The Road To Easter: An Empty Praise

The Road To Easter: An Empty Praise

Every spring, hundreds of Hollywood “stars” gather for the Academy Awards. Very few “slip in the back door:” instead, they make an entrance. They walk down the long red carpet, smiling at the cameras and waving to the people in the stands (who, by the way, all had to apply and go through extensive background checks), showing off their clothing (and undoubtedly a bit more), chatting with the reporters. Some will go to great, great lengths just to be noticed.

Contrast that with Jesus: to the man healed of leprosy in Matt. 8, He said: “See that you don’t tell anyone.” To the two blind men He healed in Matt. 9, He, “warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’” And in Mark 1, a demon possessed man in Capernaum yelled out “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”, to which Jesus replied “Be quiet!” 

Jesus often chose not to be in the limelight. In fact, most of Jesus ministry happened outside of the capital city of Jerusalem, away from the big pomp and ceremony of the Temple, in small towns and villages along the way.

Until today. Until the event we know as “The Triumphal Entry,” the day we remember each year as Palm Sunday. This day all of that changes. Now, we see Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem being proclaimed as Messiah and King.

The King Is Coming In Publicly, Peacefully and is PRAISEWORTHY!

During Passover time, Jerusalem was crowded with visitors. Every Jewish adult from a twenty mile radius was obligated to attend the celebrations, and this number was added to by many, many more who would crowd in from further a field for the occasion. William Barclay tells us that the city was teeming with people, as many as two and a half million might have been in Jerusalem [Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1. P. 262]. They were there to commemorate Passover, an event that had taken place fifteen hundred years earlier…when God delivered His people from the land of bondage in order to lead them to the Promised Land. 

The Triumphal Entry, as it is called, occurred on Sunday of Passion week. It is one of the events that all four Gospels record giving the occasion great significance. Jesus, the Passover Lamb, heads into Jerusalem [for the last time], where He initiates a massive public demonstration as He offers Himself to be King of Israel (CIT). Keep in mind that normally Jesus moved quietly and preferred obscurity, many times charging those He healed to “tell no man” (Mt. 8:4). Here, however, He sets in motion a huge crusade. Why? It probably was so the Jews would never be able to say, “If we had only had the opportunity to embrace You as our King, we certainly would have done so.” He stripped away that excuse from the Jewish nation when He rode into Jerusalem and publicly offered Himself to them as their Messiah.

This passages emphasizes that Jesus is the King of Glory: the King comes in peace (21:1-5); the King is acclaimed by the people; and the King is crowned with praise. This event is the inauguration of the Prince of Peace as King of kings.

Matthew 21:1-10 ESV
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 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. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “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.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 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!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

I. Jesus Came…

A.  Fulfilling Prophecy

Illustration: The Silver Dollar
Dr. Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, wrote a book entitled Science Speaks, (Moody Press, 1969, P.109) in which he wrote about the law of "compound probability" in reference to just 8 of the prophecies about Jesus coming true. He said that the odds of one man accidentally fulfilling 8 of these detailed prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That’s 1 with 17 zero’s after it. In order for you to understand how incredible that number is in regards to fulfilled prophecy he gave this illustration. Let’s imagine you had that many silver dollars.. 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Those silver dollars would cover the entire land mass of Texas to a depth of 2 feet. Now, let’s suppose you took one of those silver dollars and marked with a red dot and then dropped it from an airplane. Then, you thoroughly stirred up the entire mass. Now, you blind fold your mate or a friend and tell them they can go wherever they want in the state of Texas. But sometime they must stop, reach down in that two feet of silver dollars and try to pull up that one specific coin marked with the red dot. What are the odds that they are going to select the red dotted coin? Dr. Stoner wrote that those are the same odds of 8 of these prophesies being fulfilled in this detail by Jesus, & we are going to list 3 of them and there are at least 300 that came true!

**Jesus Fulfilled Over 300 Unique Prophesies In The Bible 

Illustration: Just Ran Over Me
Vacationing in Arizona, a group of tourists spots a cowboy by the side of the road, with his ear to the ground. "What’s going on?" they asked.
"Two horses, one grey- one chestnut, are pulling a wagon carrying 2 men" the cowboys says.
"One man is wearing a red shirt and the other a black shirt." "They’re heading east."
"Wow, You can tell all that just by listening to the ground?" “You must be a some sort of prophet” says one of the tourists.
"No" replies the cowboy. "They just ran over me."

