Knysna Methodist Church – Liturgy of the Palms – 10 April 2022
This is one of several psalms that urge people to give thanks to God because of His goodness. Whatever the
circumstances may be, it is always good to praise God. He will never change and His loving kindness will
continue through eternity. This psalm is the final one of a series known as the Egyptian Hallel Psalms which
were sung in Jesus’ day. When, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (26:30) and Mark (14:26), Jesus and
His disciples sang a hymn, the song would have been one of these psalms. The psalmist extended the
invitation to everyone to praise God in this way.
The psalmist probably had the gates of Jerusalem in mind and he declared God’s righteousness as he went
through them. Jesus would have sung of the gates of heaven. In both instances the singers would have been
accompanied by the righteous people of the earth. Now the singers have arrived in the city they are free to
praise God for all He has done. Whilst we do not know what David’s reason for singing about the
cornerstone was, we do know that Jesus fulfilled this prophesy, so it may have been a prophetic word David
had received from God. The cornerstone or capstone was used to hold two stones in place to strengthen a
corner or an archway. It was essential for the strength of the building. Jesus, as the cornerstone, holds Jew
and Gentile together and man and God together. In spite of being rejected, He was the chief cornerstone.
Once again, the people of God rejoiced. What He had done, only He could have done.
The day the Lord has made may apply to any day; but it may also be connected by means of prophecy with
the day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The following words may have been
said or sung by a different speaker or singer. The deliverer was welcomed into the city as he entered
through the gates and went towards the house of the Lord. The word ‘save’ is hosanna in Hebrew – and
was the request of the people. They had been crying for salvation as Jesus rode into the city. The next
words were sung by the people who were already in the house of the Lord, as they sing of ‘we’ rather than
‘I’. The sacrifice would be bound by cords to the altar. It is poignant to think of Jesus singing these words as
He willingly offered Himself to be bound as the sacrifice for the entire human race. Now we return to the
voice of the traveler, the deliverer who sings of his praise to God. The psalm began with praise and now it
ends in the same way. There is no doubt in the singers’ minds that God’s loving kindness is constant for all
Jesus had just told a parable. When He had finished He carried on with His journey up to Jerusalem, even
though He knew what lay ahead for Him there. He gave precise instructions to two of His disciples, telling
them to fetch a donkey which no one had ever ridden. He told them where they would find it and what
they should say to the owner when he asked them why they wanted it. This was not an animal a king would
ride. Donkeys would be used by a merchant, a priest or a man of peace. This may have been an
arrangement that had been made earlier so Jesus could borrow this young donkey, for the owner did not
object but let the disciples take it away with them. A victorious king would often enter a city on a horse,
accompanied by his subjects and his army. There would be a lot of cheering and people would sing songs of
praise. The king would enter the city and make his way to the temple where he would offer sacrifices to his
god. Jesus turned these familiar traditions upside down. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, greeted by a
crowd comprising all sorts of people. When He arrived at the Temple He did not offer any sacrifice but
turned over the tables, chased out the merchants and cleansed the whole area. The leaders were
uncomfortable at the people’s reaction and they ordered Jesus to keep His followers quiet. But if He did,
Jesus said, the stones would sing praise instead. This was the day, in His entire ministry, when Jesus was
going to be praised as Messiah. All the disciples praised Him as they remembered all the wonderful things
they had seen Jesus do.
Points to Ponder
• What is your favourite praise song? Why do you enjoy it so much? What does it say about your relationship
• How do you feel if you are part of a crowd welcoming some of your heroes home? (Perhaps a successful
soccer team or a musician you follow) Does the mood of the crowd affect your mood? How do you celebrate
your heroes success? Would your reaction change if it was Jesus you were welcoming? How? Why?
Psalm 118; Luke 19
Knysna Methodist Church 10 April Liturgy of the Passion – Lectionary Notes
In this passage the Messiah speaks His prophetic message through Isaiah. The words the Messiah gives
Isaiah have been given to Him by God Himself. In the morning Jesus experienced deep, wonderful
fellowship with His Father. As a result of these times, Jesus would know exactly what to say and how to
hear His voice. When a servant had served his master for six years or more, he could decide to stay in the
master’s employ for the rest of his life. Such a decision was made as a result of love and loyalty and not
from any obligation or debt. When this decision was taken, the servant would have his ear pierced by
someone using an awl against a doorpost. This indicated the servant’s willingness to serve his master.
