Sermon preached at Poole High School for Poole Christian Fellowship on 18 October 2015
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As it has been some time since we looked at Luke’s gospel. Let’s take a minute to remind ourselves what this amazing document is all about.
The gospels were amongst the last books of the New Testament to be written. After Jesus had ascended and the church was established, the second generation followers of Jesus were asking the question “so how did this all start?” The gospels are God’s answer to that generation and to those of us who follow them.
Luke’s gospel is the longest of the four and is the most systematic and detailed. Luke clearly spells out his purpose in the first chapter – he wants his readers to know the certainty of the truths that they have been taught.
Basically, the melodic line that runs through Luke’s gospel is that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and that our salvation is rooted in historical events, which Luke meticulously describes.
In this, our fourth series in Luke, we approach the crisis and pinnacle of the account. We have reached the events of what has come to be called Holy Week – the events of which go beyond being earth-shattering. Within a week of the passage we look at today, salvation would be won on behalf of the human race, the church would be founded, and Satan defeated. We are considering momentous events here, and are on Holy ground. We would do well to think on these things, deeply and reverently.
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
As Jesus ends His long journey to Jerusalem he deliberately acquires a young donkey. More of the significance of that below – but there is some discussion about what is happening with the owners of the colt. Were they supernaturally provided by Jesus? Had he arranged beforehand with the owners? We really don’t know, but what we do know is that sometimes Jesus sends people to us to say “The Lord needs this”. “This” may refer to time, money, gifts, resources, homes…anything we have. There comes a time in our lives when God says “I need this”. Our devotion to him is quickly measurable by the way we respond to giving him what he wants – and remembering that it’s his anyway!
As we consider the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, here are a couple of Old testament quotes:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 118)
Every Jew knew that when their King, their Messiah, arrived, there would be a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, giving the appearance of humility on a young donkey. There is no doubt that Jesus deliberately made it clear to his viewers that this was it – the moment they had been waiting for. Finally, after centuries of waiting, the man was here.
Also every Jew knew that when the King arrived they would be singing thewords of Psalm 188.
So it was clear: here was the Messiah – what more evidence was required? The question is: how will the crowds respond?
There is all the evidence needed for anyone to see that Jesus is the Son of God – the question is: how do we respond?
- The Response
We have two responses to the arrival of King Jesus.
To quote a sporting metaphor: the crowd goes mad! This is not a few enthusiastic disciples getting stirred up. This is the whole of Jerusalem thrown into a frenzy as their long-awaited Messiah arrives. And they respond with jubilant, exuberant praise. They also respond with submission as they put their cloaks on the donkey and wave palm leaves. Does our response to King Jesus take the form of submission and praise?
But there is another response to King Jesus. It is the hard cynical Pharisees, who deny the authority of Jesus by their response to him. Sadly, over the years, this proved to be the standard Jewish response to Jesus.
- The Outcomes
Jesus describes himself as the one who will bring Jerusalem peace. That is true of every person. If we respond to Jesus in praise and submission he is the one who will bring rest to our souls, who will bring us to eternal life and eternity with his Father. That is one outcome.
The other outcome causes Jesus to weep, and should cause us to weep. It is the consequence of rejecting the messiah, which are two horrible to contemplate, but very real nonetheless. This was vividly fulfilled in 70AD when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem. But make no mistake this was no because of the superior force of Rome – it was because of Jerusalem’s rejection of their Messiah.
Which response will we choose for ourselves, our church, our families? Whatever we choose determines the outcome we will reap.