Summary: When Jesus comes to the Temple he comes to cleanse - he comes to us, the Temple of the Holy Spirit with the same purpose
PALM SUNDAY – MATTHEW 211-13
Illustration. A little boy had been attending Sunday school for many years. He had the same teacher for all of that time. She used to finish every lesson by saying ‘and the moral of the story is…’ One day he moved up into the senior Sunday school. His mom asked him about the new Sunday school teacher. The little boy said ‘she is great and she has got no morals at all.’
Familiar words can sometimes become common place and lose their impact but they do not have to. I sometimes feel that for us as Christians the familiar incidents in the life of Jesus have lost some of their meaning for us and impact on us. So this morning I want us to turn again to the entry of Christ into Jerusalem and to look afresh at what that meant and means for us today. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. Within a week he will have been betrayed by the kiss of a friend, denied by another friend, tried on false charges, found guilty and crucified on a cross between two thieves. He will be buried in a borrowed tomb and three days later will rise from the dead. So this morning we begin another Holy Week by turning our eyes and our hearts towards Jerusalem and the entry of Christ into that city.
Up to this point in Jesus’ public life and ministry he had quietly slipped in and out of places. Whenever a crowd gathered around him and wanted to proclaim him king he quietly slipped away again. We often read of him telling people not to reveal who he was or what he had done for them. But this time when he enters Jerusalem it would be different. So this morning I want us to look at what happens when Jesus comes to Jerusalem. I think there are four things that happen:
THE RESPONSE IS OBEDIENCE
THE RESPONSE IS WORSHIP
THE RESPONSE IS CURIOSITY
THE RESPONSE IS CLEANSING
THE RESPONSE IS OPPOSITION
THE RESPONSE IS OBEDIENCE
Look at the first three verses of chapter 21. Jesus gives a command to his disciples that they are to go to the village ahead and there they will find a donkey tied up with its foal. They are to untie them and bring them to Jesus. He even gives them instructions as to what they are to say if they are challenged about their actions. Matthew does not record for us that they were challenged but we know from Luke’s gospel that they were and they say exactly what Jesus had instructed them to say. The two disciples obey their instructions. They did not query them, they did not ask for an explanation or a reason for their instructions. They never asked, as many do, what is in it for me? They simply obeyed. Look at verse 6 – this is a powerful statement. ‘They did as instructed.’ There is obedience friends. You see obedience is a sign of true discipleship and the sign of a right relationship with Christ. Obedience is how they showed that they loved Christ. John in his gospel chapter 14 and verse 15 records Jesus saying to his disciples ‘If you love me you will obey my commands.’ So right at the very beginning of this holy week, this last week of Christ’s life – there is obedience. There is the obedience of the disciples to go as instructed to get the donkey for Christ to ride into Jerusalem but there is also the obedience of Christ to the will of the Father and to the fulfilment of the Scriptures.
Look for a moment at verses 4 and 5. Matthew says that this was to fulfil the prophetic word of God spoken through Zechariah (9 verse 9). Jesus was obeying his Father’s will and word by sending for the donkey. Why a donkey? Surely as a king he would want to ride on a grand white horse. At the time of Christ a king rode on a horse when he came to bring war but he rode a donkey when he came in peace. Jesus obeyed his Father’s Word – the King of kings , the messiah would come riding on a donkey because he came to bring peace – peace between God and mankind.
You see it was a deliberate act of Christ to enter Jerusalem this way. It was in fact an enacted parable. For those with eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to remember they would understand the significance of what was happening before them. The very fact that Jesus came riding on a donkey accompanied by the shouts of the people – was a public proclamation of his kingship and messiahship. So when Jesus comes to Jerusalem – the response is Obedience.