Summary: For once, Jesus is worshiped appropriately and publicly for who He actually was. Authentic worship results in our obeying Jesus completely, loving others impartially and praising Him wholeheartedly, and when we do, the world asks, Who is This?
Eyewitness to the Messiah
Worship—as It Was Meant to Be
In this fallen world, we all experience some good news, and then some bad news. Sometimes they good news and the bad news comes at the same time. Here are a few examples of what can happen for pastors.
Good News: The Women’s Group voted to send you a get-well card. Bad News: The vote passed by 11-10.
Good News: The Elder Board accepted your job description the way you wrote it. Bad News: They were so inspired by it, they also formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position.
Good News: Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons. Bad News: Mrs. Jones is also wild about the "Beavis and Butthead" and the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre."
Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks. Bad News: You were on vacation.
Good News: Your deacons want to send you to the Holy Land. Bad News: They are waiting until the next war.
Brothers and sisters, these good news/bad news situation don’t just happen to preachers, they happen to everybody! No one is immune from both good and bad in life. And the same was true for our Lord Jesus Christ. This morning, we begin the review of the final week of His life, with some very good news, and a very good day, just before he would experience some very bad news and some very bad days.
It is Palm Sunday, March 30th, 33 A.D. in the holy city, Jerusalem. It's the beginning of the Passover Festival in Jerusalem. It was one of the three feasts in Jerusalem each year which every Jewish male over 20 years of age was required to attend. Pilgrims were jamming the city—it's estimated that between 2 and 2.5 million Jewish pilgrims had travelled to Jerusalem to commemorate the great deliverance of Israel from Egypt, when the Passover Lambs were sacrificed as a ransom to save the first-born of Israel from the fate of the first-born of Egypt. It was the final plague among the 10 that broke Pharaoh and Egypt and allowed the Son of Israel to exit Egypt for the Promised Land. On this Passover about 200,000 to 250,000 lambs would be sacrificed in commemoration of that first Passover, but there was one Lamb, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, who was on His way to Jerusalem to participate in His own sacrifice, a sacrifice that would change the world, and eternity, and has changed many of our lives this morning.
Of course, I'm speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, Israel's Messiah, the Son of David, the only begotten Son of God. And Palm Sunday was a good day, a great day in His ministry, because it was perhaps the only day in His entire earthly ministry that He received the wide-spread public acclaim and worship that He was so worthy of—He was worshiped as the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of David, God in the flesh. And so I've entitled this message this morning as Worship—as it was meant to be. "Worship—as it was Meant to be." I want you to imagine this morning, what our church would be like, what any church would be like, if we really worshiped Jesus in the way we were meant to worship Him. In the way that would please Him, in Spirit and in Truth, in every respect. What kind of difference would it make in our lives? What kind of difference would it make in our fellowship, our church? What kind of difference would it make in our community, our world?
What would it look like—well it would be revolutionary. It would be like what happened on that Palm Sunday—we would worship Jesus by obeying Him completely, loving others impartially and praising Jesus whole-heartedly. And people would want to know who Jesus is as a result. What's so special about Him?
You see, on this day, Jesus was honored in a way which was fit for a king. He was worshiped in a way that was fit for God, our Savior and Deliverer. Let me tell you how.
Jesus and His entourage had been approaching Jerusalem from the east, from Jericho. And they had come to a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Bethpage, which means house of unripe figs, and is located about two miles away, on the eastern flank of the Mount of Olives. If you'll remember, the Mount of Olives figures very prominently in the history and the future of Israel. It's a ridge that is about 200 feet higher than Mount Zion, the hill upon which Jerusalem sits. It's located just to the east of Mount Zion, and as you can see from this photo, affords the best view you can have of the Holy Mountain, and where the temple should be, and the city of Jerusalem. It's the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, and according to Zechariah 14:1-4, it's the place to which He will return from Heaven when He comes again. We're told there that His very feet will set upon the Mount of Olives. And it is also from the Mount of Olives where He begins His Triumphal Procession into Jerusalem. It's an incredibly significant moment. It is the fulfillment of the hopes and fears of all the years with regard to the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, whose coming had been prophesied for 1500 years, and it is occurring very possibly on the precise day predicted by the Prophet Daniel's famous prophecy of the 70 weeks, or 70 sevens of years from Daniel 9:26-27—exactly 173,880 days after the decree went forth from Artaxerxes, King of Persia to rebuild and restore the walls of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. Only the true Messiah of Israel could have presented Himself to Israel as its Messiah on this day. And that is exactly what Jesus is doing. It's so important that it's an event that is recorded in all four of the Gospels. Up until this time Jesus was known as a prophet, perhaps the prophet prophesied by Moses, but He has not publicly presented Himself as the Son of David, the Messiah, for his hour had not yet come. But on this day, after three years of the most incredibly supernatural ministry the world has ever seen, He comes to Jerusalem, the capitol city of Israel, where the King should rule and reign over Israel and the world, to present Himself openly and publicly as the Messiah, the Son of David. Israel's fate, the world's fate, hung in the balance—depended upon Israel's reception or rejection of Jesus as its Messiah. Actually, the fact is, Israel and the world's fate had already been determined by the eternal counsels of God Almighty, that in keeping with her rebellious nature, Israel as a nation, would reject and even crucify its own long-awaited Messiah and deliverer.