What Kind of King Is This?- Palm Sunday 3/20/2016

 

John 12:21-
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.

14: And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

15: Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.

16: These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

17: The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.

18: For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

19: The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

20: And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

 

Title: “What Kind of King Is This?”

Subtitle: “A Hosanna In My Heart”   

 

I

n this passage of scripture, we find that Jesus is now coming into the final stages, and very swiftly approaching the culmination of His earthly life and ministry. It seems that this final act of Jesus’ time on earth prior to His death, burial and resurrection opens with the death and rebirth of His dear friend Lazarus, and it finds its conclusion in His thrilling triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Well, I found myself asking first of all, why must the curtain of this Passion play open upon the story of Lazarus? What was so important about Lazarus in this story? We must understand that Lazarus was what is called a typology. He was a picture of Christ Himself, because Jesus was illustrating through Lazarus what was about to happen to Him, and Lazarus was also a typology of the Christian life. He was an illustration of the principles of death, burial and resurrection that permeate every aspect of the believer’s existence. And a Christian is, after all, nothing more than an imitator of Christ.

 

And so, it was a very powerful time in the life of Jesus, and I can imagine that it was a very exciting time to be one who was privileged to move within the sphere of His influence.

 

If we look closely at this passage, we will find that every representation of humankind from God’s point of view is present at varying stages of this story. You know, there really are only three kinds of people in God’s eyes, and that’s why I don’t waste my time fighting with people over Black and White and brown and yellow, because there’s only three, and those three have nothing to do with skin color. First of all, the Pharisees were there to represent the religious man who thinks that he can please God in his own strength. Then you have the gentiles, the ones who had not yet heard the Gospel, yet would soon be invited into the family of God, they were also present. And then there were the disciples, who represent that segment of the human race who have laid down their own lives and accepted Christ as the only true way to salvation. That, brothers and sisters, is all there is. From God’s point of view, those are the three categories of people who make up the human race. You’re either a religious person who has got your own way of making yourself righteous in God’s sight, a person who hasn’t made up your mind about God yet, although you may think that you have, and call yourself an atheist, or whatever, or you’re a true believer in Christ. Yet, it was necessary that all of these, all three branches of humanity had to be present to witness the coming of the King.

 

          And so Jesus now makes His way, from Bethany, Lazarus’ home town, to a place called Ephraim, having received word that the religious leaders are angry about His having resurrected Lazarus, and now they are on the hunt for His life. This was to be expected, because the devil always gets mad whenever you’re doing God’s work, but what really ticks him off is when you are effective at it. Oh, he doesn’t mind, as long as you’re playing around, as long as you allow yourself to be mere church-folk, and you come to church for social reasons, and you sing on the praise-team, but you’ve still got Beyonce and Kanye, and all them other “yays” in your music collection, and you really only hang around God for what He can do for you. The devil don’t mind.

 

But as soon as you decide to quit struggling, as soon as you decide to stop stumbling, and get serious, and stand up in the full power of who God has called you to be, as soon as you make up your mind that “I Made a Vow To The Lord, and I Won’t Take It Back,” now, now, now, he’s got a problem with you. Now you’ve become a target, and now you have numbered yourself among those who have been “picked out to be picked on,” and the tragic part about it is that you will soon find out that it will not be the ones that you ran the street with who will be throwing the rocks, but it’ll be the ones that you would think would be happy that you’re not out on the street smoking crack. Happy to know that you’re not drunk anymore. Happy to know that you’re preaching the gospel now. No, no, it won’t be your ex-gang members who will be out here trying to kill you, but it’ll be the very ones who are sitting right next to you in church. The ones who sing in the choir with you. The ones who share the same pulpit with you! And believe me, I know from experience that it will hurt, but I thank God that there is nothing that I can go through in church, or anywhere else that Jesus hasn’t already gone through. And if they couldn’t get Him, then they can’t get me! If He was able to survive it, and go on to fulfill His destiny, then so can I! Oh, I thank God that I have a Great High Priest…who knows all about everything that I go through! I thank God that when negroes are lying on me…and committees are plotting against me, and gossipers are scandalizing my name, Jesus knows all about it! And because the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, and all the other Dick Dastardly, Simon Bar-Sinister, Riff-Raff, Snidely Whiplash, collar-wearing jokers…if they couldn’t get Jesus, then they can’t get me! Somebody look at somebody, and say, “What Kind of King Is This?”

