Pastor Edward Brouwer 3-25-18 “Traveling with Jesus to Jerusalem” Luke 19:28-48
Traveling with Jesus: To Jerusalem
Many of you are familiar with the hit BBC production Downton Abbey. One of my favorite characters is Lord Grantham played by the actor Hugh Bonneville. You might be surprised to know that this actor has a Theology Degree from Cambridge University. Recently he was approached by American Public Television to narrate a production called Jesus: Countdown to Calvary, which will air on most PBS stations sometime this week before Easter. The actor Hugh Bonneville is himself a self-professed agnostic. He and the filmmakers do not address questions of the divinity of Christ or faith but are simply looking at the historical, political and religious factors that make Jerusalem a powder keg during the last few days of Jesus earthly life. For example are you aware that the city would swell tenfold in population during the Feast of Passover? (Think Mecca and the Great Mosque during the Haj or Times Square on New Year’s Eve). Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims would flood in from all over Israel and the Roman world. It’s estimated that over a million sheep would be ritually slaughtered that week for Passover. In the interview Hugh openly asks did Jesus know at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday that he would be hanging on a cross by Friday? We who are believers accept as an article of faith that Jesus did know—that in fact Jesus entire life was building up to that.
Read Luke 19:28-44
Jesus understands perfectly that he is both King of Israel and the Nations and the Lamb of God: that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John 13:1 says “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” Over and over again during the ministry of Jesus we see him saying and doing things “in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled”. Biblical theologians estimate over 350 prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus, and what is happening here at the Triumphal Procession we see at least two more being fulfilled.
First: Jesus is consciously identifying himself as the Lamb who will be slain—alluding to the feast of Passover in which a perfect lamb was killed and the blood smeared on the doorposts of homes in order that the Angel of Death would “passover” homes covered by the blood. In Exodus 12:3 God tells Moses to have each household identify the lamb that will be sacrificed, to be chosen on the 10th day of the month. The sacrifice itself would fall on the eve of the 15th. In Jewish reckoning the lamb would be chosen on the first day of the week and 5 days later it would be sacrificed. Make no mistake; Jesus is presenting himself as the lamb on the 10th because he knows he will be offered up by the following Thursday evening.
Second: Jesus is presenting himself as the Savior king of Israel. Now in all 4 gospels, this Triumphal entry is recorded; which shows its importance. (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-15) In two of the gospels, Matthew and John specifically point out that Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would come as a humble King. This is taken from Zechariah 9:9-10
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….
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
When Jesus gets up that Sunday morning he knows exactly where this is going and has all this in mind. He tells two of his disciples to go get a donkey at a certain place. He rides into Jerusalem to the adulation of the crowd. Listen to what they say: “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Even the king of Israel! Peace in Heaven and Glory to God in the Highest! Hosanna in the Highest!”
What does the Greek word hosanna mean? It is derived from 2 Hebrew words Hosa and nah. Hosa means “save” or “redeem” and nah means “we beseech thee” or “we pray”. Hosanna means: “Save us we beseech thee!” Make no mistake: Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem that day on a donkey shows that he is the humble King and Passover Lamb—and the people know it too! Or at the very least they believe that he is the King who will come and deliver them from Roman occupation.
Now put yourself in the perspective of the people in this drama (who are you?): The two disciples getting the donkey and her foal? The owners of the donkey? The crowd crying praises to the Messiah and laying out their coats and palm fronds? The Pharisees telling Jesus to silence the crowds because they find what they are saying to be offensive? Who are you?
Take these two disciples. Jesus tells them to go into the village of Bethphage (house of figs) untie a donkey and her colt and if anyone asks, say “the Master hath need and will return these immediately”. And it happens this way precisely. Jesus is asking them to take a little time and run an errand for him—an errand that he predicts perfectly. The effect on them must have been wonder and belief, for by now they had seen so many miracles and evidence that Jesus was divine that this example added to that. Are you one of those disciples? Have you seen the unmistakable and inexplicable evidence in your life that Jesus is who he says he is? And do you respond in faith?
Or take the owners of the donkey and the foal. Luke writes that when the disciples began walking off with the pair that the owners confronted them and said “what are you doing?” In that moment the owners had a choice: The Master is asking them to lend their donkeys for a short while and they will be returned soon. And I don’t know if this was some sort of Jedi mind trick as in “these aren’t the droids you are looking for” but the owners lend the donkeys. Do you have something in your life that the Lord himself by his Spirit is saying to you “the Master has need of this or that?”
Or take the crowd, shouting praises, giving worship, and laying down their cloaks. These people are taking a little time that glorious Sunday morning, and laying down their clothing and palm fronds (which they have presumably cut from trees) as an expression of their worship and adoration.
Or take the Pharisees—these skeptics and agnostics who see what Jesus is doing and understand the implications that he is accepting their praise as the King of Israel, as the Messiah, and they say “rebuke your disciples!” Are you sometimes filled with skeptical doubt about the claims of Jesus?
What thing is Jesus calling you to offer? An hour of your time to fetch a donkey? Or lending your donkeys for a few hours because the Master needs them? Or perhaps an hour of your time on a Sunday morning to worship Him?
Allow me to share a personal story about a Jesus calling moment in my own life. When I first came to Providence I heard of the Bible program that several of you were involved with and I felt called to volunteer an hour of my time on Tuesdays to share the gospel with kids in the public schools. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting beside a sweet child and it had been a particularly chaotic story time in which it seemed like very few were paying attention and I thought “is this really a good use of my time?” I was helping this child with the craft and explaining what asking, seeking and knocking was about. I asked her if she had accepted Christ? She burst into tears and ran out of the room. I followed her and asked her what the matter was. She said “nobody loves me, God doesn’t love me”. That broke my heart. This child, for whatever wounds or hurt in her life, has not felt the love of God. As I reflect on that experience I understand that when the Master asks you to give of yourself, of your time, or your talent or treasure—whether that be a donkey, a cloak, some borrowed palm fronds, an hour of your time to worship him or serve him, or even your doubts and fears…that all that is for your good and for His glory.
What is Jesus asking you to offer him today? Maybe it’s a relationship he wants you to pursue or to give up. Maybe it’s a fear or worry or even an addiction to something that you’ve been holding on to. Maybe it’s your pain or suffering that he wants you to offer as a sacrifice of praise. Maybe it’s your doubt and skepticism. Give it to him, you will never regret it. In this story of the Triumphal Entry, all 4 gospel writers want us to know and believe this: He is your Savior. He is your Redeemer. He is the Humble King who gives you peace. Give yourself to Him fully and experience the joy of His love.