As Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds were celebrating him as the coming King, giving him a welcome usually reserved for kings returning victorious from battle. But was he entering the city as the King the people were expecting? A mixture of symbolism and prophecy, the scene caused the entire city to be stirred with excitement and agitation, and prompted the question, “Who is this?”
Join us Sunday as we ask the question, “Who is this?”
Full Sermon Script:
Coached many years of kid’s soccer … parent tunnel after the game (win or lose)
Adult version … parades after team wins championship
Everyone is a fan when your local team wins
Estimated 1 million for Warriors 2018 Championship parade in Oakland
Reality is many, most, were bandwagon fans … no real loyalty
team doesn’t do as well the next year, they’re gone
but they’re up for the party!
This happens in everyday life …
recognized for your work at school …
increasing profits or sales you’ve made …
kids think you’re mom of the year …
but tides shift, attitudes change and then you’re on the outs
Mom posted this note on FB this week…
“It’s not going good. My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused. We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out and I’m telling you, it is not going good.”
Here’s where we’re headed …
I’m going to tell a story and then ask a question … that’s it
The story is what’s referred to as The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
The triumphus (Triumphal) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of Rome, held to publicly celebrate the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state
Highest honor given
We’re going to hear the story from four perspectives:
Former tax collector; considered a traitor by fellow Jews
He became one of Jesus’ disciples and eyewitness to the events of Jesus’ life
Companion to Peter, one of the 12 disciples, and Paul, whom he traveled with in missionary journeys
He’s writing from verbal accounts Peter gave to him
Physician, converted gentile, whose goal was to give an accurate account of all that had taken place through eyewitness and his own investigation
One of the first to follow Jesus and also an eyewitness of the events he writes about
“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives…”
Beginning of the Passover
City of 80k-100k swelling to 2, 3, 4x its size with pilgrims
Jamming the streets, people everywhere
8-day celebration remembering the emancipation from slavery in Egypt
God “passed over” Jewish homes in the final of the 10 plagues
take a spotless, perfect lamb for each household, sacrifice it, spread blood on the doorpost as a sign, as a result, the lives of their firstborn were spared.
They’re coming with lambs to be sacrificed.
Josephus, Jewish historian… 1 year 256,500 lambs slain.
John 12:12 “… the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.”
“…Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.
Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
Like walking up to your neighbors’ brand new, undriven Tesla, climbing in, and starting it. When the owner comes running outside you would just say, “Matt needs it.”
This is a custom called angaria (ang-gear-e-uh)
Roman and civil law: allowed the impressment of animals for service to a significant figure for personal use
They could just walk up and take it … you had no recourse …
At least Jesus is going to send it back to them
“This took place to fulfill 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.’”
500 years prior to Jesus, a prophet named Zechariah had said these words about the coming Messiah
The animal He came in on … donkey
The attitude He came in with … gentle and humble
And with this, Jesus begins the countdown to the cross…
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”
They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.
Imagine the scene …
shoulder to shoulder with onlookers by a dirt road
woman behind you is on her tiptoes, trying to see who is coming
in the distance, glimpse a man riding a donkey
he approaches, people toss their coats onto the road
suddenly, hear a tree crack behind you… a man is cutting down branches, people spreading them out on the road
Their rolling out the red carpet!
John tells us that they were branches from palm trees
Wondered where the term “Palm Sunday” originated from … mystery solved!
This is the triumphus (Triumphal)
Palm branches were a symbol of joy and victory
Since they often grew out in the desert near water, palm trees were a sign that life-giving activity was near
For the Jews, signified nationalism …
Was a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the time of the Maccabees
Jewish revolt against the Seleucids (sel-oo-sids), when Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to obliterate all Jewish culture
our king is here and will bring us freedom
Luke 19:37 …the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…
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!”
…even the King of Israel!”
It’s almost as if it’s a coronation
Shouted … verb krazo which describes screaming, shrieking
It seems to border on a frenzy or even mass hysteria!
Kind of like the 2018 Warriors parade
Hosanna – save us, please save (Psalm 118:25-26)
What were they expecting?
What were they wanting salvation from?
