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Mar 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 20, 2016 – The Gospels

Jesus’ Grand Entrance

Our Scripture reading is based on Mark 11:1-10, but combines details from all four Gospels.

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission.
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say, ‘Fear not’ to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, seated on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to him.

Intro: Most of us have read or heard this story many times

But have you ever asked, What purpose does it serve?
– how does this fit into entire ministry of Jesus?
• what value is there in this quasi-political rally around Jesus?
• what does the makeshift parade accomplish with all its shouting and flag-waving?
◦ only they did not have flags or imperial banners so they gathered leafy branches from nearby fields
◦ and there was no red carpet, so thrift-store clothing was tossed on the ground for him to ride over
– Jesus had never allowed the crowds to do this before (cf. Jn. 6:15), so why now?
• what does it change? What does it prove? By the end of the week he was dead

Later on, the disciples were asking the same question
– as John said, they did not understand these things at the time
• but with reflection it came to them
• they saw in it the fulfillment of scripture written long ago, in Zechariah and Psalm 118
– with uncharacteristic public display, Jesus arrived at the very gates of Jerusalem
• he assumed the role that was uniquely his, confirming what Peter had confessed
◦ that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16)
◦ although, at that time, Jesus ordered his disciples to “tell no one about Him” (Mk. 8:30)

This morning we will observe Jesus through the lens of these Palm Sunday events

Jesus had been making preparations for this day

I don’t mean, he made “arrangements”
– William Barclay thought Jesus had made a previous arrangement with the owner to use his donkey

William Barclay, “‘The Master needs them,’ was a password by which their owner would know that the hour which Jesus had arranged had come.”

• I’m doubtful that was the case – the essence of this story is not its careful planning, but its spontaneity
• not everything had been worked out
◦ still, Jesus was certain it would come together — note how well he perceived how things would unfold:

Go into the village and this will happen
Untie the colt and this may happen
If that happens, say these words and this will happen

– this is what I mean by “making preparations”
• Jesus had been preparing, not the big event, but himself
• preparing himself for this moment of recognition, for this final week of conflict with rigid religion
◦ preparing himself for Gethsemane, rejection and crucifixion
◦ he tried to prepare the disciples, but they could not fathom what he said — so he just prepared himself

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . Now My soul is troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from ths hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. (Jn. 12:23, 27)

It’s always a little surprising to see that, like us, Jesus had needs

“The Lord has need of it”
does God need anything?
• early Christian theologians borrowed an idea from Greek philsophers
aseity – the concept that God is complete within himself — nothing can be added to him
◦ it was heresy to believe God needed humans
• this theological formulation leaves me cold
◦ I cannot find any comfort in it, any encouragement or hope
– Jesus, being human as we are, had human needs
• he needed the support provided him and the disciples by the women who went with them (Lk. 8:1-2)
• he needed the homes that were opened to him and the meals that were shared with him
◦ he needed rest when weary, water with thirsty and the companionship of disciples
◦ he rode a borrowed donkey and was laid in a borrowed tomb

By example, Jesus affirms and validates our neediness
– most of all, our need for connection and contact with him and with each other

They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the large crowd of the disciples, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!
Hosanna in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”
When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus’ humanness was evident in the way certain things got to him

Jesus was empathetic toward suffering people
– frequently he was “moved with compassion” and wanted to heal the sick and afflicted (e.g., Mk. 1:40-41)
• Jesus was able to defend himself against all kinds of attacks, even the devil himself
• but it is in the depth of his love for the broken, destitute and society’s rejects that we discover his vulnerability
– when Jesus crested the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem appeared on his horizon, he wept over it
• he deeply cared for the ancient city of God and the temple within it
◦ true, Jesus predicted its destruction, but he did so with sadness not anger
• Jesus loved Jerusalem and Jerusalem responded by crucifying him

Look around at the crowd, drawn to him like a magnet

We find them always trailing him, looking very much like a flock following the shepherd
– crowds were constantly forming around Jesus
• why did they come? why did they climb hills or venture into remote and desolate areas?
◦ and why, today, do they run to greet him?
• Jesus never attempted to draw a crowd or expended any effort to attract attention
◦ he never used gimmicks, wrapped his teaching in slick packages or offered entertainment
◦ the people in the crowd never needed any of those things
– all Jesus ever offered anyone was himself
• those who came, saw something in him they knew was good and was from God
• some of you know about the plumbing woes Barb and I have faced the last three weeks
◦ the plumber in charge of the crew is a tall man who fills the doorway of our home
◦ he is also a good person with a strong and joyful spirit
◦ and whenever our three-year-old grandson sees this guy, he goes to him and hugs him
◦ he recognizes something good in this person

People were drawn to Jesus because they saw in him hope of a life that makes sense and a world made right
• so as he went, they followed — the crowd belonged to Jesus and Jesus belonged to them

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.

It is heartwarming to be reminded that Jesus did “wonderful things”

We know this — Jesus healed with a generosity that spilled over with compassion
– he touched untouchables, he loved the wrong people, he met, ate with and forgave sinners
• Jesus was willing to accept anyone who came to him, because he believed there was hope for everyone
• and Jesus was wonderful because so much of what he did evoked wonder
◦ people were constantly astonished and amazed at his teaching and miracles
– the odd thing in this passage is that it was the Lord’s opponents who witnessed the wonderful things he had done
• all through his story, he was taking abuse from this religiously rigid class of people
◦ they treated him as the cause of their distress rather than the cure
• but Jesus never returned their abuse

. . . while reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats . . . (1 Pe. 2:23)

Why did Jesus even bother to clear out the temple?
– it hardly made a difference – we can be sure the tables were set up and back in business by the next Sabbath
• Jesus drove out the “conveniently located” financial services and ritually pure animals for sale because he never gave up
◦ he never stopped loving, stopped communicating the will of God, or stopped trying to turn people around
• we may feel like God’s given up on us and we may give up on ourselves, but Jesus has never given up on anyone

Conc: The preparation for the offering of himself, his humanness, his vulnerability, his attraction, his wonder . . .

All of this is summed up on Palm Sunday

Jesus’ grand entrance was a patchwork of donkey, donations and devotion
– he had no need for a limousine and motorcade, a marching band, confetti and fireworks
• he is loved for what he’s done inside the hearts of all these people chanting, “Hosanna!”
– can you imagine Jesus giving us instructions for us this coming Holy Week?
• perhaps he is telling us, “Go, and you will find”
◦ as with Abraham, Moses and the disciples, it is as we go that we find
◦ but we have to go — God does not steer us until we start moving
• and what is it we hope to find?
◦ just this: a moment, silence and stillness with Jesus
◦ to watch and contemplate, to admire and adore, to revere and rejoice, to listen and to love

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