Jesus Triumphal Entry:  Fascination vs. Faith

Jesus Triumphal Entry:  Fascination vs. Faith – Luke 19:28-48

This morning is Palm Sunday.  In terms of calendar, Good Friday is this Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is this coming Sunday.

  • TV and magazines will capitalize on this.

This year’s History Channel TV series offering is “Jesus: His Life”

“This Easter, explore the story of Jesus Christ like never before with the special 4-part series Jesus: His Life…this mini-series will dive deeper into the life of our Savior.  Each of the eight chapters is told from the perspective of different biblical figures, all of whom played a pivotal role in Jesus’ life…each figure will take a turn sharing the emotional and epic story of the most famous man in history.  The timeline will travel through his birth, death and resurrection utilizing both scripted drama and interviews with prominent religious and historical experts”

  • I am not for or against programs like these.
  • However, I want ask why our culture always takes a moment once a year to think about Jesus Christ.
  • Surely, TV stations are not just growing their ratings. They are also asking questions.
  • Church attendance always grows.

I believe that answer is that deep down people know Jesus is compelling, very compelling.

  • By what He spoke, did, endured, and sacrificed - He is too compelling to ignore.

Jesus is fascinating to anyone who will pay attention - But fascination is not the same as saving faith.

Released in 2004, the hit movie, The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, grossed 600 million.

  • There was a surge of interest simply due to the graphic R-rated portrayals of Christ’s scourging and crucifixion.
  • Many moved to tears, applauded this as life changing.
  • Suffering was Sentimental.

Mainstream interest in Jesus, comes and goes like waves, and should held loosely in terms of a culture tipping their hat toward Christ who once a year!  Fickle.

  • Even religious icon the Dalai Lama (the Tibetan Buddhist) is quoted commending Christ saying:

“In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion.  His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.”

For Jesus to be inspiring by unlikely people (Athletes, Actors/Actresses, and Politicians) actually should not be so surprising.

  • Jesus is God. Still, being inspired is never enough to save you.

I want to look at familiar scene from Luke’s Gospel where the masses shout Hosanna/Worship to Jesus.  As we read this account, ask yourself, “Do you worship Jesus based on inspiration or transformation?”

 

Prop:  Two kinds of worshippers were present at Jesus’ triumphal entry

  1. True worshippers claimed Jesus as Messiah (vv. 28-36)

a. Two disciples serve the Lord (vv. 28-31)

Luke 19:28 sets the stage for Jesus’ entrance.

  • This event was significant, recorded in all four Gospels.
  • Jesus’ ministry to the masses had come to an end.
    • Ministering on the outskirts of Jerusalem, he moves inside the city.
    • A more public arena, but now a more private and personal ministry.

He came from Bethany to Bethpage to mount a chosen, humble animal to travel east on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

  • Jesus “going up to Jerusalem” (v. 28).
    • This begins Jesus’ final week with of his three years of ministry.
    • In three years, Jesus has toggled back and forth between two primary regions, Jerusalem and Galilee.
    • He began in the wilderness encountering Satan, afterward was baptized by John in the river Jordan and then to Galilee and to Jerusalem and then back again (78 miles).

 

  • Now, this is his final return to Jerusalem on the week of Passover.
    • This week of his death and will take the remaining five chapters of Luke to explain it.
    • This is Passover week within the Jewish month called Nisan (A.D. 30).
    • On Friday all Israel would slay tens of thousands of Passover lambs, none of which could take away any sin.

 

  • Jesus being was the Lamb of Lambs and His path meant moving into Jerusalem was lethal; it meant danger.
    • Jesus and his twelve were bold but cautious.
    • He “… drew near to Bethphage and Bethany” (v. 29; cf. Mark 11:1) where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived and had housing.
    • Jesus was strategic as He paced his exposure there.
    • He was moving within God’s timetable, in sync with the celebration of Passover.

A road ascending 3,300 feet, 17 miles up Mt. Olivet.

  • A mountain adjacent to the Temple – the same mountain that Jesus will one day return (cf. Zech. 14:4).

ESV  Zechariah 14:4 aOn that day his feet shall stand bon cthe Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and cthe Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by da very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.

Jesus is deliberate. Moving away from the outskirts, into the dangerous arena that will lead him to the Cross.

  • Not haphazard. Part His Father’s sovereign timetable.

