Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Who Is This? Sermon Notes on Triumphal Entry

Matt. 21:1-16
Who Is This?
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Who Is This?
         Hast thou Not Heard?
         Thou art mindful of Him.
         He Is the King of Glory.

         Today we look at the Triumphal Entry of our Lord Jesus into Jerusalem. We often call this day Palm Sunday because the crowd cut palm branches and strawed them in the way as Jesus rode into town on a donkey that had never been ridden.
Many Christians act as if Jesus’s ride into Jerusalem was a fool’s errand. They view the Triumphal Entry almost as if it were one long tragic train wreck, at least as far as it concerns Jesus taking up His Kingship in Jerusalem.  Their view is that all of that, the ride into Jerusalem on a king’s mount, the people preparing the way, the shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David, were all misunderstandings of what Jesus really came to do.
         They skip over the Triumphal Entry and scoot right on up to the cross and the glory of the Resurrection.  Of course, no cross, no salvation. No Resurrection, no victorious life. So, the cross and resurrection are most important. We will consider death and life next week. But today, Jesus is riding into Jerusalem. The people proclaim Him King and Jesus received the worship and the acclamation. He seems to think that He is exactly what they say He is, the expected King of the Jews and even more.
         It is interesting how our pre-conceived doctrines play havoc on our hermeneutics.  What we already think is the case colors how we read our Bibles. There really is no way around this. Every time you open your Bible, you are making interpretations based upon what you already know. Or, at least, what you THINK you know. That is okay. It is how we are made. But a faithful Christian and Bible student is willing to let the text lead him wherever it goes, instead of him leading the text wherever he wants it to go. If his pre-conceived idea is pushed around or even beat up by Scripture, he is not offended. His desire is to be true to the text and he is not afraid of what that text might do to him or his ideas.
         One strong pre-conception about Scripture that colors how we read the text is what we think the story is, in the main. Generally speaking, most of us have been taught that the main gist of the Bible is about salvation and by salvation, we mean soteriology, the study of how man is saved. So far, I am okay with that. If we take Salvation to mean the work that God is doing to save man and His world then I am with you. But we often reduce salvation to mean the way in which individuals ‘get saved.’ And when we read the Bible that way, our very idea of the gospel also gets shrunk down. The gospel then becomes the message by which men ‘get saved.’
         Some of you may be thinking, “So, isn’t that exactly what the Bible is about?”
         But let us take a slightly different tack. If the main gist of the Bible is the story that God is telling, what is that story? It is a story of creation, fall into sin by Adam and Eve, banishment from God’s garden and then God’s plan to redeem and restore mankind. That is, of course, the salvation part, man’s redemption. But redemption in this way of looking at it is part of the larger story. We should be reading our bibles and all of the subplots with the larger story in mind. 
Thus, eschatology is a better lens through which we view God’s plans. What is God up to? How will He build His kingdom? What is He doing as King? What does His Kingdom look like? What is the end game?
         These are very different questions than how does one ‘get saved.’ And I want to keep asking that question but if we ask that question in regards to the Triumphal Entry the story does not make much sense to us. How does the fact that the people think Jesus is a King affect my salvation? But if we ask how does this play into God’s larger story of redemption of the world, then there are good answers. Jesus really is a King, not just king of my heart. He is King of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the utter ends of the Earth.
         If your view is that Jesus came to Earth to save souls and take them to heaven when they die, then all this business about being the King of the entire Earth does not make sense. It makes more sense to explain away the Earthly kingdom in light of a spiritual kingdom up in Heaven. And if you go there, then there are far reaching ramifications. This world begins to fade away and the only real world for you is “getting out of this one and going to that one in the sky.”  About the only thing we can conceive of in that case are departed souls. There is no room for stuff, work, houses, study, and the like. We all become perfected minds floating around in space.
         What does this all have to do with the Triumphal Entry? Well, everything! When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, His ride was the culmination of the entire Jewish history. The people were proclaiming Him as the one who would sit on David’s throne forever. They understood that this One was the Messiah. Their understanding was a bit small, they thought He would rule restored Israel, but they most certainly understood the Messiah to be restoring all the glory that had been lost by Israel. What is even more than this, the history of Israel stretched back even to the very garden of God. The kingship that Adam forfeited was in mind here in the Messiah. The promise that the seed of the Woman would one day crush the head of the serpent was in play here as well. The promised victory to Eve from the beginning was coming to pass.
         This has to do with the remaking of the world. The Messiah would usher in the reversal of the curse. And with that in mind, the ride into Jerusalem takes on an entirely new dimension. Jesus was not coming merely to save souls. He does that, no doubt, but His errand was of a much farther reaching scope. His errand was to restart the creation in such a way that all those who belong to Him would be partners in remaking the world.       

Matt. 21:1   And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,  2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
This week unfolds just as God had planned for it to unfold. This is obvious from the beginning. Jesus has things arranged.

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,  5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 
Jesus is Lord and is recognized as such. Not only this, He is also recognized as David’s Royal son. We sometimes think of Jesus riding in on a donkey as something less than glorious but in the ancient world, kings rode in on donkeys. When David wanted Solomon crowned, he put him on a donkey and had him ride through the city with loud acclamation. When Jesus rides in on a donkey it is to proclaim that He is David’s son and thus the heir of the kingdom. Furthermore, the expectation is now that this heir of David, is, in fact, the Messiah.
This Triumphal Entry is the announcement by Jesus that He is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the prophet like Moses who would arise to save Israel.

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,  7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.  8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 
The multitude recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. They lay out the red carpet. They put their own cloaks down to create a safe and beautiful highway to Jerusalem.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.  10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?  11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
The people quote from Psalm 118, an overtly Messianic Psalm. They say that Jesus is the prophet from Nazareth but more than a prophet.

Triumph comes but not without suffering. This is the one ingredient that the prophets seemed to overlook, even if it was blatantly staring them in the face. The Messiah was to be opposed, resisted, even persecuted yet remains victorious.
Psa. 118:1   O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.  2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.  4 Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. 
5 I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.  6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?  7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.  8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.  9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 
10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.  11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.  12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 
13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.  14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.  15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. 
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.  18 The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
Psa. 118:19   Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:  20 This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.  21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.  22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 
24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.  27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.  28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Matt. 21:12   And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,  13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
God’s house is to be a house of prayer for all nations but the hypocrisy of the religious system in Israel is revealed by Jesus.

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,  16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
The kingdom is here, there is no doubt about that. Jesus is ruling Heaven and Earth from Heaven. But the events of Easter week give us a stark contrast about the nature of Christ’s kingdom. It is not a kingdom for the powerful, the beautiful and the strong. Blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple; and he healed them.
The kingdom of Christ is made up of the cast offs of society, those who would have no other hope unless their hope was in Jesus. And from these come a pronounced foresight and wisdom. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise.
Psa. 8:1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.  2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Psa. 8:3   When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;  4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:  7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;  8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.  9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
         So, we see that Jesus has come to put all things on the Earth in subjection under his feet. But He does this in a way that is contrary to the ordinary rules of ruling. Jesus takes dominion through suffering and service. And we must do the same.
         On the night of Passover, Jesus washed the disciples feet and he left them as an example for them to do likewise. His kingdom does not come through domination and sword. It comes through sacrifice and service. But it really does arrive. This kind of sacrifice and service produces a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Psa. 24:7   Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

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