Palm Sunday – March 29th, 2015
Service Orientation: Jesus rode into Jerusalem and purposefully revealed himself to be the Messiah, the King of all Kings who would bring peace to earth and mankind for all who accepted Him as king. Have you selected Jesus as your King?
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. — Joshua 24:15
- In Jn 1:29 John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (cf. Also v. 36). Scholars debate over whether John had the idea of a Passover sacrifice in mind or whether he was thinking of Isa 53:7, and perhaps he had both in mind. He may have also been thinking of the ordinary sacrifices of lambs (cf. Lv 4:32; 5:6). (For the idea that Jesus’ death is understood from the background of Isa 53, see Acts 8:32-35; 1 Pt 2:21-25). In any case John is thinking of Jesus’ death in sacrificial terms since His death is atoning. The universal significance of Christ’s death is also a Johannine theme; the sacrifice of the lamb removed the sins of the entire world. Also the death of Jesus is the propitiation (hilasmüs) “for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2). The implication of these texts for our subject is clear. If Jesus’ death atones for the sins of the entire world, then the OT sacrifices are now redundant and therefore superfluous. John never says this explicitly, but his very lack of interest in the sacrificial system makes it evident. Clearly Jesus’ death is the true sacrifice because His blood “cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). Revelation also refers quite often to the slaying of the lamb (Rv 5:6, 12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8), and the redemptive result of Christ’s blood (Rv 1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 12:11). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 276)
- It was a settled conviction in the peoples’ tradition that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Equally it was believed that He was to be revealed from the Migdal Eder, the “tower of the flock.” This was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren ground beyond Bethlehem, but it lay close to town, on the road to Jerusalem. The flocks which pastured there were destined for religious sacrifices. Messiah was born in the shadow of the Midgal Eder where shepherds watched the Temple flocks. It is unnecessary to speak of the deep symbolic significance. (Martha Zimmerman, Celebrate the Feasts of the Old Testament, 53)
- Of utmost importance to pilgrims, however, was the purchasing of sheep and goats for sacrifice at the temple. The animal (preferably a lamb) was selected on the 10th of Nisan (Pesahim ix.5). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 677)
- (v. 3) Note also “the” Lord, not merely “your” Lord; rather, the Lord of all, with the right to claim all for his own use. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 764)
- (v. 5) In line with this is the fact that this King is meek, gentle, peaceful, gracious. See on 11:29; 12:19, 20; 20:25-28; Jn 13:14, 15, 34, 35; 19:36, 36. This also explains why he is mounted on an unbacked ass (Mk 11:2b), not on a high-spirited war steed, or on a prancing white stallion. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 765)
- (v. 8) It was an ancient custom (see 2 Kgs 9:13) for citizens to throw their garments in the road for their monarch to ride over, symbolizing their respect for him and their submission to his authority. It was as if to say, “We place ourselves at your feet, even to walk over if necessary.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 260)
- (v. 8) One of the supreme disasters of Jewish history was the capture of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes about 175 BC. Antiochus was determined to stamp out Judaism and to introduce into Palestine Greek ways of life and worship. He deliberately profaned the Temple, offering pig’s flesh on the altar, making sacrifices to Olympian Zeus, and even turning the Temple chambers into public brothels. It was then that the Maccabees rose against him and ultimately rescued their native land. In due time, Jerusalem was retaken and the desecrated Temple was restored and purified and rededicated. In 2 Maccabees 10:7, we read of the rejoicing of that great day: “Therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place.” On that day, the people carried the palm branches and sang their psalms; it is an almost exact description of the actions of the crowd who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. (Jn 12:13)
It is at least possible that Jesus knew this, and that he entered into Jerusalem with the deliberate intention of cleansing God’s house as Judas Maccabaeus had done 200 years before. That was in fact what Jesus did. He may well be saying in dramatic symbol not only that he was the Anointed One of God, but also that he had come to cleanse the House of God from the abuses which defiled it and its worship. Had not Malachi said that the Lord would suddenly come to his Temple (Mal 3:1)? And, in his vision of judgment, had not Ezekiel seen the terrible judgment of God begin at the sanctuary (Ez 9:6)? (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 281)
The questions to be answered are . . . We need to ask the same question that Jesus provoked from that first Palm Sunday crowd: “Who is this?”
Answer: Jesus is the Christ, the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords. He is the Deliverer, the son of David, the Blessed One, the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and so much more than just a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.
The Word for the Day is . . . Choose.