Similarly, it showed Jesus’ willingness to serve His Father. The prophesy goes on to describe the treatment
Jesus would receive at the hand of His aggressors and His response to such treatment. At that time, to pluck
a man’s beard and to spit in their face were the most demeaning acts that could be inflicted. Not only was
the treatment Jesus received painful – it was also humiliating. Jesus would voluntarily offer His back to His
tormentors, trusting that the Father would help Him. Nothing would prevent Him from doing the Father’s
will. He was determined – and His face showed it as it was set like flint. He was aware that God would
justify Him and He would not be ashamed of anything that would be done to Him.
David had just stated his trust and gratitude to God. Now, however, he does not hold back but tells the Lord
all about his troubles. When he speaks of his body he is referring to his belly which was considered to be
the seat of affection and the place of support and nourishment for the whole body. In fact, David was
suffering physically, socially, mortally and spiritually. It seemed as if he could do nothing right in people’s
eyes. People were plotting against him, and he was desperately unhappy. The reader can almost hear David
take a deep breath and turn again to God. He reaffirms his trust in His Lord. He knows God is greater than
his troubles and holds him in His hands. He was at peace in this knowledge. Spurgeon said that if people
believe all of their times are in God’s hands they can expect great things when they face difficulties, for it is
then they will see the wonders of God as He keeps His promises for those who trust in Him. David used the
priestly blessing when he asked God to make His face shine upon him as He blessed him.
Many scholars see these verses as a hymn of the early church which Paul included in this letter. However,
Paul could have composed it himself. Paul describes various qualities of the mind of Jesus in these verses.
These would have been relevant to his readers at the time. He tells them they have a choice – they can let
Jesus’ mind be their mind or they can turn their back on it. Jesus’ birth as a human baby did not stop His
existence as God. The Greek word which has been translated as ‘form’ has more the idea of essence than
shape. It describes the inmost nature of Jesus as God. Jesus did not cling to His divine nature. He did not
need to, as it was simply who He was. He was willing to let some of His privileges go whilst He was a man.
This did not make Him any less God, but rather added humanity to the mix as He became a servant.
Jesus could only be obedient by humbling Himself and descending from the throne of heaven to earth as a
human being. As God, He was able to become man and pay for humanity’s sin without being humbled in
this way. He could have come in His resurrected glory. He could have paid the price elsewhere. But He did
not for He humbled Himself for our sake and our salvation, enduring all the suffering His human existence
caused. Crucifixion was such a shameful death than no Roman citizen could be crucified. The Jews believed
anyone who was crucified was cursed by God. It was the lowest Jesus could go in the eyes of mankind.
There was no limit to what He was prepared to do for people. As Paul reminded his readers of the humility
of Jesus, so he reminded them that, even he, Paul, in his imprisonment by Rome, could still witness to the
glory and power of God. But Jesus was not left in such a lowly position. His Father exalted Him, crowned
Him and placed Him on His throne. A name in the Jewish belief described both the character and person of
the recipient, so to be given the name above every other name exalted Jesus to the highest possible
position, In the original language the this name is written YHWH – Yahweh. Paul has no doubt that Jesus is
YHWH. The whole world will submit to the Son. Every single person who ever was will confess Jesus as Lord
and bow in submission to Him, wherever they may be, either in joy or in despair, depending on whether
they have accepted Him or not. Paul wrote these words to the Philippians to help them endure hardship; to
help them to understand Paul’s own hardship; to show them how to live in unity together in challenging
times; to evaluate Paul’s ministry; to behave towards one another in order to promote unity in the Church
and to follow Jesus’ own example of patient, humble obedience.
It was time to eat the Passover Supper with His disciples. Jesus sat down with them and told them how He
had longed to share this meal with them. They did not know it was the last time they would eat together in
this way, and they did not understand what He was saying with His talk about suffering and the fulfilment of
Passover. They did not understand that this moment was the setting up of the new covenant with God.
