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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 10, 2018
This morning is the 167th message in this Life of Christ sermon series which we began just over five years ago in February 2013. We have interrupted the series with many special sermons, guest speakers and short series, so it is taking longer than it might otherwise. My guess is that we will still be in this series for another year to year and half with 40 to 50 sermons to go. That may seem surprising since today we enter into the events that occur in what is sometimes referred to as Passion week ending in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But then, consider that the Gospel of John has 21 chapters and that 10 of them, 47%, deal with what occurs in that last week. There is much ahead of us as Jesus concludes His teaching ministry, then is betrayed, crucified, and then rises from the dead and charges His disciples to carry out the Great Commission.
Messiah’s Timing – John 12:12
Last week I mentioned from John 12:1 that Jesus arrived in Bethany “six days before the Passover, “ and I pointed out that figuring out the actual day this occurred is not easy because of the different ways in which the Galileans and Judeans calculated Passover. The Judeans hold it the day after the Galileans, in this case on Friday when Jesus would be crucified instead of Thursday when Jesus ate Passover with His disciples. The possible day for Jesus actually arriving in Bethany is either the Friday, Saturday or Sunday prior to the crucifixion. The meal at Simon the Leper’s house would have been on either Saturday evening or Sunday since John 12:12 states, 12 On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him . . .” Jesus would not have done that on a Sabbath since it would have been more than a Sabbath’s day journey and the people would not have come out or done such work as cutting down palm branches on a Sabbath.
I stressed last week that graciousness must be extended in all directions about this issue since it is difficult to calculate which day each event recorded occurred. That includes the day on which Jesus first entered Jerusalem during Passover week.
Tradition holds that this was on a Sunday, and hence the name “Palm Sunday” is given to it. I don’t have any problem with that, though I think that the minority opinion that this may have been on Monday has some strong arguments. Let me lay those out for you.
First there is the typology. Jesus was to be the perfect “Passover” sacrifice and the Mosaic Law required that the sacrificial lamb for Passover be selected on the 10th of Nisan (the first month) and then sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan. Of the two years most often proposed as the year of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the evidence seems to lean that A.D. 33 is the most likely. In that year, the 14th Nisan was on a Friday according to Judean reckoning and that was the day on which Jesus was crucified. The 10th of Nisan then would have been that Monday according to that same reckoning. If Jesus came into Jerusalem on that Monday, then He would have been fulfilling the symbolism of Passover to the smallest detail including being received by the Jewish nation on the 10th of Nisan the same way each Jewish family was receiving into their home the sacrificial lamb. Jesus was coming into Jerusalem as the “lamb of God who would takes away the sins of the world.”
Another more important reason is prophetic fulfillment. John does not mention this prophecy here, but Daniel had prophesied when Messiah the Prince would be declared. Daniel 9:25 states, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” The next verses then states that after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah would be cut off.
Dr. Harold Hoehner worked out the following calculations. (See Chart – Daniel’s Seventy Weeks). The weeks referred to were weeks of years. The total is 7 + 62 = 69 weeks of years, and 69 X 7 = 483 years. The Messiah would arrive 483 years after the beginning of this prophecy. This can be worked out to the number of days. We have 365 days/year in our calendar, but the calendar Daniel used only had 360 days per year. 483 years X 360 days per year = 173,880 days.
Nehemiah 2:1-8 records the beginning of the prophecy when on Nisan 1 of King Artaxerxes 20th year (March 5, 444 B.C.) he decreed that Nehemiah could return to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The prophecy was to be fulfilled 173,880 days later. This works out to be Nisan 10 (Monday, March 30), A.D. 33. None of this was by chance, but orchestrated precisely by the sovereign God. Jesus’ hour had arrived. He fulfilled the prophecy to the very day.
In addition, if Jesus came into Jerusalem on a Monday, then all the days of that week are accounted with something recorded about what Jesus did that day. In traditional chronologies of the week, one day is considered “lost” because nothing is recorded about what Jesus did that day. Usually it is assumed it was a day that Jesus stayed in Bethany and rested.
