2010 03 28

The Appeal of the King

John 12:12-19

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

March 28th, 2010

at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker

Psalm 118:26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest!

John 12:12-19 English Standard Version

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.

18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”[1]

When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, He was choosing to end His life within the fullness of time, according to the Father’s wisdom, according to Old Testament prophesy and by the hands of His chosen people.

Jesus was choosing to obey and learn obedience as He went toward the cross. The Father was once again placing His Son front and center that the world may see His beauty. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.

There is no equivocation with Jesus. No fence straddling. We either love Him or we hate Him. The splendor and majesty of the Son will either transform us into His own glory as we bow the knee, or His power and authority to command us as the King will incite hostility and insurrection. Be honest. Most of us go the insurrection route.

We cannot be indifferent to Jesus’ Lordship. Imagine sitting on a lawn chair that is sitting on train tracks. When the train is barreling down the tracks, either you get on board, or you get run over. Indifference is not an option. So it is with the Son of God. He is the Great and Final Judge of the universe. All authority, power and judgment was given by the Father to the Son. If we show contempt to this Stone, it will later crush us.

But this passage isn’t the moment where He invokes an appropriate fear of God through showing us His power and might. No. Jesus enters the city He loves as the Prince of Peace, as the Kinsman Redeemer, and as the Faithful Servant.  Jesus enters on a donkey as the King who secures peace with the Holy Father as the Suffering Messiah. Jesus came to die.

Jesus’ appeal is not His command over legions of angels, His power over nature, His wisdom to teaching or His physical appearance. No. It is that Jesus loves me this I know. He loves me enough to die for my sin. That is VERY appealing. It attracts large crowds then and today.

But then Jesus asks us to come and die with Him. Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow Me!” At hearing this, most reject Him. We don’t want to die. We want to save our soul, not lose it. We want to gain the world with Jesus at our side. That’s what this crowd wanted too.

The passage tells us that a very large crowd had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jerusalem was on a hill so everyone who came to the Holy City ascended to Jerusalem.          These thousands of strangers on the road would be singing the songs of Zion and specifically the Songs of Ascent. Psalms 120-134.

Jesus would have been singing these wonderful scriptures with His disciples, and not just the twelve. A large crowd of worshippers had gathered at the home of Simeon who hosted a meal in honor of Jesus and Lazarus. This whole crowd was now on the march up to Jerusalem, coming in from the East, through the Kidron Valley into the city through the Eastern Gate.

Secular historically tells us that over a quarter of a million sacrificial lambs were brought into the city for the Passover. The sacrificial lambs entered through that same Eastern gate, therefore called the Sheep Gate. Jesus was surrounded by people shouting and lambs bleating. God the Father was showing up at this Passover to offer a sin offering like Abraham offered Isaac. Jesus joined the rest of the Lambs into the city. He was the King over death. He intended to prove it with His own.

The crowd professed their hope that Jesus would act as Messiah and free them from the Roman government. They shouted out Hosanna! Meaning “give salvation now.” It was a term of acclaim from Psalm 118 verse 25-26. It was familiar to every Jew. We used it a minute ago in our Assurance of Pardon. The Jews knew this passage very well as it was part of the Hallel, which is Psalm 113–118 and sung each morning by the temple choir during the Feasts and especially the Passover.

This was as much a moment of religious fervor as it was insurrection directed at Pilate, Herod and Rome. They were declaring Jesus the King of Israel. The inscription on the cross would later say, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” But were they really willing to recognize Jesus as their king or were they just going through the motions? The difference is the draw. What drew them?

They believed Jesus brought freedom and liberty. They were right, but not in the way they thought. Too many Christians think Jesus owes them financial prosperity, good heath, obedient children and gainful employment if they follow Him. Jesus offers something better.

This moment drew a crowd because Jesus fulfilled the prophetic promises about their King. Zechariah 9:9 says, 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.

Jesus has the appeal of being a Son of David. He is from the Royal lineage of King David though the blood line of Mary His mother. That’s why the Gospels give us His genealogy. He really is from royalty and can lay legal claim to sit on King David’s throne. No Jewish leaders ever disagreed with that well established fact. That was very appealing for the crowd.

