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Easter 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

When?
Introduction
Today is Palm Sunday, the day that we recognize Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-11

Matthew writes,
Matthew 21:1–11 ESV
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
This is often called the “triumphant” entry, but I’m not sure if Jesus saw it as a triumph or not.
This is often called the “triumphant” entry, but I’m not sure if Jesus saw it as a triumph or not.
There was a huge, excited response to His presence, and yet the people quickly abandoned Him.
He would ascend to heaven about 46 days later. Paul writes in that Jesus had appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time between His resurrection and His ascension. That’s still a fraction of those traveling to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.
The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that around 250,000 lambs were slain during the Passover feast, which reasonably puts the temporary population of Jerusalem and the surrounding area at one million people, and perhaps more. Many thousands were on the roads traveling into the city on that first day of the week.
The people clearly saw it as a triumph. They spread their cloaks and branches from trees on the road, and shouted out Messianic phrases. His arrival became the focal point of the day. The entire city was buzzing with excitement, wanting to know what was going on. The crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The key statement in this passage is found in ,
Matthew 21:4 ESV
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet … ()
Jesus deliberately fulfilled the prophecy made by Zechariah, made about 550 years before. He knew exactly what He was doing when He sent His disciples for the donkey.
Jesus deliberately fulfilled the prophecy made by Zechariah, made about 550 years before. He knew exactly what He was doing when He sent His disciples for the donkey.

A Long Time To Wait

550 years is a long time to wait for anything. 550 years ago it was 1468 A.D.
Gutenberg’s printing press was less than 20 years old. Gutenberg himself died that year.
Christopher Columbus was 17 years old.
Leonardo da Vinci was 16.
There were no Bibles in the English language, or any language other than Latin, for that matter. The Tyndale New Testament was more than 50 years in the future.
In fact, there was no modern English. Britain was still speaking Middle English, a language that would not be recognizable to you and me. Modern English would not begin to develop for another 50 years.

Zechariah 9:9-12

550 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem, God made this promise through the prophet Zechariah:
Zechariah 9:9–12 ESV
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.
550 years before Jesus entered Jerusalem, God made this promise through the prophet Zechariah:
zech 9 9
Before creation God had the time of this fulfillment set in stone.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. ()
Before creation God had the time of this fulfillment set in stone.
The people of Israel had to wait for God to fulfill His promise. He only very rarely reveals His timing of events. But the fact that He didn’t print out His schedule for them didn’t mean that He didn’t have one.
His calendar contains not only years and months and days, but hours and minutes and seconds. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem took place exactly as He had promised, and at the exact moment that He intended.
It’s only natural that they would have asked “When?”
When would this promise be fulfilled?
When would the King come to Jerusalem?
When would God cut off the chariots and war horses, bringing peace to the nations?
When would the rule of God stretch from sea to sea, to the ends of the earth?
When would the prisoners be set free?
When would God restore?
But the Lord didn’t put a date on the calendar.
Instead, He commanded them to live as though the promise was already fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!”
Faith in His promise meant living as though He had already fulfilled it, rejoicing greatly, shouting aloud.
God expected His people to trust that He would not fail to keep His Word. After all, He had proven Himself over and over.
God made a promise to Noah, to destroy the wicked on the earth, and to preserve Noah and his family. God kept that promise.
God made a promise to Abraham, to make him a nation. God kept that promise.
God made a promise to Isaac and Jacob, to fulfill the promise made to Abraham through them. God kept that promise.
God promised to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt. He kept that promise.
God promised to lead them in the wilderness. God kept that promise.
God promised to provide them with food and water during their wandering. He kept that promise.
God promised that the children of those delivered from Egypt would enter the promised land. He kept that promise.
God only made two kinds of promises in the Bible.
Those He has already fulfilled.
Those He will fulfill.
He NEVER forsakes a promise. He NEVER misses His target.

Hebrews 11:1

Do you remember ?
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ()

Second Corinthians 4:17-18

Do you remember ?
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ()
2 Corinthians 4:17–18 ESV
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Faith does not focus on what can be see or experienced.
We see in these passages and many others that faith does not focus on what can been seen or experienced, touched or tasted or felt. Faith is not concerned with how something looks.
Faith is the conviction that God’s promises are more solid, more real, than the world in which we live. We could reasonably define faith as patiently waiting for God to do what He promised to do.
Faith is not concerned with appearances.
Faith is the conviction that God’s promises are more solid, more real, than the world in which we live.
Jesus has made other promises to His church.

