2011 04 17

Who Is Jesus?

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

April 17th, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org

at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker


This was the 2011 Palm Sunday Sermon


Matthew 21:1-11 English Standard Version

1 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, and 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.”[1]


Jesus delayed entering Jerusalem by resting on the top of the Mount of Olives.

There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount of Olives, including notable kings, the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi‎.

The first mention in the Bible of this place was when King David wept for his son Absalom.

Jesus mirrored the weeping of King David on the Mount Olives when He lamented in Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! And on this mountain Jesus wept.

Ezekiel saw a vision of Jesus as the Lord of Glory on Mount Olives. Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.

Between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem is the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jesus left this place of prayer and started up the mountain He was betrayed by Judas.

In the book of Acts Jesus ascends into heaven from this mountain and Jesus will return visibly, bodily and with all power and authority back to this same Mount of Olives.

So Jesus pauses at this historic spot, associated with the great Kings and Prophets of the past, to let the reader consider, “Who is this?”

Who is Jesus? The question matters for our faith and our daily living.

As a matter of faith the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem provides us an opportunity to profess the true identity of our Lord.

The children seemed to get it right. They praised saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” The children and worshippers sang from the Messianic Psalm 118:25 which says, Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Hosanna holds the meaning of this verse.

The crowds were not clear to our Lord’s full identity. When asked the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.

The Pharisees fully understood the profession of faith coming from the children and disciples. They told Jesus to rebuke those calling Him Messiah.

How do you respond to the claims of Jesus? Is He the Promised One who saves the world? Is He the one who brings eternal blessing and God’s ultimate goodness?

Christians believe that Jesus is God in human flesh. He is the Messiah foretold, our Savior and our Lord.

But the identity of Jesus should also impact our daily living. It is easy to get our profession straightened out, it is harder to get our life straightened out. The entrance of Jesus should change both.

This connection between faith and practice is the scandal of the story. On Palm Sunday the crowds welcomed Jesus as the King of Kings, but just a few days later (Matthew 27:25) all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!

Jesus also makes this connection between faith and practice.

Jesus rebukes the religious majority saying, (Luke 19:42-44) Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

People who only temporarily celebrate Jesus miss the long term goodness that Jesus brings. A holy life is the benefit of coming face to face with Jesus as our Lord. Isaiah saw the Lord and repented. The Apostle Paul was blinded by the glory of Jesus and changed.

Jesus came to give peace. As the Angels sang at His birth, Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

And Jesus opines, Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace.

Do you have peace in your home? Is there peace in your church relationships? Does peace rule your heart? Jesus entered Jerusalem to bring God’s peace, but they rejected what He offered.

When we miss the entrance of Jesus into our life, then the ways of peace become hidden from your eyes.

So how might the congregation at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker miss Jesus?

Before I answer that question, let me suggest a bigger truth. To the extent that we do not receive the ministry of Jesus in our life, we miss Jesus. If we do not receive His love, then we miss Jesus. If we do not receive His forgiveness, then we miss Jesus. If we do not receive His servant heart toward others, then we miss Jesus.

On Palm Sunday Jesus immediately brings change to the religious culture of Jerusalem by going into the temple and restoring true worship.

How many religious people today would be upset to miss Jesus on this issue? Are you equally concerned with Jesus regarding your worship?

Lots of people are fickle about their worship.

I am confident that all over America the Holy Spirit is prodding the hearts of professing believers that God requires regular, prepared, covenantal worship from His people. And yet the worship of most congregations in America is in decline.

People who miss the call to faithful worship have missed the visitation of the Lord Jesus in their life. The work of Jesus is not yet fully received by people who don’t prioritize worship. These people might be correct in their profession about the identity of Jesus, but they fail to have their life filled with the benefits Jesus brings.

The crowd missed the benefits of King Jesus too. They missed out on peace with the Father.

Too many people think they are O.K. with God because they have a profession of faith in Jesus. James 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

A verbal testimony that Jesus is Lord is the beginning of the Christian life. Acquiring the label Christian is not the end of the journey.

For too many people, their actions disagree with their words of faith. With our mouth we can confess that Jesus is Lord, but by our actions we can confess that the identity of Jesus has not yet made it’s full impact upon our soul.

To the extent that we miss the work of Jesus in our life, we miss His entrance into our life.

Let me make another application, but from my personal life.

During this last week I was tempted to say some unkind things about a fellow believer. I was hurt by the words of a friend. I was disappointed, angry and feeling discouraged. My sinful flesh wanted to get even by speaking to others about that person’s character flaws. I was tempted to share their weaknesses in an attempt to lower their social standing.

The Holy Spirit convicted my soul that those words would not work peace. If I gave in to temptation I would be spreading discord and not peace.

Jesus does not treat people this way when offended. The love of Jesus covers a multitude of transgressions. Love believes the best and looks for the good in others.

It is the Devil who rejoices over another’s weakness and suggests that person is a rotten egg. The Devil helps others think evil of their neighbor.

We are doing the work of the Devil when we speak words of division.

And Jesus cries out, Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace.

And in that moment Jesus will visit our souls with a call to repentance. We have to make a choice. Are we going to take a pass on the ministry of Jesus in our life, or are we going to repent from the ways of our sinful flesh and live for God?

Jesus is visiting us in that moment to help us do the right thing. Jesus brings salvation to our soul, peace with God and the benefits of His love. Jesus is our Hosanna.

These were the same Gospel promises sung by the crowd out of Isaiah 62:11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”

Jesus brings reward and recompense. We must respond with faith and right living.

Zechariah 9:9 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 will not always approach us meek and mild. Jesus is patient to give us time to repent, but that patience will not last forever.

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. 12 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. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 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. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Who is Jesus? Jesus helped lead us to the right answer in Matthew 12:42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Solomon united the kingdom, Jesus will unite the world. Solomon brought an era of peace, Jesus will bring an eternity of peace. Solomon built aqueducts to bring water into Jerusalem that still work today. Jesus is the living water that gives eternal life. Solomon built the temple so that God could dwell visibly with His people. And Jesus is that glory that ascended up the Mount of Olives to weep over a city of religious people who were living without the peace He desired to give.

Jesus wants to bring His ministry of peace to your soul. Jesus binds up the broken hearted, heals the wounded, and gives strength to the weary. Are you receiving all that Jesus has to give? He rides into your life with promises of peace and salvation. Jesus is the Savior. He is the King of Kings. Jesus is Lord.

Your life will be most satisfied when you find your greatest satisfaction in Jesus.

May we receive Jesus, profess Him our Savior and live the new life that He brings. Amen.


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

 

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