It was Passover, recounting the Jew’s deliverance some 1400 years earlier.  Commemorating a lamb offering and uncountable sacrifices offered throughout the years since.

  • All of this busy and active ceremony points to this single Lamb - riding in and riding in willingly.
  • For Jesus there would be – no retreat – and no turning back.

Verses 29-30 tell us, “[Jesus] …sent two of the disciples, saying, God into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied…”

  • This is important as it fulfils a precise

ESV  Zechariah 9:9 aRejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! bBehold, cyour king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, dhumble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah’s prophecy has roots from a much earlier prophecy from a Patriarch named Jacob (also named Israel).

 

  • Remember the story of Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery to Egypt?
  • These 12 sons represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

Genesis 49 recounts Joseph having rescued his brothers and father Jacob from famine.

 

  • Now Jacob near death pronounces a prophetic mixture of blessing and cursing on his sons, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi…then Judah:

 

ESV  Genesis 49:8-11 "Judah, ayour brothers shall praise you; byour hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; cyour father's sons shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is aa lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. bHe stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10 The ascepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff bfrom between his feet, until tribute comes to him;1 and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.11 Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

 

Jesus’ arrival on a donkey was deeply imbedded in the sub-consciousness of Israel.

Jesus fully aware of His Father’s sovereign time-table displays perfect awareness of everything that is happening.

b. Two owners sacrifice for the Lord(vv. 32-35a)

Jesus predicts the conversation about to transpire, issuing key phrase to unhitch an animal and unlock two hearts.

In verse 34 the disciples say, “The Lord has need of it” (v. 34) summoning the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Owners of “the foal of a donkey” to give up their animal and follow Jesus.

Verse 35 says, “And they brought it to Jesus…”

Often a subtle word about the Lordship of Christ transforms heart.

  • Seeds are sown, watered, and then reaped.

ESV  1 Corinthians 3:6 aI planted, bApollos watered, cbut God gave the growth.

  • We do not know where people are in this process – so never underestimate the power of a timely word.

Remember Lydia the woman - a small business owner.

  • In Acts 16:14 “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”
  • New life is God’s doing.
  • Second hand listeners often are whom the Lord draws.

c. Several disciples set apart the Lord (vv. 35b-36)

My outline point is forced but for descriptive purposes.

Verses 35 and 36 portray Jesus’ followers throwing cloaks over this “colt” making a saddle and spreading their cloaks on the road as a king’s carpet.

Jesus’ disciples brought him a “colt,” never before ridden and consequently with no saddle.

  • Jesus’ need turns into an act of worship.
    • Jesus needs a place to sit and so they sacrifice their cloaks.
    • They “lifted Jesus onto the colt” (v. 35)

 

  • The disciples understood they were dealing with a holiness.

To be “set apart” (v. 35) reflects holiness.

  • The temple furniture, the Ark of the Covenant, the Virgin Mary, and the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea were “set apart” as holy, so was Jesus.
  • However, Jesus is perfection.

Seeing Jesus like this took faith – it takes faith.

  • True followers see glory in humility.
  • A King as Servant, not riding a warhorse but a colt led by its mother.
  • Jesus was “set apart” to give not take - to make peace not war.

“Do you know what God has ‘set-apart’ for the world to see?”  You and me.

Don Carson in his commentary on Matthew notices that Jesus is riding an unbroken animal. You can’t ride an animal before it is broken. Especially a baby donkey riding through a yelling crowd! Humanly speaking no rider could do this. “In the midst of all of this an unbroken young animal remains totally calm under the hands of the Messiah who controls nature, and stills the storm. This even points to the peace of the consummated kingdom. Jesus is the Lord of all and under his hand nothing but harmony and peace comes about. The animal knows and loves his true master for who he is. This is a foreshadowing of the healing and completion of all nature as found in Isaiah 11, the wolf shall live with the lamb…”

 

  1. Superficial worshippers claim Jesus as Messiah (vv. 37-42)

a. A multitude sings to the Lord (vv. 37-38)

In verse 37 Jesus is now “drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives” and as he does momentum builds.

Christ’s exposure was gradually swelling.

  • What began with humble acts ends in euphoric shouting.

The idea is that the greater the crowd grew in size the lesser the crowd’s worship was sincere.

Mark 11:8 shows the scene building where the crowd begins to grow not only in size but also in actions.

