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.
He punctuated the raising of a man 4-days dead, with the promise that any who believed in Him would never taste of death. And for that, they plotted all the harder to kill Him.
He entered the city on a donkey’s colt, but out of envy, they finalized and carried out their plans.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
He came as Peacemaker.
It was typical in ancient times, for an army, having laid siege to a city and conquering it, to ride in triumphantly. The leader astride the white horse, sword held high, flags flying, foot soldiers marching behind to plunder and take captives for slaves.
Therefore it was customary, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, that if a visiting king came in peace and to talk peace, he approached the city with only a small entourage, and usually, sitting on a donkey and with no weapon on his person.
This is the message the Romans would have gotten as they watched Jesus come into the city that day.
No threat here. Not a king waging war, but a peacemaker, coming in peace.
“Look, the people declare Him to be a king!’
“Oh, but look again; He comes humble and meek and on a donkey”.
They should have remembered the things they had seen when He was among them in the city. Hadn’t He gone about doing good and healing those who were oppressed of the devil?
As they patrolled, hadn’t they heard Him teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven and peace with God?
Were none of them around to see him forgive the woman caught in adultery?
Where were they when He told the man by the pool to take up his pallet and walk?
Weren’t at least a few of them keeping an eye on the crowd when He created brand new eyes in the sockets of a man who had never seen?
Hadn’t the accounts reached their ears, of lepers being cleansed and the lame being healed and the possessed being set free?
He came in peace, on a donkey’s colt.
And they examined Him for three days.
Then God gave the wife of the governor a dream. A dream that sent her scurrying to her husband’s side to warn him against harming this innocent man.
Then the governor himself interviewed the prisoner and deemed Him innocent. A man of peace.
But out of fear, He sent Him to be crucified.
They nailed Him to a cross and raised Him up, and heard Him pray for them.
But they left Him there.
They heard Him declared innocent by the one being crucified on the next cross.
They heard Him promise this one a place in Paradise.
But they left Him there.
He rode in on a donkey’s colt. But they crucified the Prince of Peace. They didn’t know what they were doing.
He was JUDGE, but He was also PEACEMAKER.
And He still is.
The writers of the epistles, from Romans through Revelation, refer to Him as the God of peace, or talk about the peace of God, no less than 60 times; and I didn’t even count how many times the reference was made in Acts or the gospels, where Jesus Himself said:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” - Jn 14:27
The Apostle Paul, in the early chapters of Romans, builds the irresistible argument that all of mankind is guilty of sin before a Holy God, and deserving of death; sin’s wages.
In the third chapter, quoting the Psalms and Isaiah, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he shows us that the actual evil of some men proves to us the potential evil in all mankind.
He pronounces the curse of sin on the hearts of men, from verses 10 through 17, then caps his argument with the underlying cause of it all, in verse 18.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes”.
In the fifth chapter he declares in three different verses, that we were helpless, but worse than that ~ sinful, but more than that, ~ enemies of God.
We were not just helpless and lost and in need of saving; we were hateful rebels in need of surrender.
And while we marched ever onward in our evil battle against Him, He came and made peace with us.
Listen to Eph 2:14-18
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one (Jews and Gentiles), and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR, for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
In short, Paul is telling us that He came and made peace between man and God, and also between man and man. How? By tearing down the walls that separated. The Law of commandments was an enigma to the gentile, and a source of ungodly pride to the Jew. But in Christ, that Law is fulfilled, for love is the fulfilling of the Law.
In the temple there was a barrier between men, because the gentiles were forced to worship in the outer court and not enter the holy place.
In the holy place there was a barrier between men and God, because a veil hung over the Holy of Holies that none could enter except the High Priest, once a year, to sprinkle the blood.
But He tore it from top to bottom, and opened the way for all who will, to come in.
He tore down all the barriers, and made peace; and through Him we all have our access by the same Holy Spirit, to the presence of the Father, forever.
He came riding on a donkey’s colt...a sign of peace, to make peace... and less than a week later He accomplished His task.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand”
He comes to you today, hearer (reader). How do you see Him come? As Judge? Or as the Prince of Peace?
If you don’t know Him; if you have never recognized that you are an enemy of God and that you have no hope, and that you are bound for an eternity separated from Him, then to you He is only a Judge.
He cannot deny Himself. He is righteous and just, and cannot wink at sin. He cannot arbitrarily let you off the hook, and Himself remain just. If you will not recognize your need and call on His provision to meet that need, then you can only continue to collect your wages. Death.
He comes to you humbly; He comes to you lovingly; but He comes as your Judge.
He is just.
But He also comes as PEACEMAKER.
Jesus said, in reference to the cross that He knew He would be nailed to:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself”.
He was lifted up. He went there as had been planned before the foundation of the world; and He went there for you.
He went there to make peace with you, by tearing down all the barriers, so all you would have to do is come ~ come freely, and believe in Him for the salvation of your soul.
He said that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to Him; and you may rest assured that it is the only way He draws you. You must come to the cross of Christ, and die there to sin and self and the world, and let Him give you new life in Him.
He draws you there, because there is no other way.
He is now your Judge. But once you have put your trust and faith in His shed blood for your sins, and in His resurrection for your life, then judgment for you is past, and He becomes your Peacemaker.
He becomes your Peace.
There is therefore now no ~penalty~ for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the principle of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He ~judged~ sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom. 8:1-4
He comes to you in peace today, to give you His peace.
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
This coming Easter Sunday can mean more to you than you’ve ever dreamed it could; if you celebrate it for the first time as one who is at peace with the God of Peace.
I sincerely pray that for you today.