Once in a while God reveals something to us that has all the signs of Divine involvement, but seems to make little sense right then. Palm Sunday must have been like that for the disciples.
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem served one purpose—it fulfilled predictive prophecy, but in a way that no one grasped at the time. The crowd understood Jesus as a prophet, but missed His full significance. The disciples were puzzled.
These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. (John 12:16)
Predictive prophecies are like recessed spotlights in an artist’s studio. The lights themselves are incidental, and they should be inconspicuous. The studio designer intended them to shine on an object so that it would be easily recognized and clear. When a display stand is empty, spotlights have no subject to illuminate, so the beams fall on odd places like the wall or the floor. If we look directly at the lights, they dazzle and confuse us. As Jesus stepped onto the stage of history, the purpose of the diverse prophetic beams became evident. They shone on Him.
Matthew understood the significance later. When he wrote his Gospel, he pointed out two prophetic beams converging on Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem just before His crucifixion.
Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ (Matt. 21:5)
Isaiah had proclaimed, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him’” (Isa. 62:11). Zechariah had said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). The two prophets’ spotlights converged on Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. In Yeshua‘ (Yahweh is salvation), salvation was embodied and ready to do a work surpassing all previous works.1
Two take home lessons:
- Sometimes God needs only one purpose to do something. On Palm Sunday He was delighted to turn the attention of six hundred years of prophetic history on Jesus and glorify Him as the Savior King.
- Like Matthew, we should carefully note any puzzling words that God speaks to us. It sometimes takes years for words and circumstances to converge and make sense. When they do, we’re ready to embrace His purposes.
Please share these Bible devotionals with others who might be blessed.
- Adapted from a chapter on the salvation names of God in The Name Quest – explore the names of God to grow in faith and get to know Him better, by John Avery, Morgan James Publishing, 2014. Used with permission. [↩]
“Predictive prophecy like recessed spotlights”…This is an especially significant metaphor for me. I have worked in art galleries where I have indeed dealt with the positioning of these types of lights. I have not thought of them being like prophetic predictions before and it is so illuminating! (pun intended)