Summary: Jesus rode into town as a king but died as a rebel. However, in his death we recieved a King. This sermon discovers reasons He was labled a rebel worthy of death.
As I was beginning to prepare for this weeks sermon on the secrets of the Kingdom I realized that we have not met the King yet. Therefore, this week we are going to step away from the Kingdom teaching so that I might introduce you to the King.
Since this is Palm Sunday, I think we should start with the procession of Jesus entering Jerusalem. This has been a journey of about three and a half years, from his first miracle to his last week before being crucified. We catch a glimpse of this magnificent parade in John 12:12-15. “The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem.
Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. When a conquering king retuned from battle often a carpet of palm leaves were laid before him much as we do a red carpet today. Moreover, most battles were actually fought on the back of donkeys instead of horses due to the rocky terrain. They recognized him as the King of Israel. Within in a week these same people would scream for his crucifixion. What led to this turn of events? To answer that question we must first understand our King and his purpose in coming.
1) Our King came to turn religion upside down.
Let’s begin with his first miracle. Jesus is at a wedding party along with his mother and a few of his followers. Wedding parties could sometimes last for days. It was customary for the host to serve the expensive wine first and finish with the cheap stuff. However, the party had lasted too long and all the wine was gone. This was a major problem. Being out of wine would mean that the bridegroom had failed to plan properly and that the master of ceremonies, the wedding planner, was about to be embarrassed.
For some reason this was a problem for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her involvement is not revealed. Perhaps this wedding was for a family member or the master of ceremonies was a friend. Whatever the reason she felt a responsibility to look to her son for a solution.
First Jesus was reluctant. “Not my problem” is what He told her. But out of respect for her dilemma He decided to get involved.
Let’s read John 2: 6-10 “Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
This is a rather familiar story. One we have heard countless times. Jesus had just produced somewhere between 120 to 180 gallons of the best wine ever made. Don’t you find it strange that Jesus would produce enough wine to keep the buzz going for a few more days?
However, Jesus did not do this for the party. Jesus made a statement. He made a statement by the vessels he chooses. Let’s go back to verse 6 “Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons.”
These jars were there for one purpose and that was to supply the water necessary for the ritual cleansing of hands during this party. These jars could not be contaminated in any way or the water inside would also be contaminated. Jesus basically took that which was declared clean and contaminated it with wine making it unclean. Then He went even farther and had those at the party drink this unclean wine.
This was not some prank or practical joke on the part of Jesus. This was the beginning of his ministry. The wine was the best. Neither the bridegroom nor the master of ceremony knew where it came from. Only the servants knew. Jesus chooses the lowliest to witness his first message of the Gospel. That message was something new and better had arrived. No longer would ritual cleanliness be necessary. He would provide an easier way.