Play Video

Chapter 19, Luke’s Gospel, the story of Palm Sunday, Jesus entering into Jerusalem, Mark’s retelling of the story of Jesus has been moving on a pace. And suddenly here, Luke 19, verse 18, Luke puts the brakes on the story of Jesus his retelling of Jesus, slows down. And Luke now goes into fine detail for as he describes the remaining days of Jesus’s life. Luke is slowing down because he wants to place great emphasis on the last week of Jesus’s life. And we want to take a cue from that as well. We want to slow down and make the most of the next coming days because the events that Luke is about to describe the events of Holy week, the events of the last seven days of Jesus’ life are some of the most significant for us as Christians. The Last Supper crucifixion and the resurrection. And Luke wants us to pay close attention to them.

And as we move into the last week of Jesus’s life, Luke wants us to know that Jesus is in control. And so we have at the very beginning of this palm Sunday story, an incredible emphasis on a donkey. Why you may ask, why does Luke take almost one third of his retelling of Palm Sunday, why does he give it over to a donkey is a great question to ask because within a matter of maybe three or four verses Luke repeats five times Jesus telling his disciples to untie the donkey. Why? Why all this emphasis on the donkey? Yes, donkeys are cute. Donkeys are cuddly, donkeys are lovely, but Luke is trying to tell us something because actually way back in Genesis, there’s this obscure verse that talks about the one who will come, a descendant of Judah, who has the authority to untie the donkey. All the way back in Genesis and Luke as picking up on this and by emphasizing the discovery of a donkey and the untying of a donkey, he’s wanting to tell us two things. A, that Jesus is this descendant of Judah, the Messiah that the Old Testament prophesies and that he’s in complete control. But what’s about to unfold over the next six or seven days, particularly around the crucifixion is not an accident. It’s not a mistake. This is something that Jesus has been living towards, moving towards deliberately. And in fact, planning.

It’s not a mistake. It’s something that Jesus has planned for. And in this story of that first palm Sunday, we have two very sad things that unfold in this story. And I want us to look at this passage through the lens of those two sad things. And here’s the first one, is that people don’t understand what’s going on. People don’t get what Jesus is doing. And so for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey is a very clear and conscious disclosure of who he truly is, that he is the king, Israel’s long awaited king, and as he enters riding on a donkey, he comes, he’s regal, but he’s not threatening. He’s powerful, but he’s not using that power to start a revolution. He receives a ticker tape welcome of sorts. People take off their jackets and their coats and they throw it on the ground. They lift palm branches off the trees, they begin to swing them like flags and they begin to sing one of the Passover psalms, psalm 118. But they don’t understand what’s going on.

You do not cheer someone who is going to the gallows. You do not cheer someone who’s going to the scaffold. They don’t get what Jesus is coming to do. They misunderstand. What’s the answer? It’s a misunderstanding. The answer to misunderstanding is scripture. Scripture interprets for us what Jesus is doing. And just for the moment this evening, I want to look at a particular part of the Old Testament. Please don’t groom, this is going to take up two or three minutes. We’re going to look at the prophet that is most quoted during the last week of Jesus’s life. So here’s a question for you. There’s a prize to this. No, there’s not. I’m only joking. Who’s the most quoted profit in the last week of Jesus’s life? Anybody?

So it’s Zechariah, Zechariah. So just listen, just listen to this. So here’s Zechariah. This is about 750 years before the first palm Sunday. Okay. Zechariah chapter nine, verse nine. Rejoice greatly. Daughter of Zion, shout daughter of Jerusalem. See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious lowly and riding on a donkey. Jesus rides on a donkey and he does it deliberately to state I am. Zechariah’s king. I am the one that was prophesied. That’s nine verse nine. Here’s 11, verse 12. I told them, if you think it best, give me my pay, but if not, keep it.

So they paid me 30 pieces of silver and the Lord said to me, throw it to the potter. The handsome price at which they valued me. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the House of the Lord. Does that sound familiar? So what was Judas paid for betraying Jesus. 30 pieces of silver. And so he didn’t keep it. Did he? Cause once he realized that he had betrayed an innocent man, what was that money then used for? Buying the field called the potter’s field. That’s 11, 12. Here’s 13 verse seven awake sword against my shepherd. Against the man who’s who is close to me, declares the Lord Almighty. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered and I will turn my hand against the little ones. Gethsemini. Jesus is arrested. Shepherd struck. What are the disciples do? They run. I think it’s Matthew who quotes Zachariah 13 to explain what’s going on. This is Esther by the way. She’s lovely. You can meet her afterwards. 12 verse 10 and I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a spirit of grace and supplication. And they will look on me. The one they have pierced. Jesus on the cross. Pierced hands. Pierced feet.