What can we learn from Matthew’s Palm Sunday account about Who Emmanuel truly is?
I- Jesus is revealing Himself as the promised One, the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Son of David, the Blessed One, the Savior. (Mt 5:17; 21:1-9; 24:35; Jn 5:39-40; 6:35, 51; 8:12; 11:25; 18:37; Acts 28:23; Rom 1:1-4; 2 Tm 2:8; Rv 1:17-18)
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, he affirmed his messianic royalty as well as his humility. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, he did not fulfill the people’s hopes as the conquering deliverer to drive out the Gentiles, but he nonetheless gave all the signs of a royal person making entrance into the city. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 406)
The crowd received Jesus like a king. They spread their cloaks in front of him. That is what his friends had done when Jehu was proclaimed king (2 Kgs 9:13). They cut down and waved the palm branches. That is what they did when Simon Maccabaeus entered Jerusalem after one of his most notable victories (1 Maccabees 13:51). (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 278)
Wouldn’t it be great if God always gave you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows? We do have a God like that. — Tim Keller
Ps 118 is distinctly Messianic. It speaks about the stone rejected by the builders but destined to become the cornerstone. See on Mt 21:42; cf. Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11; and 1 Pt 2:7. Not the words immediately following “Hosanna,” namely, “to the Son of David,” and cf. 2 Sm 7:12, 13. See further on Mt 9:27-31; 12:23; 15:22; 22:42-45. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 766)
II- Because of eternity in their hearts, the crowd always asks the right question. (Eccl 3:11; Mt 21:10)
They asked: “Who is this?” So, the people told them: “This is Jesus.” Sadly, they added, “the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Yes, Jesus was a prophet, but He was far more than a prophet. Even though the people had welcomed Jesus in messianic terms, it seems that many of them did not recognize Him as the Son of God. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 599)
III- Because of their sinful nature, the crowd always hears an incomplete answer. (Prv 1:29; 8:10; 14:12; 16:16, 25; Mt 21:11; Jn 9:1-41; Acts ch 7; Rom 1:18-25; 3:9-21)
While the crowd correctly saw Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies, they did not understand where Jesus’ kingship would lead him. The people who were praising God for giving them a king had the wrong idea about Jesus. They expected him to be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory; thus, they were deaf to the words of their prophets and blind to Jesus’ real mission. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people would turn against him. A similar crowd would cry out, “Crucify him!” when Jesus stood on trial only a few days later. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 410)
Jesus chose a peaceful entrance into Jerusalem. He restrained the crowd’s exuberance by his actions. He accepted their joy while recognizing that it was based on false assumptions. Jesus arrived as King, but not by the crowd’s definition. Their perspective was limited to the immediate historical moment: They wanted a political Messiah. Jesus insisted on remaining the timeless Savior. His contemporaries couldn’t see beyond the Roman occupation; Jesus saw the needs of the world held hostage to sin. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 408)
Obviously most of them had paid little attention to what they had been shouting so vociferously. They had barely finished proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David, who came in the name of the Lord. But they did not comprehend what they said, and when the mass emotions subsided, they were hard put to say who Jesus really was, other than a prophet who came from Nazareth in Galilee. They no longer called Him the Son of David or praised Him as the great Deliverer. He was now no more than a prophet. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 263)
The people wanted a conquering, reigning Messiah who would come in great military power to throw off the brutal yoke of Rome and establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness where God’s chosen people would have special favor. But Jesus did not come to conquer Rome but to conquer sin and death. He did not come to make war with Rome but to make peace with God for men. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 261)
This King is not the fulfillment of men’s dreams but of a specific Messianic prophecy: Zech 9:9. See also Isa 6:6. He is both great and humble, exalted and lowly. He is the One who in this very act is riding…to his death, and thus to victory, a victory not only for himself but also for his true people, those who believe in him. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 765)
As to “Blessed (is) the One coming in the name of the Lord,” this is a quotation from Ps 118:26. Combined with “the Son of David,” as here in Mt 21:9, it must refer to Jesus as the Messiah. It was deplorable, however, that by far the most of these people did not go one step farther: they should have combined Ps 118 with Isa 53 and with Zech 9:9; 13:1. Then they would have recognized in Jesus the Messiah who saves his people from their sins (Mt 1:21). (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 766)
The terrifying truth is that we are not morally neutral. A friend of mine who is a renowned psychologist and Orthodox Jew often makes the point that left to their own devices, with the assurance they would never be caught or held accountable, individuals will more often choose what is wrong than what is right. We are drawn toward evil; without powerful intervention, we will choose it. And that sin can be cleansed only by Christ’s shed blood. (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 187)
