Easter – Triumph or Tragedy?

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

We celebrated Palm Sunday last Sunday; the day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was five days before the cross and seven days before Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the colt of a donkey. This was the way the conquering kings entered a city in victory.

Jesus’ victorious entry was declared by God through the prophet Zechariah hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth:

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. Zech. 9:9

Nevertheless Jesus knew what was to come later that week.

The Gospels of Matthew and John relate the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. While it was a joyful time—a time for celebration for Jesus’ disciples and many others in the city who knew of Jesus miracles and signs, yet as Jesus rode into Jerusalem he wept saying,

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. Luke 19:42-45

Earlier Jesus had revealed to his disciples that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day” (Luke 9:22). Nonetheless they couldn’t really grasp what Jesus told them.

Paul later explained this to the Jewish Christians:

Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” Acts 11:17-18

All this had to take place so the Gentiles could be grafted in to the Root of Jesse. This was God’s plan from before the foundation of creation.

In Paul’s prison letter to the church at Ephesus he affirms this, “just as He [God] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ . . . (Ephesians 1:4-5).

To those in the world that have chosen to reject Jesus Christ’s free gift and not put their reasoned faith in Him for time and eternity the crucifixion of Christ proved he failed.

Indeed that is what the Pharisees and Sadducees believed. He was just another failed upstart.

Forsaken and Finished

After an illegal trial, numerous beating, and the torturous crown of thorns jammed on his head Jesus was led away to the cross and crucifixion.

Just before Jesus died on that cruel Roman cross He cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Mt. 27:46). Did God really forsake Jesus? He did.

  1. At that instant Jesus was bearing the sins of the whole world past, present, and future. Your sins and my sins past, present, and future. God cannot look upon sin and turned away.

A few minutes later Jesus said “’It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit’” (John 9:30).

What does that mean?

  1. What did Jesus mean when he cried out “It is finished?” What was the it that was finished?

Clearly Jesus’ corporeal life was finished—but there’s more.

His mission to die as a substitute for your sins and for my sins was finished (Heb. 10:12). Perhaps you say, “But I have never sinned.” God says “all have sinned (Romans 3:23)—but there’s more.

Going Up!

  1. Yeshua, the Messiah, was buried in a borrowed tomb. But He has risen (Mark 16:6).

The resurrected Jesus appeared to over 500 people in a forty day period. The historicity of the resurrection is one of the best attested events. When Jesus rose bodily at that instant death died. Yes that’s true!

Because Jesus rose those who die as believers and are “born again” (John 3:3) will be with God in death and will be resurrected in the last days to join Christ. You will see believing family and friends that have gone before you in death.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15: 54-55). Sin is death’s stinger.

When people sin, and we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), they die; not just the physical death we all face, but eternal death and separation from God—but there’s more.

  1. After Christ’s bodily resurrection He ascended to the Father (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9).

The Ascension illustrates the means in which Christ’s Church will follow Jesus after He was resurrected.

These three events make up the core of Christianity.

Indeed if the resurrection is false the Christianity is not true (1 Cor. 15:13-14). Christianity stands or falls on the Resurrection which we celebrate this coming Sunday. Many have tried to prove that Christianity is specious by trying to demonstrate the resurrection is fallacious—all have failed.

Jesus last words just before he ascended were:

Go  . . . make disciples of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Mt. 28:19-20

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