Palm Sunday Seen With Fresh Eyes – Weekly Sermon – April 14, 2019

“Palm Sunday Seen With Fresh Eyes”

Matthew 21;  Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12  (selected)

Introduction

The pastors of some denominations have the custom of greeting their paritioners each Sunday morning by saying, “Peace be with you.”  The congregation responds in unison, “And also with you.”   –A nice custom.

I heard the story of an Episcopal priest who walked up to the pulpit and was about ready to open the service, but he didn’t think his microphone was working.  He  tapped the microphone to see if it was on, and heard nothing — even though the system was on and working fine.  Under his breath, he said, “Something wrong with this thing!” –to which the congregation automatically responded in unison, “And also with you”!!!!!

–This story illustrates the danger of the familiar.  We can be so steeped in habit, custom and routine that we don’t really pay attention to what we are doing!

Question . . . .  Do you know that the most dangerous road you’ll ever travel on is the one you drive every day?    It is dangerous because it is familiar.   Because it is familiar, you take things for granted.   You cease being alert.  Your mind wanders.  You can drive it almost in a trance.   A limb may have fallen from a tree or a deer may be crossing the road, or a child may be riding a bicycle, and you may not now it until its too late!!!

Several years ago, an elderly friend of mine was struck and killed on the road in front of her home by a young woman who was on her way home from work.   She said, “I didn’t see her!”   She was driving the same route she took every day.   It was well known, familiar.

We’re talking about the problems of familiarity.  It’s wonderful to know something well.  The danger lies in knowing something so well that you stop to pay attention!

This is the danger we face as we come into the Easter season.   The accounts of the Triumphal Entry, the cross, and Resurrection are so familiar to most of us that we can easily go through the motions of a celebration without ever allowing the message of these events to touch us!!!!!

So, this morning, I want you to look at the passage before us as though you’ve never seen it before, and to listen as though you’ve never heard it before! [Selected] ➤➤➤ Matthew 21;  Mark 11; Luke 19; John 12

“As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 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.   If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'”

Those who were sent ahead went and found the colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway just as he had told them.   As they were untying the colt, its owners were standing there and asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

They replied,  “The Lord needs it, and he will return it right away.”   And the owners let them go.

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.   This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 

‘Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

     see, your king is coming,

     seated on a donkey’s colt.’

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 these things had been done to him.

A great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen continued to spread the word.   Many more people, because they had heard that he had performed these signs, went out to meet him. 

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.   Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,  ‘Hosanna!    Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!   Hosanna in the highest heaven!   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”   Blessed is the king of Israel!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!   Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus,  ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’

‘I tell you,’  he replied,  ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 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.   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.  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.’

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’

The crowds answered,  ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.   When the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,”  they were indignant.

‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’  they asked him.

‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read,

“From the lips of children and infants

    you, Lord, have called forth your praise?”

So the Pharisees said to one another,  ‘See, this is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him!’

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.”

This morning, I want to zero in on the question posed in Matthew 21:10:   “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked,   ‘Who is this?'”

I. HAD JESUS LOOKED IN THE MIRROR THAT MORNING AND ASKED HIMSELF, “WHO IS THAT GUY LOOKING BACK AT ME?”,  –HE WOULD HAVE SAID, “THAT IS GOD’S PROMISED MESSIAH, ISRAEL’S ONE TRUE KING!!!”   

“As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 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.   If anyone asks you,   ‘Why are you untying it?’  say,  ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'”

Those who were sent ahead went and found the colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway just as Jesus had told them.   As they were untying the colt, its owners were standing there and asked them,  “Why are you untying the colt?”

They replied,  “The Lord needs it, and he will return it right away.”   And the owners let them go.

When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.   This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 

‘Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

     see, your king is coming,

     seated on a donkey’s colt.’

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 these things had been done to him.  

First and foremost, Palm Sunday was the day on which Jesus presented himself to Israel as her Savior, her one true King!!!   Riding a donkey’s colt into the city amid the people’s praises was no lucky accident.   It was an event that Jesus well thought out and planned ahead of time – as is evidenced by His arranging the borrowing of a donkey in advance of that day!!!

B. The prophet Zechariah foresaw this event over 500 years before Jesus’ birth:   “’Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;  see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’”

C. Jesus knew exactly who he was and what He was doing when He arranged the loan of the donkey’s colt and rode it up into the holy city of Jerusalem.