It seems, in Luke’s account, as if Jesus shared a cup of wine with His disciples before the meal as well as
after they had eaten the bread. This was not unusual, as four cups of wine were traditionally shared during
the Passover meal. Jesus tells them He will only drink wine again once the Kingdom of God comes and all
His people are gathered in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb of God and His Bride (the Church –
Everything that was eaten at the Passover meal had significance. The bread signified that which the Hebrew
slaves ate in Egypt in the years of their captivity. The invitation was to all who were hungry or needy to eat
of this bread. (They also ate bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of slavery, salt water which
represented the tears they shed, a freshly sacrificed lamb – one per household – which was symbolic of the
lambs they slaughtered to mark their doorposts so the angel would pass over their homes. It was a lamb
that bore the sin of the people.) Jesus changed the focus from the commemoration of the Passover in Egypt
to His own sin-bearing sacrifice for all people. The disciples would have known the usual format of the
Passover meal. These new words must have shocked them. They would only understand what Jesus was
talking about after His resurrection. The bread and the wine are powerful signs of the new covenant,
commemorating Christ’s body and blood, sacrificed on the cross. Only Jesus, the Son of God, could institute
a new covenant between God and people; and then to seal it with blood as was the tradition (Exodus 24:8).
In this way, He opened the door for people to have a new, close relationship with God.
Jesus spoke of His betrayal by one of the disciples, but Judas seems to have been very careful not to show
any signs of his part in this, as none of the disciples suspected him.
The disciples were still more concerned about who was the greatest amongst them. Even after three years
with Jesus, they still had not understood His teaching. In spite of what lay ahead, Jesus gently corrected
them. The greatest should be the youngest; the one who governs should be the one who serves. At that
time, age brought great respect and this, again, would have been a new thought for the disciples. The one
served was considered to be greater than the one who served him. But Jesus turned both these concepts
around. The apostles would have special distinction in the Kingdom of God. They will each have a throne
and will judge the people of God. Those who serve God will be rewarded in the end.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Satan had asked God for permission to test him, but God would not
allow that. Jesus had prayed for him and his faith would not fail. Jesus knew Peter would be reinstated and
it was then that he would need to give the other disciples strength. Peter rejected the idea, but Jesus
declared he would deny knowing Jesus three times before the cock crowed the next morning.
Jesus told them they needed to make practical arrangements for their work in future. Whilst they had been
with Him their needs had been provided by those who travelled with Jesus and supported Him and His
apostles. Now this was going to change and they would soon face a hostile world. They produced two
swords from somewhere, but Jesus cut off the conversation. This was not what was needed.
Jesus had been spending His nights in the Garden of Gethsemane and He did not break His custom, even
though it would make it easy for Judas to find Him. The disciples went with Him, and when He left them to
go further on alone, He warned them to pray. The hours ahead would be hard for them too. Luke then
records a detailed, eye-witness account of Jesus’ time of prayer in the Garden.
The cup about which Jesus spoke during His prayers was an Old Testament symbol of the righteous anger
and judgment of God. The cup He was to drink was full of this anger, and He drank it so humankind would
not have to do so.‘ ‘Not My will, but Yours’ And the battle with Satan was won. Even so the prayers were
agonising and sweat poured off Jesus like blood. The disciples were sleeping so angels came to minister to
Him. Jesus returned to the disciples, woke them up and encouraged them to pray so they could resist the
temptations they would face in the coming hours.
The crowd of soldiers and others from the temple arrived. Judas went straight up to Jesus and gave Him the
customary kiss of greeting. Jesus looked just like His friends so some form of identification was needed. The
betrayal by a friend was just one step in the suffering Jesus would endure in His journey to the cross.
John identifies the man with the sword as Peter (John 18:10). Luke, the doctor, records that it was the
man’s right ear that was cut off. The only way a right-handed man would be able to do this is if they
attacked from behind. Once again Jesus stopped the violent reaction – and then He healed the wounded
man. Jesus did not fight those who came to arrest Him. He went with them without a struggle so, to all
intents and purposes, they would seem to succeed.
Luke did not record what happened at the hastily convened meeting at the High Priest’s home until the
start of the daytime proceedings. But he does record what happened in the courtyard when Peter was
accused of being one of Jesus’ followers and denied it – three times – before the cock crowed. He sat with
the servants, near the fire and when confronted denied, knowing and following Jesus and even denied he
came from Galilee.
One look from Jesus across the courtyard and Peter remembered and realised his sin too late. He had,
however not lost his faith, just as Jesus had told him.
