************ Sermon on Matthew 21:5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 25, 2018
"King Jesus Enters Jerusalem"
As I was studying for this message I read an article entitled, "17 Things That Will Occur When Queen Elizabeth Dies." I will mention only the ones that concern a new king.
1.) Immediately upon the queen’s death, Charles will become king and his siblings will kiss his hands. Camilla will, by law, become his queen.
5.) The government team will assemble at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to coordinate security, police, transportation and armed forces. About 10,000 tickets will have to be printed for invited guests for the various ceremonies involved, including the funeral itself and the proclamation of the king.
6.) Charles will make his first address as king on the evening of the queen’s death, which will be broadcast worldwide on television, radio and the internet. It is a speech that has likely been written for years already.
7.) Parliament will be recalled, and both houses will sit within hours of the queen’s death. MPs will begin swearing oaths of allegiance to their new head of state.
9.) On the day after the queen’s death, Charles will be formally proclaimed king (although his coronation will likely not take place for several months). The Accession Council will hold a meeting of the "Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm," and a clerk will read out the formal declaration. Charles’ first official duties will be to swear to protect the Church in Scotland.
10.) Trumpeters from the Life Guards will step onto the roof overlooking the Friary Court and give three blasts of their instruments, and the Garter King of Arms will begin the ritual proclamation of the king. He will then travel to the statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square to read out the news again. A 41-gun salute will be fired off from Hyde Park.
11.) After the proclamation, Charles will leave St. James Palace for a four-day tour of the country. He will attend services of remembrance for his mother and meet with leaders of government, visiting Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff as well as the public.
12.) Multiple receptions will be held at the palace to welcome the hundreds of heads of state and diplomats descending upon London. While Queen Elizabeth is Head of the Commonwealth to 36 nations, that title is not hereditary and will not automatically pass to Charles. So Charles will use these receptions to lobby for the position.
Now, compare all this to Palm Sunday. Did Jesus' siblings kiss His hands? No. Did the government print tickets? No. Did Jesus get to address the nation in a worldwide broadcast? No. Did Herod and Pilate and all the governing officials swear oaths of allegiance to Him? No. Was Jesus formally proclaimed king? No. Did trumpets blow and were guns fired? No. Did Jesus travel through the country meeting with leaders? No. Did heads of state descend upon Jerusalem to meet the new king? No.
What happened on Palm Sunday? Jesus rode on a donkey, palm branches were waved, cloaks were put on the road, parents and their children shouted. Meaning what? Meaning Jesus was crowned as King on Palm Sunday. It was a coronation unlike any other coronation. AND HERE IS THE POINT: Because Jesus is no ordinary king; He is not a king like the kings of this world. And His kingdom is no ordinary kingdom; His kingdom is not of this world.
I A Coronation Ends a Journey
A "As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives ..." (Mt 21:1). That's how our passage begins. Our first point: As we look at the coronation of Jesus I want you to notice the end of a journey. Let me remind you of what Luke writes:
(Lk 9:51) As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
The journey to Jerusalem took 6-7 months. A journey that started in Galilee, went through Samaria, to Judea, to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, and on to Jerusalem. A journey of about 100 miles on foot. A journey that went from sea level to around 3000 feet.
On this journey Jesus preached, taught, healed. touched people's lives. And, He collected a crowd. A crowd of people who were also headed for Jerusalem. For the Passover. A crowd who did not realize He is the Passover Lamb.
This crowd adds to the crowd already in Jerusalem. During the Passover the city was literally bursting with people. Masses of people. One commentator says somewhere around 260,000 lambs were slaughtered for the Passover. And, since there was one lamb for every 10 people we can do the math and say there easily was over two million people in the city.
B "As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives ..." (Mt 21:1). Jerusalem is the end of Jesus' journey. Once He gets there, He never leaves the vicinity of Jerusalem. He goes there to die.
