EASTER 2021 PALM SUNDAY | Luke 19:28-48
Topic: Gospel Passage: Luke 19:28–19:48
Christopher Rich – March 28, 2021
PALM SUNDAY | Luke 19:28-48
Introduction | We need a king to show up!
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. In an unsettling season where deconstruction reigns we are given a gift in the church calendar of Holy Week to resettle. This week we join with Christians around the world celebrating Palm Sunday. This is week of contemplation, remembering AND resting in what has been accomplished. We need hope, empathy, and leadership. Not distant, but hope that shows up! God knows we need hope. Hope gives us endurance today that tomorrow will be better. We can have hope today and trust God for our future because we can look back and see in Jesus, Hope Arrived. To set the scene, Jesus has been performing miracles, He’s been preaching and teaching in the region around Jericho and now He’s turning towards Jerusalem on His way to Passover. A time God’s people were gathering in a Holy City to remember the God who took them out of slavery in Egypt where death passed over them because of a symbolic sacrifice in their place. God’s people coming to their city in their promised land to celebrate God’s salvation, but it doesn’t feel quite right. Jerusalem (and Israel), at this time, isn’t independent and is not thriving. It’s under oppression from Rome. It’s a bit of a ghetto where a subculture of Judaism and temple worship is permitted but has been be a bit perverted. The people’s government is corrupt and self-serving Everyone knows the real power is in Rome. Change is desired, satisfaction in lacking, and different parties have competing views on what freedom and flourishing look like. As the city begins to fill up with visitors, Jew and gentle pilgrims, the Roman military presence is also increased bring the intensity level to a near boil. This is not paradise, this is not peace. Disorder, discrimination, and discord are reigning. This city needs a savior, and He’s coming.
PART I | Jesus Arrives | Luke 19:28-40
Luke 19:28-40 | 28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Here comes the King…. On a small donkey. This does not look like victory this looks like humiliation. Let’s look a little closer at how this scene unfolds. We can learn a lot about Jesus and us as disciples of Jesus from this:
Jesus arrived prepared. Jesus doesn’t guess at anything. Jesus leads with clarity and certainty. Jesus knows there is young donkey in the village tied up. He knows his disciples will find it, he knows someone might care that their young donkey is being untied, he knows how His disciples should respond when asked and that the owner will graciously allow the young donkey to be used. Jesus could have used His “I am God” superpowers to know all this, or He simply could have prepared in advance for what was to happen. Jesus had influence and followers all over the region ready to serve him. Jesus’ disciple honor and obey Jesus. They do what he says, giving freely for His purposes. He gave specific instructions to His disciples to get him a Colt, a young unused donkey, for Him to ride from the village to the city on. To his disciples, many uneducated fishermen this would have seemed awkward at best. In this case Jesus has clearly laid some groundwork to ensure everything goes according to plan. Jesus followers listen to His specific instructions and respond with obedience. When God arrives, we should be ready to listen and respond even before we understand.
Jesus arrived in humility. God is powerful and glorious, here in Jesus we see God displaying great humility. This characterized all of Jesus earthly life, born in a manger, raise by a poor working family, in a poor region. Homeless during His ministry. In Jesus we see God coming down to us. God has to humble Himself to come to us, for us. Not because we are so great but because we are so small. God meets us where we are at. Jesus left heaven and came to earth for us. That is humility! Hope arrived where it was needed most.
Jesus arrived intentionally. So why the donkey? God orchestrates His arrival. Jesus is trying to evoke a certain imagery and symbolism. This is humble but it’s also historic. In riding a young unused, unspoiled donkey He’s actively fulfilling a 500-year-old prophecy. Zech 9:9-10| Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Jesus Arrived as the Savior- King! The symbolism was quite clear to Jesus’ adversaries the scribes and Pharisees as He came near the city. As men who had spent their entire adult lives studying the Old Testament, they knew Jesus riding in on a donkey was Jesus identifying Himself as the King of Israel bringing righteousness and salvation. Jesus didn’t do this by accident. Jesus wants the religious people to understand all they have been studying, teaching, and doing has been to point them to Him. They’ve looked to God and His promises for their hope and salvation and here He is. Jesus entry into Jerusalem was clear and public claim to both His messiahship saving His people and His Kingship ruling His people; not only to the Jews but for the entire world. This should be universally praised and accepted for those who want hope yet He’s either misunderstood, or understood and rejected. Why?
