Summary: As Jesus turns towards his last entry into Jerusalem… he is turning towards the cross… towards his being brutally crucified… that defines everything about his purpose… about the nature of how God relates to us… and about how we can find life.
The True Reign of Christ
Series: A Journey with Jesus (through the Gospel of John)
Brad Bailey – January 9, 2011
This past year… as we gathered on Sundays… we took a journey with Jesus through the Gospel of John.
We intentionally planned to resume that journey at the start of this year… with the final days that culminate in Jesus being crucified and rising again.
We will reach that point at Easter… for as with each of the Gospel accounts…. a large portion is given to this final week in which everything intensifies and culminates.
As Jesus turns towards his last entry into Jerusalem… he is turning towards the cross… towards his being brutally crucified… that defines everything about his purpose… about the nature of how God relates to us… and about how we can find life.
> The cross brings every life to a crossroads. That is the journey we begin to take up today.
Before we come to our primary text, lets look at how his final enty into Jerusalem unfolds.
John 11:55-57 (NIV)
55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57 But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.
We are now in the last week of the Lord’s earthly ministry. The masses are heading to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast…. And the city is waiting with a tension between hope and threat. It’s fascinating how one figure could force such a response… one of both joy and threat. It’s equally fascinating how our own culture can try to place him at a safe distance where we can try to simply cast him as a wise teacher and inspirational figure. But whenever he comes close… he will always stir something deep in our longings… and often a threat to our demand for control.
John 12:1 (NIV)
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany
Jesus has come close… reaching the suburb of Bethany…where he comes to the home of his close friends Martha and Mary… and Lazarus who he had raised from the dead.
The witnesses to the raising of Lazarus return to Jerusalem, broadcasting their sensational news, which is underscored by the presence of the former dead man himself, who is living proof of this miracle. Because of this there are those who place their faith in Christ as the Lord and Savior. This did not sit at all well with the religious authorities and the only action that they can think of that what will lead to a suitable solution…
John 12:9-10 (NIV)
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
So even as Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on Passover plans are already being made to kill him.
[Reading of the primary text]
John 12:12-25 (NIV)
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. 17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"
Imagine yourself in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. Thousands from all over the world were flooding into the city to observe the Passover. Josephus, the notable Jewish historian, estimated that over two million people were involved in the great Passover Feast. Imagine it was something like what we see in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Lots of people jamming the streets of the city, getting ready to celebrate. Except this time instead of just another Passover…. Something long awaited may really be coming….as they prepared to observe one of the most important feasts that the Jewish people celebrated all year, word came that Jesus was on his way into the city.