2012 04 01

Easter Praise

Reverend Anthony R. Locke

April 1st, 2012  www.FirstPresTucker.org


Zechariah 9:9-13 English Standard Version

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.

10  I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11  As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

12  Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

13  For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.[1]

Alexander the Great was born 356 years before the birth of Jesus. He was lionized and praised from his early youth.

He was born to privilege and high expectations. Aristotle was his personal tutor and annotated a copy of Homer’s Iliad which Alexander kept under his pillow much of his life.

His mom was Olympias. She told him he was a descendant of Achilles and Hercules. It’s no wonder that he looked for every opportunity to demonstrate his strength and courage.

At the age of 20 he was given the opportunity to show his leadership when some Greek cities rebelled against his leadership. He wasted no time moving into action.

He burned Thebes to the ground and enslaved the few people he didn’t kill.

After subduing Gordium he was presented with the famously tricky Gordian Knot. Legend had it that whoever solved this puzzle would rule all of Asia. He solved it by slicing it in half with his sword.

And every time he went to war he would pass through the Jerusalem countryside without causing any harm to Israel. Alexander offered the Jews kindness. One after the other he destroyed Israel’s enemies. Israel saw Alexander the Great as a symbol of what the Messiah would do on an even greater scale on the day of His appearing.

Even the enemies of Israel assumed that God was at work through Alexander the Great on behalf of God’s people. Many of these enemies converted to worship Jehovah because of the exploits of Alexander the Great on Israel’s behalf.

But much to the surprise of Israel, Jesus as the King of the Jews was very different than Alexander the Great. Our passage itemizes four marks which identify the King of the Jews.

This person would be a King, He would be Just, He would bring Salvation and do all this through Humility. Verse 9 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.

A KING

There were people in Bethlehem and the surrounding cities who expected great things from Jesus. By the age of 30 most people had dropped those expectations.

The King of the Jews was not introduced into this world with a powerful mother like Olympia. Jesus entered under the cloud of illegitimacy. He was not offered a visible Kingdom. Jesus was offered poverty and suffering.

Jesus chose not to display His power in ways this world would understand. He could have called ten thousand angels to fight. He chose not to.

The prophesy states that the Messiah would transform the weapons of warfare into farming tools and instruments of peace. The Messiah would rely on the power of His words to bring peace.

This is in direct contrast to the leadership style of Alexander the Great. The people of this world do not praise humility. There are no awards for people who finish last. The Messiah Zechariah describes isn’t in it to win it as the world would understand.

JUST

These next two labels, Just and Saved, apply to the coming Messiah. In the Hebrew these terms are in respect to the needs of the Messiah. It is strange that the justifier will need to be declared just. It is very strange that the Savior will need to be saved.

First, the King of the Jews is in need of being justified.  

Not many Kings need someone else to label their actions as just or righteous. The actions of a King are above scrutiny. But the Jewish Messiah would be accused of insurrection against Rome. Even His own people would label their Messiah a Blasphemer and Law Breaker.

People who are accused of insurrection and blaspheme are not praiseworthy. Zachariah says that the Messiah would need to be declared Just. What a disappointment.

Was Jesus, as the Messiah, declared Just? We have to answer this if we are to determine if Jesus fits the Messiah prophesies of Zachariah.

There are two examples.

  1. Pilate investigated the accusations and testified to the world that he could find no fault in Jesus. The powers of the world declared Jesus righteous.
  2. And twice God the Father thundered from Heaven that Jesus was His Son in whom the Father was well pleased.

Jesus was declared Just by the powers of Heaven and Earth. Jesus does fit the description of the Messiah that Zachariah said was coming.

SAVED

Third, the Messiah would be known by his need to be saved.

This is again the opposite character quality of Alexander the Great. Did Jesus require salvation?

Jesus didn’t need to be saved from His sin, but you wouldn’t have known that without the resurrection. The penalty for sin was death, and Jesus died. He looked as though he paid the price for offending God.

Jesus was cast into trouble like that of Joseph and Jeremiah who were thrown down into an old dry well. Unable to climb out. For three days there was the appearance of failure.

Jesus was passed off as just another guilty sinner worthy of death, but on Easter morning God saved Jesus from this humiliation. God displayed to the world the glory of the Son, the only Begotten, full of grace and truth.

Jesus didn’t die a sinner. Jesus entered the battle against our sin and came out of the grave the victor. In Jesus we are restored double for all our suffering. Our hope is in Heaven and the risen Christ.

This is the anti-type of Alexander the Great, but He is exactly the sort of Messiah the Jews were told was coming.

Humility  

Finally, The King of the Jews is called humble.

The Hebrew word in our passage is not a commendable thing. The meaning isn’t humble, but lowly. Zachariah is saying that when Messiah comes to bring us salvation, that He is lowly, miserable, bowed down and full of suffering.

Again, the opposite of Alexander the Great.

The age of the donkey is a hint that Zachariah is speaking of real poverty. The Messiah would ride into Jerusalem on a animal that wasn’t even broken in yet. That’s poor.

The Messiah would come at the bottom of the social economic ladder, but rise through lowliness and suffering, to might and glory, and would conquer the world, not by arms, but by suffering and dying.

That’s what Jesus did. He triumphed through suffering. His crown springs out of his cross. The crown of thorns is transformed into the crown of glory and honor.

What is Palm Sunday Praise? If we understand Zachariah correctly, the Triumphal Entry isn’t as grand as our human appetite desires.

Are you willing to praise Jesus as a King even though His kingdom is not of this world? You will look foolish to your friends if you live under His power and authority, but you won’t look foolish in the end.

Are you willing to praise a Messiah who needs to be saved? Are you willing to vouch for a Messiah who needs to be declared righteous? There is a promise that if we are united with Him in His death and sufferings, if we take our cross, then we will live forever.

Are you willing to throw your lot in with a leader who doesn’t even have his own place to lay His head? If so, then you will have a home in heaven forever.

Jesus is nothing like Alexander the Great. Jesus is greater. Praise the Lord.



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



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