Responding to the King
29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
Neil Marten, a former member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then Lord Chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, “Neil!” Not daring to question or disobey the “command,” the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!
Now, the response from these folks was immediate they herd the word and they obeyed, and I cast my mind to a verse in
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
You one day, every knee will bow before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord when he comes to the earth a second time, but what about the first time he came, shouldn't the people have bowed the knee then? indeed they should have!! for it is the same Jesus.. and the response should be the same, yielded obedience and submission to the King, not simply an outward act of obedience but a heart felt devotion to the Lord!!
Today is of course the day we mark Palm Sunday, the day that begins this Holy week as we we move towards calvary’s cross. Palm Sunday is the day marked out in Scripture as the triumphal entry, when the Lord comes down the mount of olives into Jerusalem.
This morning I want to exam the responses from the main characters in this account, I want us to exam not just their outward actions but their inward thoughts, and as we go I want us to reflect upon were we fit in all this, for there are 2 different responses
so without further ado, lets get look at
1. The Response of the Crowd
1. The Response of the Crowd
Lets start with the crowds that gathered, it was passover week, and indeed Jerusalem was heaving at this time of the year, as all the pilgrims came to Holy city, to the temple. So, there was quite a crowd awaiting the Lord as he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem
37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
so there was quite a crowd, John tell us a little more in his Gospel
12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
it is said they took palm branches and went forth to meet him, Matthews Gospel tells us they put the branches in the ground before the Lord as he moved along on the colt.
Now, to understand the actions of the crowd we have to get some context around what was going on at the time and what the passover meant to the Jewish mind.
You see the passover was a time when the Jews remembered their deliverance at the hand of God out of Egypt, it was about bondage and deliverance, national deliverance from an oppressor.
Now, we look at the time of the events we are ready about and we find the jews once again under the hand of a foreign suppressor, the Romans. The Romans allowed the Jews to live in the land, but they ruled and reigned over them, with an iron fist at times, its said that the lowest tax bracket for the Jew under Romans rule was 80% of what he earned!, the farmers of the fields had to give 50% to the Romans.
This was a tense time, it was an occupation. The temple, the most holy place in Jerusalem had a roman garrison right behind it, high enough to look over the temple walls and keep an eye over the activities there.
At the time of passover with so many Jews around there was a massive Roman security presence because if the people where going to revolt, this would be the time, remember the whole passover theme was that of deliverance from bondage.. so you can imagine how tense things were, emotions were running high..
Now here comes Jesus descending the mount of olives on a colt, a direct fulfilment of prophecy about the Jewish messiah
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; Lowly, and riding upon an ass, And upon a colt the foal of an ass.
put this together and you can image the crowds are getting whipped up in anticipation, this might be the one, the Messiah… so they rush and get palm branches to throw before him
why Palm branches?
well in AD 25 Herod Antipus had a coin minted that had palm on it because religious Jews would not touch a coin with the likeness of Caesar on it. The Palm was a symbol of Jewish nationalism and independence.
You see banners with writing could lead to arrest, remember the Romans were on high guard they wouldn't have any trouble makers, so the Jews used these palm branches as part of laying out the royal procession for there Messiah, and at the same time making a political and national symbol.
Passover - deliverance from bondage - palm tree- symbolic of national independence..
you see how the crowd was worked up, the feel the anticipation that the time of there deliverance is at hand!!
they cry out “Hosanna” The Hebrew root words for hosanna are found in Psalm 118:25, which says,
25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
so the cry from the crowds is save us, they wanted the messiah to save them from the oppressors, they wanted a messiah of military might, one who would restore the nation to greatness again.
what a scene what a moment, the crowd are all for Christ when they think they are getting there hearts desires, but when Jesus a few days later is hanging on a cross, having beaten and humiliated by the Romans those oppressors, how do people react then?
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
the crows have gone, the messiah that seemed to promised so much, now seemed defeated, a fraud, not the messiah Israel was looking for...
O how wrong they were, for he was the Messiah they needed.
The response of the Crowd was one of, we want you Jesus as long as you do what we want...
the minute they saw they were getting what they wanted from Jesus, he moved from messiah to man for them.
I wonder is that you this morning, you happy to have Jesus as long as things are going your way! your happy to have Jesus as long as you can get something from him. Maybe your sick, and you come to Jesus because you want to be healed, but if you don’t get what you want then your off. Happy to have Jesus on your terms but not on his!
You see that is not yielded obedience to the King, just like the response of the crowd wasn't true yielded obedience. It was Jesus the way they wanted him, and the minute he didnt fit the mould they discarded him to search for another who would fit the messiah of their own making.
That is the response from the crowd, but their is another response that we want to look at and learn from, and that’s...
2. The Response of the Colt
2. The Response of the Colt
35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
So Jesus rides into town on the back of a colt, early we indeed noted that this was in fulfilment to prophecy, but what can we learn from the colt
notice firstly the Colt was tied
30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
secondly he was wild
“yet never man sat”
illustration of breaking animal in, cowboys bucking broncos
thirdly Marks Gospel tells us the colt was without
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
the word without is the greek word “Exo” meaning outside or apart
fourthly the colt was at a crossroads…
“in a place where two ways met”
what a picture we have here of the lost man, tied in bondage, at a crossroads, one way leads to freedom, one to slavery.
but what happens when Jesus gets a hold of this wild, untamed colt
35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
you see Jesus sat upon this colt and its response was not to rebel, to fight against the one who sat upon him, it responded with yielded obedience to the master..
what a lesson we have in the colts response, compared to the crowds response, you see from the colt there were no demands, no ulterior motives, just simple obedience to Jesus..
the animal was truly submitted to its master
In the book, No Bad Dogs, by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, she says dogs understand
love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is
an absolute necessity. The love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding
Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic
wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think.
True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.”
The real test of our walk of Faith isn’t seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It’s found in this: when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, do we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, to obey?
What is our response to the King this morning?
is the response of the crowd, is a outward response because you want something form the King? Is it false worship when you come to Church on a Sunday?
or is it the response of the colt, simple yielded obedience to your King and Master? Jesus on his terms and not yours.
I wonder this morning, as we look to move towards Calvary’s cross how are you responding to the King?