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Summary: Palm sunday is about my discipleship to the Humble King

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Palm Sunday 2008

Matthew 21

1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."

4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,

’See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ "

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!"

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

"Hosanna in the highest!"

10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"

11The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Reading Matt.21 we get a sense of the crowd’s delirious excitement over the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. They were reciting hymns from the Hallel Ps.113-118, songs of praise that were as familiar to them as Christmas carols are to us as they shouted out Hosanna. Those songs were their seasonal hymns. You can sense that it was a rock and rolling praise gathering to God! Cloaks and branches laid on the road. Hmm.. I am thinking who’s gonna clean up that mess? I wonder if the city’s street cleaners would like that very much. But I digress.

Get back to the action here...the crowds lining the streets ... great commotion ... the bible says “the whole city was stirred.” Why was this happening? Matthew was explicit in reporting the significance... he said

4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,

’See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ "

It’s about the fulfillment of what was written in long ago, a fulfilled prophecy right before your very eyes. It’s about the arrival of a King. A gentle king who rides on a donkey, a colt. Matthew is concerned that people who read his story get this connection. In other words, Matthew is saying would you follow this King, that I am telling you about. This is no coincidence. This is a divine appointment. This is not some haphazard con job. This is the King who comes to you, just as it was predicted some 500 years ago by the prophet Zechariah!

Not too long ago took my kids to watch their first ever MLB game in Seattle. It was a sell-out. Every seat taken, jam-packed. Seattle Mariners were closing in on a playoff spot. Crucial game. Talk about electricity in the air... can’t even get a hot dog, mile long line-up. I pity the toilet cleaners... cleaning messes left by thousands! Every pitch, every swing, was eaten up by cheering crowd. They anticipated a big win against the Anaheim Angels. Just to be there was an experience.

Same thing with Palm Sunday - this feverish loud celebration was all about the Jewish expectation of a Messiah. Electricity in the air, anticipation of a great win. This is like closing in on the playoffs. They were expecting a political Messiah, who’ll make life great for the Jews once again. They have experienced desperate times, foreign control, Roman rule, for over 150 years. They were fed up. They were supportive of terrorists groups that undermined the Romans. They were looking for a change in government, a revolt, a violent overthrow of the Roman conquerors. In shouting Hosanna they were in effect saying "Save us now" Jesus. Naturally, great crowds came to hear his message. A wave of religious and political expectation swept the country, that is why Matthew said the whole city was stirred. Jesus will be the difference maker! But we know now that the crowd’s hopes were not realized. They turned on Him within the space of a five days and shouted crucify Him rather than Hosanna. The Messiah they celebrated on Sunday, they would hang on the cross on Friday.

1. JESUS’ JOURNEY, OUR JOURNEY

What has this event of Palm Sunday got to do with us today? Significance of Palm Sunday is not merely to remember Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. It is our own journey as well. The journey for all who follow Him and call Him Lord. Jesus’ journey eventually led Him to the cross, where He’d suffer and die a painful and humiliating death. You may wonder if this is our journey as well. Is it necessary for the followers of Jesus to go to the cross?

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