So what happens when Jesus gets close to Jerusalem? He sets everything into motion for His coronation, a coronation that ends with a crown of thorns and a cross. We read Jesus sends two disciples -- we aren't told which two -- Jesus sends two disciples to get a donkey and her colt. Jesus makes things happen. Not the crowds, not the disciples, not the Jewish authorities, but Jesus controls what is going to happen on Palm Sunday.
Jesus organized and timed everything. So that there would be a large crowd of people shouting out He is the Messiah. So that the Pharisees would become indignant and hateful and spiteful and plan out His murder. So that He would die on the Passover day. Jesus set it all into motion.
Yes, Jerusalem was the end of the journey. A journey planned by Him. A journey controlled by Him. A journey to His coronation on Palm Sunday. A journey that ended with His death as the Passover Lamb on Good Friday. He was in control. He was on a divine schedule. He was following God's plan. Showing what? Showing that Jesus is NOT a king like all other kings. Showing that His kingdom is not of this world.
II A Coronation Prophesied
A I just mentioned that Jesus was on a divine schedule. Part of that schedule is revealed to us by the prophet Zechariah some 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Matthew quotes Zechariah's prophecy in verse 5:
(Mt 21:5) "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"Do you realize how strange and different and unusual this is? Nobody rides a donkey to a coronation! No one! At least no one since the days of Solomon. It was Solomon who introduced horses into the land of Israel. And chariots. That's what kings rode on. Everyone back then still remembered Alexander the Great and the great white horse he always rode. That's what a king rode. Not donkeys. Donkeys were used by the common people or by merchants. Not by kings. But, says Zechariah, that's what the King of Israel will be riding. He will be riding on a donkey.
Zechariah is talking about the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Zechariah is talking about the Son of God under whose feet all enemies will someday be crushed. Can you imagine this king riding a donkey? But that's what the prophet said will someday come to pass.
Why? Because Jesus is NOT a king like all other kings. Because His kingdom is not of this world.
B To fulfill this prophecy Jesus sent two of His disciples to go into the village of Bethphage and find the two animals. Jesus knows Scripture. He knows the prophecy of Zechariah. He knows what Zechariah said about Him. He knows He is supposed to ride a donkey into Jerusalem. So Jesus takes steps to fulfill Scripture. He doesn't say, "Go find me a big white horse." He says, "Go find the two donkeys in the village."
How does Jesus know the animals are there? We would be correct in saying Jesus has supernatural knowledge. He Who knows men's hearts also knows if there are two donkeys in the village. But Jesus can also confidently assert, "If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away" (Mt 21:3). Telling us what? Telling us that Jesus knows the owner and the owner knows Jesus. The owner is a believer. The owner is a believer who wants Jesus to use his animals. The owner is a believer who would not keep his animals from the Lord.
Why two donkeys? Why the colt with its mother? To show that this King, King Jesus, rides on the lowliest of animals. To show this King is meek and lowly though He is Lord of the universe.
What a contrast between King Jesus and Alexander the Great. Alexander with his military triumphs, riding on his great white horse, flashing his sword in the sun, his great crown signifying him as the conqueror of the world. But there is coming another king. This King is righteous and bringing salvation. He is not slaying, He is saving. He is not rich, He is poor. He is not proud, He is meek. He is not riding a great white horse, He is riding a donkey, the colt of a donkey.
The people wanted a Jewish Alexander, a military Messiah, someone who would overthrow Rome. Someone riding a great white horse. Someone waving a sword and leading a great band of soldiers. What did they get instead? Someone riding on a donkey's colt. Without weapons or soldiers. Meek and lowly. With a bunch of pilgrims.
He did not come to make war with Rome. He came to make peace with God.
Do you see the point? This is a coronation until any other! Because He is NOT a king like any other. Because His kingdom is not of this world.
