The 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.