Palm Sunday – The 10th of Nisan
As they have for 1,000 years, all of Israel is gathered in Jerusalem to remember when the Angel of Death passed over the houses marked by the blood of the lamb in Egypt.
And as they have done every 10th of Nisan, the Jewish people go out to the fields to select an unblemished lamb that will serve as the sacrifice for their family. Many will travel down the road to Bethlehem toward the tower of Migdal Eder (“Tower of the Flock” in Hebrew).
According to Ancient rabbinical texts, animals kept in the fields from Jerusalem to the tower of Migdal Eder were considered holy and set apart for Temple sacrifices. While the proximity of these fields to the Temple was helpful, there was a more important reason for them to be counted holy.
A Messianic propechy from the book of Micah set Bethlehem and the “Tower of the Flock” apart.
In that day, declares the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
and those whom I have afflicted;
and the lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and forevermore.
And you, O Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder),
hill of the daughter of Zion,
to you shall it come,
the former dominion shall come,
kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
So, Israel has spent the afternoon in the fields choosing unblemished male lambs for the sacrifice. After choosing their lambs, the people bring them back in procession through the sheep gate in Jerusalem. There the lambs will remain “visible” in their homes for four days according to the Lord’s command in Exodus 12.
3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
The lamb was to remain under watchful care of the family for four days so that everyone could observe the lamb’s perfection and become familiar with him (and attached to him) prior to the sacrifice.
As evening falls, the crowds are ushering their perfect sacrifices into the city. And Jesus joins in the procession.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Christ, our Passover Lamb, (1 Cor. 5:7) will make himself “visible” to the people of Jerusalem over the next four days, proving his perfection and affording them the opportunity to know him.
But Jesus work for today is finished:
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.