Isaiah 52:1-12: Behold your King!
It’s hard to make sense of the excitement and fervor of Palm Sunday unless we realize that Jerusalem remained in many ways a city under siege. Though the exile to Babylon had technically ended centuries before, much of what God promised his people remained a distant dream. There was no king on the throne; they remained under foreign oppression. Jerusalem was a shell of her former glory. The great city of God was occupied territory, living out her days in sorrow and slavery.
This is the portrait of Jerusalem we see in Isaiah 52: a rebellious wife, divorced by God because of her adultery with the idols of the surrounding nations, grieving in dust and ashes, defiled by her foreign lovers, captive because of her sin (vv. 1-2). And this is true of all humanity, not just ancient Israel. All are rebels against God’s throne, rejecting him as king, guilty of high treason.
And yet the message of Isaiah 52, and of Palm Sunday, is that God our king has not left us in our slavery or our sin, but sent his Son to buy us back for himself, and to bless us with every good promise of life with him.
A city under siege longs for the good news of freedom. And when it comes, there is much rejoicing. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa. 52:7). And so it was on Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into town: “And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Matt. 21:9). God had returned to Zion to buy back his people and rescue them from slavery and sin. Exile is over.
Join us this Sunday (April 1) as we behold our King and celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the beginning of Holy Week and the promise that God has not left us in our sin, but sent his Son to purchase us back and restore us to himself.
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