Studies show that people who choose to give over their savings and their lives to bizarre cultic doctrines tend to be well-educated, highly intelligent, and creatively gifted. I wonder if this is true because such people reflect with more depth on the meaninglessness of their lives and become all the more starved for something in which to believe and to belong—someone who bids them reach for an emotion-fulfilling purpose beyond themselves. (D. James Kennedy, What Is God Like?, 11)
IV- Choose Jesus as your King, not because He is what we want, but because of Who He is. (Dt 18:15-18; Josh 24:15; Job 13:15; Mt 6:24; 10:37-39; 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 6:22; 14:26-27; 19:36-44; 24:27, 44; Jn 1:29, 36, 45; 5:45-46; 6:1-69; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; Rom 10:9; 2 Cor 1:20; Heb 1:1-4; 1 Pt 1:19-20; Rv chps 5-7; 21:22-23)
If Jesus had been content to claim to be a prophet, the probability is that he need never have died. But he could be satisfied with nothing less than the highest place. With Jesus, it is all or nothing. People must acknowledge him as king, or not receive him at all. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 282)
The people wanted Jesus on their own terms, and they would not bow to a King who was not of their liking, even though He were the Son of God. They wanted Jesus to destroy Rome but not their cherished sins or their hypocritical, superficial religion. But He would not deliver them on their terms, and they would not be delivered on His. He was not a Messiah who came to offer a panacea of external peace in the world but to offer the infinitely greater blessing of internal peace with God. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 262)
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit on Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 55-6)
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 66-7. (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 182-3)
Will you love me and trust me even though I choose not to do everything you are counting on, planning for, hoping for and dreaming of for me to do for you? If not, you will never see me as your king.
The truth is that by definition all our time is free time, ours to spend or invest as we choose. (October 11th, 2006 Thomas Kincade Daily Flip Calendar)
The trouble is, real American values are expressed not by what we say we wish for, but by what we really do…Perhaps the best indicator of what we really are is what we spend our money on or what we watch on television. Look at what we read. Look at what we choose to do with our spare time. That’s what we value. (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 6)
God’s Will—exactly what I would choose if I knew all the facts. “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God” (Ps 143:10).
In the context of the book of Zechariah, as well as the rest of the prophets, this word “humble” does not mean so much “gentle” as it means “lowly” or “bowed down” or even “full of suffering.” The word “humble” denotes, as C.F. Keil claims, “the whole of the lowly, miserable, suffering condition, as it is elaborately depicted in Isa 53.” So, in contrast with the arrogance and violence usually associated with earthly kings, this king, we are told, will be poor and afflicted; he will be a sovereign Lord and yet a suffering servant. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 591)
Think about the claims of Christ! It is one thing for a man to say, as Jesus did, that we are to love God with all our heart and soul and strength, but quite another thing to say, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (10:37). In the Gospels Jesus can’t stop talking about himself. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 596)
John Stott calls what I’m talking about simply “the paradox of Jesus.” Stott writes that Jesus’ “claims sound like the ravings of a lunatic, but he shows no sign of being a fanatic, a neurotic or, still less, a psychotic. On the contrary, he comes before us in the pages of the Gospels as the most balanced and integrated of human beings.” That’s the paradox of Jesus. He covers himself with disturbing claims (disturbing because they are so self-focused), and yet we see him clothed with utter humility. That, my friends, is the profound paradox we see in our passage. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 596)
We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it. (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 122)
Through the vicarious death of sacrificial animals, the Israelite accepted the provision of forgiveness and salvation. Similarly, through the vicarious death of Christ, the Christian accepts the provision of His redemption. As the blood of the Passover lamb kept God from killing the firstborn of the Hebrews, so the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross keeps God from punishing with death the penitent sinner. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 69-70)
Two things about the designation “lamb of God,” as applied to Jesus were most notable: He was declared to be the lamb of God and His sacrifice was for the world. All other lambs in the sacrificial system had been offered by men under the commandment of God; but as God had substituted His own provision, a Lamb, instead of Isaac who was under Abraham’s hand, so God in Jesus provided His own Lamb. All other sacrifices of a lamb had been limited to the nation or to the individual; but the sacrifice of Jesus was world-wide, embracing all humanity in its scope. He was to take away the sins of the world. The lamb was a worthy symbol of Jesus who in innocence patiently endured suffering as a substitute (Acts 8:32; 1 Pt 1:19). (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 860)