 

          It is now almost time to celebrate the Passover, and Jesus and His disciples set their compass towards Jerusalem, the Holy City. The City of David. Jesus was not like a lot of us, in that He did not do a whole lot of advance publicity. He did not have a marketing team. He did not call ahead, like some preachers do, and say, “Doc, I’m gonna be in your city soon, and I’ve got a ‘word’ for the folks when I get there.” Rather, wherever Jesus went, His work spoke for Him and went ahead of Him. The blind eyes that were opened, the sick that were healed, the lame that had been made to walk, and even the news that the dead had been raised…all of those went before Him. But I believe that the most important advertisement of Jesus’ ministry, one that we can learn from today, was the news that many needed to hear, and that was that “Somebody is coming who loves me.” Loves me, in spite of how I act, loves me in spite of how I look, loves me in spite of how I smell, He loves me! And I don’t have to fix myself up in order to get into His presence! He loves me, I tell you, and I can come boldy…to the throne of grace, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need!

 

Oh, that the church would learn the lesson of this verse! Oh, that we would understand that all of the stuff we think we need to reach folk, we don’t need, all of the gimmicks, and the strategies, we don’t need all of that. All that we need to do is love people. Notice how the people didn’t come because He had a big building. They didn’t come because He had celebrities in the place. They didn’t come because of his fancy suits, or because how bad the praise-team was. They came because He loved them. And if the church would learn to stop requiring so much of people, and just learn to love them, they’ll come, just like they came to Jesus that day, they’ll come to us, but instead of them coming to us and finding only us, they’ll come to us and run into Him, and that, dear brothers and sisters, is what we want to happen. Because if they come to us, and don’t find Him, then the only thing that they can find is…death.

 

          And now…liiiiiive from Jerusalem. I am happy to report…that the King has come! And the Bible tells us that as Jesus came into Jerusalem…that the paaaaaarrrty…was going on. The place was jumpin,’ and the band was bumpin.’ And as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people remembered the words of the prophecy: Zechariah 9:9, and Isaiah 62:11-“Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.” Now I’m sure that there was someone there….in the midst of all that celebration, who was somewhat disappointed. Because He didn’t come riding in a limo. Because He didn’t come riding on a big horse and waving a sword. He didn’t come with a big entourage, club, clique, group, or gang, like we like our preachers to come today. But He came humbly. Because He came to serve. He came to save. And I can imagine, that right in the middle of all that chaos, right in the middle all that gladness, right in the middle all of the expressions of adoration and joy, Mr. Disappointment lifted up his voice and cried, “WHAT KIND OF KING IS THIS??” That does not wear royal robes? That does not lead great armies into battle? That does not have a golden crown on his head? What kind of King is that…that does not sit on a massive throne, and cry, “Off with his head! Off with his head! Off with his head!” What kind of King is this…that rides in on a donkey…a stinky lil’ mule…and calls Himself…meek and lowly…humble and holy.

 

          Well, Mr. Disappointment…I’m glad you asked me that! Let me tell you…just what kind of King He is…

And the Bible tells us that as He came, the people began to strew palm branches in his way and they cry “Hosanna! Hosanna!” And the word “Hosanna” is defined as “an expression of adoration, praise or joy.” I also read somewhere where Hosanna means “save now.” And I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a real good word. It’s a word that invites the King. It invokes the King. Because there are times…when I need to King…to come riding on in! “Hosanna! Hosanna!” That’s a word that I think we ought to start using. Instead of saying, “I’m not gonna make it,” we ought to say, “Hosanna!” Instead of giving somebody a piece of your mind, you oughta shout “Hosanna!” In the doctor’s office, “Hosanna!” In the sickroom, “Hosanna!” And I heard…the Bible say, “Lift up your heads, o ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in! If you want Jesus….to come into your situation…you’d better get a “Hosanna!” down in your heart!”

That’s what Palm Sunday is all about! Inviting in the King. Invoking the presence of the King. Letting Him know that He is welcome…in my life.

 

Finishing up…

(Vs. 16)

You didn’t understand it at first, but sometimes, you have to remember.

  • When you first got saved, a lot of things didn’t make sense, but now you can understand what the Lord was doing in your life.
  • Georgia Shaw (“I’m a soldier…”)

 

(Vs. 17-19)

Jesus work spoke for Him

  • If you do the right thing, your work will speak for you (Psalm 37:6)
  • Sometimes you have to tell your testimony, even if the devil gets mad.
  • The devil cannot stop the God’s will for your life- so keep going (Phillippians 1:6)

 

 

(Vs. 20-21)

The Gentiles Come

  • Somebody’s watching you- so don’t let the devil steal your “Hosanna.”
  • Sir, we would see Jesus!”

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