Summary: Palm Sunday Sermon, but can be used anytime.
Stop the Resurrection, We Want to Die
By Pastor Jim May
John 12:9-11, "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."
Last Wednesday I spoke on the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. Four days after Lazarus had died and been buried, Jesus came on the scene, called Lazarus by name and commanded him to come out of the grave. The stone that sealed the grave was moved away and Lazarus came out, bound and wrapped for burial, but alive and well.
The power of Jesus to raise the dead was news that spread through the land like wildfire. The Messiah has come! The Messiah has come! The Deliverer that will lead Israel into a new dawn of freedom from oppression has come. Only the Messiah could have the power to raise the dead.
Visions of freedom and dreams of deliverance filled that hearts of most of the Jews but there were some who did not like the idea of a new King in Israel. These were the High Priest of Israel, appointed by the Roman legions, and the men of Israel who were members of the Sanhedrin Council, the ruling body of Israel much like our Congress. These men did not like the idea that their power and control over the Jews was being threatened by one who could raise the dead. So they decided to do something about it.
“Let’s kill Lazarus, and stop the news of this miracle from spreading”, is all they could think about. They believed that by killing Lazarus they could somehow stop the Jews from following the Miracle Working man from Galilee. But it was too late to stop it now. The fact that Resurrection power was real and that Lazarus was alive could not be erased. Even if they did kill Lazarus, he would only rise again in the Resurrection. Jesus is the Resurrection and the source of Life. No one could deny His power and authority over death.
The Jews were looking for a sign! They wanted the Messiah to come, but they had to have a sign before they could believe. That sign was the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. From that moment on, many of the Jews began to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus was in Bethany again, staying at the home of Lazarus, and his sisters, Mary and Martha. The news of his presence spread quickly and crowds of people began to gather to see the Messiah and also to see Lazarus, the man who had come back from the dead.
Israel needed a Deliverer. The Jews desperately needed a Savior. They were searching for a King, and now they believed that Jesus had some to fill all of these needs.
John 12:12-15, "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt."
The method Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem was prophesied many years before during the time of the Prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
Jesus not only rode on the donkey because it was prophesied but this was also His way of identifying with the lineage of David who was Israel’s greatest king. Until the reign of King Solomon, every king in Israel had ridden on a donkey. King Solomon had started the tradition of riding in a chariot drawn by horses instead because, in his pride, he thought that it was more befitting a king than to enter on a donkey. Therefore Jesus was establishing that his kingdom was a part of the promise that had gone back all the way to Abraham when Israel was founded as a nation.
When Jesus left Bethany, riding on a donkey in the fashion of the ancient kings of Israel, it only fueled the excitement of the Jews that much more. This was another sign to them – a sign that their King was coming.
On the side of the Mount of Olives where the road from Bethany to Jerusalem passed, there were many palm trees growing. The Jews began to line the sides of the road to witness this great historical occasion. They could tell their children and their children’s children that they were there when the Messiah came to establish his kingdom. The years of waiting and praying were over.