Be gracious, for the exact chronology of this week is difficult with many possibilities and many uncertainties. But it is certain that only Jesus could have fulfilled the prophecies of Daniel and the other prophets.
We pick up the account from Matthew 21:1. “And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you . . .”
The road from Bethany approaches Jerusalem from the east. They come to a place called, “Bethphage,” which means, “House of unripe figs.” This hamlet does not exist today, nor is there any evidence for where it existed except incidental accounts in stories where it is mentioned. The gospel accounts indicate it was located between Bethany and Jerusalem on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. As Jesus comes to this little village He knows that Jerusalem will be next, so He now makes sure that His entrance into Jerusalem will be according to the prophecies. He sends two unidentified disciples into that village to do an important errand for Him. Matthew 21:2. “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them, and immediately he will send them.”
Perhaps Jesus had made arrangements to get the donkey and its foal previously with one of the people that had come to see Him in Bethany the day before. It is also just as possible that this is Jesus’ omniscience being displayed once again. In either case, the emphasis is not on getting the two animals, but on the fact that He needs them. Jesus would not enter Jerusalem as just a pilgrim or just a rabbi as He had done in past. Jesus must enter Jerusalem this time in a manner that would declare to everyone His identity.
Notice in His instructions to the disciples the specific way Jesus refers to Himself. If His instructions had followed the normal mode of making a reference to Himself, He would have told the disciples something like this, “If anyone says something to you, tell them that I have need of them.” We still speak the same way today generally referring to ourselves as “I.” But here Jesus tells them to specifically say, “The Lord has need of them.” While the term “Lord” could be used out of simple respect, the usage here is as a proper title. Jesus is Lord in the sense of being the ruler over all, the master, and He has need of these two animals. They were not to respond as in making a request in hopes that the owners of the animals would grant it, but rather as a statement of fact to which the owners of the animals would need to agree.
That is a point we should keep in mind in our own lives. Jesus does not need to request, plead, or beg us to obey Him. All Jesus needs to do is state what He wants from us and it is our obligation to obey. We are under compulsion to submit to all that He says simply because of His position. He is the Lord, and so we are to obey.
Matthew 21:6 tells us “The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them.” Mark 11:4-6 and Luke 19:33-34 record that they were indeed stopped while untying the colt and questioned by bystanders and then the owners about what they were doing. They repeated what Jesus said and they consented sending them on their way with the animals.
Matthew 21:4-5 explains to us exactly why Jesus needed the donkey and its foal. 4 Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
This prophecy occurs in Zechariah 9:9. The “daughter of Zion” is a reference to Jerusalem which was often referred to as Zion because that is the name of the city’s highest and most important hill – Mount Zion. There were many prophecies concerning the Messiah, and this one noted that he would He would come in the manner of a king riding on the colt of a donkey. This was not the manner expected either. A conquering king would come riding on a war steed or at least a carefully groomed white stallion. That is the manner in which Jesus will return as prophesied in Revelation 19 riding at the head of the armies of heaven. But for this entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus did not come as the leader of a victorious army. He came in the manner of a king at peace.
I like what one of my commentaries said about this. “He who makes his entry unarmed with unarmed followers on a peaceful animal must either be already acknowledged as ruler, or he must aim at dominion in such a manner as excludes all force and political power.” That certainly fits Jesus. He was already ruler, though not acknowledged as such, and the manner by which He would gain dominion would not be by force of arms or by political power. Jesus came not in wealth, but poverty; not in grandeur, but modesty; not as judge, but as savior. He came into Jerusalem as Messiah, the king who would be the Passover lamb.
Matthew 21:7 explains that after getting the animals, the disciples brought “the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat.” In doing all of this they fulfilled the prophecies of Zechariah 9:9. None of this was by chance. It was all orchestrated precisely by the sovereign hand of God.