ESV  Mark 11:8 And many aspread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.

Jesus is ascending 2,500 feet into Jerusalem and as He did:

  • People shot into nearby fields - cutting “leafy palm branches” to join in and lay them down (cf. Mark 11:8).
  • “Cloaks” now made carpet for Jesus’ colt to walk over. [Different than Hollywood]

This backdrop seems regal but this in the times of Caesar makes this scene confusing.

  • Kings rode on a steed.
  • Jesus was different not coming on a warhorse but on an animal of peace.
  • In the Old Testament this was done for Jehu, King Ahab’s replacement (2 Kings 9:13).
  • Solomon also rode on a “mule” at his coronation.

A large crowd - Jesus’ “disciples” is seen rejoicing and praising God.

  • “with a loud voice” (v. 37).
    • Their enthusiasm is suspicious.
    • Praise is not always genuine.

 

  • I like enthusiasm but “Actions speak louder than words.”

Shouts of “Hosanna” in the course of one week turn to “Crucify Him.”

  • Palm branches for coronation, exchanged for thorns to crown their King.

“Why will this group stray?” 

  • The end of verse 37 gives us a clue.
    • Answering what fueled their enthusiasm.
    • They were fascinated – praising “with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen” (v. 37).

 

  • What “works?” How about Lazarus being raise from the dead (cf. John 12:9-18).

ESV  John 12:9-19 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus1 was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, awhom he had raised from the dead. 10 aSo the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well,11 because aon account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.12 The next day athe large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.13 So they took branches of apalm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, b"Hosanna! Blessed is che who comes in the name of the Lord, even dthe King of Israel!"14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,15 a"Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"16 aHis disciples did not understand these things at first, but bwhen Jesus was glorified, then cthey remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.17 aThe crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him awas that they heard he had done this sign.19 So the Pharisees said to one another, a"You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, bthe world has gone after him."

 

The Pharisees’ evaluation of Jesus’ success and their failure is eerily similar to the church of America’s grading system.  Large crowds – Enthusiasm become the ultimate measure of things.

The crowds were quoting from what are called Hallel Psalms what the Jews would say and sing on their three Pilgrim Festivals (Ps. 113-118).

Specifically Psalm 118:24-26:

24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.25 Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!26 aBlessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bbless you from the house of the LORD.

 

Psalm 118:25 is where we get the word “Hosanna” - the literal the cry, “Save us now!”

  • This would be great to cry out to Jesus, but only with the right motivation.

Coalescing within Lord’s timetable, the crowd waved Palm Branches as a sign of victory!

  • But, their worship was political, they wanted insurrection.
  • They wanted to take back Jerusalem from Rome.

Palm Branches once symbolizing God’s faithful provision in the wilderness now meant something different.

  • Palm Branches, took on a Roman significance - raised when Julius Caesar had risen as an uncontested military power.
  • Triumph in the aftermath of victory!

They wanted a superficial fix to superficial, political problems.

  • They wanted to fix their problem with Rome not a problem with Sin!

 

“Instead of looking inward to their deepest need and then upward to their Messiah who had come to meet it, they looked outward at their political enemies and shouted “Save us…from Rome!”  They wanted their kingdom and they wanted it their way on their terms!  There’s a sick since of entitlement here.”

b.Pharisees censure the Lord (v. 39)

Another group is there on the side of the road.

  • Pharisees, also present, and had a different disposition.
  • They were not pleased with what was transpiring.
  • Religious leaders tasked with religious governance, demand Jesus quell and quiet the crowds.
  • Fearing Roman authorities will rise to retaliate, because they had something to lose.

Acting as if they are on Jesus’ side they said, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples” (v. 38)

  • As if to help Jesus’ plan, so He will not be interfered with.
  • The irony is that Jesus’ plan is well underway and the brake line has been cut.

 

  • Jesus says as much: “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (v. 39).
    • In other words, this scene was fulfilling prophesy (Zech. 9:9).
    • The truth had to be spoken even with suspect motivations.

BTW - This is still grace.  Not all superficial worship stays superficial.

Many start at one point singing because it seemed right but we had not yet done business with God.

  • Often, God turns hearts to him through our participation in church.
  • We sense the power of God calling from the outside and then suddenly the Lord calls and takes over on the inside.

It may be rarer for people sheltered from church to become Christians, though this is also a regular experience.

