Red Carpet Entrance
- Jake Chambers
- Mar 28, 2010
- Series: SDSU
Happy Palm Sunday Kaleo! Many of you know today is Palm Sunday a day that celebrates Jesus entering Jerusalem to the praises of his people. The next two weeks are like the Super Bowl for Christians. We will be looking deeper into the biblical story of Easter - the story that our entire salvation and life is based upon. This is a story that should produce tears, joy, awe, conviction and inspiration. But before we even start this story I think we must confess that for some of us, we feel like we have heard this story before. Maybe we have grown dull to this story and do not understand what is the big deal with Jesus riding a donkey on some palm tree leaves. In a day with increasingly violent video games, movies and television shows, we can even grow numb to the crucifixion story. We feel like we have heard it and know what is going to happen. My prayer for us as a church is that tonight and the next two weeks this story would come alive to you because it is a true story, a story that is our only hope for forgiveness, eternal life, salvation and joy.
Jesus rides in on a donkey. What is this? This is his big triumphant entry into Jerusalem? The King has arrived and he rides in on a colt? On a baby donkey? Let’s be honest, if you had been waiting hundreds of years for some King to enter Jerusalem to enter the center of the city and rescue your people, you are not expecting him to ride in on a donkey. And this is exactly how the Pharisees felt (Luke 19:39) … if you don’t know what a Pharisee is it is basically a religious jerk. Think about the kid who only went to Christian school, knows his bible inside and out, always wears a tie to church, went to seminary, got his PHD in knowing the bible - but this guy is also the cheapest, grumpiest, most selfish dude you know. That is a Pharisee. A person that loves rules, knowledge and being self-righteous, but does not love Jesus or other people. Not to diss on seminary, wearing ties, or Christian school - I'm just painting you a picture. Now the Pharisees are not happy about Jesus being the promised King and Messiah for their people. Why? Because the Pharisees were expecting Jesus to step out of a lifted hummer on spinners and stroll across a nice red carpet. They wanted him to have phat cash, phat passé and a phat army in tow. They were not concerned with loving God and loving people, they were concerned with power. And if the promised King came in power and riches and overthrew the Roman government, then guess who would be on top with that king? The Pharisees!
But Jesus rides up on a lowly donkey. He has no red carpet, but is riding a slow, stinky, beast of burden over some used 'Old Navy' jackets and leaves. So the Pharisees were expecting a Lamborghini army rolling in all wearing Ed Hardy tees and True Religion jeans and they got a dude wearing the Marshalls sales rack riding an '02 Ford Focus. Now we must confess that if someone rolls into our town in a Focus we are not really that excited. If someone rolled in with an army of lambos we would pay a little more attention.
So why is Jesus going the Ford Focus route? Why is Jesus riding on a donkey? I want us to look at two reasons.
Reason number one: Zechariah 9:9. Over five hundred years earlier a prophet promised that the Messiah, the chosen one, our Savior was going to roll into the city on a baby donkey. This is a big deal. In the story of Jesus, and throughout the Bible, there are specific prophecies that are made and fulfilled by Jesus. This is Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem letting everyone know that he is the Messiah. This is Zechariah’s prophecy that he predicted over five hundred years earlier coming to reality in front of a huge crowd eyes. Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah and Jesus is also sealing his doom. The Pharisees already do not like this Jesus guy. They want him in jail and dead because he is doing miracles and claiming to be the Messiah. And how does Jesus react? He rides in confidently in the heart of Jerusalem, the center of religion, the center for uproar against Jesus and he rides in fulfilling a prophecy and staking his claim as the King of Jerusalem. I want us to see the courage of our Lord Jesus. He knows the cross is coming. He knows the whips are coming. He knows Good Friday is coming and yet he rides through Jerusalem on a donkey!
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” And the crowd reacts with great joy and celebration. We were built to cheer a champion, and Jesus is our champion that we were built to cheer on. The crowd knows who this is, and they cheer him and worship him. Luke 19:40 - not only are the people built to cheer and worship Jesus, but Jesus says his creation is built to cheer him, and if the people did not recognize that the Messiah had arrived, the rocks would! I want us to see that all of creation was created and designed to specifically cheer and praise Jesus. We twist this and praise something or someone else but for this moment in this story, many people and children freely did what they were created to do. This is a joyous and triumphant scene. In the midst of angry Pharisees, in the midst of a world looking for something other than Jesus, we see a people freely praising and cheering the one they were created to cheer. Jesus wants this for us - that we too would cry “Hosanna” and have the joy of praising and crying out to Jesus amongst a world that does not cry out to him.
