Message: ‘A donkey, a palm branch & some rocks’
Texts: Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:37-40
(Adapted from a sermon in the series Come Alive: A Journey Through Holy Week)
Introduction: More than 2000 years ago, God’s plan of redemption altered the world forever. What was God’s plan?
- That the power, sin and death has over us, would be broken, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God’s plan of redemption was fulfilled that first Easter Sunday when Jesus’ disciples; men and women, went to His tomb and found it, empty!
Jesus, was alive!
- And with His resurrected life, came the defeat of death.
- With His resurrected life came the possibility of true life, abundant life, spiritual… life, for us!
That life, that spiritual transformation Jesus offers us as a result of His death and resurrection is reason to celebrate!
I’m so glad that you’re here this Palm Sunday as we begin to experience the life-giving truth of Holy Week and of God’s power to transform each one of us into a new creation.
Background: The events of Palm Sunday,
mark what we generally consider the start of Jesus’ journey to the cross… But… we’d be wrong.
- His journey to the cross started well before Palm Sunday, before His public ministry that we’ve been reading about in the Gospel of Luke.
- His journey to the cross started before He was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
- Jesus’ journey to the cross was part of a much bigger plan that was established even before the creation of the world.
You see, Jesus’ journey to the cross wasn’t just about the immediate needs of the people in Jerusalem.
- His journey, His life, would impact eternity.
And Jesus’ journey to the cross wasn’t just about the physical things that He came into contact with.
- Its true significance was in the spiritual realm.
In an effort to help us better remember not only the events that first Palm Sunday, but the spiritual realities behind them, this morning,I will highlight three symbols:
- PP A donkey
- PP Some palm branches
- PP Some rocks
All common items, all well-known parts of the Palm Sunday story. But I’ll hope you’re discover that
- even in the common, even in the stories that are well known,
- we can Come Alive to Jesus’ life.
- Matthew 21:1-7 A donkey
PP Read Matthew 21:1-7
PP A donkey
OK, we all know there wasn’t Uber or lyft in Jesus’ day. What they used, to get from place to place, were; camels, horses, donkeys and feet.
So, it might seem like Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was just a practical matter…
- He was tired of walking and all that was left at ‘Bob’s Rent a four legger’ was a donkey.
But… we’d be wrong. It was always Jesus’ intent to enter Jerusalem, on that particular Sunday, riding on a donkey.
- Even this seemingly insignificant detail was a part of God’s plan of redemption.
The prophet Zechariah, who lived about 500 years before Jesus’ incarnation, wrote about this event.
PP Read: Zechariah 9:9
So, riding a donkey into Jerusalem that 1st Palm Sunday, wasn’t ‘plan B’ It was the fulfillment of what Zechariah said would happen.
One more thing about the donkey before I move on.
PP A Donkey
If you’ve ever been to a farm or perhaps a zoo, you’ve perhaps seen a donkey. And.. well, they’re kind a cute… in a homely sort of way.
Military leaders in Jesus’ day road beautiful, strong and majestic horses when they entered a town. It was to show strength, power and authority over the inhabitants of that city.
A donkey… not so much. It was just a humble beast of burden.
Jesus riding in on a donkey was on one hand a picture of humility.
- But on the other hand, it represented Jesus as the Messiah, Israel’s King, who the prophet Zechariah said 500 years earlier, would reveal himself to Jerusalem.
Jesus wasn’t to be Israel’s physical king at that time. His ride into Jerusalem that specific day, pointed to the future, with Jesus, as King of kings and Lord of lords:
- Not just for Jerusalem but for all humanity.
- Not just for their lifetime, but for all eternity.
The Messiah, the King who would reign forever in God’s story of redemption,
- was now entering Jerusalem, riding a donkey.
- Matthew 21:8-11 Palm branches
PP Read: Matthew 21:8-11
PP Palm branches
Now let’s talk about palm branches.
PP Beach picture
- I have a picture on my living room wall that looks like the view from inside a house that opens to a palm tree lined beach. I truly love that picture.