John 14:3

Just as God made promises to Israel, Jesus made promises to His church. One of the most precious of these promises is found in ,
John 14:3 ESV
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
That’s a fantastic promise. Jesus is coming back for each of His own. He isn’t just coming back for US; He is coming back for ME and for YOU.
It was not just the ancient Hebrews who had to wait for God to fulfill His promise. Many promises have been made to the church.
For instance, Jesus says this to us in ,
So it’s only natural that we, like the Hebrews, would ask, “When, Lord? When will You return? When will we be home? When will all the struggle with sin and the world be over?”
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” ()
It’s only natural that we, like the Hebrews, would ask, “When, Lord? When will You return? When will we be home? When will all the struggle with sin and the world be over?”
“When” is none of our business, though. Do you remember that just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” We find His response in : That’s none of your business.
That’s none of your business.
Well, He put it a little more nicely than that:
Acts 1:7 ESV
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
But that translates to, “That’s none of your business.”
Well, He put it a little more nicely than that: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” But that translates to, “That’s none of your business.”
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” But that translates to, “That’s none of your business.”
God the Father has fixed times and seasons by His own authority. They are set in stone. They are unchangeable. Jesus will return according to the Father’s will. And the timing of His return is not for us to know in advance. God doesn’t need us to hold Him accountable.
People today are impatient for the Lord to fulfill His promise.

Waiting Is Hard

Some use their impatience as an excuse for unbelief.

Second Peter 3:3-4

2 Peter 3:3–4 ESV
knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Peter writes, … scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” ()
Nothing is happening, they say. If it was going to happen, it would have happened already. That proves that it’s not going to happen. That mockery of the promises of God is sinful.
Nothing is happening, they say. If it was going to happen, it would have happened already. That proves that it’s not going to happen. That mockery of the promises of God is sinful.
Others are so focused on the fulfillment that they don’t care about much else.
We knew a man in California who became convinced that Jesus would return on the feast of Tabernacles, which takes place in the fall – this year it will be from September 23rd to the 30th. Every year he would become very animated and enthusiastic as the feast of tabernacles approached, and then fall into a depressed gloom when Jesus didn’t return. Sometime after the first of the year he would start to bounce back, and then get all excited again in July and August, and face the same disappointment again when the feast arrived.

Second Peter 3:8-10

But Peter encourages us:
2 Peter 3:8–10 ESV
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any [of you] should perish, but that all [of you] should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord WILL come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. ()
Patience is not procrastination. Deliberation is not delay. Jesus says in that the Father has already determined the times and seasons when He will fulfill His promises. Jesus WILL return, at exactly the perfect moment. On this side of His return, we can only look into the fog of the future and wait. On the other side, after His return, we will look back and know with certainly that it was the perfect moment.
Patience is not procrastination. Deliberation is not delay. Jesus says in that the Father has already determined the times and seasons when He will fulfill His promises. Jesus WILL return, at exactly the perfect moment. On this side of His return, we can only look into the fog of the future and wait. On the other side, after His return, we will look back and know with certainly that it was the perfect moment.

Bringing it Home

What about us?
How should we live as we wait? Peter tells us.

Second Peter 3:11-13

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. ()
2 Peter 3:11–13 ESV
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
We should live in holiness and godliness. That means living according to the Word of Jesus Christ, the Bible, in faith and obedience.
We should live in holiness and godliness. That means living according to the Word of Jesus Christ, the Bible, in faith and obedience.
We should be waiting for and hastening the coming of that day. Hastening doesn’t mean changing God’s time-table, but cooperating with it by preaching the Gospel, living in holiness and godliness, and eager for His return. God is patient toward those who have not yet believed, and He instructs us to call them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Let’s be honest, sometimes we are impatient for the Lord to return. After all, all of our problems will be solved in that day, and we are eager for our salvation to be perfected.
But as we patiently wait for Him, and faithfully carry out His wishes while we wait, we have the exhortation of Paul, and the certain promise of God, found in .

Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1–4 ESV
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ()
If you have NOT been raised with Christ – if you suddenly realize that you are not ready for Him to return – then the patience of God has given you today to repent and submit yourself to Him.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ()
If you have NOT been raised with Christ – if you suddenly realize that you are not ready for Him to return – then the patience of God has given you today to repent and submit yourself to Him.
If you are not seeking out the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, then God’s patience has granted you today to repent and refocus your life.
The lives of those of us who are in Christ are hidden with Christ in God, protected from harm and judgment. We are secure in Him, and can not only manage to wait for Him, but can wait for Him with joy.
At the end of all this is glory for the Christian, the glory of Christ, our Savior and Lord, our Bridegroom. All that Jesus Christ has promised will be fulfilled. Every promise of Scripture will be fulfilled. God, who is true and faithful, will not fail.
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