2016-3-20 Here Comes the King!

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          March 20, 2016

“Here Comes the King!”
Text: John 12:12-19

We break for a few weeks (perhaps three) from our punctuated series through Ephesians in order to treat events and facts fundamental to our faith in Christ.  Today we note Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  We note that Jesus arrives in Jerusalem to the adulation of the throng gathered there that day and to the vexation of His opponents gathered there that day.  We also not that Jesus, in arriving in Jerusalem, arrives at the flash point of His atoning ministry.  Events now transpire more swiftly, yet still inexorably, toward His atoning death and victorious resurrection.  Let us hear God’s Word today—and may the Holy Spirit give us ears to hear, and eyes to see, and hearts to embrace Him in His Word.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

We read today in verse thirteen that the King of Israel comes.  Indeed, the King—Jesus Himself—comes to His spiritual Israel, His New Covenant people.  Behold, our King, Jesus, comes.  He decreed to come at least from the Fall in the Garden of Eden—and perhaps far before then.  He came in time and space in Bethlehem’s cattle stall—and lay there in the feed box.  In today’s text, He has been coming since inaugurating His public ministry; note the lengthy travelogue section in Luke for support of this (Luke 9:51-19:27).  Now, in the Scriptural record, Jesus, the coming King, arrives at Jerusalem five days before Passover.

The gathered, and gathering, crowd owns this.  They have heard of, and seen, Jesus’ miracles to a purpose.  The Apostle John, the human author of this text, though the Holy Spirit be the ultimate Author, calls these miracles to a purpose signs (Greek semeion [shmeion]: a sign).[1]  These signs occur to a two-fold purpose: first, that Jesus manifests His glory, and, second, that His disciples, both then and now, believe on Him.  The crowd has noted especially the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  The crowd keeps coming, all through the passage: both those present from afar, come to celebrate Passover, and those present from nearby, come additionally to declare Lazarus’ being raised from the dead.

The crowd cries, as if with one voice, “Hosanna!”  This is an Aramaic expression meaning, “Save, O Lord.”  It occurs in Psalm 118:25, and John, led by the Spirit, applies the Old Testament utterance prophetically to Jesus—thus, once again, asserting His divinity.  Hosanna, by Jesus’ earthly day, means an expression of unbridled praise—and, in this case, with Messianic overtones.  He is the coming King, and perhaps some in the throng have the faintest inkling of Who He really is and what the nature of His reign is.

Most, if not all, do not, however.  Jesus’ notion of Kingship simply does not fit the crowd’s expectation.  They look for a political deliverer—a deliverer to throw off the hated Roman oppressors, to be sure, but also a deliverer to throw off the Pharisees, Sadducees, and like folk.  In view of this, then, perhaps He should ride a horse.  This would be more befitting a king in their image—and a king conformed to their expectations.

Jesus, rather, rides a donkey.  He does this in fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah ix.9)—for Zechariah proclaims over five hundred years before Christ’s birth that the Messianic king will appear on such a beast.  Jesus’ riding a donkey expresses a fundamental fact concerning the nature of His reign.  He reigns with humility, and His entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey depicts graphically the fact that His kingship differs from prevailing notions of kingship.  Jesus’ Kingdom, after all, comes not with outward pomp and glory.  Neither is it of this world (John 18:36), and the mode of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem declares this fact.  The contrast between the crowd’s expectation of Jesus’ kingship and the true nature of His kingship will be troublesome later—but not today.  The throng continues to adore Him and, in some sense, to own Him as their King.

The Pharisees are chagrined by this.  They have labored to thwart and to denigrate Jesus—and this, apparently, all for naught.  They react consistent with their feelings.  They react with venom toward each other; they upbraid each other for the failure of their measures to stem Jesus’ inevitable tide.  They also react with bitterness at Jesus’ adulation.  They cannot bear its vigor; perhaps such a sound of worship has never been in Jerusalem like this—and that is a huge statement, considering Jerusalem was the center of Old Covenant worship—and they cannot bear the fact that Jesus is the object of the united accolades.  Nor can the Pharisees and their allies bear the apparent scope of this adulation.  They simply note in the gall and bitterness of their souls that the whole world has gone after Him—and, in a sense, they spoke better than they knew, for people from every people group on earth, throughout history, will stand before the Lamb in Glory to worship Him (cf. Revelation 7:9-17).

Much remains in the New Testament record between this event (on the first day of one week) and Jesus’ resurrection (on the first day of the next week).  The Evangelists will record much teaching in this week (see Matthew 21-23 and parallels).  They also will record a betrayal and a subsequent sham of a trial.  They also will record a change in public opinion.  The crowd that on Sunday cries, “Hosanna,” will, by Friday morning, shout, “Crucify.”

Much that remains we shall examine this week from God’s Word.  We shall, God willing, gather on Thursday evening at seven-thirty for our Maundy Thursday worship service (to include the Lord’s Supper), and we shall look at a passage from John 13—when the disciples were gathered together on the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  On Good Friday, at noon, at First Methodist Church, we shall hear several local pastors expound, each in turn, the seven last words of Christ.  Your pastor will aim to expound, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  On Easter morning, both early and late morning, we shall gather to testify to the inescapable, incontrovertible fact of history: He is risen, He is risen indeed.  Do not lose sight, in view of Jesus’ suffering and death, of the fact that He is risen, reigning, and evermore triumphant.  Therefore, may the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, give to us—and to a degree ever-increasing with time—adoration of and adulation toward Jesus.  After all, He is our prophet, Who declares God’s Word both vocally and incarnationally.  He is our priest, Who is our sacrifice and Who intercedes for us.  He is also our King, Who reigns in us, and over all, forever and ever.

AMEN.

[1] There are six of these signs in the earlier chapters of John: the changing of water into wine at Cana of Galilee (2:1-11), the healing of the nobleman’s son (4:46-54), the healing of the man at Bethesda pool (5:1-15), the feeding of five thousand (6:1-15), Him walking on water (6:16-21), and the healing of the blind man at Siloam (9:1-41, esp. 9:1-7).  The seventh sign is the raising of Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44).

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