Summary: Things are not always as they seem. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem was different from what it seemed on the surface.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
April 4, 2004
“Another Side of the King”
INTRODUCTION: Have you ever gone to some event where there was a huge crowd of people? Maybe it was a parade, a ballgame, or a political rally where people were showing some kind of response, favorable or unfavorable. Maybe they were clapping and cheering and carrying signs. Maybe they were shouting or even booing as the celebrity came out to speak. You got an impression from their actions, voices, and facial expressions what they were thinking. You might say, “They are really happy, and really like this person.” Or you might perceive an upset and angry crowd of people. On the other hand you might not be able to tell what they were actually thinking down deep inside.
Sometimes we think we know what the people around us are thinking and feeling by indication of what they say--by facial expressions or just by their actions. But we can’t ALWAYS tell. Things are not ALWAYS as they seem to be.
Today’s scripture in Luke doesn’t mention the actual entry into Jerusalem--the triumphal entrance that we call Palm Sunday. Instead he shows us Jesus only APPROACHING Jerusalem and after the crowd’s welcome he is still APPROACHING Jerusalem.
What Jesus was actually thinking and feeling that day was probably not evident to most of the people in that crowd--maybe not even to his closest followers. You might wonder why there was a triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the first place. He was warned not to go there. Why did He arrange the event when the city was so crowded? Why did he arrange this event when He knew he was going to be rejected by the masses? Why did He put himself through the harassment by the Pharisees?
Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture.
1. The Planned Event: Jesus needed to make a public entrance into Jerusalem before He died. He arranged it for the following reasons:
1. to FULFILL Old Testament prophecy
2. to DECLARE OPENLY that He was the Messiah.
3. to start the COUNTDOWN to the cross.
He chose a time when all Israel would be gathered in Jerusalem--a place where huge crowds could see Him and He could proclaim his mission that would be unmistakable to the masses. It was an open and deliberate assertion of His Messiahship. He must be rejected as the Messiah-King.
Old Testament prophecies that would be fulfilled were :
(1) Zechariah 9:9 which says, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He even arranged to borrow the colt.
(2) Another scripture that was fulfilled that day was Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
(3) Scattering their cloaks on the road was a sign of a royal welcome (See II Kings 9:13).
(4) Waving Palm Branches was a sign of victory.
(5) Shouting “Hosanna!” meant “Save Now.”
(6) Zechariah 14:4 spoke of the Mt. of Olives as the place of His coming.
These symbols are also mentioned in the Matthew, Mark, and John account, and they all fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. At the time his own disciples--the closest people to him--didn’t even notice the fulfillment of what had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier.
2. The Thoughts of the King: Jesus had his mind on the cross. John 12:20-23 says, “the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” The “hour” signified the approaching crisis. Instead of being elated with the crowds of people that would be shouting, “Hosanna,” waving palm branches and spreading their coats out in his honor, he was grieved over the hardness of their hearts and their spiritual blindness. The people had it all wrong. They were expecting Him to set up an earthly kingdom right then and there to help them. When they shouted, “Hosanna” they meant, “Save us from the oppression of our enemies.” Do it now. Their expectations were totally different from His. His purpose was not to overthrow the Roman government but the breaking of the power of sin over people’s lives.
He wanted to bring PEACE to the individual. He did not come riding into town upon a war-horse as a political revolutionary. He came on the donkey which symbolized humility.
Jesus, still outside the city, looks out at the city and sees the real picture--how it really was. He is grieved over the sin and He weeps. He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, BUT YOU WERE NOT WILLING” (Luke 13:34).