Sermon title:  PALM SUNDAY—THE DAY JERUSALEM WELCOMED JESUS

Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:39-40; Matthew 21:4-5

 

    Immanuel Baptist Church – March 25, 2018

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Since December, our sermons

have been moving through the Gospels chronologically,

covering everything Jesus said and did

in the order in which

those events occurred.

 

But now, this is Palm Sunday,

and next Sunday is Easter,

so, we’ll temporarily put aside that pattern

to talk about these special days.

 

Actually, it’s a special week—

the climax of the work our Lord Jesus did on earth.

 

Palm Sunday commemorates

Jesus’ triumphal ride into Jerusalem,

a few days before his crucifixion. 

The following Friday,

Jesus went to the cross.

And early Sunday morning,

he rose from the grave.

 

Because this week is so significant,

the Gospels focus more on it

than on any other time period

in Jesus’ ministry.

 

The Gospel of John, in its 11th Chapter,[  OPEN  ]

sets the stage

for Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem.

 

It explains why Jesus, and thousands of other Jews,

were going to Jerusalem at this time.

 

John Chapter 11, beginning in Verse 55 says,

 

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.

 

Like thousands of other Jews,

Jesus was heading for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

Everyone expected him to be there, of course,

some looking forward to seeing him,

because they appreciated his ministry.

But many people knew

that the religious leaders had given orders to arrest him.

As time dragged on,

that just served to increase the suspense.

 

But Jesus was on his way,

and Mark, Chapter 11—which we just read from

in our responsive reading—

tells us what happened

as he reached the outskirts of the city.

 

Beginning in Mark 11, Verse 1, it says,

1  As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,

Jesus sent two of his disciples,

2  saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it,

you will find a colt tied there,

which no one has ever ridden.

Untie it and bring it here.

3  If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?'

tell him, 'The Lord needs it

and will send it back here shortly.' "

 

4  They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,

5  some people standing there asked,

"What are you doing, untying that colt?"

6  They answered as Jesus had told them to,

and the people let them go.

7  When they brought the colt to Jesus

and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.

 

There was obviously some divine intervention here.

Jesus knew about this donkey’s colt

though his divine omniscience—he knows everything.

The whole thing was pre-arranged, miraculously.

 

Why?

Matthew Chapter 21, Verses 4-5 tells us

that this was one more proof

that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.

The words “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean “Anointed One,”

a term applied to the Jewish kings

in the line of David and Solomon.

 

When Jesus was born, the Jews had been without an anointed king

for well over 500 years,

but they knew that a Messianic King

was promised in their Hebrew Scriptures.

 

So, Matthew Chapter 21, Verses 4-5 says,

 

4  This took place to fulfill what was spoken

through the prophet:

5  "Say to the Daughter of Zion,

'See, your king comes to you, gentle

and riding on a donkey, on a colt,

the foal of a donkey.' "

 

That prophecy comes from the Old Testament

at Zechariah 9:9, which says,

9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See,

your king comes to you, righteous and

having salvation, gentle and riding on a

donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

 

Although these things were written in prophecy,

Jesus’ disciples were swept up

with their own fears and thoughts

as they carried out Jesus’ instructions.

Just imagine, if Jesus had told you

to cross the bridge into Fairhaven,

find a Chevrolet convertible

parked in front of Fairhaven town hall

with the keys inside,

jump in and start it up,

and bring it back,

so Jesus could ride it into town.

Even if Jesus had told you

that people would say,

“What are you doing, taking this car?”

and would let you take it,

after you explained that the Lord needed it,

your heart would still be pounding,

as you followed those instructions.

So, the fulfillment of prophecy

was probably the farthest thing from their minds,

as they followed Jesus’ instructions

and got for him the colt that was tied up in the village.

 

So, John 12:16 tells us,

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.

 

John Chapter 12 also tells us, in Verses 12-13

that a crowd from the city

went out to meet Jesus, carrying palm branches.

John 12:12-13 says,

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!"

 

They took “palm branches” and went out to meet Jesus,

and that’s where our name for “Palm Sunday” comes from.

“Hosanna” is a Hebrew expression that means

"save us" or "help us, we pray."

 

This whole scene was prophesied

hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 118.

If we read from Psalm 118, beginning at Verse 22,

we’ll see that it is prophetic of the Messiah,

and that it shows the crowds shouting “Hosanna,”

and that it shows them carrying the palm branches,

and following Jesus in a procession into the city.

Psalm 118, beginning with Verse 22,

starts off with an expression Jesus applied to himself, and says,

 

The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone;

23

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes.

24

This is the day the Lord has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25

O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.

 

And this is what the crowd greeting Jesus was shouting.

Continuing in Psalm 118, Verse 26,

26

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

From the house of the Lord we bless you.

27

The Lord is God,

and he has made his light shine upon us. 

With boughs in hand,

join in the festal procession

up to the horns of the altar.

 

So, the Psalm written hundreds of years earlier

even prophesied that they would have “boughs in hand”

the boughs of palm trees—

as they joined the procession

accompanying Jesus into the city

right up to the Temple where God’s altar was.

 

In Luke Chapter 19 we see that

the religious leaders of the Jews

knew, of course, that the words from Psalm 118

that the people were shouting

were about the coming Messianic king.