The introductory reference in Rv 5:1-14 is to the Lamb triumphant. This description of the Lamb and the works attributed to Him clearly identify Him as the Christ. The characteristics of the Lamb (used exclusively in Revelation but not in Jn 12:15) are significant. He stood as “one slain,” as if his throat had been cut in sacrifice. He had been slain, but was alive forevermore. He had seven horns, which probably were symbolic of his great power. He had seven eyes that represented his ceaseless vigilance for the people of God; thus the eyes were reinterpreted as the seven spirits of God, the fullness of God’s Spirit working in behalf of His people. His attributes were those of God–omnipotence and omniscience. The term for lamb in Revelation was consistently different from the usual term for lamb elsewhere in the NT, and the significance of this difference has been much debated. It is most likely that the two words have the same essential meaning in the NT–a symbolic representation of the redemptive work of Christ, although in Revelation that redemptive work is viewed in connection with its triumphant victory over all things. (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 860)
All the will-worshipers, from Nietzsche to Mr. Davidson, are really quite empty of volition. They cannot will, they can hardly wish. And if any one wants a proof of this, it can be found quite easily. It can be found in this fact: that they always talk of will as something that expands and breaks out. But it is quite the opposite. Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. That objection, which men of this school used to make to the act of marriage, is really an objection to every act. Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion. Just as when you marry one woman you give up all the others, so when you take one course of action you give up all the other courses. (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, The Romance of Faith, 39)
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. —Woody Allen
Spiritual Challenge: Have you really chosen Jesus to be your king? Really? Anyone can say they have made Jesus king of their lives, but the proof is in your treasures, your values, your actions, your choices; they all reveal the affections and commitments of your heart.
There are only 2 reasons to get into religion: You can either get into religion to serve God or you can get into religion to get God to serve you and there is really no middle ground. It is one or the other. (Tim Keller sermon, “King is Abandoned”)
If you obey only when you understand or agree with what is being asked, you are not obeying, you are only agreeing or affirming what is being commanded. When you really obey, you do what you are told whether you agree or understand. — Tim Keller
If you have any conditions to your obedience to Jesus then Jesus is not your King and you are not in the Kingdom. Because the thing that is the basis of your “if” or “when” of your salvation is your salvation and King. You cannot say “I’ll follow you Jesus if . . . or “I’ll follow you Jesus when . . .” because the thing that is the “if” or “when” is your king and Lord . . . not Jesus. (Keith Porter after listening to Tim Keller)
If you put any conditions on your service to Christ (“I will serve you if”) then you are not really serving Christ at all but it is yourself you are serving. —Tim Keller
In every home in Egypt–of Jews and Egyptians alike–someone would die under the wrath of justice. The only way for your family to escape was to put your faith in God’s sacrificial provision; namely, you had to slay a lamb and put the blood on the doors as a sign of your faith in God. In every home that night there would be either a dead child or a dead lamb. When justice came down, either it fell on your family or you took shelter under the substitute, under the blood of the lamb. If you did accept this shelter, then death passed over you and you were saved; that’s why it was called Passover. You were saved only on the basis of faith in a substitutionary sacrifice. (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 163-4)
There, on the edge of the garden of Eden, it was one lamb for one man. Centuries later, in Egypt, God told Moses to have each family kill the Passover lamb and sprinkle its blood upon the lintel and doorposts of the house. There was to be one lamb for one house, a gracious picture of the household promises so precious to us. Still later, the Lord told Moses to kill one lamb for the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, foreshadowing that time when God would restore Israel to the land and rule the world through that nation. But there was an even wider circle; John the Baptist pointed to Jesus Christ and announced, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Thus we have the progression: one lamb for one man; one lamb for one family; one lamb for the nation; and one Lamb for the world. (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Glory, 65-6)
The Australian coat of arms pictures two creatures—the emu, a flightless bird, and the kangaroo. The animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to the Australian citizens. Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back. The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail. Those who truly choose to follow Jesus become like the emu and kangaroo, moving only forward, never back (Lk 9:62). — Steve Morrison.
A man is absent from church Sunday morning. Where is he? If he is in a hospital having his appendix removed his absence tells us nothing about him except that he is ill; but if he is out on the golf course, that tells us a lot. To go to the hospital is compulsory; to go to the golf course, voluntary. The man is free to choose and he chooses to play instead of to pray. His choice reveals what kind of man he is. Choices always do. (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 158-9)