The second reason he rides in on a donkey is because Jesus comes in humility. Our Lord is a humble servant. Zechariah 9:9,10 Jesus comes humbly to make peace with his people. Jesus comes as a peace offering. Jesus is the King of the entire universe. He could have entered in a way that no one would ever miss it. He could have entered with angels and creatures we cannot imagine, and in such power, all of Jerusalem would have wept. But he comes as a humble servant. He comes to offer himself up for us. He takes the war we have created with God and becomes that war for us. This humility should astound us. Jesus is our humble servant who came as a peace offering.
Now many of us love to think of Jesus as the humble servant riding on a donkey. This is a nice picture for us. We are not too worried about continuing in sin or going our own way when we think of Jesus being a humble dude on a baby donkey. And many view Jesus this way today – thinking maybe we can live however we want, die, and then will talk the nice Jesus and his nice donkey into letting us into heaven. The problem with that is that Zechariah 9:9 is not the last prophecy of Jesus and his triumphant entry. There will be another triumphant entry of Jesus and this entry is not of the humble servant, but of the conquering King. I do not want us to be like the Pharisees who were expecting Jesus to come and overthrow Rome only to miss him when he came humbly. We do not want to do the opposite, and expect Jesus to come offering peace when the prophecy says different.
Revelation 19:11-16 Let’s take a look at Revelation. You can see here that the Ford Focus gets traded in. Shrek’s donkey is now a souped up version of Gandalf the White Wizard’s stallion. You've got to love this contrast from Palm Sunday. Heaven opens up - and BAM - a white horse. This is a yoked out, bright, white stallion, right here.
But this horse comes with a rider ...as brilliant as this white horse is, it is the rider that catches our attention and is the hero of this story. This rider is coming to bring justice and he is bringing justice in the form of war. Are you catching the thick contrast here? The Jesus that brought peace humbly is now coming courageously to bring war and justice. The dude from Nazareth is now called Faithful and True!
This King is coming on a war-horse and he has a crown of many diadems. The humble servant who wore the crown of thorns is now blinging. The eyes that brought humble peace are now blazing with fire! His robe is dipped in blood and this is not his blood this time. You see, Jesus brought peace by shedding his blood and blood will be spilled for our sin. The question is not will there be blood but whose blood will it be? If we do not pay attention to the first prophecy, and worship the King who spilled his blood for us, we will pay attention to his second coming when it is our blood being spilled. This is a gnarly picture. A dude on a stallion with a crazy crown and a robe dipped in blood charging to make war. This is Jesus! This is our King.
Jesus' disciples were a rag tag group in the first entry. Walking around in sandals and dirty cloth. His disciples look a little different this time around. This time there is a wicked cool army of dudes dressed in white charging in on white horses. This is not a humble entry, this is a wake up call. Everyone will know when the rider on the white horse and his army are in town. And look at this army. They are wearing white. They are not planning on getting dirty. This will not be a decision that goes to the judge’s scorecards. This will be a slaughter. The White Rider's team is winning this, and staying white in the process.
After the first entry on the donkey, Jesus is lowly, despised and takes on the fury of both God and man. Hands tied, he is mocked, beaten and crucified. But not in the second coming. He is coming as the ruler. Herod, Pilate, Judas will not be able to betray him or send him to his death because Christ is not humbly holding back his absolute power this time around. He is unleashing his rule and his wrath. Christ comes with perfect vengeance and a righteous fury. We do not need to take vengeance and unleash fury because our King will do so and do so perfectly.
We see in Zechariah that in the first coming Jesus is offering up his blood to make a covenant with his people, but not in the second coming. In the second coming, his wrath is unleashed like a winepress of fury.
After the first entry, there was much debate about who Jesus was and is. People thought he was the King of the Jews and some thought he was just a dude from Nazareth. That is like some people thinking you are just a home-schooled kid from Ramona, or the President of the United States. But there will be no debate about who this rider is on his triumphant entry. He will have written on his robe and thigh that he is the King of Kings and he is the Lord of Lords. Instead of making peace with the nations he is coming back to make war with the nations. Do not miss this. Jesus is not coming back on a donkey. You must repent of sins and turn to him now because he has already fulfilled Zechariah prophecy - peace offering on a donkey - and the prophecy he has yet to fulfill is that of the rider on the white horse making war with the nations! If you think Jesus is just some pie in the sky, hippy that you can bully around, you are wrong. Repent and worship Jesus as Lord or else it will be your blood staining his nice robe.
