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The Time Has Come

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Introduction

Last year, I, along with a team of men from our church, had the opportunity to meet the king of Swaziland, King Mswati, the last absolute monarch on the entire continent of Africa. It was easily one of the most intense experiences of my life. So, they have us in this room waiting on his arrival. In this room, you have princes and all of the members of parliament. You’re in there with the speaker of the house of parliament and the minister of defense and the minister of economic development. And, everybody’s just talking, until someone told us that the time had come. Immediately, this who’s who list of Swazi and South African elites go outside to stand in the rain so that they wouldn’t miss his arrival.
Outside, they have this red carpet pre-laid everywhere that his feet will touch. He will not walk on the same dirt as everyone else. In a full entourage, one his fifteen wives shows up in her BMW motorcade. Then, after her arrival more time passes, and you begin to hear a man shouting in the distance. The shouting man comes closer and closer and his voice louder and louder. In SuSwati, he is announcing as loudly as he can say it all of the accomplishments of King Mswati’s reign. Then, the military band begins to play the national anthem with trumpets and trombones. A huge BMW motorcade comes strolling up the drive, and right in the middle of all of these black SUV’s is this brilliant, turquoise blue car that the king was in. His driver stops at exactly the right spot so that his feet will only touch the red carpet, and a man is there waiting at his door to hold an umbrella for him. As he walks toward the area where his throne is prepared, the crowd takes photos and shouts for their king. And, brothers and sisters, this is all for a wicked king.
This morning, we come to scene that in many ways is similar, yet in the most important ways, profoundly different. We have come to the time in Jesus’ ministry in which He will publicly announce himself as the King of the Jews through his entrance to Jerusalem.

God’s Word

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The Time of Provocation has Come

“when they drew near to Jerusalem” Throughout his public ministry, Jesus has done something that strikes us as being pretty odd. We come to stories like in where Jesus miraculously heals a leper, and then Jesus follows up this gracious and miraculous work by saying, “Be sure that you don’t tell anybody.” And, maybe we’re thinking, “Jesus, you need to let someone help you with your marketing plan, because that is straight gold! This is your claim to fame!” So, why has Jesus been having people remain quiet? No part of Jesus’ life or ministry were accidental. God the Father had decreed in eternity past that Jesus’ life and ministry would be progressively unveiled at a particular point in time. Jesus came to die, but not immediately. He came to live for a certain amount of time at certain point in time so that his Father’s will could be accomplished. So, Jesus, though certainly at the center of controversy, tempered the conversation about him so that it would climax at just the right time. And now, the time has come. The time of provocation in which He will publicly announce himself as King. He will lay down his own life by provoking his own slaughter through the full and public unveiling of his Messianic identity.

Jesus announced himself.

“you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her” And so, what we’re stepping into here is one of the most important moments in the Bible. We are in the final week of Jesus’ life, a time so significant that Matthew has set aside a quarter of his book for it. And, what we find is Jesus approaching his entrance very deliberately so that his coming is properly realized. Nothing here is accidental.

Royal Entrance

So, why does Jesus send his disciples after a donkey? There’s a couple of layers to this. Now, it’s an odd request. Outside of riding on a donkey in Mary’s womb, we have no other record of Jesus riding anything anywhere. He and his disciples walked everywhere that they went. And, not only that, Jesus has walked the entire way from the far reaches of Galilee all the way to Judea, and now, he’s about a mile out, and He’s asking them to go and get him a young donkey to ride. Jesus hadn’t rolled his ankle, and he wasn’t too tired. He had a statement to make. You see, everybody was coming into town for the passover. The population of Judea, and especially Jerusalem, exploded like race weekend during passover. And, practically all of them are walking. So, in this sea of people walking from Galilee to Jerusalem, a man sitting on a donkey would stand out. He would be above the crowd. And, the particular animal, a donkey, was one that was often used by royalty as a symbol of peacetime and was particularly tied to throne of David and the coming messiah. So, it may seem to us like it’s just an donkey, but Jesus is using this donkey to stand out as the arriving King among a sea of his people.

Messianic King

“this took place to fulfill what was spoken” But, Jesus didn’t just choose to come in on a donkey because it would portray a thought of a king. Jesus chose this because it was laid out 500 years in advance through the words of the prophet that this is exactly how Israel’s Messiah King, Savior King, Final Redeemer would come. Jesus was trying to invoke the image of just any king; He was announcing that He was THE King. The long-awaited one that Zechariah had promised. Look at the specificity of this. There are two donkeys, and one of them a foal. This is exactly what Jesus rides. Their King had come, and He had come exactly as they were told he would in the exact way they were told He would come.
Jesus fulfilled this prophecy through his own prophetic instruction to his disciples.
Application: The question before the people of Jerusalem is the same question before us this morning: How will you receive him? Will you celebrate him and draw close to him, or will you reject him? Will you submit yourself to his rule, or will you seek to assert your own authority over him?

