Saturday, April 4, 2020

Triumphal Entry? - Luke 19:29-44 - April 5, 2020

These are the Sermon Notes for April 5, 2020. Watch our livestream service every Sunday at 9:37 am on our facebook page or watch the livestream recordings any time.

Luke 19:29-44 Triumphal entry?
Good morning! Today is a special day, on the Christian calendar today is what is traditionally called Palm Sunday. 
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter where we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Gospels give us a day by day account of Holy Week, the week that begins today and ends on Easter Sunday next week. 
But the church didn’t just slap a label on Palm Sunday, the events we are going to look at in Luke 19:29-44 this morning really happened on the Sunday before Jesus was crucified, the Last Supper really did happen on Thursday of that week. Jesus really was crucified on Good Friday and He really did rise from the dead on Easter Sunday.
The church has given these special days special names over the years and today we are going to think about Palm Sunday and some of the elements of Jesus’ triumphal entry and consider if Jesus’ triumphal entry was really all that triumphal.
Luke 19:29-40
29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, [the Mount of Olives] he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
There is some really interesting stuff going on here! But to understand its significance we have to dig a little deeper. 
The Prophecy
Luke leaves out some of the details that the other Gospels include, the first of which is that Jesus is fulfilling prophecy here in this scene.
Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
That’s Jesus riding on the colt! And the Jewish people, the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem, were rejoicing greatly and shouting aloud! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
The Donkey
The donkey itself is significant too. 
Entering the city on a donkey was a simple way to symbolize the truth that Jesus did in fact come as King of Israel. 
When Solomon became king after David, he rode his father's favorite mule during the inaugural procession into Jerusalem in 1 Kings 1:33. Now, a far greater "Son of David" rides triumphantly into the city of kings on a donkey. It showed for the first time that he accepted the title, and he accepted the people's praise.
Do you have a flannelgraph picture in your mind? ‘Cause I do!

The Palms
We call this Sunday “Palm Sunday,” but interestingly Luke left out the palm branches. 
Matthew and Mark both include the cutting down of palm branches and waving them around and spreading them on the road and this was significant! It’s traditional to hand out palm fronds on palm Sunday that often get woven into little crosses.
Palm branches are highly symbolic in Jewish culture, they are like the bald eagle of Israel. They represented refreshment, blessing, festival, new life, and victory! Palm branches were even stamped on their coins! 
It was no small thing that the people would spread them on the road before Jesus, they were declaring that Jesus was in fact the Messiah! “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
Verse 38 says, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
 “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Does that sound familiar? It reminds me of the angels’ annunciation of Jesus’ miraculous birth.
The Crowd
This crowd of people was an interesting mix too. You’ve got the disciples obviously, you also have a crowd from Bethany, people who had just witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The city of Jerusalem and its surrounding villages would have been filled to overflowing with pilgrims for Passover, you also have the regular crowd of cranky old Pharisees following Jesus around, and then you have the Romans trying to keep all this craziness under control. You’ve got believers, you’ve got skeptics, and you’ve got scoffers.
The believers in the crowd were shouting a phrase straight from Zechariah’s prophecy: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
The word "Hosanna" is an Aramaic expression that means "save, I pray!" or "help, I pray!" 
We can see it in Psalm 118, 25Save us, we pray, O Lord! [There’s the word Hosanna] O Lord, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!
It’s not insignificant that in Luke’s account Jesus goes directly to the Temple after all of this.
Some of the skeptics and scoffers in the crowd, otherwise known as the Pharisees say to Jesus in verse 39, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “They are saying that you’re Messiah! Tell them to knock it off!”
But Jesus knew what was going on and He accepted the people’s praise because He is in fact Messiah! He said that if He made the people stop yelling praises the rocks would start yelling praises instead!
The Twist
Now this is where the “Triumphal Entry” takes a twist; a turn that the people didn’t expect. 
The people had misunderstood the Messianic hope. Their “hosannas” were a cry for Jesus to save them from their circumstances, a prayer that lately, I am sure, has been echoed all over the world in the midst of our current crisis. The people on that day were shouting “Hosanna,” in hopes that Jesus would save them from the oppression of the Romans and give Israel back their kingdom. 
People had tried to force Jesus to be their king in the past but He had refused it and hid Himself from them, but now here He was finally accepting their nomination and riding triumphantly into the city! 
And in the middle of the parade He stops, no doubt to make a very kingly speech…
Jesus stops the procession and looks out from the hillside across the valley to the Holy City of Jerusalem… 
A hush falls over the crowd… Jesus is going to speak…
But instead of making an acceptance speech, instead of making a declaration that now is the time for the Romans to go and for His kingdom to be set up and for Him to take His rightful place on the throne of His father David… He starts to cry. He weeps over the city and her people.
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Can you hear His heart? The people longed for peace and He longed to give it to them, but it wasn’t the same kind of peace. 
Can you see His love for God’s chosen people and for the Holy City? Can you see His anguish over their rejection of Messiah?
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem wasn’t triumphant, it was tragic. 
He was scorned and rejected by the ones He came to save. They wanted Him to conquer the Romans and cleanse the nation of Israel but instead He came to conquer sin and death and cleanse those who would believe in Him of all their unrighteousness.
But that’s not what they wanted, that’s not what the crowd was after, His triumphal entry had totally fizzled. It’s not that it didn’t go as Jesus planned but it certainly didn’t go as anyone else wanted…
The people were disappointed and the crowds dissipated, even the Disciples would eventually desert Him. 
He wasn’t the kind of king that people were looking for but He is the kind of King that people NEED.
I’m not so sure that we are that much different.
They wanted a Messiah to save them from our circumstances not their sins.
They wanted a king to conquer Rome and give them their nation back but Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world.
Are we any different? 
After all, we can see our circumstances; we can see what our earthly troubles do to us, what this virus is doing to us, to our families and friends, we pray for sickness to stop, we pray for difficulties to end, we want health and wealth and good times, and to watch baseball and eat out again. 
We often don’t see how Jesus could work through our trouble, how He can and will use our difficulties to make us more like Him, to spread His gospel and expand his kingdom.
We want Jesus to conquer America again, we want Him to kick out the ungodly rulers and make this a Christian nation again with laws that honor Him. Have we have forgotten that He said that His kingdom is not of this world?
The people in that crowd on the first Palm Sunday didn’t trust Jesus to be who He really was or to do the task that the Father had asked Him to do. They wanted a political Messiah and He said, no.
They wanted Him to save them from their difficult circumstances and He said, no.
When given the opportunity to trust Him to be who He is and do what He was there to do the crowd said, no.
But what will you say?
Will you trust Jesus Christ to save you from your sin even if He doesn’t save you from your circumstances? Jesus died on the cross in our place, to take the punishment that we deserved for our sin, not to make our lives any easier.
Will you trust Jesus to walk beside you through your circumstances and allow Him to make you more like Himself even if it’s hard? Because that’s exactly what He promised to do! 
He promised to never leave us! He promised that in this world we will have trouble! But we can take heart, because He has overcome this world! 
It doesn’t matter how bad it gets, it will never separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus!
So, do you trust Him?! Well… trust Him then! 
Don’t be like the people of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday who blinded their eyes to the things that made for peace. 
It is only by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone by God’s grace alone that makes for true peace: peace with God, and peace with our circumstances because we know that God is at work in them.