Jesus arrives to fulfill God’s expectations for peace, not to meet ours for victory. Our expectations of a King arriving look a lot like us in charge. The crowd was patriotic and critics were religious. They want their kingdom, but according to v10 this Kingdom would not be won through military victory, but through peace. This time Jesus isn’t going to wage a winning battle of bloodshed. He’s coming to bear defeat and take in on the Cross. The only bloodshed this week will be His. This is very different then the way the world works, or how we expect God to arrive in our circumstances. We want strength and victory. At a similar time on the opposite side of the city, Pilate the roman military leader is coming into the city with a formal military procession in an intentional show of force. The contrast between the two processions couldn’t be greater. As Jesus draws close to the city the crowds grow. Some are faithful followers, may others are fans, but all are giving him praise and rejoicing. Because they expect the path ahead with God’s favor and presence must be one of peace, comfort, victory, influence and affluence. The path ahead is not one of easy victory but of enduring suffering.
They want the kingdom without the King. They praise Jesus for what he’s done. Miracles, healing, feeding, but the most recent is the high profile raising of the guy who had been dead for 4 days Lazarus. He might have even been in the procession. They cut down palm branches and place them on the road along with a “red carpet” of their outer robes. If you can raise a guy from the dead imagine the power this guy would have to overthrow Rome! Freedom fighters who fall would rise again to keep the fight going. Rome doesn’t stand a chance. Victory is here!! They wanted Jesus to kick out Rome and set them up again as prosperous and influential rather than poor and insignificant. Most of us are the same way. We don’t want our heart to change, just our circumstances. We like how Jesus can help us now, but not how He can change us forever. We want too little. We are called to receive Jesus for who He is, not for who we think He should be. Jesus is not an add on to your political agenda, He is the embodiment of God’s Kingdom agenda. The crowds are excited, but it’s not enough to only have passion and enthusiasm, it must be directed properly. Jesus has been preaching, teaching and, leading in the region for 3 years. His platform was political (pledged allegiance to His Kingdom) revolutionary but it wasn’t built on violent rebellion rather on voluntary repentance. He didn’t come to overthrow Caesar in Rome and sit on a throne in old Jerusalem. He came to overthrow the kings and queens we’ve put on the throne of our own hearts and reign in the lives of His people now and the in a new Jerusalem/forever There is no being half right with Jesus. Jesus is not less than they expect, He is more. He transforms people and continues to change the world. Who do you think Jesus is? Who have you wanted Him to be? How have you changed Jesus to serve your agenda? How does Jesus want to change you to serve His?
Jesus arrival is uncontrollable, uncontainable, and undeniable. Some people misunderstand what victory in Jesus looks like, others understand perfectly and can’t stand it. The Pharisees are trying to get Jesus to get His people in line. They want to control and contain Jesus. They like religion because people have to go to “holy ones” to know about God and to be in relationship with God. “Don’t let your people get too excited about you. Certainly, don’t let them equate you with THE Messiah.” They have been searching out the Hebrew bible for years looking for life and God and now He’s here. They don’t love Rome, but they do fear it. Anything upsetting the balance of power is concerning because if it goes badly the people may suffer, and they’ll lose their perceived security. Jesus knows their motivations is going to stir them up. They cannot ignore Him they can only respond to Him. When Hope Arrives in Jesus you cannot not remain apathic. You will grow in agitation or be transformed to admiration. They cannot stop Jesus or cannot stop people from responding to Jesus. (CA Rollercoasters) The only thing they can do is go to Jesus. They are powerless. Jesus doubles down and says “I’m not just the king of the Jews, the savior of sinners, He is the creator of the universe!” Jesus laughs it off with what would have been a familiar retort from Habbakuk saying “regardless of what men say about me, creation cries out that I am Lord.” Jesus doesn’t derive His authority from man’s approval or acceptance. He is Lord over all creation and doesn’t always rule the way we think He should. Jesus recognized the people outside of Jerusalem where no different. God can and does make stones cry out to him. Our hearts without Jesus are hearts of stone, God makes us new He gives us hearts of flesh that beat for Him. So the fact that anyone praises Jesus, follows Him, loves Him, serves Him, is an act grace. God can make stone cry out to worship Him and He does! If you trust Jesus, then praise God for that! If you don’t ask God to change your heart!