 

They wanted to silence the crowds

to stop them from proclaiming Jesus as Christ the King.

 

So, in Luke 19, beginning at Verse 39, we read,

 

39  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd

said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"

40  "I tell you," he replied,

"if they keep quiet,

the stones will cry out."

 

The prophecies simply had to be fulfilled.

If the crowds kept silent,

the stones in the ground would cry out

with those words welcoming the coming King.

 

The final 4 verses from our responsive reading,

Mark 11, Verses 7 through 10 say,

 

7  When they brought the colt to Jesus

and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.

 

8  Many people spread their cloaks on the road,

while others spread branches

they had cut in the fields.

 

9  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna! "

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

 

10  "Blessed is the coming kingdom

of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!"

 

Many took the palm branches they were carrying

and spread them in the road ahead of Jesus,

while others laid their cloaks in the road.

 

Those were dirt roads, back then.

Penni and I live on a dirt road,

and we know how dusty our car gets

just driving down the road to our house.

The crowd of people

joining Jesus’ procession toward Jerusalem

would have stirred up huge dust clouds

from the dirt road.

So, laying palm branches and cloaks

on the road ahead of Jesus

was a very practical method

of keeping the dust down

and adding dignity to the procession.

 

It was also similar to

our modern practice

of rolling out the red carpet

for a royal visitor.

 

The religious leaders—the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees—

were hostile to Jesus and planned to arrest him.

But, despite their opposition,

crowds of people from Jerusalem welcomed Jesus

as their promised Messianic King.

 

But our Lord knew what lay ahead.

He knew that, a few days later,

the fickle crowds

would call for a murderer named Barabbas to be set free

and for Christ to be crucified.

 

Luke Chapter 19 shows[  OPEN  ]

that Jesus knew the true character of the city and its people.

And he grieved for them,

just as he had grieved over Israel’s rebellion

down through the centuries.

At Luke Chapter 19, beginning in Verse 41, we read

that Jesus broke down in tears

as he approached the city.

It says,

41

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city,

he wept over it

42

and said, "If you, even you, had only known

on this day what would bring you peace--

but now it is hidden from your eyes.

43

The days will come upon you

when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.

44

They will dash you to the ground,

you and the children within your walls.

They will not leave one stone on another,

because you did not recognize the time

of God's coming to you."

 

No, Jerusalem did not recognize

the time of God’s coming to them.

Instead of repenting from their sins,

they rejected their Messiah

and handed over the Son of God

to be crucified by the pagan Romans.

 

Our Lord knew very well what awaited him there

as he approached Jerusalem.

 

The crowds welcomed him

and honored him,

waving palm branches.

 

But Mark Chapter 10 shows[  OPEN  ]

that Jesus knew what would happen by the end of the week.

 

At Mark 10, beginning at Verse 33,

Jesus told the disciples—

when they first set out on this journey to Jerusalem.

 

He took the 12 aside, and told them,

 

“’We are going up to Jerusalem,’ he said,

‘and the Son of Man will be betrayed

to the chief priests and teachers of the law.

 

They will condemn him to death

and will hand him over to the Gentiles,

who will mock him and spit on him,

flog him and kill him.

Three days later he will rise.’” 

 

And that’s the key to it:  Three days later he will rise.

 

Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem,

welcomed by crowds as their foretold King.

He knew suffering and death awaited him there.

But he also knew his death on the cross

would bring salvation to countless millions of people

all around the whole world.

 

Crowds in Jerusalem welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday

as the King of Israel,

in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that we read

from Zechariah 9:9, which said,

 

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  

See, your king comes to you, righteous

and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

That same prophecy continued in its next verse,

Zechariah 9:10, to say that he would also rule

over the Gentile nations,

all over the earth.

 

Zechariah 9:10 says,

 

He will proclaim peace to the nations.

His rule will extend from sea to sea

and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

 

The Kingdom of God is not just for Israel,

but for the whole world of mankind.

 

The Christ who died on Calvary

is coming again in Kingdom power.

 

And when he comes again,

Matthew Chapter 23 indicates[  OPEN  ]

that this time all Jerusalem will welcome him,

with the same words

that the crowds shouted on Palm Sunday.

 

Jesus’ parting words to the city of Jerusalem

are found at Matthew Chapter 23, beginning in Verse 37,

and there Jesus said,

 

37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,

you who kill the prophets

and stone those sent to you,

how often I have longed

to gather your children together,

as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,

but you were not willing.

38

Look, your house is left to you desolate.

 

39

For I tell you, you will not see me again

until you say,

'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

So, when Christ comes again,

this time the Jews will welcome him

with those same words

that the crowds shouted on Palm Sunday,

'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

And Revelation 7, Verses 9-10[  OPEN  ]

indicates that all who are saved

by the blood of the Lamb

will join in that joyful shouting,

waving palm branches,

just like on that first Palm Sunday.

 

Revelation 7, beginning at Verse 9, says,

 

“After this I looked and there before me

was a great multitude that no one could count,

from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes

and were holding palm branches in their hands.

And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

 

Each one of us can gratefully proclaim

that we, too,

owe our salvation

to that Lamb of God

who rode a donkey into Jerusalem

on that Palm Sunday 2000 years ago.