Palm Sunday was truly a special day to commemorate Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. It was the day wherein the people cried out “Hosanna in the highest” while waving palm branches, cheering loudly, and laying their coats in the road (Matthew 21). Let’s think on that stirring scene of Jesus being heralded as their Davidic king of salvation by a people unprepared for Him to die on a shameful cross just four days later. What the Jews of Jesus’ day strongly desired was a conquering king to deliver them from Roman oppression and to restore the kingdom to them as promised to David. But, unbeknownst to them, God had sent them His sacrificial Lamb who would save them from something mightier and more terrible than Rome. This Lamb would by His shed blood save them from their sin and put them back in right standing with God the Father.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem humbly upon the foal of a donkey, it was on the 10th of the first month on God’s calendar. In the history of the Jews this was the day on which they were to select a lamb for the feast of Passover that would come four days later. They selected the lamb on the 10th and were to bring it into their homes. They were to watch it to make sure that it was truly without spot and without wrinkle. Plus, they might even get attached to the cute little lamb that in four days they would kill before the Lord.
Exodus 12 is the first time that God stipulated that this was to be done. At that time the children of Israel were in Egypt. Nine plagues had already struck the Egyptians, and a tenth was about to wipe out all of the firstborn. It was then that God told the Jews to prepare a spotless lamb.
Such a promise of salvation was not first seen in Exodus 12, however. It is in Genesis 3:15 that we first behold this promise:
15 And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent] and the woman, and between thy seed [the serpent’s] and her seed [Jesus]; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Furthermore, we also see this promise in the story of Abraham when he is taking his son Isaac to sacrifice him for God in Genesis 22:1-2,6-13
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
God Will Provide “Himself” A Lamb
It is said in Hebrews 11:17-19 says of Abraham,
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
Thus, Abraham still believed that God would fulfill His Word regarding salvation through the line of Isaac the son of promise. He never gave upon believing what God had said, and therefore, believed that God could even resurrect Isaac.
Furthermore, since every word of God is inspired, it is important to note Abraham’s prophetic words, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” It does not say, God will provide a lamb FOR Himself. No. It quite clearly implies in the Hebrew text that God will provide Himself as a Lamb. For indeed, it is believed that Golgotha is more than likely the mountain to which God directed Abraham in the land of Moriah. Thus, Jesus died as the provided Lamb on the very spot where Isaac was to have been a sacrifice.
1 Peter 1:18-25
First Peter 1 sheds greater light on this concept of God as the Lamb.
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.25 …And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
Behold! The Lamb of God!
And so, before Jesus was ever born or began His ministry, and well before God told the Jews in Egypt to sacrifice a spotless lamb; even before He taught His people that “without blood there is no remission” of sins (Hebrews 9:22), even before Abraham beheld the ram caught in the thicket, even before the world was created, before the foundations of Earth were laid, even before God said “Let there be light,” it was planned that Jesus would be the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Just as God taught the Jews to select a spotless lamb, God Himself selected the LAMB who died once for all and whose shed blood covers all who believe (Hebrews 9:23-28, 10:10).
And it was on Palm Sunday that God ushered His perfect, humble, spotless Lamb into Jerusalem in front of the cheering crowd. It was on Palm Sunday that God’s Lamb Jesus was brought into God’s house (the Temple) where He was observed and questioned for four days to see if He was perfect. It was on Palm Sunday that God’s plan of salvation though His Lamb was nearing its grand unveiling.
It was on Passover, otherwise known as Good Friday, that Jesus was mocked, beaten, given a ridiculous, illegal trial wherein He was falsely accused, was jeered, spit upon, robed in purple, and crowned with thorns (like the ram in the thicket). It was on Passover, that Jesus, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, bore on His back our sins, our infirmities, our pain, our grief (Isaiah 53). It was on Passover that Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith…for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). It was on Passover that God profoundly tore the veil of the Temple in two, right down the middle from top to bottom, as a New Covenant was created in Christ’s blood. All of this detail, this elaborate symphony of grace, was intricately woven throughout the holy Scriptures through promises from the beginning of time. And on Passover…the mystery literally was unveiled.