The King is Coming
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Palm Sunday 2020
The King is Coming!
Introduction – The King is Coming!
Today is Palm Sunday, the day when we remember Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem flanked by crowds of people welcoming Him as the promised Saviour King.
Listen to how the day unfolded as we read from Matthew 21
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
I had to get something from the shops this week and it was strangely quiet… as it should be while we avoid going out as much as we can. Being pressed together in a surging crowd is a distant memory for most of us.
But imagine the scene… Jerusalem is swollen with Jews from all over the known world, come to celebrate the Passover. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote shortly after this time that up to 2.7 million people came for the feast. The centre point of celebrations is the Temple mount, which could hold 250,000 people at a time – more if they really crammed in!
Not only are there Jews who have gathered to worship, there are Roman soldiers who are there to keep order. They know that this many Jews in one place is fertile soil for a rebellion to grow.
And then Jesus comes into the city surrounded by celebrating crowds. He goes to the Temple and because it’s His house, He drives out the people who were misusing it for personal profit. Then He gets busy healing the blind and the lame, who would congregate near the Temple to beg.
The children who see this can’t contain their excitement! They’re running around telling everyone “The Son of David is here to save us!” That’s what the phrase “Hosanna to the Son of David” means. They’re celebrating. They’ve seen the King, He’s come!
But what do the religious leaders do? They get indignant. They’re outraged that children are calling Jesus the promised King. They want Jesus to put a stop to it!
Jesus refuses to do it because the kids are right – He is the coming King.
Yet within a week those leaders have convinced the crowds to reject Jesus completely, even to demand His death!
The King came. People had the chance to see Him, hear Him and believe in Him. Yet they chose to reject Him.
What are we to make of this? The great news is that Jesus had already explained it. He knew what was going to happen and He made sure we could clearly understand why, and what we must do as a result.
As we have been working through the gospel of Matthew we have made it up to chapter 12 verse 38, which is exactly where God knew we needed to be this week. Let’s turn to it together.
As we do that keep in mind Jesus is talking to some people who’ve stubbornly refused to believe in Him despite all they’ve seen and heard. Many of you who are hearing this message do believe in Jesus, but don’t tune out! Just like Jesus’ disciples listened in on this conversation, l invite you to listen in too because God’s Word and Spirit will be saying things to you as well.
There are 3 big ideas that Jesus addresses here when it comes to the question of how we respond to Him.
- There’s no need to argue! (vv38-40)
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
If you were here when we studied the first part of chapter 12 you’ll remember that Jesus has been doing some amazing miracles. Those miracles were signs that He is the Son of God, the promised Saviour King. But after He healed a man with a shrivelled hand on the Sabbath, some religious leaders went away & plotted how to kill Him. After he drove out a demon that had made a man blind and mute, they said that Jesus was working for Satan.
It wasn’t more signs these guys needed, it was a change of heart. That’s what Jesus has just finished speaking about as we get up to verse 38.
And even though they respond to Jesus’ miracles with arguments and objections, they keep asking Him to do more! Jesus isn’t interested in more debate, more argument, more hard-hearted refusal to believe. So He says “No! Enough is enough.”
He knows that their hearts are so hard that nothing will get through to them. They will eventually succeed in having Him killed, but that will not be the end. Just like Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so Jesus would be three days and three nights in the grave, but He would emerge victorious over death!
What Jesus is speaking of in the future tense is what Scripture speaks to us about in the past tense.
Like the people of Jesus’ day, we could very easily say “Well if God only would do….” then I would believe in Him. Or, to put it negatively “I cannot believe in a God who doesn’t….”
The reality is that this is a never-ending argument. God would never get to the end of the list of our demands that He do more and more for us in order for us to trust Him.
We would always find more reasons to doubt who He is and how much He loves us.
But Jesus settles all of that. The thing that settles all arguments is the death of Christ, His burial and His resurrection on the third day. That’s where the power of God is proven. That’s where the humility of God is proven. That’s where the love of God is proven. That’s where the justice of God is proven. That’s where the triumph of God over every form of evil is proven. Everything is settled in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
If you’ve been wrestling with God, asking Him to prove Himself to you; if you’ve written Jesus off as maybe a good teacher who got on the wrong side of powerful people or maybe a failed revolutionary; whatever your argument is… Jesus isn’t playing that game anymore!
He’s shown you everything He needs to show you in His death for your sins and His resurrection for your eternal life.
Please be aware of how the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus settles every argument that you could have that prevents you from receiving eternal life from God.
Do you think God could never accept someone like you? Jesus has taken the burden of that away from you as He was punished in your place.
