April 14, 2019
People in the United States are quite independent. From the very beginning of this country it was determined that we would never have a king. Supposedly in our country we subscribe to the idea of ‘Live and let live.” We are a people free to live as we choose. We don’t think about needing a savior of any kind. If there is any saving that needs to be done we prefer to save ourselves. With Frank Sinatra we say, “I did it my way.”
If this is how you think, I hate to break the news to you, but according to the Bible we all need a particular Savior who also happens to be God the King. This Savior-King is Jesus Christ. On this Palm Sunday we are looking at Lk.19:28-44. Men and women, Jesus Christ has come to be our Savior-King.
I. SEE OUR SAVIOR’S HUMILITY. Lk.19:28-36
When you are at the top of your game and you are “in the moment” or “in the zone,” so to speak, danger is lurking near. It is in those moments that pride often asserts itself. We begin to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. I remember being at a large event with a well-known Christian leader. He seemed a little prideful to me. I mentioned that to the pastor I was with and he said something like, “Well, when you are in front of people all the time you’ve got to have a little hutzpah in you.” I guess, but I’m not so sure.
In my view, such pride reflects the way of this world. Humility doesn’t involve having a poor self-image. Humility is not about putting oneself down. In the world, however, humble people do not often go very far.
We are all familiar with the story of Palm Sunday or the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. When we read v.28-36 one does not get a sense of triumph. Look at those verses. “And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 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. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.”
Over the years as I have preached the Palm Sunday passages, I have come to think that what happened with Jesus on that day would have been unusual but not unnatural. People were drawn to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. What they were doing would’ve made sense to them in that moment. And yet, one also gets the idea that Jesus was intentionally making a very important statement.
In sending the disciples to get a donkey for him to ride, Jesus was sending a message. It was a message with links to the Old Testament. Matthew and John actually quote from Zech.9:9, which 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.” Clearly Jesus was not coming on a war horse of power and victory. He presented himself humbly. This is because God is humble. Jesus, God in the flesh, did not promote himself, nor did he push his way into people’s lives. He brought about our salvation by humbling himself to death on a cross, offering himself to the deepest humiliations society can bring. During his life on earth Jesus was constantly bearing in his body the prideful sins of the world that were poured out upon him from the world around him.
The fact that Jesus presented himself in this humble way suggests that this is the way Jesus presents himself to everyone. At the end of the day it is pride that keeps people from embracing Jesus. Those who receive Jesus’ cleansing and life come in humble repentance and faith. There is just no room for any kind of personal pride in the kingdom of God. No one is saved by their cleverness and personal achievements. The road to Jesus is marked with humble repentance.
That said, it is also true that Jesus’ followers are to be marked by humility. In Phil.2:3 Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is not easy to do in this pride-filled world because humility is often seen as weakness. Pride-filled people often take advantage of humble people. Unfortunately, such pride is even found in the church of Jesus Christ. Are we not all grieved at how power and money have exalted a number of pastors to their downfall? How does this help the church carry out the mission of Jesus? What do you boast in? In Gal.6:14, Paul writes, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
We do well to fix in our mind the image of Jesus riding on a donkey as we live in this world. It is not just the Lord who has need of the donkey. Each of us must come down from our high horses and seek the donkey of humility.
II. SEE OUR SAVIOR’S ROYALTY. Lk.19:37-40
In v.37-40 we read, “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, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."
As we think about these verses it is important to notice that the people rejoicing and praising God are referred to as disciples. These are people who have attached themselves to Jesus to one degree or another. They were praising God for the mighty works they had seen Jesus do. They did not think Jesus was God but they did think Jesus was possibly the Messiah, God’s anointed king. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” These words come from Ps.118:26.
There were a number of reasons why people became disciples of Jesus. In v.37 we see that people were drawn to Jesus because of his mighty works, his miracles of goodness, kindness and mercy. In fact, John tells us that when Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 they tried to take him by force to make him their king. Others became disciples of Jesus because of his teachings about the kingdom of God. In Lk.19:11, we read, “As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.” In their frame of reference they thought Jesus was the Messiah who would redeem Israel out from under Roman oppression. Jesus would reestablish the throne of David. Every so often Jesus would give a really difficult teaching like in Jn.6 about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. John writes in Jn.6:66, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” In other words some people became disciples of Jesus because of what he could do for them or because they had nationalistic hopes. When Jesus didn’t fulfill their expectations they left him.
It’s interesting that in Jn.6 Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus was and is God’s anointed King. And I’m assuming that since you are here this morning, you profess to be his follower. You profess to worship him as your king. But what kind of king do you worship? For some who profess to be his disciple, Jesus is sort of like a pez dispenser. We call upon him when we have a need or we are in trouble, hoping that he will help us. Like those who were hoping Jesus would reestablish the Jewish throne, we only want him for what he can do for us here and now.
But Jesus is Lord and King over all. His agenda includes far more than our personal comfort and health in this world. He came to restore all things in a new creation. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Jesus did not come to join your kingdom and enhance your life, he came to call us to be in his kingdom. So if we recognize his divine royalty, we must lay all that we are and have at his feet in his service.
III. SEE OUR SAVIOR’S DESPONDENCY. Lk.19:41-44
In v.41-44 we read, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 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. 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 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.”
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament we read in Ps.80:14, “O God of mighty acts, turn then, look upon us from heaven and see and visit [or take care of] this vine.” When John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah burst out in song. In Lk.1:68 Zechariah says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” In Lk.7 when Jesus raised a man from the dead we read, “Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!”
Here in Lk.19 it is the first Palm Sunday. People are rejoicing, praising God, honoring Jesus as King. And what is Jesus doing? In v.41 he is weeping. These are not tears of joy. These are tears that flow from strong inner emotions. In fact the word suggests sobbing. Jesus is weeping, lamenting over the city. Why? Because by in large, the people of Israel did not recognize that in Jesus, God’s saving visitation had come. They crucified the Lord of glory, the Savior of the world. In rejecting Jesus they brought the judgment of God upon themselves. In v.43-44 Jesus prophecies the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 AD.
Some people have a very brutal view of God. There may be any number of reasons for this. But it is a wrong view. God is not brutal. He is not mean. Just as God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, so God was in Christ weeping over the city of Jerusalem. And God is in Christ weeping over your unwillingness to own Jesus as your Savior-King.
The truth of the matter is this Palm Sunday is another day of visitation. As you are listening, God is making his appeal to you. I implore you on behalf of Jesus Christ, to be reconciled to God. Call upon Jesus to save you from your sins and give you his eternal, new creation life today.