5.

Mat 21:5, quoting both Isa 62:12 and Zech 9:9, states,say to the daughter of zion, ‘behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’.”

This prophecy was given in Zech 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The phrase in Zech 9:9, “and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” is also used in the Mari texts, (an ancient civilization North West of Babylon in what is today Kurdish Iraq), to designate the animal which the Amorites preferred for slaughtering in treaty/covenant ratification ceremonies. Thus the phrase was used in covenant contexts to stress the ritual purity of the sacrificial animal. The emphasis in Zech 9 and the Gospels is that Jesus, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, is Israel’s king. He is the Royal Messiah, as well as, indicating the covenant terminology symbolism.

Around the time of the Passover, as Israelites came from all over the world, there was a tradition they had. They would go up the hill opposite to where Jesus would one day enter into Jerusalem and would often sing Psalm 24 with emphasis on verses 3-6. This was followed in verses 7-10. On the day of our Lord’s entry, the people singing these words could look across the valley and see Jesus coming and make the connection with Zech 9:9, “Behold, your King comes.” Jesus intended for them to make that connection.

Zech 9:9-11, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you (Royalty); He is just and endowed with salvation (Covenant), humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations (Covenant); and His dominion will be from sea to sea (Royalty), and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit (salvation).”

The prophecy of Zech 9:9 is compared with and fulfilled in the gospel accounts found in Mat 21:5; Mark 11:10; John 12:14

Notice that the Old Testament prophecies are not just proclaiming the coming King. They also indicate His saving work! When the Israelites would read, “your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,” they understood that the coming King is righteous and victorious in the accomplishment of salvation for His people. This is the Messiah’s glory, yet, He is also “humble,” which is the Hebrew Adjective ‘ANIY, ‏עָנִי ‎that means, “poor or afflicted.” It refers to those who are suffering, in a state of oppression having misery from various causes. So He is coming as the “afflicted one,” riding on the covenant donkey. Therefore, we see that this procession is actually the Messiah’s suffering, indicating His entry into Jerusalem so that He could arrive at the Cross. Therefore, when Jesus rode in on a donkey, it signified more than his humility, it tells us that He came to shed His blood of the covenant to bring peace between God and man.

This is just a few of the over 300 prophecies that Jesus Christ fulfilled during His First Advent from His birth to ascension. Below is a list of 29 Prophecies that He fulfilled in the last week leading up to the Cross. As is most appropriate, most of these prophecies focus on the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies Concerning Christ’s
Passion Week that were Literally Fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth

By Order of when the OT Prophecy was Given

Prophecies

Prophecy

Fulfillment
His Forsaken Cry Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
Heartbroken Psalm 22:14 John 19:34
Hands and Feet Pierced Psalm 22:16 Luke 23:33
Stared Upon Psalm 22:17 Luke 23:35
Garments Parted and Lots Cast Psalm 22:18 John 19:23-24
Mocked Psalm 22:7-8 Matthew 27:29
Committed Himself to God Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46
Bones Not Broken Psalm 34:20 John 19:33
Accused By False Witnesses Psalm 35:11 Matthew 26:59-60
Friends Stood Afar Off Psalm 38:11 Luke 23:49
Betrayed by a Friend Psalm 41:9 Matthew 10:4
To Suffer Thirst Psalm 69:21 John 19:28
Gall and Vinegar Offered to Him Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
Fell Under the Cross Psalm 109:24-25 John 19:17
People Shook Their Heads Psalm 109:25 Matthew 27:39
     
Smitten and Spit Upon Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
Crucified with Thieves Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
Made Intercession for His Persecutors Isaiah 53:12 Luke 23:34
Wounded and Bruised Isaiah 53:5 Matthew 27:26
Silent Before Accusers Isaiah 53:7 Matthew 27:12
Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
     
He Was to Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey Zechariah 9:9 Luke 19:35-37
Sold For 30 Pieces of Silver Zechariah 11:12 Matthew 26:15
Money to Be Thrown into God’s House Zechariah 11:13 Matthew 27:5
Price Given for Potter’s Field Zechariah 11:13 Matthew 27:7
His Side Pierced Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
Forsaken by His Disciples Zechariah 13:7 Mark 14:50
     
Darkness Over the Land Amos 8:9 Matthew 27:45
     
He Was to Enter the Temple Malachi 3:1 Matthew 21:12

By Order of Fulfillment in the NT Gospels

Below is the same list as above, yet reordered by their appearance in the Gospels. As you review these passages, keep in mind the general intent of each gospel.

