The Triumphal Entry

 

Text:  Mark 11:1-11

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

The excitement had hit a fever pitch. Loud Hosanna’s rise through the air towards heaven. Palm branches wave as if caught in a Summer storm. Precious clothing is being sacrificed along the path of the coming King. This is truly a celebration to remember.

Yet, instead of a white charger, this King comes through the gate riding a humble colt. Instead of trumpets proclaiming his triumphal entrance, there is little competition with the cries of Hosanna. Instead of glistening battle armor, the king wears the simple outfit of the common man.

Despite His modest appearance, however, there should be no mistake made this day. This is not just any king. This is the King of kings. The promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. Today there will be celebration for the long-awaited fulfillment of a promise made long ago.

Jesus looks at the excited crowd with mixed emotion because He knows that soon those cries of Hosanna would turn to jeers and curses. Soon the excitement at the coming of the King of kings would turn to anger and resentment spurned on by the leaders of His own church.

In one of his Palm Sunday sermons Martin Luther wrote these words: “Look at Christ. He rides not upon a horse which is a steed of war. He comes not with appalling pomp and power but sits on a donkey, which is a gentle beast to bear burdens and to work for men. From this we see that Christ comes not to terrify, to drive and oppress, but to help and to take for Himself our load.”

On this day of the arrival of the promised Messiah, He does not enter seeking the shouts of Hosanna. He knew those would simply be a temporary beginning towards a much more painful ending. He did not come hoping for “atta boys” or “thank yous”. He came seeking for something greater. He came to overcome the worldwide problem of sin, to witness the final heartbeat of unrighteousness and to bring about the desperate last gasp of terrorizing death.

We did not seek Him, He came seeking us. The death He would soon suffer was not for His own benefit but for ours. This day was a celebration to be sure, but the celebration was not really for Jesus’ sake. It was because of the coming death of those things which separate us from Him. In heaven on that day, there would be celebration, not for a victory over an earthly foe, but for the victory over sin and everlasting death. The King of kings has made His entrance! Let us all sing our Hosanna’s!! HOSANNA!!!

I’m sure many that day in crowded Jerusalem were asking their neighbor’s, “Who is this man? Why all the fuss? Is He a king?” They get caught up in all the excitement. Something special was happening. But what?

Unfortunately, today we hear much the same. “What’s all this Jesus stuff anyway?” Some will get caught up in the excitement but soon the feelings will fade and they’ll forget about Jesus once again. Some will hang on for a time, but their emotion can take them only so far. They really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Their roots grow in shallow soil and they are soon turned away by the efforts of the prince of this world. They are just as likely to want Him crucified as the people who shouted their hate at Jesus on that fateful day over 2000 years ago.

On that first Palm Sunday, the people were looking for someone to save them from the wrath of the Romans. They were hoping for temporary relief. When Jesus was more angry at the merchants in the temple than he was about their Roman oppressors, they didn’t understand. They couldn’t see that Jesus came offering much more than they could have ever hoped for. His solution would not be a temporary one. It would have eternal ramifications. Yet the people turned on Him because he didn’t fit into their hopeful description of a Savior.

I feel that’s the reason so many still reject Him today. They want someone who will make their lives carefree and effortless. They want a Savior who will save them from their temporary battles and they can’t fathom the true beauty of what Christ won for us on the cross.

The reality even today is that Jesus is not the kind of hero many hoped He would be. He does not come with trumpets blaring but with gentleness and love. He is not one to shout down the opposition. He is one to pray for them even in their anger. He is not the kind of leader who takes score by the blood He has shed on the battlefield. He is a Savior who has Redeemed all believers by His own blood shed on the cross.

Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

It is told in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus wept that fateful day for His beloved city of Jerusalem. Its long history would be forever tarnished by the rejection he would soon have to endure. He knew the dreams of this day would soon turn into the reality of pain, death, and suffering with which Jerusalem would forever be linked.

Yet His mind would not linger there, overcome by the joy soon to be experienced on the day he would rise again.

He knew the struggles to follow would pale in comparison to the glory that would soon come. His tears would be replaced by everlasting gladness. His sorrow to eternal bliss.

Even in this way he modals for us the reaction that we should have. As much as we quake at such a terrible death, we should rejoice in death turned to life. As guilty as we are for the sins that placed Him on that cross, we should celebrate the forgiveness that was won for us that day.

Do you understand why the people were proper in being so excited for the coming King of kings? Is your excitement equal with theirs or have you become numb to it. If Jesus were to make His final entrance today, would you have palm branches at the ready or would you be wondering what all the fuss was about.

Do any of us really understand the glory, the majesty, the splendor of that first Palm Sunday? More than the power of any conquering king in all of history came the King of kings full of the divine power of love that was so great that he was willing to suffer and die on our account. It was and is a power that looks us straight in the eye, fully knowledgeable of all the sin and pain we have caused to happen, yet fully willing to cover us in His righteousness. A power that didn’t rightfully condemn us but died for us so that we might be free of all condemnation. A power that sets all believers free from death and sin and all that is within us that dehumanizes us and others.

It’s the kind of power that loosens the grip on all our worldly expectations and even allows us to see Christ’s face in the suffering, the hurting, the lost and the lowly.

That power that made His way into Jerusalem in such a humble way relates to all of us in His grace and mercy and invites us to join with Him in extending that grace and mercy to others.

No longer do we need to be afraid of suffering, of condemnation, of judgement because the Prince of Peace has promised us better things. When He entered that gate He entered our hearts forever so that we might experience purpose in life, joy in our hearts, and peace even in a broken world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:

“God allows Himself to be edged out of the world and onto the cross…and that is the way, the only way, in which he can be with us and help us…only a Suffering God can help.”

Even during the cries of Hosanna that greeted Him, Jesus was thinking about us and our soon to be realized freedom from sin and death. Even during the jeers and curses He endured on His way to Calvary, He looked forward to the perfect sacrifice He would willingly be victim to because of the promise it held for all mankind.

The crowds that first Palm Sunday wanted a warrior king, but Jesus came as the suffering Messiah. When they didn’t see in Jesus what they expected to see, the were easily coerced into turning their shouts of “Hosanna” into the Cries of “Crucify Him!”

Yet Jesus won more for us than anyone could ever have dreamed of. Jesus came to die on a cross so that we might all enjoy the ultimate victory. The crowd missed the point. Let’s not make the same mistake.

So, do you get it? Do you truly understand the importance of that first Palm Sunday so long ago? Is Jesus the Suffering Messiah for you or are you willing to let this day pass like so many before it without the full knowledge of the beauty in the message. Are you still looking for a Warrior King to make all your troubles go away, or are you willing to do a little bit of suffering on your own so that the message of Easter might reach the ears of the lost?

The parade is starting and the King of kings is within sight. What will your reaction be? Amen

 

 

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