- On the many, many cold days and nights we have here in New Jersey, I would relax on the sofa and look out my window and imagine I’m in the Florida Keys or one of the Islands in the Caribbean… Ahhh. I can almost taste the tantalizing fresh foods of the islands.
- Then… the dog barks and when I look outside to see why, and I see the snow, see no leaves on the trees,
- I’m reminded that my picture on the wall by the sofa, isn’t what it seems to be.
Well, there were palm branches waving as Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. And the people, as they saw Jesus enter, were caught up in what they saw… or at least what they thought they saw in Jesus.
- The Messiah, their king who would set them free from Roman rule and the oppression that went with it.
- And as they sang and shouted praises to Jesus, as they joyfully waved the palm branches, they too could almost taste the sweetness of freedom.
But, in less than a week, they would discover that the picture of the king entering Jerusalem on a donkey, was not what it seemed to be.
- Jesus’ life, was not centered on the fleeting moments of the present. It was centered on eternity.
- Jesus’ life, was not about defeating Roman rule in the lives of the Israelites. It was about defeating sin that ruled the lives of those separated from God by that very sin.
Palm Sunday, in a way, is the time we start preparing for Easter. So allow me to ask you two questions.
- What are you expecting from Jesus this Easter?
- And are you prepared for, open to, the life Jesus offers, that might go beyond your expectations?
III. Luke 19:37-40 Some rocks
PP Read Luke 19:37-40
PP Some rocks
- Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem wasn’t just about the shouts of praise or the waving of palm branches.
- It also wasn’t about what was going to happen in just a few days… when the people’s shouts of ‘Hosanna’ turned into shouts of ‘Crucify Him!’
And that’s what we see in our text. You see,
- it wasn’t about who, in particular, sang praises
- and who, in particular, kept silent.
It was so much bigger than that.
- It was about all of creation, which was in need of redemption.
- All of creation which was held under the curse of sin and death.
- All of creation, which would praise God when it’s Creator was at work in such a significant way.
What way? Through the life, death and resurrection, of Jesus.
- He would make the way of restoration for all His creation.
Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on that 1st Palm Sunday because He wanted to be liked by everyone.
He entered Jerusalem that particular Sunday, because He was on His way to die, to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sin…so that all creation could worship God, freely, honestly, passionately.
- So, whether the people approved or disapproved,
- whether they liked Him or not,
- it didn’t change His purpose for entering Jerusalem on that 1st Palm Sunday.
The religious leaders thought they could change/alter Jesus’ purpose. They demanded that He tell His followers to stop singing, to stop shouting praise… to stop worshipping Him.
Jesus said no! It was right for the people to praise Him, to worship Him
- Because He was Israel’s Messiah, He was, God, in the flesh.
- Because He created all things… even the rocks owe their existence to Him.
- And if necessary, they will recognize their Creator, with shouts of praise!
- And listen, cry out they did.
PP Read: Matthew 27:51
- When our great debt of sin was paid by Jesus’ death on the cross,
- when the shouts of the people had stopped,
- you had better believe that when the earth shook and the rocks were being split…
- that they cried out with a great noise.
Conclusion: Jesus’ life demonstrated God’s plan of redemption by living a life of love.
And it was His love that bridged the gap and provided the way for us to cross over into the holy presence of Almighty God;
- To know Him, and to connect with Him in a real way.
If you’ here today wondering what Holy Week means for you… good, it just might mean God has your attention. So, don’t miss God’s invitation.
- He loves you and invites you on a journey through Holy Week, that leads to a relationship with Him.
Once, for everyone here this morning, that relationship was impossible. Because our sin separated us from God’s love and presence… That’s the sad reality of death.
But we can Come Alive to God,
- By asking God to forgive our sin.
- By believing that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection paid the price for our sin.
- By asking Jesus to be our Savior.
Do that and you’ll know life like you’ve never known it before… not just here in this life, but eternal life in heaven.
- Don’t leave here this morning like the crowd who eventually turned their back on Jesus.
- Leave here, transformed by the presence of Jesus Christ… in your life!