Jesus was mocked, beaten and blindfolded. His tormentors slapped Him. Jesus refused to answer their
questions and faced all they threw at Him as a man, strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
In the morning, Luke records the trial before the Sanhedrin. It was necessary to hold a daytime trial for
according to Jewish law:
• A trial must begin and end in the daylight. The first trial was illegal for it took place at night.
• Only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial took place at the High
• Only acquittals could be given the same day as the trial. A guilty verdict could only be issued on the
following day to allow for people to be sure about their decision.
• No criminal case could be heard during Passover
These and other reasons made the first trial illegal. The Sanhedrin needed to appear to be doing things the
‘right way’. The following procedure as they convened the next morning was a formality and a re-run of the
trial held during the night, as recorded my Matthew (26). However during this second trial they did not call
witnesses. Their minds were made up
Their decision made, the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. Only he had the
authority to order a man’s execution. Here, they dropped the religious charges, knowing Pilate would not
be concerned about them, and accused Jesus of being a revolutionary, of urging the people to stop paying
taxes, and claiming to be a king, thus opposing Caesar. These charges would have concerned Pilate and
made him pay attention to Jesus. But he wasn’t stupid and could see through the charges laid down against
this bloodied, beaten man in front of him. He was unable to find any truth to their accusations but when he
told them this, they were adamant and accused Jesus of trying to lead a rebellion. On discovering that Jesus
came from Galilee, Pilate passed Him on to Herod who had jurisdiction over the Galilean region. Herod was
also in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was pleased to have the opportunity to see Jesus. He had heard a great deal about Him but he
wanted to be entertained by seeing miracles, rather than learn about Jesus’ message. Herod asked lots of
questions, but Jesus had nothing to say to him. Herod abused Jesus in response to His silence. In their
mutual opposition to Jesus, Herod and Pilate became friends.
Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, who could still find no reason for Him to be put to death, in spite of
carefully questioning Him. He told the Jewish leaders he would chastise (beat) Him and then release Him. It
was the custom for one prisoner to be released at Passover, and Pilate thought this would relieve him of
having to crucify Jesus.
But the crowd would not have it and demanded the release of Barabbas, a terrorist and murderer. They
began to shout for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate realised things could get ugly, so he released Barabbas to
them, and handed Jesus over to them to do with Him what they wanted.
Jesus was weakened by emotional stress and the beatings He had already received. Pilate had had Him
scourged before he handed Him over to the religious leaders and the people. Scourging was a legal
requirement for any man who was going to be executed. He would have been in shock and pain and have
lost a lot of blood. Now He was forced to carry the wood of His own cross. This would have been the
crossbar which would have weighed between 35 and 56 kilograms. The upright beams remained in place
alongside the major roads into the city. Jesus was physically unable to carry his cross, and so the soldiers
recruited Simon of Cyrene to take on the load. Simon was visiting Jerusalem for the feast. He came from a
city some 1300 kilometres away and he had probably not heard about Jesus. But he had no option but to
obey the soldiers’ demand.
As was the case with any crucifixion, many people followed Jesus and the soldiers. A crucifixion was a public
event. A soldier would go ahead with a sign giving the man’s name and his crime. (It was this sign that was
nailed above Jesus’ head as He hung on the cross.) The procession would walk along a winding route so as
many people as possible could see what Rome did to its enemies. There were women in the crowd who
were weeping for Jesus, but He told them not to do so, but rather to weep for themselves and their own
children. Jesus knew that in the future there would come a time when it would be hard for women who had
children. Things would only get worse for those who rejected Him.
Calvary was a place just outside Jerusalem where people were crucified. Luke knew it was not necessary to
explain to people at that time what crucifixion meant. The people had seen it happen many times before.
They knew what it involved. It was the most painful death that could be inflicted at that time. The amazing
thing about Jesus’ crucifixion was that He went to it voluntarily out of love. At all times He was in control.
Jesus was crucified in the company of two criminals – one on each side of Him.
Jesus demonstrated His love for people when He prayed that God would forgive the people who were
crucifying Him. He realised they did not understand what they were doing. As the soldiers cast dice for His
clothes it is evident that Jesus, the Son of God, released everything – even His clothes – to descend as low
as He could for humanity. People scorned and mocked Him. The Jewish leaders objected to the sign that
was hung on the cross above Jesus’ head but Pilate would not change it.
