Easter 2016: Palm Sunday
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’
This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet:
Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them,‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.
‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, ‘“From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise”?’
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and when He reached Bethphage He requested that two of His disciples go ahead and collect a donkey and her colt that was ready for Him. They brought them back for Jesus and put their cloaks on the back and Jesus rode the colt I fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9 “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’
There was a very large crowd there at the time and they began to praise God in recognition that Jesus was fulfilling the words of the prophet. They momentarily had hope in Jesus that He was the promised Messiah but their hopes would soon be dashed a few days later when they would be crying for His crucifixion.
We will be looking at who the crowd were and why they were there tonight in our bible study but suffice it to say for now this was the beginning of the season of Passover and Jerusalem was filling up with visitors on their way for celebrations.
We live in Looe and at the moment there are more and more visitors coming because the annual pilgrimage to the seaside is about to begin. Next week we will have far more holiday makers than there are residents. That is what Jerusalem was like at Passover when probably there were more than a million pilgrims descend upon the city. Passover was of course a time of celebration of the deliverance of God's people and so when the crowd saw the most famous preacher in the land riding the colt of a donkey (with it's mother as evidence) it made them wonder whether this could possibly be Messiah.
We will consider this a lot more tonight so please join us but for now we will consider three qualities of the King. We know that the hopes of the crowd were fulfilled in Jesus and that he is a King of very different qualities to any other king that has ever lived and that He did bring deliverance for His people during that Passover celebration but as we shall see next weekend in a very different way to what anybody would ever have thought.
We will consider first the King of promise, and then the King of praise and finally the King of love.
The King of promise:
This is one of the most famous and important events during the ministry of Jesus. The people in Jerusalem at the time were witnessing the fulfilment of the prophesy of Zechariah. God through His prophet in chapter 9:9-17 promises judgement upon the enemies of Israel and the kingdom of God. This will begin with a triumphal entry of the King into the capital city of Jerusalem. His coming will cause the children of Israel to rejoice greatly and to shout for joy because He has come BUT it is not as to be expected.
Instead of Jesus riding the white horse signifying victory He comes in humility riding a beast of burden but worse still, it is not even a mature donkey it is a foal.
Zechariah promises that the King to come will look more like a humble failure but yet He is King.
The prophesy continues to tell of the work of the King. He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His weapon is His message.
This is a very different King but He is the King promised by God.
Zechariah prophesies that His work is amazing in that He will speak to and reign over all of the earth. He will bring freedom to His people and He will also appear in glory, He will conquer the enemy and save His people. Finally He will beautify His people just like jewels in a crown. They will be a truly prosperous people.
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on that day He preached a very powerful sermon simply by His mode of entry. This went over the heads of those who should have seen the spectacle and immediately thought of God's promises made through Zechariah but they did not. Instead they were enraged and wanted Jesus to stop the people from shouting out to Him.
Jesus is King of all Kings, He is exactly what God has promised. He came into Jerusalem that day as the arriving Passover lamb that would be slain for the sins of His people.
He was then the King of promise and He is still the King of promise. He has fulfilled all that Zechariah proclaimed of Him and He continues to bring peace and prosperity to His people. But you might say “I do not see much prosperity here!” That is true but read the whole of the promise made through Zechariah and you will see that it is prosperity that could not be fulfilled in this world. Jesus promised that we would become inheritors of heaven itself and would be seated with Him in glory where we will be rich beyond all measure.
Jesus is the promised King, are you one of His loyal subjects?
Have you made Him King of your life?
The King to be praised:
Why did the people spread out their coats and palm branches on the ground?
Coats, am not sure that there is some biblical precedence for that but Palm branches are mentioned. At the feast of Tabernacles the people were to cut palm branches to make shelters to live in for 7 days as part of their thanksgiving for the harvest. Due to the feast of Tabernacles following the Passover.