  1. The Book of Matthew emphasizes His Kingship, and was first written for the Jews proclaiming Christ as the King.
  2. The Book of Mark emphasizes His Servant hood, and was first written for the Romans or the Gentles proclaiming Christ as the Savior.
  3. The Book of Luke emphasizes Jesus as the Son of Man, and was first written for the unbelieving Gentiles proclaiming His substitutionary sacrifice for man.
  4. The Book of John emphasizes Christ as the Son of God, and was first written for Christians proclaiming His Hypostatic Union.

Prophecies

Prophecy

Fulfillment

Betrayed by a Friend Psalm 41:9 Matthew 10:4
He Was to Enter the Temple Malachi 3:1 Matthew 21:12
Sold For 30 Pieces of Silver Zechariah 11:12 Matthew 26:15
Accused By False Witnesses Psalm 35:11 Matthew 26:59-60
Smitten and Spit Upon Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
Silent Before Accusers Isaiah 53:7 Matthew 27:12
Wounded and Bruised Isaiah 53:5 Matthew 27:26
Mocked Psalm 22:7-8 Matthew 27:29
Gall and Vinegar Offered to Him Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
Crucified with Thieves Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
People Shook Their Heads Psalm 109:25 Matthew 27:39
Darkness Over the Land Amos 8:9 Matthew 27:45
His Forsaken Cry Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
Money to Be Thrown into God’s House Zechariah 11:13 Matthew 27:5
Price Given for Potter’s Field Zechariah 11:13 Matthew 27:7
Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
Forsaken by His Disciples Zechariah 13:7 Mark 14:50
     
He Was to Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey Zechariah 9:9 Luke 19:35-37
Hands and Feet Pierced Psalm 22:16 Luke 23:33
Made Intercession for His Persecutors Isaiah 53:12 Luke 23:34
Stared Upon Psalm 22:17 Luke 23:35
Committed Himself to God Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46
Friends Stood Afar Off Psalm 38:11 Luke 23:49
     
Fell Under the Cross Psalm 109:24-25 John 19:17
Garments Parted and Lots Cast Psalm 22:18 John 19:23-24
To Suffer Thirst Psalm 69:21 John 19:28
Bones Not Broken Psalm 34:20 John 19:33
Heartbroken Psalm 22:14 John 19:34
His Side Pierced Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34

Christ’s Passion Week

This week we celebrate our Lord’s “passion week,” as the week He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey to proclaim that He was the Messiah/King as prophesied, arrive at the Cross on Passover and then to be resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. His week was as follows according to the Gospels.

Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the temple. Mat 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-48; John 12:12-50.

Monday: Jesus curses the fig tree and gives many discourses in the Temple, emphasizing His authority, Mat 21:18-25:46; Mark 11:12-13:37; Luke 20:1-21:38.

Tuesday: Preparation of the Sacrifice and Judas conspires with the Pharisees, Mat 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6.

Wednesday: Jesus celebrates Passover in the Upper Room and is betrayed, Mat 26:17-56; Mark 14:12-52; Luke 22:7-53; John 13:1-18:11.

Thursday: Six Trials leading to Crucifixion and burial in the Tomb for three days like Jonah being in the whale for three days, Mat 12:40, cf. Mat 26:57-27:66; Mark 14:53-15:47; Luke 22:54-23:55; John 18:12-19:42.

Friday: In the Tomb

Saturday: In the Tomb

Sunday: Christ’s Resurrection, Mat 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-25.