I will quickly add a footnote here in view of the critics who charge Matthew with being in error because he mentions the donkey and its colt while Mark and Luke mention only the colt. The attacks on Matthew always amaze me because he, not Mark or Luke, is the one who was present. Matthew knew how many animals were there. Mark and Luke do not exclude their being two animals, they just only mention one. And it only makes sense that the colt’s mother would be present and for them to take it along to keep the colt calm, for as Mark and Luke both mention, this animal had never been ridden before.
When two disciples returned with the donkey and its colt, they take their coats off and lay them on the colt and Jesus mounts it. They then continue on their way to Jerusalem.
Remember that large crowds would gather to Jerusalem for Passover. Estimates based on the number of sacrifices recorded project that there could easily have been two million people in the area at Passover. While there are not that many yet, there are a lot. As Jesus continues on His way up the eastern slope of Mount of Olives and reaches its ridge, more people are joining what is happening. Matthew 21:9 records, 9 And the multitudes going before Him and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes it the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
John’s account indicates at least three sources for the large crowd that had gathered around Jesus. First, there was a multitude of people that had come to Jerusalem for the feast, and many went out to meet Jesus when they heard that He was coming (John 12:12). Another part of the crowd was made up of people from Bethany and friends of Lazarus and his family. These were people who had been present when Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and as pointed out in John 12:17, they continued to testify about what had happened then. This was the source for another portion of the crowd with John 12:18 stating, 18 For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.”
Imagine the commotion all of this would have caused. Jerusalem is already in a state of excitement because of the preparations for Passover. Then you hear and then see this huge crowd of people coming over the Mt. of Olives and down the road through the valley to enter Jerusalem through the East gate. The people are cutting down the palm branches and putting their coats down in front of Jesus as a sign of honor. At the same time people are shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13). And “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). And “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10). What a sight! What a wonderful event at which to be present!
What the people were shouting was fitting to the occasion and in fact a fulfillment of prophecy as well. Most of what they were saying was taken from Psalm 118 which is part of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which were psalms of praise for the Lord’s deliverance and were often sung at Passover. In addition. “Hosanna” is an exclamatory word meaning, “save now,” or “give thy salvation!” And as I pointed out previously, the phrase, “Son of David,” is a direct reference to Jesus being the Messiah. What they were shouting out was exactly what was being done for them. Salvation was coming from the Messiah. Jesus was coming as Lord. The one who was from the highest heaven was bringing to them salvation.
Did the people understand all that they were saying? Sadly, for the most part, they did not. The people were still looking for a king who would save them from Roman oppression, not someone who would bring them salvation from sin’s oppression. What they were shouting was true, but most did not understood the significance of what was happening. Even the disciples did not fully understand until later. John 12:16 states, These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
Not everyone in the crowd was supportive. The Pharisees had also come out. Luke 19:39 records, Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Those in the crowd may or may not have understood the significance of what they were saying, but the Pharisees did understand and they did not like it. They considered it to be wrong if not blasphemy to use such language for a man they had rejected as Messiah. They knew they would not be able to curtail the enthusiasm of the crowd, so they want Jesus to do it as if He would agree with them. His rebuke would have cut into them deeply for it alludes to the many Psalms in which creation praises its Creator and also to Isaiah 55 with its call to repentance and trust in the Lord to bring about a future restoration in which even the mountains and hills will break forth in shouts of joy.
The response to Jesus is similar today. The crowd may have been large, but the vast majority of people in Jerusalem were simply doing whatever they were doing without paying much attention to Jesus. Certainly some heard or saw the procession coming over the Mount of Olives and went to it out of curiosity, but most people were indifferent to it. Most people today are still indifferent to Jesus. Our prayer is that God will be merciful to them and in His grace prod them out of their indifference to seek Him.
I pointed out two weeks ago that tragedies such as Kenny’s death may shock people out of their complacency to consider eternal matters and getting right with God, but that shock is usually short lived and people quickly return to their normal lives and a state of indifference to spiritual matters. We pray that before that happens that the Holy Spirit will bring them to a conviction of their sin and need for the Savior. Dominic goes out several times a week into public settings to proclaim the gospel in the effort to reach those too indifferent to come to church. He would love for you to go out with him.