II. THEN, TOO,  HAD THE PROPHET DANIEL BEEN PRESENT IN JERUSALEM THAT DAY,  AND, HAD HE BEEN ASKED THAT SAME QUESTION, “Who is this?”  HE WOULD HAVE EXCLAIMED,   “This is  Israel’s promised Prince!   He has come in  fulfillment of Gabriel’s promise to me!!!”

A. In Daniel 9:25,  the angel Gabriel gave one of the most profound and amazing prophecies in the entire Bible:   He said, “‘Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to [re]build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks ….’”   

1.  A prophetic “week” is 7 years.  Formula:  (7 X 7) + (62 X 7) = 483 years, at 360 days per year according to the ancient calendar.  

2. Nehemiah 2:1 records that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given on the 1st  day of Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes.   On our Julian calendar that would be March 14, 445 B.C.    Using the calendar of Daniel’s day, (360 days in a year), 483 years equals 173,880 days.

B. Question:   Guess what happened exactly 173,880 days after Cyrus issued the edict giving the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuiled Jerusalem???     Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, fulfilling the Daniel 9:2 prophecy.

C. In fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, it was on April 6, 32 A.D. that Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem,  Jesus presented Himself as Israel’s Savior, Deliver and King for the first time in public!!!!!    He had not done so before this!!!!!

III.  HAD YOU ASKED THE CHILDREN OF JERUSALEM, “Who is this?”, they would have enthusiastically replied,   “This is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of David!!!”

A. Jewish children were taught at an early age that one of the Messiah’s titles was “the Son of David”.    They were taught the scripture that says,   “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.    The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever;  his kingdom will never end.”

B. The children saw Jesus healing “the blind and the lame” in the Temple courts.    Their response was, “This guy is doing miracles!!!   He’s got to be the One!!  He’s GOT to be the Son of David!!!”   And they began to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”    –And they did so in fulfillment of David’s prophecy in Psalm 8:2, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise.”

IV. THE GREAT  MASSES OF PEOPLE WHO HAD COME TO JERUSALEM TO CELEBRATE PASSOVER COULD BE DIVIDED INTO TWO DISTINCT GROUPS:

1. First : “. . . the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen continued to spread the word.”

2. And then, the “Many more people, because they had heard that he had performed these signs, went out to meet him.    Many [of them] spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.   Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,  ‘Hosanna!    Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!   Hosanna in the highest heaven!   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”   Blessed is the king of Israel!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!   Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’

B. In answer to the question, “Who is this?”  in their praises these crowds acknowledged Jesus as . . .

1. the One who is the “blessed one”, 

2. the one “comes in the name of the Lord”, 

3. the Prince of “Peace” from heaven,  

4. the one who was to rule over “the coming kingdom of [their] father David. . .”, 

5. and that He was “the King who comes in the name of the Lord”!!!!!

V. NOW, THE PHARISEES SAW JESUS PERFORM THE SAME MIRACLES THAT THE CHILDREN SAW.    The children response was praise.   But had you asked the Pharisees,  ‘Who is this?'”  they would have replied,  “This is a guy we’ve got to get rid of.”

A.  To quote them exactly, the Pharisees said,  “. . . this is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him!’”

B. The established religion of that day felt threatened by a man who cleansed lepers,  cast out demons, opened blind eyes, made the lame to walk and the blind to see!!!    They were angry that He was upsetting the balance of order.   He was getting in the way!!!

C. They said,    “Look how the whole world has gone after him!’”

Funny they should say that!!!

1. John 3:16-17 says,  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.    For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

D. “Look how the whole world has gone after him,’”  they said!!!    –And they didn’t know how right they were!!!!    –It was exactly  because God so loved the world that Jesus came into the world.   And here, completely unwittingly, Jesus’ enemies are saying that “Look how the whole world has gone after him!'”  “. . .the whole world has gone after him. 

 In the very next section of John’s Gospel, he is going to tell of the coming of the Samaritans, the Greeks and the Romans to Jesus. They were the first representatives of that wider world, the first seekers from outside, who was about to come. The Jewish authorities were speaking better than / truer than they knew.

QUESTION IN CONCLUSION:     But, do you know what?  Today, in our 21st Century,  none of those people’s opinions really matter!

  The only thing that really matters is how YOU answer the question Jesus put to his disciples one day:   “Whom do YOU say that I am?”

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