PALM SUNDAY: Foreordained Before the Foundation of the World
The final week of Jesus’ ministry was central in God’s redemptive program. It was not a fluke. Every detail of every encounter was part of God’s plan. Six months earlier, Jesus had begun preparing His disciples for the reality that when they arrived in Jerusalem for Passover, He would, “suffer many things . . . and be killed” (Mt. 16:21).
Christians recognize the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem as undeniable verification of Messiahship. He is the Christ.
“. . . you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Pet. 1:18-21).
God’s plan did not end with Jesus’ spectacular entrance into Jerusalem surrounded by thronging crowds shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and the words of the 118th Psalm, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The outcome of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was a set time (Mt. 16:21).
He entered the city knowing full well what awaited Him. He would give His life as meticulously revealed through the Hebrew prophets fulfilling God’s predetermined plan of redemption.
Our Lord riding into Jerusalem began a climactic week that was choreographed in every detail. The events taking place after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem set the stage for the most profound set time of earth’s history.
PROPHESIED SET TIME
Daniel the prophet identified this set time five centuries earlier. The angel Gabriel had appeared to him outlining 70 weeks of years that would eventuate Messiah’s presence in Jerusalem during Passover week. Gabriel told Daniel:
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:25-26).
Gabriel outlined 70 weeks—each comprised of seven lunar years—that pertain to Israel’s future in relation to the coming of the Messianic Kingdom as recorded in the prophecy of Daniel. The Old Testament documents that Artaxerxes commissioned Nehemiah to rebuild the devastated city and walls surrounding Jerusalem in the month Nisan 445 B.C.
The king of Persia’s edict inaugurated the prophetic timetable Gabriel had outlined to Daniel almost a century earlier (Neh. 2:8; 13-15). The first seven weeks of lunar years or a total of 49 years predicted by Daniel correlate to the time required for rebuilding the desolated city of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25). The subsequent 62 seven-year cycles add another 434 years to the equation totaling 483 years or 69 weeks of years.
Gabriel informed Daniel that at the end of this time period, Messiah would be “cut off” or killed (vv. 25-26). Accordingly, the 69th week of years ended in Nisan (March/April) around A.D. 32.
The Hebrew Scriptures present a cohesive prophetic outline. The prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah converged at the set time when Jesus publically identified Himself by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Dan. 9:26 cf. Zech. 9:9).
The apostle Peter documented the prophetic significance in the affirmation, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Pet. 1:20).
Thronged by multitudes crying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley and passed through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem on His way to the Temple Mount. The Lord’s actions infuriated His enemies who became even more adamant in their determination to stop Him.
Jesus’ indignation at the commercial atmosphere in the Temple precincts intensified the tension when He overturned tables using a handmade whip to drive vendors and their livestock from the courtyard (Ps. 69:9 cf. Jn. 2:17).
The next morning when Jesus returned to Jerusalem, antagonistic groups were on the scene to challenge Him. These were not chance encounters.
The Herodians along with some of the chief priests were the first to question Jesus. Their goal was to force Him to take an incriminating stand on the hot-button issue of taxes being paid to Rome (Mt. 22:15-22). Then, the Sadducees tried to stump Him with a question concerning the resurrection (v. 23-33). The Pharisees concluded with a disingenuous inquiry regarding the Torah (v. 34-40).
It is significant that Jesus was tested at the very time lambs were inspected for defects or flaws prior to Passover. His responses caused the interrogators to marvel. His teaching astonished the crowds gathered to witness the exchanges (vv. 22, 33, 46). Ultimately, no one was able to find fault. Yet, His enemies conspired to destroy Him. Before the end of the week, Daniel’s prophecy would be realized. He would be “cut off” (Dan. 9:26 cf. Lk. 19:47).
Despite every indication via His teaching, miracles and arrival in Jerusalem precisely as prophesied, the religious elite chose to ignore His credentials. In the attempt to silence Him, the stage was set for the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 9:26).
When we focus attention on the events of Jesus’ final week of ministry, God becomes truly awesome in His ability to arrange details to accomplish His purposes (Isa. 55:11). Beginning with Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, everything Jesus experienced during His final week of ministry was foreordained as a set time in God’s redemptive plan.
1) Les vendeurs chassés du Temple (The Merchants Chased from the Temple). (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: By James Tissot/Wikimedia/[PD-US, PD-Art]/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.