The crowd itself was a mixture of people who were present for various reasons. Do doubt there were some present who did understand what they were proclaiming and believed that Jesus was the Messiah. We saw that last week in recounting the story of Mary anointing Jesus with the nard in anticipation of His coming death. The disciples had also previously claimed their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, even if they often did not act according to that belief including paying close attention to what He taught them. That is the way it still is for many professing Christians today.
Some have clear insight into spiritual matters and demonstrate great spiritual maturity, while others demonstrate they are still immature by both their slowness to understand what Jesus has taught and their actions which are inconsistent with their professed belief. If you are one of those who does know the Lord Jesus Christ, then your giving glory, honor and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ is genuine. Our prayer for you is that the Lord will continue His work in conforming you into the image of Christ just as He has promised (Romans 8:28). Our challenge to you is to actively pursue being filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord in pleasing Him in all respects and bearing fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:9-10).
Some in the crowd were just curious. A crowd attracts a crowd as people join in just to see what is happening. But we are also told that some were specifically curious about Jesus and Lazarus and came to see this man that had been raised from the dead. That is also reflective of people who come to churches today. Large churches especially attract people simply because they are large and people become curious about what might be happening there. There are also those that are specifically interested in knowing more about Jesus because they have seen the changes He has made in the life of someone else.
It is still proper for those who are curious to give praise, honor and glory to Jesus because He is worthy of it. However, our prayer is that curiosity will bear fruit in repentance and faith in Christ so that there will be genuine knowledge of Him as Lord and Savior which brings peace to the soul and not just knowledge about Him which only satisfies the intellect. Our desire is to be used by God to answer any question you may have in pointing you to the Lord. Please do not hesitate to talk to someone today or contact me during the week in person, by phone or email.
There were also those in the crowd that were antagonistic to Jesus. The Pharisees are examples of that. They did not participate in proclaiming Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord and Hosanna! They rejected Jesus’ claims and resented those who were giving Him praise. There are still plenty of people around like that today, and it seems like there are more everyday. I doubt there is anyone here this morning that is actively like that, though there may be some like that who read or listen to this sermon later. I am very aware that there may be some here who are passively like that. You are here, but you don’t really want to be here, and in fact, you may even resent it. You do not believe the claims of Christ and you are anxious to be out of here and go somewhere else. Our prayer for you is that you would take a look at your heart and your reasoning and give serious thought to being prepared for eternity. What will you say when you die and stand before God to be judged? And remember, life on this earth can end unexpectedly as it did for Kenny and so many others who were just going about their daily business when death suddenly snatched them.
John 12:19 gives a final warning stating, So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world as gone after Him.” They meant that statement only in reference to their inability to stop the crowd from shouting and celebrating Jesus’ arrival, but the truth of it is an eternal one, not a temporal one. You cannot stop God’s plan from going forward.
It would only be a few days later when some in the crowd who were then shouting “Hosanna!” would be shouting, “Crucify Him!” The world going after Jesus began after His resurrection when the church explodes into existence, and the efforts of the religious leaders to squash it by persecution only caused it to spread throughout the world and turn it upside down (Acts 17:6). The gospel will continue to go forward even when the church is removed from the earth and antichrist reigns for there is still a remnant left when that rebellion is put down and Christ returns. In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). You can humble yourself to do that now and receive eternal life, or you will be forced to do it just prior to your eternal judgment and condemnation for your sin and rebellion in rejecting Christ. Talk with any of our leaders and be prepared for eternity. Don’t leave without finding peace with God. Today is the day of salvation, for you may not have tomorrow.
