“The Humble King”
As it’s Palm Sunday today, let us look together into Jesus Triumphal entry into Jerusalem
History is full of triumphal entries; conquerors returning home after victory in war, monarchs parading for coronation, heads of state on inauguration days and champions displaying their trophies and medals.
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was memorable for at least one thing, a very large crowd of people welcomed Him.
It was Passover time and commentators speculate that hundreds of thousands of people were visiting Jerusalem during that week.
All the tribes of Israel were gathered together for the Passover feast and Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world would soon be sacrificed.
V.19, says that the “whole world was following after Jesus.”
This is, in few words, the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The story of his “coronation” so to speak, as the King of the world.
But what kind of King is Jesus? For what reasons did he come into this world? What kind of reactions did he receive? These are all important questions and we will look into them today.
As we study Jesus triumphal entry, we are told firstly that Jesus is King, secondly we learn about his mission in the world, and lastly, what kind of expectations people had about Him.
JESUS AS KING
John states that Jesus is King – King of both Jews (vs. 12-15) and gentiles (vs. 17-21). John also tells us what kind of King Jesus is.
Jesus is sovereign. Verse 12 starts with “The next day, […]” Or the day after Jesus had dinner with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and Mary anointed his feet with an expensive perfume (vs. 1-11). You will notice that Judas was present at the dinner and he didn’t like Mary’s actions (vs. 4-5), or Jesus response to his suggestions of waste (vs. 7-8). On that same night, after dinner, Matthew informs us that Judas set out to “sell” Jesus to the Pharisees. Matt. 26:14-16
We do well to remember that Jesus was not at the mercy of the conspiracies of his enemies – he had absolute control of the circumstances. Things were happening exactly as set by God’s sovereign Providence.
In V.23 Jesus tells his disciples that “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Chapter 13.1 states that “Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and return to the Father.”
The whole time his enemies were plotting to kill him, Jesus is in total control of the circumstances; they had tried to kill him before, but up to this point Jesus had never allowed them to arrest him, for His time had not yet come. But now it has arrived. The day and hour that Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem, fulfilled with accuracy, one of the most extraordinary Old Testament prophecies about his own death (Daniel 9.24-26).
Jesus is sovereign, nothing escape his attention. Life and death are in his hands
Another fact that comes to my attention is Jesus submission. Yes, he is King, but whist sovereign he still submits to his Father’s will.
Jesus actions were directly instructed by his Father and predicted by Scripture. Both Matthew and John refer to Zechariah’s 9.9 prophecy which was fulfilled by Jesus. John 12: 14-15:
“Jesus found a donkey and sat upon it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
Not even the disciples understood the events at first, only later they realized that what happened was prophecy being fulfilled.
Zechariah’s prophesy reads like this (Zechariah 9.9):
“Rejoice greatly o daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
John call our attention in V.15 and he says,“See your King is coming”. he is echoing his own words from John1.29: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Look, pay attention, take notice. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
Jesus is king, he is both the King of the Jews (v.13) and Gentiles (v.20), sovereign yet submissive to the will of his Father.
I notice that some people only went out to meet Jesus after they found out about the miracle of Lazarus’s resurrection V.17-19.
Lazarus resurrection is found in chapter 11. In V.25-26 Jesus, speaking to Martha said:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Luke 19.10 says that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. His purpose is to make disciples who will follow him and receive eternal life.
In V.19 We find the Pharisees very worried with the amount of people who were following Jesus. “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” they are obviously very concerned about Jesus popularity.
Jesus is still attracting people to himself and that sense his mission is still being fulfilled today.
We have spoken about Jesus Kingship and mission, finally, we will look into people’s expectations about him.
EXPECTIONS ABOUT JESUS
I notice at least four kinds of audiences in this story. Four distinct crowds. Each with different expectations and attitudes towards Jesus.
THE FIRST CROWD is that of those who wished to make Jesus a nationalist king, a hero and a political liberator. Israel was under the rule of the Romans and there were those who were desperate to see Israel free from the Roman bondage. Misunderstanding Jesus call, they had already tried to crown him their king before, with no avail, (John 6.14-15).
Now, a crowd much greater than the one in John 6 are trying to do the same, history is repeating itself, the difference here is that this time Jesus doesn’t object, he doesn’t tell them to stop calling him king. V.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!”
By this time, Palm trees had become a nationalistic symbol. Their Messianic identification of Jesus was correct, only their hope of political liberation was not aligned with the kind of liberation Jesus had in mind.
Answering Pilate’s question about being a King, Jesus said, John 18.36-37
“My kingdom is not of this world […] It is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate […] You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (NIV)
Jesus is a truthful king. He’s the truth. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The truth that sets people free. Free from the world, the Devil and from themselves.
But what the first crowd want is a political king. In due time they will come to reject him.
THE SECOND CROWD were those who decided to follow Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection. V.17-18:
It seems to me they only saw Jesus as a miracle worker. They wanted miracles and healings but didn’t seem to be interested in knowing Jesus as their saviour and Lord. They too would reject Jesus by choosing to free Barabbas, See John 18: 39-40
THE THIRD CROWD was made up of the religious leaders V.19
“So, the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
This crowd represent those who have already rejected and want to stop people from following Jesus. Think of names like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. The so called “four horsemen of atheism.” They hate Jesus and want to stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Three kinds of people, those who want power, those who want miracles, and those whose default position is to reject Jesus. I hope you don’t identify with any of these three crowds.
But thanks God, there was a FOURTH CROWD, those who are on a learning journey. Perhaps you have doubts (it is okay to doubt) or find the whole thing about Jesus strange and amusing. Remember, not even the disciples themselves understood at first what was happening with him; eventually they did V.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.”
If you are still struggling and want to know more about who Jesus really is, ask God for help, the Holy Spirit will open your understanding.
Jesus is King, but make no mistake, that King, who came humble on a donkey’s colt, will come back again, he will no longer ride on a donkey, he will come as a judge and a warrior. We have a picture of Jesus second coming in Revelation 19: 11.21: John, the same one who wrote the words of our main text, was exiled in the isle of Patmos and there he had a vision. He said:
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. […] 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
‘king of kings and lord of lords.‘”
Jesus will come again, but no longer as a humble king.
I would like to ask you today, to what kind of crowd do you belong? What kind of king is Jesus to you?
Perhaps he is not yet your king, if not, why not crown him your king today?
Jesus is the best king one could ever have. His kingdom will last for all eternity.
Maranatha! come King Jesus, come.