Do you think you don’t have any need of a Saviour? Just try raising yourself from the grave!
Do you think this life is all there is? Look at how many people’s opinions about Jesus were changed because they saw in Him the proof that there is life after death.
There’s no need to argue anymore! The sign of Jonah, as Jesus called it here as a clue of what was to come, settles everything.
The second thing Jesus says about how we respond to Him is this:
- We’re all equal before God
The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
To these people who thought their ancestry, their laws and their customs made them superior to others, Jesus gives a rude wake-up call. It doesn’t!
Jesus gives two examples of people who were far from God who heard His message and believed it. First, the people Jonah went and spoke to after God used that huge fish to save his life and send him in the right direction.
The people of Nineveh were completely lost in sin, yet they responded in repentance and faith to the simple and reluctant preaching of Jonah. They believed God was serious about judging sin and they turned from their wicked ways as they asked for forgiveness.
Similarly, when the Queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem seeking to see if the rumours about Solomon were true, she heard God’s wisdom from Solomon, saw the evidence of it in his kingdom, and believed.
Jesus is greater than the prophet Jonah.
Jesus is greater than King Solomon.
Yet these Jewish leaders,
- despite having the advantages of inheriting God’s promises given to their ancestors;
- despite the advantages of having the Scriptures with all the prophecies about Jesus;
- despite the advantage of having God’s law which made it perfectly clear that no human being can live up to God’s standards. We all need a way of being forgiven for sin and purified from sin.
… despite all these advantages they could not see what God was doing in their midst and instead accused Jesus of working for the devil.
Please notice this. When it comes to your standing before God only one thing matters – how you respond to Jesus.
Believe in Him and you will be saved. By the grace of God you will leave your old life behind and live a new life as God comes and lives in you by His Spirit. You will have an eternal home with Him in Heaven.
It doesn’t matter what kind of home you grew up in. It doesn’t matter how old you were when you heard the good news. It doesn’t matter about what religious background you had or anything like that. We’re all human beings who share the same problem – our sin separates us from God. Jesus solved that problem on our behalf.
That’s what Jesus is predicting in Matthew 12 and fulfilling later in the gospel.
Are there advantages to growing up in a home where Jesus is worshipped and taught? Absolutely! It has the potential to save you from a lot of pain if you believe in Jesus from a young age and let Him direct your life.
But ultimately, we’re all equal before God. We all must believe in Jesus. It’s the only way to be saved.
The people of Nineveh and the Queen of the South did not have the advantages that the people of Israel had, yet they still believed what God said.
You can too. You need to.
Because the last thing Jesus does with these leaders is point out that:
- Choices have Consequences
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation..”
Remember Jesus had just delivered a man from being controlled by an evil spirit such that he couldn’t see or speak. Not every physical affliction has a spiritual cause, but this one did. And Jesus sorted it out.
Jesus uses this as an analogy for the entire generation of people in Israel at that time. He was there cleaning up the mess that Satan had made of people’s lives, yet if they rejected Jesus, they’re basically leaving themselves unprotected from Satan’s attacks. The number seven symbolises completeness, and that’s in fact what happened to the nation and its capital, Jerusalem.
Before Jesus came the nation was in bad shape. They were crying out for a deliverer to come save them from Roman oppression.
He came and did amazing miracles that helped many people, yet after they rejected Him, God’s protection over them was removed.
After crucifying their Saviour King the nation continued down its rebellious path. Violence and corruption increased until finally the Romans came in and destroyed Jerusalem, tearing down the walls and the temple and burning the city to the ground.
They were worse off than before. Completely ruined.
We too need to be aware of the consequences of our choices.
We can live under the protection of a loving God who promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, which is to make us like Jesus. (See Romans 8:28-39)
Or, we can reject him and take our chances against the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
We can accept the forgiveness of a God who loves everything which is good and hates everything which is evil. We can look forward to an eternity with Him where He allows no evil to exist.
Or, we can stay in our sins, with nothing to look forward to except the judgement of God and exclusion from His perfect Kingdom forever.
These consequences matter. They are life and death. They can be extremely good – better than what we deserve because of the perfect grace of our God.
Or they can be extremely bad, exactly what we deserve because of the perfect justice of our God.
There are consequences for how you respond to Jesus. Both in this life and the next.
Please receive Him as your Saviour King.
If God has worked in your heart to help you believe in Jesus as your Saviour King we’d love to help you in learning to live as a member of God’s family. Use the connection card on our website or get in touch some other way & we’d love to follow up with you. Even better, chat about it with someone who’s already following Jesus who can share the journey with you.
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