The Triumphant Entry and the Choosing of the Lamb

lambThe last week of Jesus’ life was full of activity for the Jewish people. They had to clean their houses for The Day of Unleavened Bread. They had to prepare for Passover. The whole celebration included 8 days of festival.

It was a big, big deal.

For the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they had to do major spring cleaning. They had to wash every article of clothing they owned, clean every window, under all the furniture, and literally not have a crumb of bread (which had yeast, or “leaven” in it) to follow God’s law for the festival. Leaven represented sin, and it was a big object lesson for the people to “clean out” the sin in their lives.

They also had to choose their Passover lamb. This was ordered from ancient times right before the Exodus.

For the very first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded by God to choose a perfect lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nissan. They kept it for 4 days, then killed it.

Each family knew their Passover lamb.  It had to be perfect, without defect.  Each chosen lamb was kept in the home to make sure nothing happened to it.

This practice continued for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s all right there in Exodus 12:3-7. See for yourself:

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household… The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. (NIV)

In Jesus day, the people would treat their lamb as we would a family pet. In those four days, the family would become attached to their lamb. When it was time to slaughter the animal, each person would feel the loss.

They loved their lamb.
They knew their lamb.
The loss was felt, because it was personal.

The day of the Triumphant Entry would have been on the 10th of Nissan. We know this because the Passover lamb was killed on the 14th, and eaten from the 14th and into the day of the 15th (remember, Jewish days begin at sundown).

So, if you count backwards from Thursday the 14th, Sunday would have been the 10th.

The day the Passover lambs were chosen.
The day Jesus came into town.

People waved Palm branches to welcome him. They shouted Hosanna, and put their coats over the bumpy path to make the way smooth. Of course, they didn’t understand who Jesus truly was (for more, read here).

If you look at the parade one way, you could say Jesus was “chosen” by the people. No one else received a welcome party like he did.

And Jesus knew, even though the people didn’t understand who He was, he had been sent by His Father and been chosen as The Lamb of God.

The Lamb chosen to die to save us from our sins.

Our Passover Lamb.

Why “Our” is better than “My”

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.45.06 AMThis, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, holy is your name… Matthew 6:9

What if the Lord’s Prayer started with “MY Father in heaven”, and not “OUR Father in heaven”?

If that were the case, there’s a small chance we all would end up like two years olds clambering for “mine” when it came to God and His ways.

The entire focus of our prayers would be different.

It’s easy to lose sight of the way Jesus taught us to pray. It’s easy to make it all about… us… when clearly, it’s not supposed to be.

Jesus prayed “Our Father” because in the culture of the day – as it is now in Jewish circles – approaching God was and is a community effort, not just a personal one.

When there is a faith community, there is accountability in how a person acts, thinks, and lives.

When our relationship with our creator is communal, how we treat others changes. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, his answer was to love God, and love others.

Everything else we do falls under these two categories.

When we remember that God loves ALL of us, and desires everyone to come to Him, there is a paradigm shift when we pray.

Our outlook goes from “what is best for me” to “what does God say is best for us”. We remember to pray for others. We ask God for His wisdom, and quit seeing things through our own humanity.

When your view shifts to how it is meant to be, it’s harder to harbor anger or bitterness against another believer. Why?

Because you serve the same God.
You are striving for the same things.
Pride is traded for peace.
Worldly “justice” is traded for joy.

When we remember that “our” God wants us to be a family, and that we are to serve and grow together…

our faith widens.
It deepens.

And, it becomes more than just about “me”.