The Final Week_ Things to Think About…

1)     Symbols are all around us, we use symbols in everyday- when we type on the computer, when we text message, and when giving directions. Think about  some symbols that you have seen or heard of (these can be silly or serious).

2)     As Christians, we have the greatest symbol ever- the Cross! Take a few minutes to read Mark 15:1-16:20 and think about its significance in your life.

3)     The Jews of the day couldn’t understand why “God-in-flesh” had to die on the cross. In Jewish culture, the cross would have been one of the most horrific symbols of the day, similar to the electric chair for us. Sometimes we tend to think just like the Jews. Have you ever thought that the use of the Cross was odd or hard to believe? Why would such a great God use such a horrific symbol?

4)     In the week prior we noticed how Jesus’ triumphal entry was on the same week as the Passover celebration. Exodus 12:12-14 tells us of the tenth plague against Egypt. For the early Jews, the blood on the doorway symbolized their trust and faith in God. For us today, acceptance of Christ’s blood does the same. QUESTION: Do you see this similarity between the Passover in Exodus and Christ on the Cross?

5) Jesus knew when he came that the cross was his destination. He even taught this several times during his earthly ministry (Mk 8:31 and Mk 9:31) Jesus came to be bruised and crushed for our sins, to be handed over to death so that we could have life. Take the remainder of the time to read Isaiah 53:1-6 and answer the question: What should be the appropriate response if Jesus really did this for me?

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The Final Week_ “The Crucifixion”

Introduction

Have any of you ever accidently walked into the wrong restroom in a public location? Better yet, have you ever actually went in, used the restroom, washed your hands, and left- not noticing that you were in the wrong restroom? I have… In fact I’ve walked into the wrong restroom by accident to many times to count.

Ok here’s another one: When my grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago, I went to the restroom in the church. Luckily, I only had to straighten the tie and wash my hands, because I walked in, walked to the mirror, washed my hands, and straightened the tie, before I noticed the cleaning lady in the men’s restroom with me. It scared me, because I was thinking about using the bathroom before the service!

I appreciate the universal symbol for restrooms!

My point is this; public restrooms have symbols that depict the sex of the restroom. One for men, one for women, and sometimes one for the handicap. I hate when you go to a restaurant, like Outback for instance, that has really strange signs on the doors. I like the universal symbol for public restrooms- the male and female stick figures. I walked into too many wrong ones in my life that I’ve developed a fear for walking into the wrong one. When I go to restaurants like Outback and see the “Blokes” sign on the door, I can’t help but wonder, “I hope this is the right bathroom?”

I went to Canada one time on a mission trip- now just let you know everything in Canada is weird. But we went out to a TGIF’s one day for lunch and the mood it me just right. I got up from the table wondered around the restaurant for a couple of minutes until the waitress directed my path. I walked to the door and saw the universal symbol for the “Male” restroom. Ok, so I’m in another country that speaks about 3 different languages. The door had about 3 or 4 different languages, but under that was the nice square plastic sign that had the male stick figure, assuring me that I was going into the right bathroom. I could go in with confidence! Which is definitely something that you want when you’re in another country?

Symbols

Symbols are important, are they not? Definitely the public restroom symbols!

The fact is, there are symbols everywhere. On our computers, on the restroom doors, … etc. Symbols communicate something to us. The same is true for religions. Religions have symbols. These symbols communicate something to us about the specific religion. These symbols tell us what it stands for or what is most important to the people who follow the religion or something about the religions history. I want to show you some religious symbols:

The first is the Lotus Flower. The lotus flower is popular among many of the eastern religions, but especially popular among Buddhism. The lotus flower grows in muddy water. As it grows up through the water it actually blooms above the water. At night the flower will close up and will actually descend back under the water. When the sun comes up the next day, the flower will return to the surface.

This flower in Buddhism symbolizes the beauty of spiritual birth. It symbolizes new beginnings, it symbolizes the cycle of life, beginning with birth and ending in death. It symbolizes beauty in the mist of chaos.

Another symbol is the crescent moon, which often symbolizes Islam. The crescent moon actually pre-dates Islam and there is much speculation to what the moon actually symbolizes for the Muslim faith. The symbol itself was adopted by the Islamic faith after Ottoman Empire in 1453. In all actually, most devout Muslims do not hold to any symbol, but choose to simply point to Allah as their source or symbol for their religion.