III A Coronation Acknowledged
A We have seen a coronation as the end of the journey. We have seen the coronation prophesied by Zechariah and fulfilled by Jesus. Now we see the coronation acknowledged by the crowd. Look at verses 8 & 9:
(Mt 21:8-9) A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. (9) The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"
Notice that it is a "very large crowd." Part of the crowd has been collected by Jesus as He journeyed from Galilee to Jerusalem. This crowd simply got bigger and bigger. It is a mass of pilgrims going to the city. And out of the city comes another mass of pilgrims who, according to John's Gospel, have heard of Him raising Lazarus from the dead. They hear He is coming. The word spreads like wildfire. The two groups, this mass of humanity, come together just outside the gate of Jerusalem and form a very large crowd. And in the middle of it all, Jesus rides the colt of a donkey.
The people are ignoring the words of their leaders when they do this. They have been warned to stay away from Jesus. They have been warned to report His whereabouts to the Pharisees so He can be arrested (cf Jn 11). Instead, the people are going wild over Jesus: cutting down branches, throwing their clothes onto the street, shouting praises for salvation. They are worshiping Jesus, paying homage to Him, greeting Him as Messiah. Can you begin to understand how mad and angry this made the Pharisees as their authority is being ignored?
B What were the people celebrating? Not soul salvation but military salvation. Don't forget why they are in Jerusalem: for the celebration of the Passover. The Passover which celebrates their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. So in their minds Jesus is like Moses -- except He will deliver them from Rome.
Do you know what we see here? We see people trying to remake Jesus in their image. We see people trying to make Jesus conform to their image of what He should be and what He should do. This should not surprise us, congregation, because this is what people of all times and all places do to Jesus: they try to remake Him. For instance, in many churches and among many Christians today Jesus doesn't deal with sin. Instead, He brings health and wealth, prosperity and healing, a wonderful marriage, intelligent kids, honor and glory and earthly success. It is His job to make my earthly life wonderful. Or, Jesus is turned into a social revolutionary Who hates the rich and loves only the poor. Or, Jesus is turned into an environmentalist. Or, Jesus is turned into an activist for the LGBT agenda.
Do you remember what happens right after Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? He enters the Temple, drives out those who were buying and selling, overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. This tells us everything. He didn't come to overthrow Rome but to overthrow the Temple. Instead of coming and wiping out Rome He came and wiped out the Temple. Do you know why? The people's biggest need was not to break from the bondage of Rome but to break from the bondage of sin. Their biggest need was not to solve their problem with Rome but to solve their problem with God. That's why He came. That's why He entered Jerusalem gentle and riding on a donkey.
Jesus is no ordinary king; He is not a king like the kings of this world. And His kingdom is no ordinary kingdom; His kingdom is not of this world.
IV A Coronation Questioned
A Palm Sunday closes with a big question mark. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" Who did we just acknowledge as King? Who did we get all excited about?
Isn't this strange? They got wild and excited and stirred up. But didn't really know why. John's gospel tells us that even the disciples were perplexed. In fact, they didn't understand until after Jesus was glorified (cf Jn 12:16). They didn't understand until after Jesus went to heaven and sent the Spirit. Not until then did they get the full picture. Not until then did they understand why He had to enter Jerusalem on a donkey. Not until then did they understand His humiliation. Not until then did they understand that Jesus' crown was a crown of thorns. Not until then did they understand He had to hang on the cross before He could sit on the throne.
B There really is no excuse for any of this. They had the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew the Messiah was the Son of God, the eternal King, the Suffering Servant. They knew this from the pages of the Bible. But they wanted a Jesus in their image. They wanted a kingdom like the kingdoms of the world. They wanted a Jewish Alexander.
And so they were fickle. That's why one week after praising Him they were cursing Him and calling for His blood.
We raise our Hosannas today. We celebrate that Jesus is no ordinary king; He is not a king like the kings of this world. We celebrate that His kingdom is no ordinary kingdom; His kingdom is not of this world.
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