Sunday, March 20, 2016

Illuminated Manuscript - Passover & Palm Sunday

Passover was only 4 days away when Jesus rode a donkey into Jeruselem.  He entered the city on the 10th day of the month. We can see the significance of this when we read Exodus 12:3, 5-6, which says,…

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house.. . ..Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

As Jesus was riding in and the people were crying “Hosanna in the highest,” symbolically selecting the paschal lamb for sacrifice.

Passover. Preparation for the Seder, from the Golden Haggadah. Additional 27210 f. 15

Illuminated Manuscripts - Palm Sunday - Entering Jerusalem

'Livre d'images de madame Marie', Hainaut or Brabant ca. 1280-1290 ( Nouvelle acquisition fran├žaise 16251, fol. 29r) Palm Sunday

Christians observe Palm Sunday on the Sunday before Easter, celebrating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The reason they call it Palm Sunday stems from the fact that when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, a large crowd of people in the city spread out palm branches on the ground before him as a sign of his kingship. Throughout Jesus' 3-year ministry, he downplayed his role as Messiah and sometimes even told people whom he healed not to say anything about the miracle to others. Palm Sunday is the one exception in which his followers loudly proclaimed his glory to all.

Entering Jerusalem

Illuminated Manuscripts - Jesus Entering Jerusalem - Palm Sunday & the Ukraine !!

John The Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29,34). 

John the Baptist had been preaching about the coming Messiah, identifying himself as the forerunner Isaiah had promised over 700 years earlier.  In Isaiah 40:3 John said, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord ‘ “ (John 1:23). Introducing Jesus to Israel as the Lamb of God would prompt a comparison between Jesus and the Passover lamb in their minds. 

The Entry Into Jerusalem, Halychyna, early 17C, The National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve

This version of Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem follows the Byzantine tradition of portraying Jesus seated sideways on a donkey with his Apostles behind him and the Jerusalemites awaiting his arrival. The bowed head of the donkey is also typically Byzantine. The clothing of the Jerusalemites mirrors that of 17C Ukrainian burghers & the tiered gables of Jerusalem are rendered in the style of Western Ukraine.

Entering Jerusalem - Passover & Palm Sunday

1308 Duccio (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Entry into Jerusalem

The Passover story from the Old & New Testaments in the Bible relates that God had sent Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt & bring them into the Promised Land.  But Pharaoh refused to let them go, saying “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him & let Israel go? I do not know the Lord & I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh considered himself to be a god, & therefore equal to any other god.

And so, it is written, God had brought a series of plagues against Egypt.  He turned their water to blood.  He caused an infestation of frogs, then one of gnats, & after that, one of flies.  He made their livestock drop dead.  He caused an outbreak of painful boils, a great hailstorm that destroyed their crops, a plague of locusts that ate what was left, & another of darkness.  Through these 9 plagues, Pharoah had remained just as obstinate as God had predicted, & refused to let the Israelites go.

The Lord had said to a worried Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh & on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, & when he does, he will drive you out completely.” (Exodus 11:1-2). The 10th plague, the death of all the firstborn, would break Pharoah’s will & free the Israelites from their bondage, but first they had to be protected from it. On the 10th day of the 1st month God had them select a male lamb for each household & inspect it for 3 days to be sure it had no blemish or defect. Then it was slaughtered, & its blood was applied to the door posts of their homes. Sunset brought the 14th of the month, & after cooking the lamb, each family gathered behind closed doors in their own house, & ate it quickly with some bitter herbs & unleavened bread, not venturing outside.  At midnight the destroying angel came through Egypt & took the life of the first born of every family, except for those who had covered their door posts with lamb’s blood (Exodus 12:1-13, 21-23, 28-30).

Two years after the exodus from Egypt the Lord had Moses take a census of the all the people, listing by name every male 20 years old or older who could serve in the army. The number of those who met the requirements totaled 603,550 (Numbers 1:1-46).  When you consider the elderly, all those males under 20, & the females of all ages, most scholars agree that the total Israelite population would have been about 1.5 million at the time.

On the first Christian Palm Sunday, the 10th day of the 1st month, another Passover Lamb was selected by allowing people to hail Him as Israel’s King for the first & only time in His life.  When the Pharisees told him to rebuke His disciples for doing so, He said if they kept silent the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:39-40). This was the day ordained for His official appearance as their Messiah. For the next 3 days, He was subjected to the most intense questioning of His entire ministry lest there be any defects found in His words or deeds. Then on the 14th He was crucified.