This begins ___________________________ culminating in Jesus crucifixion and resurrection
Messiah’s Timing – John 12:12
__________chronology is difficult due to different methods of calculating Passover by Galileans & Judeans
Jesus eats at _____________the Leper’s house Saturday evening or Sunday prior to Passover
Jesus makes His _________________entry into Jerusalem on either Sunday or Monday
Typology: If Passover is a type of Christ – then selected on Nisan ______ and crucified on Nisan ______
Daniel 9:25 prophecy: ___________between decree to restore & rebuild Jerusalem and Messiah the Prince
Hoehner: Weeks of years: 69 X 7 = 483 years. Prophetic year of _______ days: 483 X 360 = 173,880 days
Nehemiah 2:1-8 decree on Nisan 1 Artaxerxes 20th year + 173,880 days = ______________________
If on Monday, then all days recorded and no “_______________” in the sequence of events
John __________________ while Matthew, Mark and Luke give details
_________(House of unripe figs) is between Jerusalem and Bethany on the eastern slope of the Mt of Olives
Matthew 21:2 – Jesus instructs _________ disciples to get a donkey and her colt
Jesus instructs them to say “the __________ has need of them”
Jesus is Lord, therefore we are obligated to _____________ to Him
Matthew 21:4-5 – This fulfilled the prophecy of ___________________
Jesus will return as a conquering king (Revelation 19), but this time He enters as a King at __________
Critics say Matthew was in error, but Matthew was _________, and Mark & Luke do not exclude 2 animals
They lay down their coats, tree branches, leafy branches and palm branches in ____________of the Messiah
The _____is from people in Jerusalem for the Feast, people from Bethany, and those wanting to see Lazarus
The crowd would have been ____________coming over the Mt. of Olives laying down branches & shouting
Most of what the people are shouting comes from the Psalm_______, part of the Hallel and fulfills prophecy
Most of the people were looking for ______________salvation from Rome, not spiritual salvation from sin
Luke 19:39 – The Pharisees present were _________________ and wanted Jesus to quiet the crowd
Jesus rebuke alluded to the many Psalms of creation praising the Creator and to _________________
There was a large crowd, but most of the people in Jerusalem were _______________
__________can shock people out of complacency – may God convict them before they return to indifference
Some, like Mary, ___________the truth about Jesus, while others professed it even if they were inconsistent
The praise of both the spiritually mature and immature is _____________- may all continue to grow in Him
Some were generally ____________about what was happening and some specifically curious about Lazarus
Jesus is ___________of the praise given by the curious – may the Lord grant them knowledge of Himself
Some rejected Jesus’ claims and ____________ those who were giving Him acclaim
Whether your rejection of Jesus is active or passive – may God be __________and grant you grace to repent
John 12:19 – The Pharisees recognized they could do nothing to __________the crowd from following Jesus
People are fickle, but God’s plan moves forward and the ______________ cannot be stopped
________will eventually bow the knee and confess Jesus – either in humble willingness now, or forced later
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the name “Messiah” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents how Jesus’ entry in to Jerusalem demonstrated that He is the Messiah
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why do you think the gospels spend so much time on the details of the last week of Jesus’ life? Why is it so difficult to be precise about the chronology of the last week prior to Jesus crucifixion and resurrection? What factors favor the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem being on Sunday? On Monday? How should you treat those who come to a different conclusion than you? Where is Bethphage? Why does Jesus have two disciples to get a donkey and its colt? How did Jesus know where they could get them? Is there any significance that Jesus instruct them to tell anyone that asks what they are doing to say, “the Lord has need of them”? What prophecy does this fulfill? Why would a king ride a donkey instead of a horse? Why is it foolish to criticize Matthew for stating they got a donkey and its colt instead of just mentioning the colt like in Mark and Luke? Why the difference between the gospel writers? What were the people putting down in the road before Jesus? What is the significance of what they were doing? What does John 12 indicates are the sources for the crowd that had gathered? Read through the Hallel – Psalms 113-118, then consider what the people were shouting to Jesus. Do you think the people understood the significance of what they were shouting? Explain. Why would the Pharisees want Jesus to rebuke His disciples and why would they think He might even consider doing so? Explain the rebuke Jesus gave to the Pharisees. People still respond today in similar ways to how they responded then. What is your response to Jesus and why? Are you ready for eternity? If not, why not, and what do you need to do to get ready?
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