Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday
In His letter to the Philippian church, Paul sings the praises of Christ, who “...emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, ...humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
The second chapter of Philippians is not by far the only place in the scriptures that we are given an example of a God who is at the same time, mighty and awesome, and humble and gentle. But perhaps the most poignant visual demonstration of this divine combination, is Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as He came to be crucified.
We see this seeming paradox in several ways.
~ We call it the “Triumphal entry”, but He was not on a white charger with an army behind Him.
~ The people hailed Him as King, but He came as a lamb to be slaughtered.
~ He was fully God and never less than God; yet He came to suffer the most ignoble and humiliating death in all of history.
He entered into the world as a helpless infant, to a family of humble means, gathered in a stable cave with livestock and hay. He entered into His public ministry quietly, submitting to baptism and identification with His people. And now He enters into the Holy City on a donkey’s colt.
So here is the paradox I want us to focus on today. He came both as Judge, and as Peacemaker.
Now, here is where someone will ask, “But John 3:17 says, ‘For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”
I would quickly concur with that. Nevertheless, He is and will be the One who judges, and in a very real sense, by His sinless life He judged all of mankind for their sin.
Let me illustrate.
In Judges chapter 5 we read: “You who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets, and you who travel on the road...sing!”
And In chapter 12; “Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. Now Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel after him. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys; and he judged Israel eight years.”
These were judges over Israel before the time of kings; and their mission would have been to go about the land calling for repentance, and turning the hearts of the people back to God. They would have been preaching righteousness; declaring judgment to come for the apostate, and warning against continued sin and idolatry.
The Jews in the city of Jerusalem should have made a connection in their minds, with those donkey riders of old, and this One who now came to them on a donkey’s colt.
They cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel”. But so little did they understand, that only 4 days later they could be incited to yell over and over, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let His blood be on us and on our children!”
The Pharisees ~ the religious rulers should have remembered the judges of old and made this connection, when they grumbled at His coming and complained “...look, the world has gone after Him”
They should have seen that His compassion judged their legalism, and His lovingkindness judged their hypocrisy. They should have trembled as they saw Him come in on a donkey’s colt.
They should have remembered Zechariah’s words:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation. Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey”
They should have remembered, and they should have repented on their knees as the King of Glory came in!
But hadn’t Jesus told these same ones such a very short time before;
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind”
Yes, and because they continued to say “We see”, their sin remained.
The forerunner, John the Baptist, came crying, “Make straight the way of the Lord!” He called for acts that manifested the fruits of repentance. But they, not having been baptized by John, did not receive their Messiah.
He entered His earthly ministry crying, “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” But they wanted none of it.
He shouted, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” But they were satisfied with the temporary waters of the ceremonial pool.