As I watched young children leaving the church grounds with their construction paper palm branches last Sunday, I was reminded of one of my absolute favorite prophecies of the Old Testament; a prediction concerning the coming Messiah, the Anointed One, the King of Kings.
To get there is a bit of circuitous path. It’s a longer post than typical. It requires close attention. But stick with me here. The payoff will be a blessing to you. Let’s dive in.
In the life of Christ, the week between His riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and His resurrection from the dead seven days later is often referred to as the passion week of Christ. Somewhere between one-quarter and one-half of each gospel is dedicated to this one week. It is the emphasis and climax of the gospel message.
One of the fascinating things about Christ’s passion week is the incredible number of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus in that week. In fact, in one day alone, the day of His crucifixion, Jesus fulfilled at least 29 prophecies regarding the promised Messiah.
The passion week begins with one of the most obscure and powerful predictions about the coming King being fulfilled on Palm Sunday. If you recall the story, on that day Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey (that in itself is a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, “Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation. Humble, and mounted on a donkey.”)
But the King on a donkey is not the obscure and powerful prophecy that I wish to highlight so continue with me. When Jesus rode into town, a large crowd assembled around Him. They laid their garments in the road before Him. They cut branches from trees and spread them in the rode as well. Then the crowd proclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” The crowd proclaimed that Jesus is their King.
The Pharisees however, having rejected Jesus as King, instructed Jesus to silence the crowd. Jesus rebuffed their command with this answer, “I tell you that even if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Lk 19:40). I believe the “stones will cry out” message reveals that the proclamation of Jesus as King was destined for this very day.
I believe April 6, AD 32 (traditional date for the first Palm Sunday) was in fact a special day on the prophetic calendar where the proclamation of Jesus as King was actually necessary; was actually required. Follow me through the timeline.
In Daniel chapter 9, over 500 years before Christ, God revealed to Daniel an overarching prophetic timeline. “490 years are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (Dan 9:24).
God then moves on to specifics that are mind blowing looking backward in time. God reveals to Daniel that the prophetic clock will start at the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Ruler, comes, there will be 483 years.” (Dan 9:25).
(Aside: As explained later in Daniel 9, the final seven years of the 490 refer to the future tribulation period after which all of the “end of sin” and “everlasting righteousness” prophecies will come true.)
Now the closest we can tell, the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given and the prophetic clock counting down to the announcement of the Messiah’s arrival started on March 14, 445 BC. So can you see where I am going? When we do the math of converting from the prophetic Jewish calendar to the Julian calendar and accounting for leap years etc, it is not a stretch to conclude that 483 years later is April 6, AD 32. I believe that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 9, the prophecy of the coming Anointed One, to the very day.
The first Palm Sunday was destined to be the day of the proclamation of the coming King such that if the crowd had not proclaimed it, the stones themselves would have cried out. What an amazing fulfillment of a prophecy that was announced over 500 years earlier.
We believe the gospel message by faith. But the gospel message, the message of Christ, is rooted in history. It is rooted in a reality that we believe actually happened. It is rooted in historical evidence all around us. Fulfilled prophecy is one type of evidence that God uses to bring us to faith and to strengthen our faith.
And to me personally, this particular prophecy is incredible. Over five centuries before Christ, with the prophet Daniel in a state of prayer, God let Daniel in on a secret. God revealed the timeline for the coming of the Messiah. And because Daniel wrote it down, we were let in on the secret as well.
God has given us many evidences of Jesus as the Promised One. The star at His birth, God’s voice at His baptism, the miracles of Jesus, and the ultimate attesting miracle; Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The proclamation of Jesus as King on Palm Sunday April 6 AD 32 – 483 years in the making – is another powerful piece of the evidence picture.
Happy Palm Sunday as we celebrate the coming of the King!