Jesus Fulfills Prophecy Through Prophecy

“you will find...” Now, I want you to notice something really powerful in these first few verses. Not everybody in Jesus’ day was able to see this, but Matthew makes sure that we do. How did Jesus fulfill the prophetic words of Zechariah? Jesus fulfilled this prophecy through his own prophetic instruction to his disciples. Do you see that? Jesus sends two of his disciples ahead, and He tells them the exact scene they will encounter once they arrive and how to handle it. So, we might be prone to think: Jesus is just finding these things and acting them out. Big whoop! But, don’t you see, our God is the one that declares the end from the beginning. He is the One who knows what will happen before it will happen. So, yea, 500 years ago, God said this is what’s going to happen, and Jesus is, as we always find him to be, living in submission to the word of God. But, Jesus is also showing himself to be God by declaring exactly what the disciples will find before they get there. He’s fulfilling prophecy by speaking prophetically. He’s both living out the word of God and speaking as God.

Jesus Fulfills Prophecy Through His Disciples

And, He is willing to let his disciples play a role in the fulfillment of Scripture. How cool is that? Jesus announces his coming and fulfills a prophecy that’s 500 years old, and He sets it up so that His disciples, fishermen and tax collectors get to play a role. Can you imagine what it would be like to actually be there when prophecy is being fulfilled? Can you imagine going exactly where Jesus told you to go, and seeing the foal tied up just as Jesus said it would be? Can you imagine watching him ride it into Judea just as Zechariah had prophesied?
APPLICATION: Brothers and sisters, do you realize that this is the exact opportunity that you have? Jesus is allowing us, his disciples, his church to be a part in the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus isn’t finished yet! Every prophecy has not been fulfilled! Every promise has not yet been realized, and by God’s grace, we have a role to play! Jesus prophesies, commands, and then supplies. Your obedience ; Jesus commands us to obey, but He transforms our hearts and He sends the Spirit so that we are able. He commands, and he supplies. Your perseverance Jesus says that his disciples must endure to the end, but then he sustains them by his power and in his grip. Jesus commands, and He supplies. Your evangelism Jesus commands us to go to the nations, to the very ends of the earth, but He says that you will go with my 'authority' and the power of the Holy Spirit. You go with his assurance that He will save through the sewing of the gospel, even if you don't see it yourself. Jesus commands, and He supplies. Jesus works through us, EVEN US, to fulfill his prophetic word and announce his glory to all of the cosmos! Take part, brothers and sisters! Take part!

Jesus defined himself.

A Sovereign King

“The Lord needs them” Jesus wasn’t just announcing that He had come; He was also announcing who He was. He announced himself as the Messiah King that had come, but that didn’t clear the picture up for first century Jews like it should. They largely misunderstood who the Messiah was to be. They thought that He was going to be in the form of Saul. Now, they would’ve rejected that thought because Saul flamed out pretty badly as Israel’s first King. But, that’s really what they wanted. They wanted a Messiah who looked like a king and rode a white horse who would lead a great military revolt against Rome and establish Israel a super power. They weren’t looking, even though they had been told, for a meek son of a carpenter riding on a donkey. So, Jesus defines himself so that there is no ambiguity about who He is.
First, I want you to see that Jesus shows himself as a sovereign King. Here, we have difficulty really understanding Biblical sovereignty. We have a three branch government with a bicameral congress. So, there’s no absolute sovereignty anywhere. But, if you go to Swaziland, it’s different. The king owns everything. All the land, all the livestock, the entire economy of the country belongs to him. If he wants a law, he says it, and it becomes law. If he wants to abolish a law, he says, and the law is abolished. If he wants someone arrested or set free, it’s exactly as he wishes. And, this is who Jesus says He is. He tells you where the donkey will be, and that’s where the donkey will be, because He is sovereign and He has made it so. He tells you that when someone asks that the Lord needs, and they will release it. And, that’s what happens. What He says becomes fact. As a matter of fact, looking at the prophecy given 500 years earlier through Zechariah that was fulfilled this day, we can even say that so much so that you can record what Jesus says as fact before it actually even takes place. Jesus is a totally sovereign King, and He is totally sovereign over donkeys and circumstances and men and time and prophecies because He is God. This is who Jesus is revealing himself to be here. Whenever the word ‘Lord’ is used anywhere in Matthew, it’s always referring to God. Jesus is, in not uncertain terms, saying not that he’s a good teacher, not that he’s a moral leader, not that he’s a philosopher, but that He’s actually God!