  • Still, this scene fraught with mixed up and miss placed motivations was dangerous!

“How bad was it for this crowd?”  When the crowds said, “Hosanna” they were shouting a prayer, “Lord save us!”

  • What is wrong with this? -- They wanted the Lion without the Lamb.

c.Jerusalem scorns the Lord (vv. 41-44)

Verse 41 takes us back to Jesus on the road where he “drew near and saw the city” (v. 41).

Typical with Jesus, He often says or does the opposite of what I expect.

  • Instead of Jesus seeing, “Praises and Hosannas” as uplifting, they cause Him despair.
  • When Jesus “drew near and saw the city, he wept over it” (v. 41).
  • Jesus literally began to “to wail and sob.”

Why?

  • Jesus sees through their superficial worship.
    • Instead of the crowds being enlightened, the exact opposite was taking place.
    • Verses 42 confirms when Jesus said they did not catch on to “the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (v. 42).

“How many people this Easter season will watch Jesus or hear about Jesus and as He again passes by - altogether miss Jesus (again)?”

Never settle for simple fascination with Jesus.  It is delusion to think you know Jesus when all you truly know are a lot of things about Jesus.  This is never enough.

ESV  Matthew 7:22-23 aOn that day bmany will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not cprophesy in your name, and cast out demons din your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'  23 aAnd then will I declare to them, 'I dnever knew you; bdepart from me, cyou workers of lawlessness.'

Verses 43-44 describe the horrific vision Jesus saw that would be judgment for Jerusalem’s blindness and unbelief.

In AD 70 the Roman Empire fulfilled this prophecy as this city was raised.

  • Titus the Rome’s Commander laid siege to the city by surrounding it.
  • On April 9th, Titus cut off supplies trapping thousands as thousands who had gathered for their annual Passover feast.
  • The Roman army built embankments around the city, holding it captive and gradually starved it, finally overthrowing it by the fall.

This is what Jesus saw, and what made Jesus weep.

At the end of verse 44, he said, “And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (v. 44).

  • It was Passover and He fulfilled it.
  • They knew he was worthy but wanted a Lion instead.

There is a note of “hope” as the chapter closes.

  1. People hung on Jesus’ words (vv. 45-48)

Remember Jesus’ goal was not celebration.

  • Jesus does not parade around the city but instead “He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold” (v. 45).

Jesus’ path into the temple is symbolic.

  • Remember Bethany was a little village at the top of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem being 300 feet below.
  • Almost 600 years before Jerusalem had been decimated with its people carried off to Babylon.
  • At this time, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the glory of God departing from the temple, ascending 300 feet to rest on the Mount of Olives.
  • Jesus is the express glory of God who has returned.

 

RC Sproul:  The supreme irony; In 586 BC, Ezekiel saw the glory of God leave the temple, leave the holy city, and ascend to Bethany on the Mount of Olives.  At the triumphal entry, the One whom the Scriptures define as the brightness of God’s glory descended from Bethany and the Mount of Olives, entered the East Gate of the Holy City, and went to the temple.”

The glory had departed the Jew’s place of worship and now returns their place of worship.  Why?

  • Accountability and Hope.

Mark 11:11 says, Jesus “looked around at everything” (v. 11).

ESV  Mark 11:11 aAnd he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, bhe went out to Bethany with the twelve.

  • What was he doing?
  • Surveying the spiritual damage inside the Lord’s house.
  • He is evaluating false worship and idolatry.

It was “already late” meaning Jesus was not going to take care of business yet but it was coming!

To my point, Jesus’ presence exposes their sin!  Jesus’ first triumphal entry exposed what the people really wanted.

Luke’s account closes this section with hope.

ESV  Luke 19:47 aAnd he was teaching daily in the temple. bThe chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

 

People were responding to Jesus’ words!

 

Earlier I quoted Psalm 118:25-26 “Save us, we pray, O LORD!...Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” - what the masses were crying out.

However, just a few verses earlier, what I did not quote, are what make up the key for receiving Jesus’ Salvation.

ESV  Psalm 118:21-22 I thank you that ayou have answered me band have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.1

 

To see Jesus as your Lamb-King you have to hear His Word.

 

He came to as a sacrifice for sins and this becomes compelling when you realize your need of forgiveness!

 

Following Jesus is not cultural – but a matter of personal faith!

 

Worship this Lamb as Lord!