Are you feeling the tension and the contrast here? It is almost uncomfortable, is it not? There is only one place where this tension can be reconciled. The cross. It is at the cross where both peace and war meet, where both righteousness and sin collide, the ultimate act of love meets the ultimate act of hate. It is at the cross where complete justice meets astounding mercy. It is at the cross that grace and truth are found in fullness. Our God Jesus is both humble and confident. He is both merciful and just. He is the peace offering and the heroic warrior. He proves this at the cross.
Some of us have a great love-hate relationship with these two stories. Some may love the idea of Jesus being a humble servant but we are not so eager to follow him in this. We love the idea of Jesus serving us but try to ignore that he has called us to identify ourselves with him in humility and service. We have a love hate relationship with the second entry too. We love the idea of Jesus slaughtering our enemies and the evil in the world but we hate the idea of him being Lord of Lords and King of Kings and what that means to our own hearts and lives. What Jesus is claiming is that he is Lord over every part of our hearts and is calling us to obey and submit to his rule and reign. That is a little too intrusive. Jesus, deal with my enemies but let me do what I want to do and let me make my own decisions. Love the revenge stuff with the bad people but I have a handle on lording my life, thanks anyway.
Why is it this way? I believe the Passion Week story, which I encourage you all to read and talk about throughout the week, unveils much of what is going on. Take a break from the daily study of Ephesians and read from Matthew 21 to the end of Matthew. Read and see which face in the crowd is most like yours.
We have a hard time following Jesus the humble servant, and worshipping and handing over everything to Jesus as Lord. And one of the main reasons is that we are following something else or worshiping something else as Lord.
Judas' real god is money, and he will crucify Jesus for money. Pilate is an anxious worrier ruled by fear. He has no problem with Jesus but is anxious and fearful of what might happen if he sides with Jesus. His anxiety allows him to hand Christ over to be crucified. Herod likes Jesus as an entertainer but does not want to worship him as God. He finds him interesting, but his own comfort and entertainment is his priority. Peter worships his own reputation and when social rejection is at stake he denies Jesus three times. Look at the crowd that is shouting “Hosanna” ... where are they later in the story? They are shouting, “Crucify him.” They are fickle and can be easily persuaded by religious or political pressure to hand over Jesus to be crucified. The Pharisees want power and Jesus threatens their ability to be their own Lords or Kings. They want Jesus crucified. These faces play a hand in Christ crucifixion. So do we. Where is your face in this story?
I am not sure which of these faces in the crowd you relate to the most. But I can tell you this that each of these faces in the crowd shared in the guilt of the cross. Our sin and idolatry crucified Christ. And unless we confess that we have shared in the guilt of the cross, we cannot share in the benefit of the cross. We cannot say we are saved without saying we crucified him. We cannot call out “Hosanna” – God save us- without confessing what we need to be saved from. The work of the cross allows us to live lives of humble confession. To follow the humble servant and cry out “Hosanna” when we daily realize how we continue to add to the need for Jesus to spill his blood for us. That with each sin we continue to cry out “crucify him.” This is a haunting thought that our idolatry cries out “crucify him.” But there is good news.
On Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing that even today our shouts of “Hosanna” would fickly turn to “crucify him.” He entered Jerusalem knowing he was setting into motion a week that would end with him hanging on a cross. He went without being bribed by money ... he set aside his absolute power, he spoke the truth when confronted by Herod and Pilate and followed his Father's will perfectly. The Lamb of God made himself a peace offering, covering our sins with his blood. He freed us from our guilt of waging war with God so we could cry out “Hosanna” and know that he has heard our cry far in advance and has gone to the cross willingly to bind together both his humility and glory, his justice and mercy, his wrath and grace all for the joy that was set before him. Christ endured the cross to rescue us! And the God who is both the humble servant and righteous warrior has sent the Holy Spirit to move us to humbly serve and to make war on our sin to make us righteous! And this is all a gift from our generous God!
Jesus is coming again. He will not be coming in peace and he will not be spilling any more of his own blood. He is coming to make war and assert all of his righteous power. We live between the two entries. It is not too late to accept Jesus Christ as your peace offering. Christ died so you could follow him as a humble servant; he died so you could worship him as Lord and King over your life. He will come again. I urge you to know and daily accept the work of the cross as your peace offering. Embrace all that Christ came to offer in dealing with your sin during his first triumphant entry, so he will not have to deal with it during his second triumphant entry. Amen.