Palm Sunday, April 17, and Easter (or Resurrection) Sunday, April 24, is a period celebrated by Christians as the week Jesus Christ perhaps fulfilled more Old Testament prophecies, proving himself to be the Messiah promised to the Jewish people.
Ever since humans fell to sin in the Garden of Eden, God promised people a savior to receive forgiveness of sins. People followed God in the hope of that promise. However, it was only a minority.
Nearly 2,000 years later, God had used his followers to lead a chosen people to a promised land. These people were known as Israelites. It was to these people that God handed down a set of rules to live by as well as rituals for which to honor him.
Among these rituals was the celebration of the Passover. This was set to remember how God did not destroy the first-born child of anyone who sacrificed a lamb and applied the blood on the door posts. This is what won the Israelites freedom from slavery when they were in Egypt prior to being led to the promised land.
For the next 2,000 years, the Israelites, or Jews, continued the Passover celebration by sacrificing a perfect male lamb. Its bones were not to be broken. The blood was to be sprinkled on the altar signifying the covering of mankind’s sins.
Many times, however, God’s chosen people turned away. A minority did remain true to the faith.
Included in that faith was the hope of a Messiah who would do more than cover the sins of man, such as the Passover lamb did, but rather take away those sins.
Jesus Christ is that Messiah. His birth, life, death and resurrection were all fulfillments of prophecies that were revealed by the minority that remained true to the faith.
During Jesus’ life, he had gained a large following. Many felt that Jesus would remove the Israelites from Roman rule. It was on Palm Sunday that his followers laid their coats and palm branches on the road and shouted praises to Jesus.
In the week that followed, which was also the celebration of Passover, Jesus broke bread, declaring it to be his body, broken for us, and passed around a cup, representing his blood, shed for our sins.
I doubt that Jesus’ closest friends gathered around him understood how this first communion (or last supper) related to the Passover until later.
Within hours, Jesus was arrested and condemned to death, not by the Roman rule, but by his chosen people.
The perfect lamb was sacrificed by crucifiction. Not a bone was broken. That lamb was Jesus Christ.
On the following Sunday, the tomb where his body was laid was empty. Jesus had defeated death and, for the next 40 days, continued his ministry on Earth.
Today, nearly 2,000 years (1,977 give or take a few), people still follow the faith. That faith is simple: Jesus, God in the flesh, died to take away the sins of humans, and defeated death, to prove that we, too, can rise from the grave and have eternal life with God.