Malankara World

Passion Week (Holy Week)

Jesus the Passover Lamb

by Shibu Thomas Varughese

We are celebrating Palm Sunday. It was this day the crowds sang Psalm 118: 25-26 - "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord".

Is this act accidental, or does it have some other significance?

1) We all know that by riding a donkey, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy by Zechariah (9:9-10), accepting he was the Messiah.

2) By riding a white donkey, Jesus was acting as a Judge, as they were earlier ruled by Judges (Judges 5:10) and as judged by Jair of Gilead (Judges 10:3-4) and by Abdon son of Hillel (Judges 12:13-14). We know his cleansing act in temple as well as his judgments later.

3) By spreading their cloaks on the road the crowd was accepting Jesus as their king as their ancestors did earlier with King Jehu son of Jehosaphat (2 Kings 9:13).

4) The palm leaves is symbol of triumph and victory in Jewish tradition (Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7:9), so calling Jesus triumphal entry to Jerusalem on a donkey or Palm Sunday.

5) Why did Jesus ride a donkey? There are many occurrences of donkey from Abraham taking sacrificial items, to Jesus riding it to Jerusalem and it is the only animal in the Bible which is told has talked. Anyway Eastern religions considers donkey as an animal of peace, versus horse in war. Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey symbolized as a Prince of Peace, and later He will ride a horse to wage war with the Beast as told in Rev 19:11-.

6) Why did Jesus choose that day to arrive in Jerusalem? According to Exodus 12:1-2, Moses instructed Jews to select a lamb on the 10th day of Nisan and on the 14th day they must slaughter it on 14th day, put some of its blood on the doorframes, and have a special feast.

Likely Jews still celebrate the Great Sabbath or Shabbath HaGadol on the Sabbath immediately before Passover. During this day they read the book of Malachi. One Jewish tradition for Shabbath HaGadol explains that they set aside a paschal lamb on that Shabbath (on 10th day), and the gentiles asked why they were doing this. When they responded that “This is a Pesach offering to G-d who will kill the firstborn Egyptians”, the first born were scared and went to their fathers and to Pharaoh to ask to send the Jews, which was rejected, and a revolt took place among them where many were killed.

Another tradition says the lamb was an Egyptian deity, and by mixing with their culture, Jews also accepted it. By setting aside a lamb for four days in anticipation for a sacrifice, they abandoned their idolatrous practices in the midst of Egyptians and affirming their trust and faith in God.

What ever are the cases for Shabbath HaGadol, or Saturday or Sunday, how can we link this with Jesus? Some say Jesus selecting Palm Sunday, his triumphal entry to Jerusalem to present himself as the Passover lamb and He needed them to inspect so that they could see Him spotless and perfect. He is also the judge, the King and the Messiah, who died, resurrected and ascended. He will come again and will rule the world in the millennial kingdom as well as in the New Heaven and New Earth.

See Also:

Passover/ Pesaha/ Holy Last Supper
The following are the four cups of wine served at the Passover with a meal that symbolizes the tears and suffering of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

Palm Sunday in Syriac Orthodox Church
Palm Sunday commemorates Christ's entrance to Jerusalem riding a colt (Mark 11). The service commences with a procession in the church with the clergy, dressed in their vestments, carrying olive and palm branches.

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