Jesus has the appeal of raising Lazarus from the dead. Don’t diminish the power of that literal  event. In John 12:19 the religious leaders quipped, “the world has gone after him.” Americans have gone after Jesus too. 76% of Americans claim to be Christian. It is popular to be a Christian. Cultural peer pressure. It is the power of a mob to bring others into a profession. But Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 that this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Sadly, this mob was as fickle as most religious people today. A few days later they tell Pilate that they have no King but Caesar. They beg for Jesus to be crucified. They demand it. They abandon our Lord because it becomes obvious He isn’t going to provide wealth, heath, and prosperity in this life. He is headed toward the cross. The appeal fades. The love is proven false, and the infatuation turn to contempt, anger, and then hatred. Their faith doesn’t persevere.

Jesus came that he might die for the sins of His people. He has been telling His disciples for months now that the Son of Man must die. Mark 10:32-34 And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.

He has known it since the foundation  of the world. A few days earlier the disciples try and talk Jesus out of going to Jerusalem. They can’t so Thomas says, “lets go, so that we may die with Him.” There’s no joy in this commitment. It is despair. The disciples didn’t understand.

Jesus is timing His death on the cross with the High Priest’s sin offering in the Temple. He makes the religious leaders so angry that they rise up and kill Him even though it profanes the week and makes them unclean to offer the Passover sacrifices. They would rather chant, “May His blood be upon us and upon our children!” than have this Suffering Messiah be their King.

Jesus was anointed by Mary with pure nard. He beautifies every street He travels with the fragrance of this most wonderful of perfumes, but it isn’t a smell of celebration, rather it is the perfume used to cover the smell of death. Ephesians 5:2 Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Jesus descended from heaven. He descended into poverty and the miseries of this life. Jesus is now preparing to descend one final time into Hell itself while hanging on the tree.

We confess that we believe that Jesus descended into Hell when we quote the Apostle’s Creed. People saw Jesus crucified, dead and buried. Only God the Father saw Jesus descend into Hell. God the Father brought that Hell to Jesus while He was on the cross. It was His final descent and His final humiliation. Jesus came to conquer sin and death. Sin is the enemy.

Every time we commit a sin we reveal ourselves to be hostile to this kingdom of righteousness. Our sin makes us the rebels. We must not celebrate the King of righteousness one day and embrace unrighteousness the next. That is a dangerous life. Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” We must be willing to join Jesus on the cross and be crucified to this world. We either bow the knee or join this world in being judged.

The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus will come to this earth on a horse of power and might. The words in His mouth will be the sword of judgment as He declares the end of those who resist Him. All power and all authority has been given from the Father to the Son and Jesus will judge this earth.

Jesus is coming! The Bible calls it the Day of the Lord. It will be HIS DAY!  It starts with Armageddon and ends with the burning up of the whole of creation. The Sovereign Lord Jesus will conclude this universe by rolling it up like a scroll, and then He will recreate it in perfect harmony with Himself. No sin, no misery, no sorrow or suffering will ever stain the streets of that new heaven and new earth. Even now, death is swallowed up in victory.

Jesus reigns. He is the light of the world. He dwells with His people forever and ever.

Jesus is your King. Jesus is your Lord. He always has been and He always will be. Bow your knee. Jesus offers Himself in love. Jesus offers Himself as your peace before God’s holy demands.

Take that offer. Don’t walk away from that gracious offer of salvation. We don’t deserve it. We can’t satisfy God’s wrath toward our sin. Only Jesus secures peace for His people. Only Jesus appeases the wrath of God. His death works atonement: a propitiation for our sin.

Say with the rest of God’s people, “Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Join Jesus in being crucified to this place. Lose your life in Christ that you might find it. What will it profit if you gain the world and lose your soul? Read Romans 6. We are united to Jesus in His death and resurrection.

And if we obey this King then we will enjoy His Second Coming.

Revelation 19:11-16 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

And we will respond like the crowd in John 12. We will reenact this triumphant entry of Jesus into the new Jerusalem. One day we will proclaim  “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready!

Are you ready this morning for Jesus to enter this place? Since the time of His baptism He has been declaring how to prepare for the advent of His kingdom. Jesus preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

There is no greater appeal about Jesus than His love that will not let us go. His love for us took Him to the cross that we might be saved. Jesus paid it all, all to Him we owe, sin had left a crimson stain, but His blood washed us white as snow.

Receive Jesus as your King this morning. Repent of your insurrection. Stop hating His ways. Stop hating His commands. Let the will of God which is revealed in the Word of God become your life. Live in Jesus’ resurrection. Be dead to this world. Live alive to God. Lose your life for Jesus sake, and you will find it eternally as you live for Him.

May God bless us as we bow the knee to King Jesus.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.