1. The Cross
Genesis 3:15 (NIV)
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

2. The Cornerstone
Psalm 118:22-29 (NIV)
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; [23] the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. [24] This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. [25] O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success. [26] Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. [27] The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. [28] You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. [29] Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

3. The Colt
Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Note that the Messiah is referred to by the term King. Such a lowly entrance was not the normal way that kings arrived. Rulers usually came as conquerors riding on a prancing stallion. Jesus entered Jerusalem not on a white charger, but on a lowly beast of burden, not on a horse as a symbol of power, but on a colt of a donkey as a symbol of humility. He is the peaceful King of the people of God, not a revolutionary with political interest (Is. 11:1–2). 

Can’t you hear the Roman soldiers garrisoned in Jerusalem snickering as they saw Jesus ride in on a donkey? When a Roman leader came cruising into a city, it wasn’t on a donkey. No, Roman rulers rode black stallions followed by chariots and thousands of soldiers marching in step with shields gleaming. But I wonder what the Romans of this world will say when Jesus comes again? The next time Jesus comes, He won’t be on a donkey. In the imagery of Revelation 19:11the Messiah appears again as a conqueror flying down on a white stallion of heaven followed by ten thousands of His saints (Jude 14). You see, the first time Jesus came, He came as the suffering Servant. But the next time He comes, it will be as the conquering King.

I. Jesus Came…

A. Fulfilling Prophecy

B. From Paradise (Heaven) 
John 6:38 NIV
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

Jesus’ claims on heaven are particularly significant.  First, He is the only one to make a claim to have been to haven and back. No other human could testify to that.  Next, He makes claims on divinity.  Only God has the power to ascend to heaven and back to earth in such an effortless manner.  Thirdly, heaven is a wildly spectacular place.  

In heaven we will have perfect joy.
Psalm 16:11 NASB
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

In heaven we will have perfect knowledge.
I Corinthians 13:12 NASB
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Have you ever wondered why certain things on earth played out the way they did?  Why did I have to be sick?  Why did he have to die so young?  All of those questions will be answered.  We will be able to see the full presentation of our lives and understand exactly what God was achieving in our suffering and pain.

In heaven we will have perfect comfort.
John 14:1-3 ESV
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 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.

Jesus promisees us that is in charge of our future and eternal dwelling place.  He will be there for us and guide us to the place of peace and joy.  

I. Jesus Came…

A. Fulfilling Prophecy

B. From Paradise (Heaven) 

C. Featuring A New Presentation

1. A Message Of Love
John 3:16-18 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

2. A Message of Light
John 8:12 (NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

3. A Message of Life
John 14:1-6 (NIV)
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. [2] In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [4] You know the way to the place where I am going." [5] Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" [6] Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

4. A Message of Liberation 
John 15:5-7 (NIV)
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. [7] If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

Illustration: Hosanna 
A Lesson in Greek and Hebrew
You all know that the New Testament was first written in Greek, and the Old Testament was first written in Hebrew. Wherever the word "hosanna" occurs in the New Testament, do you know what the Greek word is? Right! It's "hosanna." All the English translators did was use English letters (h-o-s-a-n-n-a) to make the sound of a Greek word.

But if you look in a Greek dictionary to find what it means, you know what you find? You find that it is really not originally a Greek word after all. The men who wrote the New Testament in Greek did the same thing to a Hebrew word that our English translators did to the Greek word: they just used Greek letters to make the sound of a Hebrew phrase. I know this sounds sort of complicated. But it's really not. Our English word "hosanna" comes from a Greek word "hosanna" which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na.

And that Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help. Like when somebody pushes you off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: "Help, save me . . . Hoshiya na!"

Closing Point:
Perhaps the saddest part of Palm Sunday is to hear that the crowds were stirred.  They were worshipping and crying out Hosanna.  However, in verse 10, the crowd has no idea who they are even speaking of.  Is that not the way it is today.  People come to church but many of us wouldn’t recognize Jesus if He sat on our pews.  Instead of worshipping Jesus, we worship worship.  We determine the outcome of today’s service by what I say or by the tempo of a song.  Friends, that is not the way it should be.  Today should be judged on the merit of our ongoing willingness to be submissive to Jesus Christ and His plan for our life.  Will we be as obedient to Him as He was when he sat on the donkey. Remember, that donkey carried Jesus to the cross.  I sincerely hope that Palm Sunday is about worshiping a Savior that we know instead of stranger that we think might be special. 

**Have You Genuinely Experienced The Peace And Purpose Of Jesus?

**Are You Shouting Hosanna

Are You Worshipping A Savior Or A Stranger?


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