PART II |Jesus Mourns | v41-44
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus arrives with empathy and grief over brokenness and sin. Our God is not impersonal, and He is not unemotional. I think we equate Jesus to a stoic Vulcan without compassion. Our God cares deeply about people. He cares me and you as individuals, an as a people/cities. Here He is in this scene of humble triumph. Why is Jesus weeping? People are celebrating His arrival! Is it because He knows how this week will unfold? In a sense yes. Jerusalem us supposed to be a Holy set apart city, where people come to be closer to God, to have peace. God arrived in Jesus to be with His people. He weeps because while many may show enthusiasm now, He knows when their expectations are not met they will easily go from praising Him to chanting “crucify him.” To be clear there were many who loved and knew Jesus for who He is. But the great plurality who misunderstood are having the window of grace closing. There is urgency of what is about to happen. A response to Jesus matters. Jerusalem’s crime is in rejecting Jesus. It’s rejecting God’ in their midst. Peace is there, peace is available. But woe is also coming. If they cannot see and experience peace with Jesus physically present, they won’t when He is gone. People who trust in what seems stable now with no thought to the future or eternity will find themselves disappointed. The insecurity of the city will be exposed as Rome, who they have been hoping to appease, will eventual come, entrap and annihilate them before they ultimately fall also. If we want to be people Jesus weeps with and not over, the difference is humility in knowing our need for Him.
PART III | Jesus Disrupts | v45-48
45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
Jesus’ arrival disrupts what keeps us from communion with Him. Jesus Arrives on Sunday, now we’re to work on Monday. Jesus arrived with a purpose. Jesus has an agenda in the life of His people. He’s not just present, He’s active. Jesus doesn’t come in softly seeking common ground or coalition building, but a radical reorientation of worship. Not a small tweak but a big shift. Hope Arrived and we’ve seen how people have responded to Jesus in a variety of ways based on their expectations. Now it’s Jesus turn to respond to what He finds based on God’s expectations. The temple was to be a place of prayer, worship and celebration for people from all nations, instead it had been twisted, a place meant for rest and reverence and made it a place for racist racketeering. How would Jesus respond to you if He arrived here and now? What would His reaction be? Jesus restores and renews. This is part of his purpose. Jesus arrive into or places of idolatry and he turns them upside down to reorient us to a place of prayer and worship. This temple was made for God’s glory and man’s joy in enjoying God. We are made for God’s glory and our joy in worshipping God. That temple was corrupted and coopted for our glory and other’s misery. When Hope arrived in Jesus, He retakes ownership of the temple of our lives and is reestablishing it as place of communion and peace. Where does Jesus need to overturn tables and drive out obstacles to worship in your life and heart? Where do you need disruption from what has been “normal” but oppressive so you can have new life, healing, and peace with Jesus?
For Jesus opponents they didn’t just reject Jesus they rejected the change Jesus brings. They plotted and their answer was Jesus death. The cross was their best move and what they meant for evil, God meant for good. They thought Jesus taking defeat on the cross was their victory but instead it is Jesus who wins on Easter. In resurrection, Jesus lives! He continues to arrive, agitate, and move those who are against Him to admire and adore Him. Jesus is still cleaning and driving out sin and making space for Him to bring new life. Jesus was popular and is popular. Jesus cleans out a place for Himself and makes space for rest and worship. He doesn’t stay silent, He continues to bring life to change and shape our life through His word, preaching and teaching.
Jesus came to drive out that which keeps us from God so we could become part of the Forever Family of God worships Him as Savior and serves Him as King. You cannot stop Him, you cannot defeat Him you can only surrender to Him and join the Forever family who hang on and live by His words as we Trust Jesus.
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