Jesus however was to die at Passover and so this event is logically not related to the feast of Tabernacles but we do find in Revelation 7 that in heaven the great multitude who were singing praises to the reigning Lamb of God were holding palm branches in their hands. At that time throughout the surrounding nations a conquering king would return home to the accolade of his people. Today we might have little paper flags but they would cut down a branch and wave it furiously in recognition of the great victory. This is something of what we find in Revelation, the Lamb has been sacrificed, He has conquered sin, Satan and death and He is reigning supremely.
The crowd on that day in Jerusalem caught a glimpse of the conquering King coming in victory but in humility with a job yet to do!
It is not until we are in heaven that we will see the enormity of that victory but in great hope the people of Jerusalem on that day applauded the King in the great hope of deliverance. They looked to Jesus in the hope of salvation to come.
But we look to Him as the victor over sin and who has accomplished salvation how much more appropriate is it for us to praise Him for what He has achieved on the cross!
Look at what the crowd shouted! Hosanna or save. I am sure that they were expecting their king to eventually rid the land of the occupying forces of Rome but Jesus' mission was far greater. Zechariah said that it would be effective across the whole world. We must always remember that Israel is the Old Covenant Nation of God and is therefore the incomplete fore-runner to the church.
Israel was a nation chosen by God through whom He would display His glory. God's glory is always found in the person of Jesus. He came not merely to rescue a single nation but to save a people from every tribe, nation and language. The enemy of the world is Satan and sin from which Jesus came to save His people from the effect that it has on them. That is why at that point in Revelation 7 the multitude are praising the Lamb. It is by blood sacrifice that sin is atoned for and our atonement is made secure by the Lamb of God who now reigns in glory!
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” is what the crowd sang quoting Psalm 118:26 but they added to it in true Jewish style. They said in parallel to “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” “Blessed is the King of Israel.”
The truth of Israel was that they only really recognised God as their King. Herod was the puppet who ruled but only God is the true King. Therefore they are praising Jesus here as King. He is the promised one that would come seated on the colt of a donkey. It is this king who will bring salvation to all of His people and so they praise Him. So much so that when the opposition want Jesus to quieten them Jesus tells them that if they should stop then even the stones would cry out. It is often said at this point that the road would burst into song but that is not likely to be what Jesus is referring to. The Temple was now in view, the temple made of stones cut by human hands. The temple was the place where God made His presence known amongst His people. His presence had long gone from within her four walls but Jesus was saying that even the temple would declare His praises.
It is no wonder that Jesus taught that He was building His church (the place where He now makes His presence known) the building blocks of which are His people. His people will sing His praises in life and in death and even more so in eternity!
Unbelievers hate it when the church praises God. The enemy would love to silence us but it is our duty to sing praise to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
We will sing praise to our God while we have breathe.
The King of love:
Luke 19:41-42 records Jesus approaching Jerusalem and seeing the city!! Jesus saw the city. It is important at this moment to stop and consider what he saw. He saw a numerous people going about their daily business but He also saw the hearts of the people. He knew that every intention of all was evil and that evil would be directed to Him in just 1 week's time. Their praises would change to demands of execution. They would want Him dead but yet He wept for them! If only they knew what the cost of their hoped for peace would be!But it was hidden form their eyes.
It is still hidden from the eyes of unbelievers, they still do not understand the cost of forgiveness of sin and the importance it has for their eternal security. Jesus' love is demonstrated so clearly here. If only Jerusalem might know the cost. He would have loved to be able to show them the love He had for them but yet He knew their hearts. His love is unconditional, it is parental just as a mother hen loves her chicks then so the King of glory loves His people and wants to protect them and keep them secure.
He did not come in order that they be condemned but that through Him they might be saved. But they would not listen! They would demand that He died at their command rather than as a self sacrifice for them.
As we consider this passage His love pours out of the page. The quote in our notices is from William Dyer a 17th century pastor who rather graphically catches the enormity of the love that Christ had for His people and how powerful His passover sacrifice really is