This is the day when a long promised peace will be restored and Israel will throw off her oppressors, this is the day for which the people of Israel had waited in anticipation for so long. Today the King has come!
The gospels tell us that Jesus sent His disciples on ahead of Him into the village of Bethphage to return to Him the donkey He would ride into Jerusalem. Jesus was on His way from Jericho to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, which all Hebrew males were required to do. All this was no accident; Jesus knew what He was doing. In advance, He had arranged for a donkey to be His mode of transportation. Matthew reveals that Jesus set the stage for what we now call Holy Week, so as to fulfill the prophecy spoken centuries before in Zechariah 9:9; “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Also in Isaiah 62:11; “Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: Say to the daughter of Zion, surely your salvation is coming: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”
Here comes Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, perhaps 2.5 million people crowded the narrow streets converging on this holy city at Passover time. Jesus traveled with great praise surrounding Him, with his followers waving palm branches in the air and laying their cloaks upon the ground for Him to ride upon, shouting “…Hosanna, Hosanna, to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”(Matthew 21:9)
The crowds traveling with Jesus approach the crowds of people from Jerusalem who had heard of Jesus’ coming and hurried to meet Him. Many wanting to meet the man who had power even over death, many others wanting to see Him who had such a great reputation, and many more wanting to meet Him for both reasons.
The noise created by the excited crowds was so great that the Pharisees were compelled to tell Jesus to have His followers be still, to which Jesus replied: “I tell you that, is these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
What word could better describe an appropriate response to the incredible fact that He who created all this is was now coming into His glory. The creator of those stones was now riding upon them on His way to the culmination of a plan that was in place before the world began. It surely was glory that Christ was about to receive, only not the kind of glory that the great majority of those in the procession had expected. Surely it was now that prophecy which Zechariah wrote in anticipation of this tremendous event would be fulfilled. (Zechariah 9:9,10)
Those rejoicing at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem echoed the sentiment that Zechariah held. In their minds must have been the story of Solomon riding on his father’s mule as he became king and the many marvelous victories that his father, the great King David, had achieved over his enemies. Here too was a man they had often wanted as their king approaching the city of Israel’s kings on a mule that had never been ridden by anyone, as a sure a sign as any of Jesus’ claim to the throne and a claim these crowds were only too happy to acknowledge.
1. Your King is a different kind of king.
It is overwhelming to sense the power, the armament, the majestic aura, that surrounds the presence of a man called a king. There is something awe-inspiring about royal power.
With one exception – King Jesus. Jesus is a different kind of king. Whereas most royalty comes determined to rule, Jesus comes determined to serve. Whereas most monarchs spend time building their egos with the perquisites of office, Jesus comes with totally disarming humility. Whereas most kings ride white stallions or majestic Boeing 747s, King Jesus rides a donkey.
He knew what He was doing: The King chose His vehicle of transportation, the horse stands for war; that’s what the people wanted. They yearned for a leader who would set them free from the yoke of Rome. Jesus rode a donkey, a symbol of meekness, of peace. How different are the swishing of palm branches from the click of crossed swords or the deafening last of a twenty-one gun salute.
Most kings set themselves up for a hero’s death. They picture the heads of all nations standing in silent tribute, and the world paying honor to their contributions. Jesus was different. He prepared for the cross. His was a brutal kind of death marked by the insulting inscription: “King of the Jews.” His fellow monarchs did not fly in from around the world to pay Him honor. No, for your King is a different kind of king.
2. Your King knows precisely who He was and who He is.
Most kings are not certain about themselves. In most cases, they have inherited their positions. With their inheritance comes either an ambivalence – bred by failure to earn the position – or a bravado and strutting that comes from years of grooming by palace functionaries. Jesus knew precisely who He was. He knew He was the Messiah spoken by the Old Testament Scriptures. Critics may deny this, but the record is clear. Jesus dressed for the occasion, preparing Himself for the kind of entrance into Jerusalem described by Isaiah and Zechariah. Those prophets declared that the Messiah would come. He would be humble, making His entry on a donkey.
Jesus willingly forced the issue. He deliberately provoked the kind of response He got in Jerusalem that day, which was entirely opposite to His past performance. His whole style of life and ministry was one of shying away from publicity. He avoided large crowds when He could. He refused to take the dominant power-oriented stance of other contemporary leaders. But on this day He put on the symbols of the Old Testament prophetic utterances.
He declared in no uncertain terms, by his posture and bearing, “I am the King.” He even picked the day. The exposure was great; there was only one problem: He picked His day not so much to gain the adulation of the crowd, which He knew was fickle, but to force the issue of His whole reason for being here on earth.
His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was designed to seal His doom. It was the catalytic agent which would stir the anger and arouse the jealousy of the religious establishment to a frenzy, setting the stage for the greatest event in all human history.
Not only did your King know precisely who He was when He entered Jerusalem; right now He knows who He is as He enters the Jerusalem of your life. Embodied in his presence that day and today is a transparent honesty which defied so much of worldly leadership.
3. Your King comes with a compassion for souls and bodies.
Only hours after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He wept. Have you ever seen a king weep? Have you ever watched a president shed tears? We don’t want to see our rulers weep; we demand that they be strong. We push them into an arrogance in the fear that they may reflect too much of what we ourselves and, by weeping, be discredited.
No, Jesus was different; He stopped and wept for Jerusalem, He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37)
He healed broken bodies as the blind and lame freely approached Him the days after His triumphal entry, which so quickly turned into the day of His crucifixion. He didn’t keep them waiting. He didn’t flaunt His rank in their faces. The simple people with broken bodies and shattered dreams, the people with bruised spirits, the people hurting in their soul, where you really feel hurt, these He took to Himself. He did it then; He does it now. That’s the kind of Lord He is!
He wants to transform you through the regenerating power of His Holy Spirit. He wants to touch your life and make you a whole person where your body, soul and spirit fit together in an eternal compartment.
4. Your King comes sounding a note of judgement.
He is a King who has compassion, but this compassion is not an endeavor to buy your favor. He is not going to give away everything, denying His own righteousness. He tells you what you need instead of what you want. He tells you that the wages of sin is death. He tells you that someday you will stand before God your Maker, accountable for all that you have done in your life. He warns of judgment. He warns of eternal hell, total alienation and separation from Himself.
The King entering Jerusalem on a donkey, walks on foot to Olivet. Over looking the city He loves and He weeps for, He refuses to give a speech as any earthly leader would do. Instead, He tells of economic breakdown, economic catastrophe wars, rumors of war, earthquakes, famine and the horrible desolation which you and I bring upon each other.
That’s our King. He tells you and me what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. He talks about more than positive thinking, He talks more than picking yourself up by your own bootstraps. He tells you can’t succeed on your own strength, He warns you to face up to it now and come to Him while you can.
Your King is coming! Either you are with Him or you are not, there is no neutral ground!
Today we sing hosanna, which means “save now.” Do we mean this? Are we serious? Have we come because it’s the thing to do? Or are we here because we mean business?
Your King is coming! He is riding toward you now! He is ready to look you straight in the eyes! Are you ready for His glance! He wants to know whether or not He is truly your King, your Sovereign. Will you turn from His glance, or will you nod with affirmation and become one who is loyal in allegiance to the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords – YOUR KING AND YOUR LORD?