They expected they were about to see a revolution
Then, in the middle of the story, John hits pause and has a personal moment…
At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
Hindsight … everyone’s experienced it … we all know the feeling
Looking back at decisions we’ve made…
relationships we had
weekends we regret
missed opportunities we’d love to have again…
business partnership we wish we never would have entered
feeling pressured by friends in high school to do things you didn’t want to, and making decisions you wish you could take back
John stops, in I imagine in a moment of self-reflection, a moment of transparency, a moment of honesty, looks back and says, “We missed it. We didn’t see it.”
Not what the disciples were expecting… Jesus has told them 3x at this point
This is the tension between …
when what we want or “need” doesn’t match up with what God is doing
when we’re so caught up in the moment, we lose sight of the bigger picture
The tension is when our expectation and His intention are not in alignment
The people were expecting a Messiah who would free them from foreign rule
Jesus came to free from the power of sin and death
Jerusalem was full of hundreds of thousands of lambs that would be sacrificed
Jesus came as THE perfect, sinless lamb to die once and for all AS a sacrifice
Our entire faith, our entire belief system, is built on hindsight.
We depend on the past to see what is important enough to us in the present that we can trust our futures to that faith.
Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard said that life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.
We often don’t understand what God is doing until we’re on the other side of it and we look back.
Frequently it’s only as we look back that we can see the how and when God was working on our behalf.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
Tell them to quiet down, reprimand them
This is getting out of hand and it needs to be dealt with, it needs to stop!
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
let’s be honest, that would be weird and frightening
if they don’t do it, the “Stones” (would start rocking and rolling … that will hit some of you later)
maybe for you it is happening as your family is singing with Michaela at home
Would this have happened? Probably …
How often has God used the unusual to get your attention?
“When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
Who is this?
You don’t have to be a Christ-follower to recognize Jesus is creating a scene …
It’s intentional …
Mixture of prophecy, symbolism and Himself
Timing and tension of the moment
No one has attracted such attention, devotion, criticism, adoration, and opposition as Jesus.
Philosophers, theologians and historians have studied Him
Online critics and supporters debate him
Some of you have asked this as you watch your family or friends living out their faith
Some of you have asked this because what Jesus says is so different from societal wisdom and ways of thinking
Some of you ask this as you search for something to fill that place inside you that nothing else has been able to
So, that’s the story and that’s the question … “Who is this?”
Jesus asked this way, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
What will your hindsight say was your answer?
On the other side of this pandemic, this shelter in place
One the other side economic loss
On the other side of the choices you make today
One the other side of possibly losing someone you love
Pastor and author Craig Groeschel said, “What we call God reflects how well we know him.”
How we answer reflects what we believe about him
How we answer determines how we trust him
How we answer impacts our relationship with him
The prophet Isaiah, 700 years before Jesus wrote…
Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end…”
This is how Isaiah answer the question …
Incomprehensible and full of wisdom
We can trust him to guide in the unknown
All powerful, nothing is beyond his ability
a father who will not abandon you
he was God before, he is God during, He will still be God after
Prince of Peace
Shalom … calm, tranquility, a deep abiding peace with our Creator that cannot be taken away
It’s interesting that hindsight is so often a view of regret…
I wish I hadn’t
If I only would have known
If I could do it over again
If I could take that back
If I could redo what I did
If only I could change _______________
One day, as you’re telling the stories of being stuck at home …
As you’re looking back in hindsight, how will you have answered the question of “Who do you say that I am?”
Who do you say Jesus is…
… in the midst of tragedy?
… in the midst of uncertainty?
… in the midst of quarantine?
… in the midst of anxiety?
… in the midst of financial need?
… in the midst of sliding stock market?
… in the midst of fear?
… in the midst of a struggling business?
… in the midst of a household straining at the seams
… in the midst of your sanity straining at the seam
… in the midst of ___________________
How we are living, the choices we are making, the attitudes we are choosing, are all answering this question for ourselves and those who are watching us
Children, spouse, family, friends, employees, neighbors, followers
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, what he knows is that by the end of the week, the chants, the screams about him will be VERY different…
But there will be no question who he is as the following week dawns.
That’s for next Sunday.