(See Time Line of Jesus’ Death & Resurrection Diagram) 

Within Christ’s Passion Week, there were three of the Seven Feasts of Israel which He fulfilled. They included: The Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. Christ was hung on the Cross as the sacrificial Lamb on the Feast of Passover; He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits.

(See  Seven Feasts of Israel in Doctrines) 

The importance of the feasts of Jehovah in Israel’s religious life cannot be overestimated. These seven feasts as outlined in Leviticus 23 and given further treatment elsewhere, were the backbone of the Levitical system. They all have a definite typical meaning in relation to Christology.

The Passover was the first and in some respects the most important feast. It was celebrated in the first month of the civil New Year, (the religious New Year is Tishri 1-2 = Sept/Oct.), and signified deliverance from the judgment which overtook the Egyptians. The lamb which was sacrificed clearly was a type of Christ. In the New Testament, Christ is declared to have fulfilled the spiritual meaning of the Passover and those who believe upon Him have eternal life, 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19.

1 Cor 5:7, “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”

You were redeemed, “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ,” 1 Peter 1:19.

The second feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed the Passover, speaks of Christ as the Bread of Life, the holy walk of the believer after redemption, and of communion with Christ. The absence of leaven typically represents the sinlessness of Christ and the believer’s fellowship in that holiness. The prohibition of work during the feast brings out that the holy walk of the believer like his redemption is not a result of human effort, but is a Divine provision as we faith-rest in Him for salvation and our daily walk. Christ fulfilled this feast with His completed work on the Cross in the payment of the penalty of our sins and His resultant “rest” from His work, i.e., His burial, 1 Cor 5:7-8.

The third feast, The Feast of First Fruits, celebrated for Israel the new harvest in the land and their deliverance from Egypt. The typical truth is that of the resurrection of Christ: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept…. But every man after his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming,” 1 Cor 15:20, 23. The feast occurred on the “day after the Sabbath,” Lev 23:11, i.e., on the first day of the week, even as Christ was raised on the first day of the week. Like the Feast of First Fruits, the resurrection of Christ anticipates the harvest which is to follow, the resurrection of the saints of the Church Age.

Christ’s Agony at the Cross

Jesus noted in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” It was the love that Jesus had for every member of the human race that led Him to face the Cross, even though He knew full well that He would suffer greatly. His agony began in the Garden of Gethsemane on the evening before His crucifixion when He “sweated blood,” Luke 22:44, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” This is a condition called hematohydrosis, in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to express blood. This usually occurs under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.

This reminds me of when I was a young child and the circus that used to come to town each year right on the location of our current church when it used to be an open field, the remnants of the old “Wilkerson’s Airport,” here on the Plainville / North Attleboro, MA border. The circus, as most did back in the day, had various side shows and one of them was the “blood sweating” hippopotamus. Hippos are meant to live in water to cool their bodies, but this one was in a small railroad like car, dry and in the extreme heat of summer. Because of this extreme condition for the hippo, it was literally suffering hematohydrosis, sweating blood. This would be ruled abusive today. That picture has remained in my mind to this day. And when I came to understand Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, I had a good reference to understand what He must have been going through. And that was just the beginning.

From the Garden, Jesus was arrested with the traitor Judas’ kiss on the cheek, Mat 26:48-49. Jesus was then led to a full night of trauma as He endured six trials at the hand of man between the Pharisees, Herod and Pontius Pilate. During and after these trials, Jesus was spat upon, punched in the face, had His beard ripped out, and was scourged, Mat 27; Luke 23, in fulfillment of the prophecies of Isa 50:6; 52:13-14.

Isa 50:6, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.”

Isa 52:14, “Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”

After the Roman scourging, He was led to Golgotha, as He carried His cross through the streets of Jerusalem and up the hill of Calvary where He would be stripped and crucified.