And then that’s followed by 13 verse 1. What will be the result of the one whom they have pierced? Zachariah 13 verse 1. On that day, a fountain will be open to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem cleanse then from sin and impurity. Incredible isn’t it? There’s an English hymn writer called William Kuyper who wrote a hymn and titled there is a fountain and the first verse is this. There is a fountain that I see filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s vein. The sinners, sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains.

So the crown as Jesus rode in to Jerusalem that day misunderstood what they were doing. They were cheering and go on, go for it. Whereas Jesus was coming, riding on to die. And the Bible helps us understand that particularly Zachariah. Jesus was coming in as the king to end all kings. The Messiah, not coming to establish a political throne becoming to bring forgiveness from sin for each and every one of us. And we, we celebrate that tonight when we share communion together. So the first sad thing is misunderstanding that. The second sad thing, and this is the last thought from this passage is rejection. Jesus is coming in, riding on a donkey, proclaiming himself as king and Messiah. And this last appeal ends up being rejected by the Pharisees.

They hear that the cried singing and cheering on Jesus, and they turned round to Jesus and say, Jesus, this is a bit too much. You’ve gone too far. Silence them. They’re rejecting him. And Jesus responds to them with the statement that if they don’t sing, if they don’t praise, the very stones will lift up their voices in praise. Inanimate objects understand what’s going on and you don’t get it, you’re rejecting me. It’s an uncomfortable thought isn’t it, that Jesus divides opinion. Some follow him, some submit their lives to him, others reject him wholesale. And you see that in the the Ministry of Jesus leading up to Jerusalem. Some people submit themselves to him. You see that wonderfully in the life of Peter. One day Peter’s minding his own business. He’s been fishing all night. He’s cleaning his nets by his boat.

Jesus walks up, commandeers the boat as a pulpit, stands up and begins to preach. Peter washes away thinking, well, once the sermon’s over, that will be it. I can go home fishing all night. I need my bed, I need my breakfast. And then Jesus turns to him at the end of the sermon and says, Peter, let’s go fishing. And perhaps deep inside Peter’s going, oh no, I just want to go home. But he says, okay, Lord, let’s go fishing. And Jesus goes, out onto the boat with Peter and Jesus whose never fished in his life turns to Peter and says, see, just your net over there. And within minutes the boat is jam packed full of fish. And Peter takes one look at Jesus and falls on his knees in the midst of these fish. And he says to Jesus, go away from me. I’m a sinful man.

And do you know what Jesus says to him? Peter, you’re right. No, he doesn’t say that to him actually. He says to him, Peter, today, come follow me and I’ll make you a fisher of men. And Peter lays it all down and follows Jesus. Submits to him. And there are people who Jesus, they just see him here the call to follow him and run after him. But then you get somebody like the rich young ruler. Do you remember that story of the rich young ruler? He comes to Jesus with an amazing question. What must I do to inherit eternal life? Brilliant question. And Jesus says, go away and sell all you have and come follow me.

And do you know what happens? He looks at Jesus and he walks off. Jesus divides opinion and here he’s dividing opinion here on this palm Sunday. People are praising him. The pharisees are rejecting him. I want to suggest to you that we all face the challenge of wanting to push Jesus away. I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day, Wonderful Christian lady. She’s got a young child and she’s got three daughters under three and, and Phoebe at this particular stage, Phoebe was a young baby and quite demanding. And, it was my friends habit to get up in the morning and to pray and to read the Bible. And when you have the three kids so young, that’s really, really hard. And she was telling me that she was just got to that point.

She was just exhausted. And, and she felt drawn to, to pray and to open her Bible and just something within her was saying, no, it’s just too much. No, I don’t want to do that. I just want to just rest. And she felt as if she was just pushing Jesus away. And then a thought came into her mind and she said, she began to sing, she began to sing worship songs and, and uh, and, and that sense of, of wanting, to push Jesus away a little bit, just began to dispel. And that sense of longing to be with Jesus began to grow in her. And I don’t know whether that’s been your experience, that maybe you’ve come home from work and, and the thought of going back to your small group or maybe you get up on a Sunday morning and you just want to lie in bed. And it’s just – Jesus, I just need my own space. And the answer to rejection. The answer to pushing Jesus away in this passage seems to be praise. That as we open our hearts and our minds to worship the lord, that actually we, we draw near to him as James says. And as we draw near to him, he draws near to us. Whether that is, whether praise, praise in our own quiet times by ourselves, or whether that’s gathering together as a community to praise him.

The opposite of rejection is praise. So we have in this passage two sadnesses. The sadness of misunderstanding and the sadness of rejection. And what’s the answer to misunderstanding is to get into the scriptures and alow the scriptures to help us understand what Jesus is doing for us. And whenever we feel tired and we’re exhausted and maybe our quiet time or our small group or churches is a bridge too far, maybe the answer to that attitude, to that challenge is praise. It’s lifting up our voices, lifting up our hearts to the Lord.

Share this post