The Hope of Sovereignty

APPLICATION: Do you feel the hope that comes with Jesus’ sovereignty? This is why I'm still able to sing, even as my headaches persist. This is why we're still able to laugh, having endured the worst tragedies of our lives. Jesus is sovereign, and his promises are sure. Our salvation is sure. Our glorification is sure. Jesus' promises will come true. Our future is secure. Our glory is coming. Our freedom is forever. It IS! Because Jesus has said so, and Jesus is sovereign!

A Humble King

“your king is coming to you, humble” Next, Jesus shows himself as a humble king. This is exactly who Zechariah said he would be. He said that the King of Zion would come to his people ‘humbly.’ Now, humility and king go together like honest and politician. Kings don’t build statues of peasants; they make peasants build statues of them. In Swaziland, at the meeting of the king, they take us to this room where we’re going to meet him. His throne is out of our sight, covered by a curtain, but we can see where it is. Then, two older men, wearing nice suits, are going to approach him at his throne. They have to come up to him crawling on their hands and knees, groveling like dogs, as a type of worship of the king. But, Jesus didn’t come into Jerusalem in a turquoise BMW; He came on a donkey. He was not surrounded by the finest in the world, but rather just the basic provisions. He did not march into town in the midst of a mighty military, but instead with a group of working class Galileans. Jesus is not like any King before. He is worthy, yet humble. He is mighty, yet merciful. He is wealthy, yet compassionate. APPLICATION: Oh, I wonder if we look anything like our king!

A Worthy King

This is an announcement of war. Not by riding a war horse, but a donkey. Not by sending in an army take down the city, but by laying his own life down. Not by building himself a statue, but by having his back stripped in my place and in yours. You see, everybody knew that Zechariah was a prophecy about the Messiah, but nobody saw that the and would merge together to talk about the same Savior King. They didn’t know that the One who would speak Peace from would be the Suffering Servant of , and that He would speak it with his dying gasp of breath with the word, “It is finished!” Brothers and sisters, this is the Sovereign King and this is the Humble King who has fulfilled the word of the Prophets and satisfied the wrath of God. He announced his coming, provoked the Pharisees with the truth to slaughter him, so that He might storm the gates of hell with by laying down his own life so that peasants like us might be saved!

Two Responses

This is an announcement of war. Not by riding a war horse, but a donkey. Not by sending in an army take down the city, but by laying his own life down. Not by building himself a statue, but by having his back stripped in my place and in yours. You see, everybody knew that Zechariah was a prophecy about the Messiah, but nobody saw that the and would merge together to talk about the same Savior King. They didn’t know that the One who would speak Peace from would be the Suffering Servant of , and that He would speak it with his dying gasp of breath with the word, “It is finished!” Brothers and sisters, this is the Sovereign King and this is the Humble King who has fulfilled the word of the Prophets and satisfied the wrath of God. He announced his coming, provoked the Pharisees with the truth to slaughter him, so that He might storm the gates of hell with by laying down his own life so that peasants like us might be saved!
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” Can I tell you something? He isn’t just a sovereign King and He isn’t just a humble King. He is a worthy King! You know, there were two responses to Jesus that day. You may have heard some say that this is a fickle crowd that praises Jesus upon his entry and in just five days will shout for his crucifixion, but I don’t think it’s that simple. You see, those who are shouting “Hosanna!” are Galileans. They are the working class. The Judeans considered them to be at least a class beneath them. By shouting “Hosanna!” they are using the literal words from the Messianic psalm 118, which would have been used during the Passover Celebration. It literally means, “Save us.” In laying down their cloaks, they were laying down an expensive garment of which they most likely had only one, and they are declaring an allegiance and submission to Jesus, who this text identifies himself as a Galilean. I think they are being shown positively here and in contrast to the other group.
“the whole city stirred up” You see, verse 10 says that the whole city ‘stirred up’. Literally, that phrase speaks of an earthquake like force sweeping across the province of Judea. They were not enthused by the idea of these lower class people declaring their miracle worker as the Messiah. And, they certainly would not have missed the open declaration of Jesus that He was who the crowd claimed him to be. A king has come that Rome wouldn't tolerate and that the Judeans wouldn't appreciate. It's the perfect storm. As King, He challenged the power of Rome. As Prophet, He challenged the authority of Jerusalem. Not only would they not bow down to him and not only would they reject him, but they would crucify him. They would not love this King.

Will You Love Jesus?

Application: The question before the people of Jerusalem is the same question before us this morning: How will you receive him? Will you love Jesus or not? The question is not do you want to avoid hell or do you want to feel good or do you want a good marriage or do you want to go to heaven? The question is: Will you love this Jesus? Will you love him with everything you’ve got? Will you take off your cloak and lay it down in submission? Or, is He a threat to your own control?
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