Isa 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 B.C. It was “perfected” by the Romans in the first century B.C. It is arguably the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term “excruciating.” It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of criminals. The common device used for crucifixion was a wooden cross, which consisted of an upright pole permanently fixed in the ground with a removable crossbar, usually weighing between 75-100 lbs. Victims of crucifixion were typically stripped naked and their clothing divided by the Roman guards. In Jesus’ case this was done in fulfillment of Psa 22:18. As a gesture of “Roman kindness” the prisoner was offered a mixture of vinegar (gall) and wine as a mild anesthetic. This anesthetic was refused by Jesus, Mat 27:34. Consequently, He bore it all! As Peter stated of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

The victim was then placed on his back, arms stretched out and nailed to the cross bar. The nails, which were generally about 7-9 inches long, were placed between the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) and the small bones of the hands (the carpal bones). The placement of the nail at this point had several effects. First it ensured that the victim would hang there until dead. Secondly, it would sever the largest nerve in the hand called the median nerve.

Wrist Crucifiction

The median nerve is a major nerve that passes through the upper arm, then branches out to supply muscles in the forearm and hand. The severing of this nerve is a medical catastrophe. In addition to severe burning pain, the destruction of this nerve causes permanent paralysis of the hand. Furthermore, by nailing the victim at this point in the wrist, there would be minimal bleeding and there would be no bones broken! Thus scriptures were fulfilled, Psa 22:17; 34:20.

Next was the positioning of the feet, probably the most critical part of the mechanics of crucifixion. First the knees were flexed about 45 degrees and the feet were flexed (bent downward) an additional 45 degrees until they were parallel the vertical pole. A single iron nail about 7-9 inches long was driven through the feet between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. In this position the nail would sever the dorsal pedal artery of the foot, but the resultant bleeding would be insufficient to cause death.

Feet Crucifiction

The resulting position on the cross sets up a horrific sequence of events which results in a slow, painful death. Having been pinned to the cross, the victim now has an impossible position to maintain. With the knees flexed at about 45 degrees, the victim must bear his weight with the muscles of the thigh. However, this is an almost impossible task. As the strength of the legs gives out, the weight of the body must now be borne by the arms and shoulders. The result is that within a few minutes of being placed on the cross, the shoulders will become dislocated. Minutes later the elbows and wrists become dislocated. The result of these dislocations is that the arms are as much as 6-9 inches longer than normal. With the arms dislocated, considerable body weight is transferred to the chest, causing the rib cage to be elevated in a state of perpetual inhalation. Consequently, in order to exhale the victim must push down on his feet to allow the rib muscles to relax. The problem is that the victim cannot push very long because the legs are extremely fatigued. As time goes on, the victim is less and less able to bear weight on the legs, causing further raising of the chest wall, making breathing more and more difficult.

Rib Cage Crucifiction

As a result of the entire trauma to this point, the heart and lungs fill with water and begin to fail.

Jesus endured this physical agony so that ultimately He could be in place where He could receive the judgment of our sins by God the Father. Jesus did not cry out during the physical trauma, Isa 53:7; Acts 8:32. But when our sins where imputed to Him and He was judged for them by experiencing spiritual death during the last three hours He hung on the Cross, our Lord cried out as prophesied in Psa 22:1 and fulfilled in Mat 27:46, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI? that is, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” This is was the greatest agony Jesus suffered during that day.

As a result of the greatest agony He would suffer, the payment of the penalty of our sins was made, once and for all time, as salvation was bought for all of mankind. This was signified by our Lord’s statement, “It is finished,” John 19:30. Next Jesus cried out to the father “Father into your hands I commit my spirit,” Luke 23:46, and breathed His last breath and died physically. From there they took Him down from the Cross and buried Him in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, where Jesus awaited His resurrection in three days’ time.

So today we give thanks to the Father and the Son for the fulfillment of Their fantastic plan that provides for our salvation. And on Sunday we will celebrate further, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to:  

Lesson # 15-035 & 15-037

 

A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU

If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you.  He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins.  He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

 

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