Summary: Truly a perplexing event in the ministry of Jesus, the Triumphal Entry marked the beginning of Jesus' last week before His crucifixion.
Sermon for CATM – March 28, 2010 – The Triumphal Entry – Matthew 21:1-10
Over the past number of weeks we have been travelling with Jesus on His journey to the cross. We’ve seen Jesus being tempted in the desert, we’ve seen the transfiguration. Lazarus was brought back to life by the Lord, we’ve seen Jesus being anointed for burial.
Last week we listened in as Jesus prayed His high priestly prayer for the unity of those who would follow Him. And today the earthly experience of Jesus enters its final chapters as He enters the holy city of Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday commemorates a truly perplexing day. As part of our worship today we’ve sung songs of celebration, some of which perhaps have some of the spirit and energy of what we imagine the triumphal entry to have been like.
And there was energy in the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem, a lot of it because Jesus was a controversial figure.
His teachings at this point were very well known. The upside-down values of the Kingdom (the meek shall inherit the earth, love your enemies, the blessedness of the poor for starters); the values of the Kingdom are the radical values of Jesus, and the authority he spoke with and the following that gathered behind Him generated all kinds of energy.
It was Passover time, & Jews from all over the world were crowding into Jerusalem. News had gone out that Jesus was on His way, just passing by the towns of Bethphage & Bethany. So a crowd of people rushed out to meet Him.
There were actually 2 crowds. One crowd was accompanying Jesus as He came from Bethany, & the other was surging out from Jerusalem to meet Him.
The crowds must have flowed together in a surging mass like 2 tides of the sea. Jesus was coming, & as the crowds met Him they received Him like a conquering hero.
The sight of this massive welcome sent the religious authorities into the depths of despair. It seemed that nothing they did would stop the people from following Jesus.
But who was there, in the crowd, and how did they see Jesus? Some in the crowds were simply curious sightseers, impartial observers.
They had heard recently of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And they wanted to see something else sensational, too.
And there were those who had heard of Jesus’ miracles but never actually encountered Jesus. Let’s pick a name to represent this type of person in the crowd. Let’s call her Junia. Junia knew Jesus by rumour.
She knew Him by reputation. She had showed up a couple of times a few hours after Jesus had done a miracle…perhaps the healing of the blind man, some one she knew to be blind.
There was still a buzz in the streets. People were talking about Jesus (they would have called Him by His Hebrew name Yeshua) and about how wonderful and strange it was to see.
If Junia had asked what had happened, those there might have said, as Mark records in chapter 8: “…Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" 24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." 25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village."
What do you think Junia would have thought after hearing this testimony? [She would have been amazed, maybe skeptical. She would have wanted to talk to the one who was healed]
So Junia, standing among the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem, would have been eager to see Him, eager to know more. Perhaps wondering what made Him tick.
Who else was in the crowd? Well, there would have been workers: people who worked the market, labourers, street- cleaners. They would have been there by happy coincidence.
Into a perhaps typical, dreary day there rode an unknown man on a donkey who a whole lot of people were gathered around. Some of these workers would have gotten caught up in the celebration, party-ers without a clue. Others might have looked down at the cloaks and palms on the ground and groaned at the extra work that was in store for them.
Also in the crowd would have been the zealots, those who, like Judas, were really hoping Jesus would lead a violent revolution to overthrow the Roman oppressor. These were among those who obviously didn’t listen closely to what Jesus said but had rather remade Him in their imaginations into what they wanted Him to be.