Yet another symbol is the Star of David, most popularly used by Judaism. The star is made up of two equilateral triangles that intersect. These two triangles symbolize God covenant with David. That his thrown would last forever and that the Messiah would ultimately descend from his family lineage.

And then, of course, Christianity is no exception. And for many years now, Christians in the church have identified with this symbol- the cross.

The cross is the most likely choice for Christianity. It says a lot about who we are and what we believe as the Church. The cross is central to everything Christian. Some of you may be wearing a cross on a necklace or have one in your home somewhere.

Did you know that the early Christians tended to ignore or avoid any association with the cross? They avoided the association most-likely for two reasons: 1) The cross would have been known by people of the time as the method used to kill Jesus. Because of all the hype when Jesus rose from the dead, being associated to the cross could have led to a lot of persecution or danger concerning their new found faith in the Christ. 2) The cross was directly associated with the killing of a common criminal during that time. I’ll explain this in a moment.

At this time, however, the Church or local bodies did have some symbols to associate themselves with, such as: the peacock- symbolizes immortality, the dove, the palm branch, and the fish.

Well a couple of hundred years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there were various discussions regarding the selection of an appropriate symbol to most accurately define the Church and its mission in this world. Many symbols where considered, but only one really worked. Only one really depicted the most central and important thing about Christianity and that was the cross!

A symbol, once avoided by the Church, is now adopted and embarrassed.

Today for us, it’s a no brainer! “Duh, the cross is a good fit.” Looking back, we can see that the cross definitely defines Christianity the best. Even in our culture, we can think, “The cross is a beautiful symbol. It symbolizes unwavering love and grace.”

But at the time of Jesus, the cross was a horrific visual symbol- symbolizing brutal punishment and death.

Vintage Jesus

In the book Vintage Jesus, writer Mark Driscoll does a fairly well job of reminding us of the brutality of the cross. Let me read to you an excerpt from the book:

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians around 500 B.C., perfected by the Romans in the days of Jesus, and not outlawed until the time of Emperor Constantine, who ruled Rome in the fourth century A.D. In the days of Jesus, crucifixion was reserved for the most horrendous criminals. Even the worst Romans were beheaded rather that crucified. The Jews also considered crucifixion the most horrific mode of death, as Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says: “And if a man has committed a crime punishment by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for hanged man is cursed by God.”…

To ensure maximum suffering, scourging preceded crucifixion. Scourging itself was such a painful event that many people died from it without even making it to their cross. Jesus’ hands would have been chained above his head to expose his back and legs to an executioner’s whip called a cat-o’-nine tails. The whip was a series of long leather straps. At the end of some of the straps were heavy balls of metal intended to tenderize the body of a victim, like a chef tenderizes a steak by beating it. Some of the straps had hooks made of either metal or bone that would have sunk deeply into the shoulders, back, buttocks, and legs of the victim. Once the hooks had sunk deeply into the tenderized flesh, the executioner would rip the skin, muscle, tendons, and even bones off the victim as he shouted in agony, shook violently, and bled heavily… Jesus then had a crown of lengthy thorns pressed into his head as onlookers mocked him as the “King of the Jews.” With that, blood began to flow down Jesus’ face, causing his hair and beard to be a bloodied and matted mess, and his eyes to burn as he strained to see through his own sweat and blood. Jesus’ robe was then used as the pot in a gambling dice game.

Jesus was then forced to carry his roughly hewn wooden crossbar of perhaps one hundred pounds on his bare, traumatized, bloodied back and shoulders to the place of his own crucifixion. The cross was likely already covered with the blood of other men. Timber was so expensive the crosses were recycled, so Jesus’ blood mixed with the layers of blood from countless other men who had walked the same path before him.

Despite his young age and good health, Jesus was so physically devastated from his sleepless night, miles of walking, severe beating, and scourging that he collapsed under the weight of the cross, unable to carry it alone. A man named Simon of Cyrene was appointed to carry Jesus’ cross. Upon arriving at his place of crucifixion, they pulled Jesus’ beard out—an act of ultimate disrespect in ancient cultures—spat on him, and mocked him in front of his family and friends.

