Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Palm Sunday and Holy Week
Dear friend,

Today (Sunday) is called Palm Sunday in the Christian church because of it being the day of the commemoration of entry into Jerusalem by Jesus during which palm branches were waved as Jesus entered the Holy City. It is the beginning of Holy Week which includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with the word Maundy pointing to the giving of the new commandment in John 13:34-35. It also marks the evening (Thursday) in which He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

This entry into the city was on the back of a donkey, precisely as Prophet Zechariah prophesied around the year 500 BC:

ESV Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Those watching Him riding on the donkey, knowing the prophecy, would have grasped the significance of his humble means of transportation as pointing to His Kingship, but they did not understand the nature of His kingdom.

This is always difficult for us, for we have no problem declaring Him as King, but do we understand the nature of the kingdom that He brought with Him? Apostle Paul clearly outlines the attitude of Jesus in a portion of one of our readings for today:

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What is the nature of the kingdom of God? What were the people expecting the Messiah to do? Well, for the most part, they were looking for a king who would overthrow the Roman authorities through his power of fear and dominance, so that through his life they would be freed of the oppression that they lived under. But how confused they must have been when the events later in the week showed something quite different, in that this their Hope died a terrible death on a Roman cross like any other criminal of their day. What???? How does that make any sense?

Well, those questions are why the church throughout the years has seen the importance and necessity of having a special focus on the events of the Holy Week, which Martin Luther taught as being broken down into six separate categories:

1. Passover/Institution of the Lord's Supper by Jesus
2. Jesus' suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane
3. Jesus before Caiaphas, the High Priest (ecclesiastical authorities)
4. Jesus before Pilate (civil authorities)
5. Jesus on the Cross
6. Jesus in the Tomb

The passion accounts are recorded in Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23 and John 18-19. I have found that it is helpful to keep in mind the different phases of the passion of Jesus as I read and meditate over these scriptures and as I read other writings that are at our convenience to use as a help to give us a deeper understanding, and therefore, a deeper appreciation of the meaning of Jesus' death and burial for us.

Today we are reading three different passages which speak of the events of Palm Sunday (Luke 19: 28-48), an explanation of Christ's humbling of Himself (Philippians 2:1-11), and an account of Jesus before Pilate, His crucifixion and His death (Matthew 27:11-54) Even though we will spend some time on the account of Matthew, a large focus of today's writing will be to encourage us all to devote time to hear from the Lord about His passion for us through His giving of Himself for us.


Martin Luther also wrote that there are two main reasons to meditate on the passion of Christ during this Holy Week. He stated that we need to be reminded that His suffering was greater than any other man ever suffered, further saying that many have died on a cross, but only One has suffered under the entire guilt and condemnation of all the sin of the world, past, present and future.

Secondly, he wrote that we continually need to be reminded that through the cross heaven was opened, hell was closed and eternal life was won. What he is saying here is that we must be reminded and renewed in our knowledge of how Jesus suffered and why He suffered.

One of my mentors who is now absent from the body and present with Christ would read during this time of the year a book entitled The Suffering Saviour which was written by a German Theologian of the past, F.W. Krummacher. In this book is chronicled the events of Holy Week written in a very interesting and gripping manner for the reader. Using this book as a help is a practice that I have also tried to follow as the depth of the man's understanding is great so that there are things that he writes that I have to this day not been able to understand and grasp.

The importance of setting quiet time aside during this week to read and meditate over these scriptures along with other resources that will help us to focus on the love of God as demonstrated through the giving of His Son for us cannot be overestimated. It is important to read and to listen to what God is saying to us today through the scriptures so that our knowledge of Him is gained through the revelation of Himself through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

I pray that you will have a wonderful time during this Holy Week as you spend time with the Lord in His Word, in prayer, in conversation with loved ones about Him and His love and in the various worship services that occur during this time of the year.

Let us remember that Christ died to reveal His kingdom to the world. It was in His dying that He showed the power of God, for in His death, we were made alive. The kings of the world rule and dominate through fear and intimidation, while our King Jesus humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be killed in order to do His Father's will for our salvation.

As we read through these accounts, may we be impacted in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives as His Word sinks deep into us so that we live in this forgiveness that was won for us and live our lives in forgiveness towards others. A forgiveness which is not a burdensome task, but a forgiveness which flows out of a heart that has been so richly forgiven of all our sin through Christ's taking on Himself of all our sin.......................

Matthew 27:11-54

In quietness before Him we wish to be,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala


Posted on 13 Apr 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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