HPC – Palm Sunday 2019 14/04/19
Reading Luke 19:28 – 44
Zech 9 – Rejoice greatly, people of God! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth.
Have you ever held your hand out to a puppy? And it cowers and shrinks back – and all you want to do is pick it up and cuddle and love it. But if you try to grab it, if you move too quickly – it may yelp, tear away, maybe even pees itself. Some puppies wag their tails and shrink back at the same time. Some take one step towards you and then two steps back again. Some shiver in terror! Perhaps it’s had a bad experience with a hand before. Perhaps it assumes that such a mighty hand can’t be good and must be feared. Can it trust the hand? Can it trust you?
This Easter is all about Trust. Do you Trust God. Do you Trust His Mighty Hand reaching out to you – because God is reaching out to you – His hand is always extended to you in invitation. But can He be Trusted?
God has been reaching out to mankind since the beginning. We see this most clearly in God sending His Son Jesus to live and die for us. We can see what God is really like by seeing what Jesus was really like.
On many occasions, when someone came to Jesus – we are told, Jesus reached out His hand and touched them and healed them and forgave them their sins.
Jesus is the Mighty Hand of God. Jesus came because He loves us and to make a way for us to be reconciled to the Father in a perfect relationship of love – where, although we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly.
God reaches out to us through His Son, through the Cross. And we see that this is not a hand that reaches out because of everything we’ve done wrong – a hand that would smack us and rub our noses in it – this is a hand that reaches out to put right all our wrongs at it’s own expense. This is indeed the hand of love!
Today is Palm Sunday – or the Triumphal Entry. The people recognize their King and celebrate in the streets shouting out His praises.
The different Gospels record that they shouted;
Matt – Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Mark – Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our Father David. Hosanna in the highest.
Luke – Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in Heaven and Glory in the Highest.
John – Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel.
Normally a King would get such a reception as he returned home from battle, victorious, triumphant.
Yet Jesus does not ride into town on a chariot or mighty war horse. And His main battle is yet to begin – to defeat the forces of evil, by defeating sin, by defeating death itself. He rides on a donkey – in peace!
But the people are proclaiming Him their King. They have seen the miracles, they have seen Jesus standing against the authorities – and they want Him to be their King, to do just what they want Him to do. They risk everything by publicly proclaiming Him their King in the streets, because they Trust that Jesus is going to be the kind of King they are looking for.
And Jesus lets them down! Just days later they were crying out for His blood in bitter disappointment – now publicly rejecting Him in fear.
He had not done what they wanted Him to do! They wanted the miracles and gentleness and love and care of Jesus – but what they wanted more was for Jesus to be a mighty warrior like King David. For Him to lead them in victory over their oppressors and make them a mighty nation again – just like they had been when David was King. They thought this would lead to peace. In the end it was all about them.
But Jesus had already taught – your enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of evil. And Jesus took on those evil spiritual forces and defeated them single handed. He is the God of Angel Armies – He is the Mightiest Warrior. There is none like Him. He is God. He is King.
Why do we fight wars? Is it not that once the enemy is defeated there is peace?
And Jesus says – if only you had known what would bring you real peace. And that in the end is to Trust that He is indeed the King, that He is your King – and that He has a much better plan than we could ever think of for ourselves.
Do you Trust Him?
Do you believe Jesus is the King? Do you believe – Jesus is your King! Can you say the words – I Trust that Jesus is my King?
God reached out to us through His Son Jesus Christ. And Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
Jesus has just been declared King – we call it the Triumphal Entry. But how did Jesus see it?
The Pharisees thought the crowd’s words were sacrilegious and blasphemous. They did not want their power and authority challenged, and they did not want a revolt that would bring the Roman wrath down on them. They wanted the people to remain under their control and the bondage of their religious system.
They asked Jesus to tell everyone to keep quiet – but Jesus said that even if they were quiet the stones would cry out. Not because Jesus was setting up a powerful political kingdom, but because he was establishing God’s eternal, Spiritual Kingdom – the greatest reason of all to celebrate – for the whole of creation – even the stones.
The people were soon to reject Jesus. The Jewish leaders had already rejected Jesus as their their King – they were plotting to kill Him. They had refused God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ – and soon they would all suffer for it. And Jesus wept – not for a country, not for a system – He wept for the people. He wept for His people.
“If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace. In days to come, your temple and everything you believe in and hold dear will be dashed to the ground, you and your children too”. And this will happen because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you – you did not accept the hand of God. Because you did not recognize your King. Because you did not Trust that I am your King. Because you did not Trust my plan. Because you want the wrong things. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray your kingdom come, your will be done.
Jesus was reaching out in tears for His people to believe and to Trust. And so we have on the Cross a Hand with a tear in it. Jesus, the Mightiest King of all, weeping for His people.
In Biblical terms;
Trust – is to have confidence in, to be secure in, and to be bold.
King – the Royal leader of the people, the commander, the one who owns and rules the land. The sovereign one who has the power.
Did Jesus display these qualities – did He have the power? In just the few days leading up to this moment, the Triumphal Entry, He had healed a blind beggar, He had raised Lazarus from the dead – “the crowd joyfully praised God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen”. In that moment they were confident and secure in Jesus, and bold.
And Jesus wept. What kind of a leader weeps for His people? Does He still weep for you? Will you accept Him for the King that He is?
Have you ever held your hand out to a puppy? And it cowers and shrinks back – and all you want to do is pick it up and cuddle and love it. What would it be like for you to watch that puppy never accepting your hand of love, refusing to come to you for your love and care, living in a world of hurt and fear – if only it would come to you!
Jesus is gentle and comes to you on a donkey! His hand is safe!
These same people who rejoiced over Jesus in the end would shout for Him to be crucified. Where had their trust and confidence and boldness in that Jesus was their King gone?
He had not done what they wanted Him to do! They wanted the miracles and gentleness and love and care of Jesus – but what they wanted more was for Jesus to be a mighty warrior like King David. For Him to lead them in victory over their oppressors and make them a mighty nation again – just like they had been when David was King. They thought this would lead to peace. They wanted what they wanted – but what does God want? What do you want? Are you disappointed in God? Is Jesus the kind of King you are looking for?
And Jesus says – “if only you had known what would bring you peace”. And that in the end is to trust that He is indeed your King – and to do it His Way. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
As God reaches down through the Cross to you – will you reach up to Him through the Cross of the King.
Do you Trust God?
Do you Trust that Jesus is the King?
Can you say – I Trust that Jesus is my King?
He would reign in your heart.
Are you willing to sit at the foot of the Cross and reach out to Jesus the King as He reaches out to you? To submit to Him. His hand is safe!
Zech 9:9 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.
Zech 9:10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.