Summary: Discover why and how Jesus is uniquely able to be the King Who ushers in peace. (A Palm Sunday message.)
A few weeks ago, when we looked at the reasons why we believe the Bible is the Word of God, we saw that one reason is the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament were actually fulfilled and historically accurate. This morning, we will be looking at one of the 300 prophecies from the Old Testament fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Our focus will not be on prophecies, and our focus will not be on the prophet, Zechariah. Yet, we need to have a little bit of background to understand what God intended us to learn from this portion of His Word, the Bible.
Some of you might know your history or your Bible and remember that King Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed in 586 BC the temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon around 960 BC. Many of the Jews were exiled during this Babylonian captivity and then were permitted to return to Jerusalem around 520 BC.
God used the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to challenge His people who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild His temple. The prophet Zechariah was an inspirational visionary who spoke words of encouragement throughout the completion of this second temple in 516 BC.
What we will look at this morning are the words of Zechariah spoken after the temple was rebuilt. God continued to speak words of hope to His people, by telling them of a coming King who would bring peace to all the nations.
God promised to remove the armies that oppressed the Jews in Jerusalem and to send His people a King of Peace. This prophecy or foretelling of the coming King of Peace is fulfilled in Jesus Christ on Palm Sunday as recorded in Matthew 21:7-9: "They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 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 (meaning ’Praise for salvation’) to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
Now, the Jewish people of Jesus’ day knew of the prophecy, God’s provision of a King in the line of David, and this King would restore peace to the Jewish people. Yet, because of their experience of oppression throughout history and at that point, by the Romans, the Jews wanted a conquering general on a white horse, not Jesus Christ, a carpenter turned teacher on a donkey.
I remember when I was in middle school, being a minority, even in San Francisco, was rather difficult. Yet, because most kids, whether Asian or not, knew about Bruce Lee, in some strange way, Bruce Lee made being Asian more acceptable at the time. To many of us in middle school, Bruce Lee was in some ways a savior who used martial arts to free the Chinese from their oppressors.
In a similar way, the Jewish minority wanted a Savior who would conquer their oppressors, a King they would follow and be proud of. Instead of receiving a King on a chariot or at least a horse, God sent a King on a donkey. This King would be righteous and having salvation in His plan rather than destruction of the oppressors. This King would be gentle, humble and peaceful, not fierce, overwhelming and militaristic. But would such a King be effective in bringing about peace in a ruthless world? Would such a King even survive the situation Himself, not to mention provide protection and peace for the Jewish people?
Many Jewish people have not accepted Jesus as the King of Peace from God. They are still waiting for a King that fits their picture of a Savior. If we’re honest, Christians are forced to ask the same questions because we live in the same world of evil and injustice that the Jews live. Is Jesus really effective in bringing peace to our fallen world -- in a world where your child’s lunch money can be taken, or even worse, your child’s life can be taken without any provocation?
Some believe peace is possible through the use of metal detectors, political power, equalizing wealth or social reform, but through Jesus Christ? After all, wasn’t Jesus crucified for His efforts? How could He prevent evil from winning in our lives and in our world when He did not prevent evil from taking His own life?
Maybe His victory is a spiritual one, in the future in heaven? But could Jesus Christ really bring peace to this world, here and now? Might the Jews be right, that the King God would provide would possess power, might and military force to bring peace to the nations and to mankind? Let’s take a look at what God has in mind for the King of Peace.