One of the criminals also mocked Him but, according to Luke the second one did not. He was aware of His
own sin and was aware of who Jesus was. Jesus acknowledged him and assured him he would join Jesus in
Paradise that day.
The earth grew dark. Creation itself was in agony as the Creator hung on the cross. This eclipse of the sun
was documented by other historical writers. Passover takes place during the full moon of the month and a
solar eclipse is impossible during a full moon. The curtain in the Temple was torn in two, signifying that
mankind now had access to God. Matthew (27:51) notes the curtain was torn from top to bottom – that is
by the hands of God, not man.
As awful as the physical suffering was, it was the spiritual burden of carrying every sin and being separated
from the Father that was the challenge for Jesus. In spite of the closeness of death, Jesus was still able to
call out His final words. Jesus willingly gave up His living spirit in the same way He gave up His body to death
when His work on the cross was complete.
The Centurion who stood by, watching, immediately gave glory to God, confessing that Jesus was who He
said He was. Some of those who were there, turned away and went home, so broken-hearted they forgot
His promise to rise again.
Often the bodies of those who had been crucified were left on their crosses, but the Jews did not want this
to happen over Passover. On occasion the Romans would allow family members to remove their loved ones
for burial. Joseph, who was a member of the council, did what he could and went to Pilate to ask him to
release Jesus’ body to him for burial. The request was granted and Joseph placed Jesus in his own tomb.
This would have been a substantial sacrifice for such tombs were expensive. (Joseph did not know, at that
time, that Jesus would only use the tomb for a couple of days.) Because it was so late and almost the start
of the Sabbath, hurried preparations were made to wrap and anoint Jesus and He was laid in the borrowed
tomb. The quiet ones who had followed Jesus – Joseph, Nicodemus and the women – made these
arrangements and the women returned home to prepare spices and sweet-smelling oils with which to
complete their work on the day after the Sabbath.
Points to Ponder
• Briefly share with the group the most difficult time you have faced as a Christian in the company of
those who do not believe? What did the people say to you? How did you respond? Would you
change your response today? Why/why not?
• How willing are you to face abuse as a follower of Christ?
• What do your friends/family/colleagues say about your faith in Jesus Christ? Do they admire it or
condemn it? How does their reaction make you feel? Do you speak about Jesus at work? Why/why
not? What part does God play in your reaction to these people’s comments?
• What difficulties, if any, do you have accepting Jesus is both human and divine? If you can accept
this concept, what brought you to this acceptance? If you find it hard to believe, what are you
struggling with? Who can you talk to who will be able to help you to understand the humanity of
Christ as well as His divine nature? How important is it for you to understand this?
• What Easter traditions are special to you and your family? What do they mean to you? How do they
relate to Jesus sacrifice on the cross? How do you feel when someone comes into your family and
changes the way you commemorate your tradition? Why do you think you feel this way?
• Think of a time when you have denied your faith in Jesus. Perhaps you stayed quiet at work when
people were mocking Him; or joined in the conversation; or walked out of the room and left people
using swear words and His name in vain. How do you feel about that situation now? How would you
react now? What do you think you could have said to show people how you feel about Jesus?
• How does the thought of seeing Jesus in such torment as He prayed to the Father make you feel
about what He did for you?
• Have you ever prayed ‘Not my will, but Yours?’ What happened?
• When has God helped you to deal with a problem or cope with an issue that seemed to be
impossible for you to handle? What happened? Were you tempted to give up? How did you know it
was Jesus who helped you? How did you feel when you had accomplished the impossible?
• The trial of Jesus was a miscarriage of justice. How do similar cases in today’s world make you feel
when you hear about them? How do you react to such instances? Whether these may be court
events, or a child or animal being abused, what can you do to rectify the situation?
• Read the account of Jesus’ walk to the cross again, slowly and out loud. (Luke 23:26-33) What strikes
you as the most poignant event in Luke’s account? Why does it affect you? What would you say to
Jesus if you could tell Him what it means to you that He went through such things for you?
• What would you say to someone who, in conversation, said to you that the crucifixion is just legend?
What evidence would you put forward to prove that Jesus did die on a cross in Jerusalem almost
2000 years ago? How would you explain what that event means to you?
Isaiah 50; Psalm 31; Philippians 2; Luke 22; Luke 23