Jesus the carpenter, who had driven many nails into wood with his own hands, then had five-to-seven-inch, rough, metal spikes driven into the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body in his hands and feet. Jesus was nailed to his wooden cross. At this point Jesus was in unbearable agony…

Jesus was then lifted up, and his cross dropped into a prepared hole, causing his body to shake violently on the spikes. In further mockery, a sign was posted above Jesus that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”….

At this point during the crucifixion, the victims labored to breathe as their body went into shock. Naked and embarrassed, the victims would often use their remaining strength to seek revenge on the crowd of mockers who had gathered to jeer at them. They would curse at their tormentors while urinating on them and spitting on them. Some victims would become so overwhelmed with pain that they would become incontinent and a pool of sweat, blood, urine, and feces would gather at the base of their cross…

None of this was done in dignified privacy, but rather in open public places. It would be like nailing a bloodied, naked man above the front entrance to a grocery store…

As we can see, the cross was the most horrific and elongated method of death that could ever have been invented. The experience of the cross was intended to make the dying process as long as possible.

Why?

Why was it so hard for the Jews of the day to understand that Jesus was the Messiah? It was because they could not understand why the God of the universe would let His Son dies such a horrible and bloody death!

A Moment for the Cross

A question for you tonight: What does the cross mean to you? How do you see the cross? Do you see it for its powerful message? Do you see the fact that Jesus went to this deadly cross for you? Or do you see something else?

Maybe when you look at the cross you are reminded of the bad experience you once had at a church; where they said one thing and did another. Maybe for you, when you look at the cross, you see only the hypocritical face of a person who holds to the name of Christ but lives like the devil; and you are the one who has had to pay the price for their sin.

When you look at the cross, do you look at it in such a way that you want to believe its message, you want to believe that it true, you want to apply it to your life, but it just seems so hard to believe?

Or maybe as you look at the cross you see several spiritual issues in your life that you haven’t dealt with yet. You’re looking at yourself and you’re starting to wonder “is there something more to all of this?”

I want you to take the next couple of moments to reflect silently on the cross and the significance of it in your life. Then I want you to think on these words: “Long before you decided what you were going to do with Jesus, He decided what He was going to do for you.”

Why the Cross?

Jesus knew that God had sent Him for a reason, for a mission that had to be accomplished. Jesus also knew that He would have to die for this mission to be accomplished- that His death was the key factor to God’s mission being completed.

Take a look at Mark 8:31

“He then began to teach that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this…”

Jesus knew that He must die, in fact He taught this to His disciples.

Again He taught this… take a look at Mark 9:31

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered over to human hands. He will be killed, and after three days he will rise.”

Jesus knew that everything He said must come true and that there was no way around it!

In Isaiah 53:1-6, Jesus’ mission was prophesized to Israel. Lets’ take a look…

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. It is for our sins, He came to the cross to die. He was not some helpless victim or some wimpy guy who had no control over what happened to Him. Jesus came to accomplish this very mission. Jesus died because He loves us. Jesus died so that He can have a relationship with us once again.

Conclusion

The Passover celebration that we talked about last week is very important to the understanding of this today. Just like in Egypt, when God passed judgment over the houses that placed their faith and trust in Him by signifying with the lamb’s blood, God today is doing the same thing. When we choose to place our faith and trust in Him by signifying it with our belief in Christ’s blood, He passes over our sins and grants us mercy. The same goes for us today as during the Passover; where there’s blood, there is mercy.

Isaiah again tells us: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Tonight as we close, as you are preparing to leave this place. If you are willing to place your faith and trust in God, and to follow the Way of Christ; I would like for you to go over to the table in the back. You will find on the table, a bowl of red paint and several brushes. If you are willing tonight to place all of your trust and faith in a God that you cannot physically see but can spiritually sense. Then as a symbol of your trust, I would like for you to paint your name around the outside of the door entering this room. If you are a believer already, but you would like to show your devotion to Christ, I ask that you join us in this as well tonight.

If this is not something that you are ready to do. If this is something that are not willing to do. It is ok. I am not seeking to point out anyone in the room or force anyone to make a commitment that they are not ready to make. If this symbolizing act is not for you, please take this opportunity to spend some time in silence talking to God about the questions that you may still have. The Bible tells us, “we have not, because we ask not” and that “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  Spend this time now asking God to reveal Himself to you over the next few months, ask Him to mold your heart to receive the truth of His Word, ask Him to reveal the truths of His love so that you can see them.

