Summary: an analysis of the responses proclaimed during the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. A focus on REAL worship.
This morning’s text deals with what we often call the “Triumphant” entry. It was primarily “triumphant” because of the people’s response, though, not because Christ entered the city in a triumphant fashion. Instead, Jesus came into the city in a humble and symbolic gesture of peace. Christ comes as the “King of Peace” in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. –
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Even the disciples did not understand this until much later, John tells us in our text.
In Roman times, it was traditional for diplomats to arrive on donkeys, symbolic that they had come to enter into peaceful negotiations. A conqueror would arrive on a white charger and parade through the city in demonstration of his military success.
Christ came to offer peace. The people responded with Palm branches, which were used as a symbol of victory and triumph. Palm branches were also given to the winner of a athletic contests in Roman times.
In the other gospels, the Pharisees demand that Jesus tell his follower to be quiet. Jesus’ response is that if they were silent then the rocks would cry out. To me, this indicates that Jesus did not object to this joy and excitement, which he genuinely deserved, More importantly, I think it indicates that the inanimate rocks had about as much spiritual perception as most of the people that were in the crowd. (We’ll talk about emotional worship in a few minutes, for now, let’s try and stick with the idea of Christ coming to offer peace.)
Do you remember when Christ was born and the angel appeared to the shepherds? What did the multitude of the heavenly host declare? “Glory to God in the Highest! Peace on Earth towards men.” Christ came to end the war between God and man. He came to resolve the conflict that man’s sin has brought between heaven and earth. His final march into Jerusalem, towards the cross, was God’s final effort to bring peace between Himself and sinful man.
Everyone wants to talk about God’s love and God’s goodness. The AA people look to God as a benevolent higher power. God is often portrayed like Santa Claus, a kindly old gentleman with a twinkle in his eye. In the Jim Carey film “Bruce Almighty,” a film with a redeeming message in the midst of its sacrireligious humor, Morgan Freeman as God responds to Bruce’s scorn and lost faith with that same twinkle in his eye, a wry grin, and a sense of humor.
But what about the righteous holy God who is annoyed, perplexed, and discomforted by man’s sin? What about the God of wrath described in Romans 1:18-20:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
What? You mean to say that the twinkle-eyed God is really fed up with man’s sin? Oh, we know he was annoyed with Nineveh because he sent Jonah to prophesy that the offensive stink of their sin had reached the nostrils of a holy God and he was ready to take out the garbage.
Paul writes to the Ephesians (chapter 2) about their circumstances before coming to salvation. Not only were they dead in sin, driven by sinful desires, but he describes them as being objects of God’s wrath.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
THE GREAT SIN GAP between man and God is so large it can only be bridged by the Atoning Work of Christ on the cross. Those outside of Christ are in trouble. The flood of God’s anger grows day by day.
Jonathan Edwards, in his great sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” described the mounting anger of God towards sinful man like this: “The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose.”