Conversation: Stanley Horton
A closer look at Palm Sunday
At 91, Stanley Horton, distinguished professor emeritus of
Bible and theology at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield,
Mo., is still studying the Bible daily, writing, traveling the world and
teaching Bible school students. For years Horton worked as a chemist, but he
felt a divine calling to teach young people the Bible. His answer to that call
transformed his life and those of countless students under his tutelage. Horton
recently spoke with Managing Editor Kirk Noonan about Palm Sunday and its
tpe: Why is Palm Sunday so important to our heritage as
HORTON: It was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament
says in Zechariah about a triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Jesus was declaring himself the fulfillment of that
prophecy. But Jerusalem wasn't ready at that time for Him. His entry was
probably one of the things that spurred His enemies to demand His crucifixion.
tpe: Why did the people shout "Hosanna"?
HORTON: Zechariah 9:9 not only prophesies Jesus' gentle
humility, but also says He comes "having salvation" (NIV). That could also be
translated "being salvation."
So the crowd shouts "Hosanna," which in Hebrew means "Save,
please," or "Save now!"
The same Hebrew word in Psalm 118:25 is translated "save
us." The crowd didn't understand. Most of them probably thought they needed to
be saved from the Romans. But Jesus knew their real enemy was not the Romans,
He was coming as the Savior from sin, and He knew what it
would cost, for He had already told His disciples about His death on the cross
and His resurrection. He would fulfill Isaiah 53.
tpe: Why is it called the Triumphal Entry?
HORTON: After a great victory, kings and generals were given
a triumphal entry complete with palm branches. When Cyrus marched on Babylon he
sent people ahead to tell the Babylonians their gods had chosen him to deliver
them from the misrule of Belshazzar. After Cyrus defeated the Babylonian army
outside of Babylon, the people of Babylon threw open the gates, welcomed his
army in and gave him a triumphal entry.
The people coming into Jerusalem were declaring their hope
that Jesus is Victor. However, the victory Jesus brought came afterward instead
of before. His triumph was His resurrection and ascension into heaven to the
right hand of God's throne where He still intercedes for us.
tpe: Was the crowd who shouted "Hosanna" the same one that
shouted "Crucify Him"?
HORTON: Actually those who shouted "Hosanna" were people who
were coming into Jerusalem. The ones who shouted "Crucify Him" were a Jerusalem
group probably routed out of bed by the Sadducees and other enemies of Jesus.
Most of those who shouted "Hosanna" were like the two who
met Jesus on the road as they went back to Emmaus. They said, Jesus "was a
prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief
priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they
crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem
Israel" (Luke 24:19-21).
Because they and more than 500 others saw and heard the
risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6), the Early Church then grew at such a rapid
rate in Palestine that James the brother of Jesus was able to say to Paul, "You
see, brother, how many thousands [Greek, muriades, tens of thousands] of Jews
have believed" (Acts 21:20). Thank God that many thousands of non-Jews had also
believed by that time.
tpe: What does Jesus' riding into Jerusalem tell us about
HORTON: It should encourage us to know that Jesus knew what
He was doing while going to the cross. He had already told His disciples He was
going to die and rise again. By riding in He was setting the stage for what He
knew was the Father's will, the greatest expression of the Father's love for
humankind (John 3:16).
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