The Final Week_ Things to think on…

1)   Many times when we come to think on Jesus, we come with some sort of presupposition or expectation of Him. Do you have any expectations when it comes to Jesus?

2)   “Who is Jesus?” is one of the hardest questions to answer. More books have been written with Jesus as the topic than any other topic of book ever! God, therefore, has given us His Word so that we can better know Him. Share with the group some good things that you have noticed in Scripture about Jesus.

3)   The phrase wysi wig means “what you see is what you get.” For the Jewish people in Jerusalem, they did not see what they got. Read Matthew 21:1-11  and spend a few minutes thinking about the significance of the event.

4)   The OT prophet Zechariah prophesied about the coming Messiah. Read Zechariah 9:9-10 and spend some time thinking about its significance.

5)   N.T. Wright says, “Because Jesus says yes to their desires at the deepest levels, He will have to say no or wait to the desires they are conscious of and have expressed.” Many times in our relationship with God, we tend to see only the temporal or the surface level problems in life. Jesus came to free us from the deepest level problems. Now the hard question: Are you pursuing God more to transform the deep level problems or to fix the surface level problems? Why?

“The Final Week” The Triumpal Entry

Introduction

Good evening! We are starting yet another new series, entitled “The Final Week.” Through the course of the next 2 weeks we are going to be looking at a few stories that happened during Christ’s Final Week before the cross.

It’s that time of the year again, the Jews are celebrating Passover and we just celebrated Palm Sunday. Tonight, I want to take us to the same passage we looked at on Sunday. This passage is most often referred to as the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ. Tonight we are going to be looking at the beginning of this Final Week.

This story consists of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey and everyone spreading Palm branches for Him. Now notice Matthew 21:10, “And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’” This question is going to be theme that ties the next 2 weeks together. Who is Jesus? The question before us is “Why did He do what He did, when He knew what He knew?” That is that the same crowd that welcomed and praised Him on Sunday, would be the same crowd that booed and despised Him on Friday.

Understanding Jesus Here and Now

Did you know that understanding Jesus is an incredibly hard thing to do? Did you know that there have been more books written about Jesus Christ over the years than any other single book written in history?

I mean, Who is this Guy? Do you remember your first impressions of Jesus as a child? I remember my first impressions of Jesus… take a look at this picture that I found yesterday. I think it does a good job summing up my first impression of Jesus.

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My first impression consisted of this superhero kind of guy with a blue cape and big muscles. My first impression was of this dude that could fly, read people’s minds, shoot laser beams from his eyes, was bullet proof, and had the special ability to die on a cross and come back to life 3 days later.

Kind of crazy, huh? I was a kid, what do you expect.

Ok, some of your first impressions may have been a little different. Some of you may have thought of Jesus as this kind of wimpy Gandhi kind of guy who walked around in his underwear and preached about loving your neighbor. Some of you may have thought of Jesus as this mean cop, who was out looking for you to sin. And no matter what you did, how small the sin was, there was the “long arm of the Law” Jesus coming to give you a whipping.

I have some pictures of what some people say Jesus is…

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My point, is most of us, on some level has a presupposition to who we think Jesus is. And to be kind of frank- I don’t what to know who you think Jesus is; and I hope you don’t want to know just who I think Jesus is, but actually Who is Jesus? Is Jesus just some nice guy to you? Is Jesus some Bible teacher to you? Is Jesus your homeboy? Or is Jesus your Savior?

My prayer for us over the next two weeks is to come away with a good understanding of who Jesus is and what He came for. But I don’t want to stop here. My prayer is that through this understanding of who Christ is that we will see some new or refreshed commitments to Christ. My prayer is that you will be willing to devote your life to Jesus. Or as our last series was entitled, I pray that we as a group will be willing to “Go All In” for Christ.

Illustration

There’s this old phrase: wysi wig –This simply means “What you see is what you get”

Think about it this way. When you are using Microsoft Word at school to type up a paper; when you hit the print button at the top of the screen and the paper prints out. The printed copy looks just like the original on the computer screen. So whatever you type on the screen, you can expect it to look just like you typed it when it prints.

