Who Is This Christ of the PASSION?
By D. B. Martin

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was released in movie theatres all over America and Canada February 25, 2004. After twelve days, gross box office sales were reported at $213,888,740, surpassing all other Hollywood movies this soon after release. Some are already saying it may break all attendance records.

It is surprising the world like the triumphal entry of Jesus did that first Palm Sunday. Matthew describes Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey. Multitudes of people went before Him, spreading their clothes and branches from trees before Him. Multitudes also followed Him, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying WHO IS THIS?” (Matthew 21:7-10). That is the question millions are asking again. Who is this Christ that is drawing such crowds?

Mel Gibson, producer of the movie, chose to film only the last twelve hours of Jesus on earth, featuring His suffering, His death on the cross and His resurrection. The first Palm Sunday was the beginning of that last week and thus not included. However, that Sunday tells us much about who Jesus Christ is. Many questions are being asked by millions of people, such as “Was it really that bad?” “Who killed Jesus?” or, “Why did He have to die?” These are important questions, but the most important question is the one asked by the multitude in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, “Who is this?” Nothing else makes sense until that question is answered. Millions have died, even as martyrs. Who Jesus is makes His death different from all others.

When that question was asked that first Palm Sunday, others in the crowd answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (vs. 11). While that was true, it left much unanswered. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem gives much more about who He is. All four Gospels record it (Matthew 21:1ff, Mark 11:1ff, Luke 19:29ff and John 12:12ff). Consider these clues about who Jesus is, taught in that glorious event:

Consider the DATE. The triumphal entry occurred at the beginning of the Feast of Passover. All through the Old Testament at Passover, lambs were sacrificed for the forgiveness of the people. The blood of the lambs was poured out on the altar as an atonement for their sins. John the Baptist had introduced Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

This is why He had to die. Jesus became the ultimate lamb, shedding His blood on the cross for our sins. The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22). That’s why the Gospel accounts include so much about His blood sacrifice, and why the PASSION OF THE CHRIST includes it. Modern medicine discovered our life depends on our blood. God gave Moses this truth 3500 years ago, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls:” (Leviticus 17:11).

Consider the DELIVERER presented. The crowd shouted “Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9). The word “Hosanna” literally means, “save or deliver now.” We are all sinners and need a Savior. The name “Jesus” literally means “Savior.” Jesus is the Deliverer, or Savior of the world. Vs. 9 continues, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus is also called “Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is God in the flesh.

Consider The DAVID Connection. “Son of David” (Matt. 21:9) is one of the titles of the Messiah, the rightful heir to the throne of David. The genealogies in both Matthew 4 and Luke 3 trace the ancestry of Jesus back to David. Jesus is thus being recognized as King for the throne of David. All four gospel accounts refer to Jesus as king or to His kingdom.

ON A DONKEY? Why? All the gospel accounts say Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. Centuries earlier David had declared his son, Soloman, king by having him ride through Jerusalem on the royal mule, followed by David’s leaders rejoicing and shouting “God save King Soloman” (1 Kings 1:33-39). Jesus riding a donkey in a processional through the capital city was God’s symbolic inauguration of Jesus Christ, as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”(Revelation 19:16). It was also fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy, “Behold thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4-5 quoting Zechariah 9:9).

In the movie, Judas used the halter of a dead donkey to hang himself. This is not in the Gospels but it could have happened. But why use a rope from the halter of a dead donkey? Did the dead donkey symbolize the rejection of Jesus as King by both Judas and the religious leaders? The rope could have been used previously to guide the donkey. If, indeed, such a halter rope was used by Judas to take his own life, it could symbolize further rejection of God’s guidance? Of course, this is all speculation. One thing we can say with certainty, all who reject Jesus, like Judas, commit suicide forever.

DISCIPLES REJOICE. “The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice…”(Luke 19:37). The disciples rejoiced to see Jesus recognized as King. This movie gives Christians of our generation the opportunity to celebrate Jesus, in His cross and resurrection. This is one explanation for the phenomenal response to the movie.

There is another Scripture, which could also account for the multitudes flocking to the PASSION. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This He said, signifying what death He should die” (John 12:32-33). Verse 33 makes it clear that Jesus was talking about the cross. He was saying, “If I be lifted up [on the cross], I will draw all men to me.” Every time the cross of Jesus is preached, described, visualized, or re-enacted, the world will be drawn to Him. The response to this movie is a fulfillment of that verse. His disciples are rejoicing in the cross. A lost world is responding to the cross. Discouraged Christians are encouraged by the cross. Backslidden Christians are repenting with broken hearts as they are reminded of the price Jesus paid for their salvation.

DECISION DEMANDED. “And some of the Pharisees from the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And He answered, and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:39-40). Many in the crowd confessed Jesus as their King and rejoiced, but several religious leaders demanded that Jesus rebuke them. In effect, Jesus was saying the truth of who He is demands a response, if not from people, then the creation must cry out, recognizing Jesus as their Creator! That’s who He is.

Sad to say, many rejected Jesus that day. How did He respond to their rejection? The very next verse tells us. “And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41-42). Jesus offered them peace (42a), reminding them that delay could result in that peace being “hidden from your eyes” (42b). Jesus was weeping because those who rejected Him would be lost forever.

How about you? Do you know who Jesus Christ is? Have you accepted Him as your Savior? He loves you, died on the cross for your sins and arose the third day. Do you believe it? If so, pray right now, inviting Him into your life as your King and God! He will save you and give you eternal life! If you have already received Him, tell others who Jesus is and what He can do for them as well. Amen.

© 2004 D. B. Martin

To view previous Maranathalerts, see the Maranathalert Archives.

Visit our website home page for many prophecy articles and other subjects posted there. For example, 2003 Easter season we posted messages on "The Seven Last Words from the Cross."

Note: “Maranatha” means, “Behold He Is Coming,” an early Christian greeting. “Alert,” reminds us to be ready. Blessings in Jesus! D.B.

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