Summary: This is on the Triumphal Entry.
Intro to Passion Week series. It is the most important week in history. All Gospels climax at this point. Matthew – 8 chs. Mark – 6 chs. Luke – 5½ chs. John – 9½ chs. 29 chs in all. Compare that with 4 on the first 30 years of Jesus’ life including his birth.
Read Matthew 21:1-11.
This is the first act in the grand drama of the final week of Jesus’ life. It’s amazing how the mood turned so much in a few days. It went from the adulation here to cries for crucifixion only days later. My aim isn’t to give a history lesson. What does this event teach us today? It teaches us how to respond to Jesus.
1. Respond with OBEDIENCE
When the Jesus told the disciples to go get the donkey, they went did it. They obeyed without hesitation. The disciples were unaware of the part they were playing in this grand drama. The disciples appear to have been in a fog about all that was happening. We have the Gospels that were written 20 or more years after the events. As they were writing the authors had the benefit of hindsight. Can you imagine what it was like? “Hey, go over there and get a donkey.” They obeyed.
When I obeyed God’s call on my life to be a minister, I wasn’t sure where it was headed. I never imagined I would wind up in NC. Looking back, I can see how God was working.
We must respond to Jesus with obedience. We may not be aware of where we are headed. Nonetheless, we must obey. What is God calling you to do?
2. Respond with RED CARPET
The reaction of the crowds has always astounded me. The disciples took off their jackets and threw them on the donkey as a makeshift saddle. Others threw their jackets and branches on the ground. This is just like giving him the red carpet treatment. This crowd was made of those who had been following Jesus during his ministry. They had witnessed many miracles. Just prior to our passage, Jesus healed two blind men. They knew there was something special about this Jesus.
How do we give Jesus the red carpet treatment? We do it when we extend the red carpet to others. Jesus said, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Luke 9:48). Jesus also said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). We welcome Jesus when we open our arms to others.
It doesn’t take much. A friend of mine once told me that he was thankful that I had been so nice to him when he came to church. All I ever did was say, “Hi, how are you doing?” It was nothing special, but to him it was a grand reception. It only takes a little time and effort to roll out the red carpet. What are you doing to welcome Jesus?
3. Respond with PRAISE
The crowd shouted praises to Jesus as they proceeded into the city. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” The crowd led the way into the city. Hosanna means “save us” or “save now.” It was a shout of praise, but it was also a cry for help. They were pleading with Jesus to save them. When the called him the “Son of David” they were proclaiming him as the Messiah. During his ministry, Jesus intentionally shied away from being called the Messiah (Christ). When someone did recognize him as the Messiah, he told them to keep it quiet. This was due to the politicization of the Messiah. It was the popular belief that the Messiah would be a political/military leader. Through his open actions here, Jesus is laying claim to the title of Messiah. He knew this was the time.
How do we praise Jesus? Is it merely by showing up on Sunday and singing “Shout to the Lord,” or whatever praise songs we sing? That is part of it, but not all. Everything we do in our life should be a praise to God. When we praise others, we praise God. Just like when we welcome others.
We should also respond in this manner when our prayers are answered. We often pray for something, but we don’t always take the time to praise God when he answers. What do you need to praise God for?
4. Respond with EXPLANATION
Jerusalem was packed for the Passover festival. It is estimated that the population of Jerusalem swelled to over 2.5 million during this week. People from all over the known world were there. The crowds inside the city noticed the crowd leading Jesus into the city. Imagine the size of the crowd that would attract such attention. Remember that Jesus’ life was lived in a relatively small area. His life was lived in an area about the size of New Jersey. Outside of the area of Israel, he was virtually unknown. Naturally the people who had never heard of Jesus were curious about the fuss that was being made about this fellow. So they asked, “Who is this?” The crowds, that were with Jesus, responded with an explanation. God had promised a prophet in Deut. 18:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”