But sometimes in life you don’t always “get what you see.”

I have quick story: Rachel and I got married about a year ago now. May 2 to be precise. Before we got married, we planned this thing called the honeymoon. To do so, we had to visit a travel agent to book the vacation. We met with a lady and she showed us all kinds of magazines of places that we could go. She showed us this Sandals Resort one, for a place called St. Lucia. St. Lucia is an island about 300 miles off the coast of South America. The pictures in the brochure looked beautiful! Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and all the amenities of a fancy resort. “This looks like the place for us!” we said. “And it’s in our budget, too!” also concluded. So we booked the vacation of a lifetime.

So May 2 comes, we are married, and we are off first class to St. Lucia. We get to the island, and it looks beautiful! We arrive at the resort an hour later, to be slightly surprised. We get off the mini van and get escorted to our room.

Remember I said that the place looked amazing in the brochure? Well, it didn’t look so amazing in person…

The room was way smaller and older than was advertised, the beach had dirty brown sand, the water looked like Myrtle Beach, and the service was horrible!

My point is this; we didn’t get what we had originally expected from the vacation.

Tonight we are going to look at a story in the Bible where the people didn’t really get what they expected. In this story the people came and cheered for the One who they thought was going to take the thrown of Rome and be the king to release them from Roman oppression. But sadly the same crowd that cheered for Jesus on Friday was the same crowd that booed him on Sunday.

Passage:

Matthew 21:1-11

“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

The week that changed the world

One third of the Gospels is taken to record this Final Week.

Jesus came into Jerusalem during the raging Passover feast. This week would have been booming. The way I imagine it, it would look something like our modern day Spring Break weekend in Florida. Where people were running around partying because they had finally been released from the bondage of school!

Many historians actually suggest that this particular Passover celebration was one of the largest to take place in Jerusalem to this date. I don’t know if they just advertized really well to bring people in- Facebook ads, Myspace ads, commercials, or large road signs. Whatever the reason, there were many more people here this particular week than in years past.

I’d like to think that God brought them there to crucify Jesus, but hey what do I know?

The Passover Explained

Now, of course we all know that the Passover celebration was important to the Jews, but let me explain why it was so important…

This is a story of Israel’s slavery and oppression by Egypt. You’ve heard the story, Moses was called by God to go to the Pharaoh and demand the release of the Israelite people. And when the Pharaoh refused to release the people, God sent plagues one-by-one in order to force the Pharaoh to release His chosen people. After the Pharaoh refused 9 times, God sent one final plague. This plague brought about the death of every first born male in all of Egypt.

Now, in order to protect the Israelite people from this plague. They were commanded by God to sacrifice a lamb on the particular evening and to paint the blood of the lamb around the door frame of their homes. This blood signified that the family of the house had place their faith and trust in God. And when the plague struck, God “passed over” the homes of those who painted the blood of the lamb on their doorways. No blood= no mercy. Blood= mercy.

Now, to the Passover celebration. This celebration was celebrated annually. This would be every year. It was a time for the Jewish people to celebrate their freedom from Egyptian oppression and control, as well as a time for them to remember and honor God.

It is important for us to know that everything that is taking place during this Final Week is all taking place over the course of this Passover celebration. We will come back to the significance and importance of this next week.

The Triumphal Entry

Every year at this time, during the Passover celebration, tensions ran high. And this year was no exception. In fact, this year the tensions were higher. Remember this: the Roman government was in control of Jerusalem. The Jews didn’t like this and the Roman government knew it.

So on this particular day, Jesus comes riding up on a donkey. Fulfilling Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah. The people celebrated Jesus’ arrival to Jerusalem, because they thought he was going to be their new king. They thought that Jesus was going to take over Jerusalem.

Jesus’ arrival would have made the Jewish leaders and the Roman officials very nervous. The people under their rule greatly outnumbered them and could easily take over Jerusalem.

Let’s take a look back at verses 1-3 (stealing a donkey)

“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.’”

Imagine yourself being one of these two disciples. Jesus is asking you to walk up to some stranger’s house and steal a donkey. We are in the South and people steal animals all the time. Imagine you’re here in the South, better yet- West Lincoln, you walk up to onto someone’s farm and are getting ready to jack their donkey.

I can see the old man in his overalls pointing the shot gun at my head already…

My point is, you don’t walk up onto someone’s property and just take their animals! Cause you will get shot in the face!!! Not a good thing to do…

But of course the disciples do it.

Fulfillment of Prophecy

Let’s look down and see what happened…

Matthew 21:4-7

“This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.”

So the disciples did as they were told and came back with a donkey. Wow! But there is something that stands out in this passage, and that would be the OT quote: “‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

You see, the Jewish people were waiting on this to happen. They were waiting on their Messiah to come riding on a young colt. So when the crowd gathered to see Jesus riding in, they were waiting for the Messiah to come. The Rabbi’s and teachers had been teaching about the coming of the Messiah for years, so everyone that was a Jew, knew just how the Messiah would come.

One very Important Thing

But in all of this excitement, the excitement of the Passover celebration, the excitement of a guy on a donkey, they seemed to miss one very important thing.

The OT Prophet Zechariah 9:9 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey…”

The people seemed to miss the one key detail. That their king is coming- righteous and having salvation! This little fact was completely overlooked, because they expected their king to come riding into town to declare freedom and victory over Rome and to establish a new thrown. But you don’t get that on a donkey…

The donkey symbolizes what Jesus came for. He came humble not in robes of glory. He came not to destroy the wicked and to overpower the strong, but to save the sick and love the weak.

The people didn’t expect this…

Zechariah 9:10 says this about the coming kings mission, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus came for all people; his love is available for everyone! Jesus came to rule from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth. This means that Jesus came to rule over everything, not simply Jerusalem or Rome. Jesus came loving everyone, bringing peace to everyone, and to rule over the entire earth.

Application

There is so much more in this passage, but I’m going to stop here for your sake. What can we learn from this?

For the Jewish people of the day, their expectations of the Messiah were not met. They did not “see what they got.” They missed it.

For the Jewish people of the day, their expectation of freedom, their expectation of the Messiah’s reign was an external or surface level expectation. All they saw was the outer problems in their world, in their life.

In verse 9 we see them praising and shouting out to Jesus, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Do you know what hosanna means? It means “save now!” or “save us please!”

The Jews knew that they needed saving, but all they could see was the surface level problems. All they could see was their oppression from Rome.

Jesus however came not to release them from Roman oppression, but to free them from bondage to sin! This is why the same crowd that cheered him on Friday was the same crowd to boo him on Sunday. They missed it. They missed Jesus’ mission. They overlooked the fact that Jesus, the coming king, came to bring righteousness and salvation.

Irony…

There’s some irony to this story. Do you know what it is? The irony is that they were right in the beginning, they had the right man, and they had the right guy. Jesus was the Messiah!

But the question on the table is “Would He be the sort of King they wanted?” Jesus knew that He wouldn’t. Jesus knew that he would enter Jerusalem not to be praised and worshipped, but to be killed. The people wanted a king, they wanted a war hero, and the same crowd that welcomed Him on this day was the same crowd yelling “crucify Him!” only a few days later. For them and for us as well, sometimes things don’t turn out as expected.

Conclusion

I believe that history has proven that when we have an immediate need in our lives, we call out to God for help. Only when everything comes crashing down. 30 minutes before the exam, when we know we should have just studied. When tragedy strikes our country, church attendance goes up. When life is hard, we start looking for answers to our questions. Then suddenly everyone wants Jesus, but we want Jesus to ride into our lives and be the sort of king the crowd was looking for in Jerusalem. “Give us peace, take away this stress, give me the money I need, heal this sickness, find me a job, and give me a good grade,… the list goes on and on and on.

When times are hard we plead to God for help, and when He doesn’t give us what we want, we do the same as what the crowd in Jerusalem did- “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The problem is this, Jesus came to save us from sin. To be truthful, He’s still saving us from sin. He knows that sin will destroy us. He knows that sin separates us from Him, and He so desperately desires to be with us.

But so many times we miss it, just like the Jews missed it. We focus on the temporal, the surface level, the external- when the internal is wicked and will destroy us!

Who is Jesus? King, Ruler, Master, Savior, Friend, Rescuer… from sin or from the cares of this world?

N.T. Wright says this, “Because Jesus says yes to their desires at the deepest levels, He will have to say no or wait to the desires they are conscious of and have expressed.”

Is this you? Let’s pray…