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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:King of Kings; Prince of Peace
Text:Luke 19:28-44 (View)
Occasion:Easter (Good Friday)
Topic:Christ's Kingship

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Palm Sunday Service
Selections from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal unless otherwise noted:
234:1-3,5,8 - The Glorious Gates of Righteousness
348 - All Glory, Laud, and Honor
349 - Hosanna, Loud Hosanna   
53 (Red, 1st tune) - All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name  


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
03/20/2016 (Palm Sunday)
“King of Kings; Prince of Peace”
Luke 19:28-44
Palm Sunday celebrates an historic event; it celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem so long ago. But besides the Psalm branches, have you thought about how unique this day is? For instance, have you thought about how unusual it was for Jesus to bask in the adoration of the people?
After all, this triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was a radical change from One who often sought secrecy.  Do you remember when Jesus healed the leper, as recorded in Mark 1:44, how He gave the leper a strong warning not to tell anyone who had healed him? Likewise, in Mark 7:36 when Jesus healed a man who had been deaf and mute, He commanded him not to tell anyone.
All four gospel accounts repeatedly describe how Jesus often retreated from the crowds. We read how He warned those whom He healed not to tell others who had healed them. Jesus did not usually seek out the limelight. It was the people who sought Him out.
But now, on this day that we remember as Palm Sunday, Jesus did just the opposite. He told His disciples – there in verse 30 – where to find a colt on which He would ride. He knew that there would be a great multitude of people praising Him. But instead of retreating away as He had so often done before, He accepted and even seemed to bask in their praise. The question could be asked, “Why now was Jesus allowing the people to treat Him as a king, and to receive all this publicity and acknowledgment that He had shied away from in the past?”
One reason was to fulfill Scripture. Zechariah had prophesied, in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See your King is coming to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Matthew 21:4-5 points out that the triumphal entry took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
God is always bound by His Word. Since Zechariah 9:9 had prophesied this event, it must take place to fulfill Scripture. During the passion week, we see the fulfillment of Scripture repeatedly: It was foretold that Christ would be betrayed by a friend, be proven innocent yet judged as guilty, be numbered among transgressors, crucified between two criminals. It was prophesied that He would be mocked by the spectators, that none of His bones would be broken, that His side would be pierced. Even the casting of the lot for His garment was prophesied and foretold. 
The fulfillment of Scripture should be very comforting to us.  It reminds us that God will do what He has promised to do.  No matter what it is, whether it is riding a donkey into Jerusalem, drinking wine vinegar, or sacrificing Himself on the cross for your sins and mine, Scripture tells us God will do what He has prophesied and promised, for “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20).
By fulfilling Scripture, Jesus revealed Himself as the true King of kings which is a second reason for the triumphal entry. Kings and rulers usually rode on donkeys. For instance, Judges 10:4 describes Jair, who led Israel for 22 years. He had thirty sons who ruled thirty towns and rode thirty donkeys. Judges 12:14 describes a similar situation as seventy rulers in Israel rode seventy donkeys. In other words, the people in the great multitude on the road to Jerusalem clearly understood the connection between rulers and donkeys. Donkeys were a ruler’s mode of transportation.
The unique kingship of Jesus is seen even in the choice of a donkey that had never been ridden before. We may find it unusual that Jesus would enter Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey that had never been ridden. What is the significance of that? Throughout the Old Testament we read that when an animal was used for sacred purposes, it had to be one that had never been saddled, one that had never been ridden or harnessed to a yoke. (Num. 19:2; Deut. 21:3; 1 Sam. 6:7).  
There is also Messianic significance to Jesus riding on the foal of the donkey. We read of that already in Genesis 49:10-11. As Jacob was blessing his sons, he made a clear Messianic reference to Jesus, as he blessed Judah with these words:
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine
    and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes."
Just as the foal of a donkey had kingly and messianic significance, so did the Palm branches (which John describes in John 12:13). Palm branches had been used to hail victorious rulers in the past, especially after the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees successfully revolted against the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the generals under his charge, who had ransacked and then occupied Jerusalem about 167 years before the birth of Jesus.
When the Maccabees defeated their oppressors, “the Jews entered (Jerusalem) with praise and palm branches, and with harps and cymbals and stringed instruments, and with hymns and songs, because a great enemy had been crushed and removed from Israel.”  That quote is from 1 Maccabees 13:51, which is not in the canon of Scripture, but is accurate in its portrayal of palm branches used to praise a victorious leader. The Jewish people waving palm branches and praising Jesus were well aware of the significance of the palm branches.
But it is not just when we look back at the Maccabees that we see the significance of palm branches. And it is not just at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that we see their significance. In Revelation 7, the Apostle John has a vison of the glory of the ascended King over all kings, the Lord of lords and Prince of peace. He writes:       
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Rev. 7:9-12).
On Palm Sunday it may seem as though Jesus was only a king for a day. The tide of popularity would turn against Him.  By the end of the week, He would wear a crown. But it would be a painful crown of thorns.  He would be declared a king, but only by a sign that Pilate placed on the cross, “The king of the Jews.” 
But on this Palm Sunday we are reminded that His kingship and His sovereign rule over all things is eternal. The same crowd that called for His crucifixion will one day kneel before Him. Philippians 2:8-11 describes how being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You and I will be among the great multitude who kneel before the Lord in joyful adoration for His redeeming grace. Or we will kneel before Him with a hardened heart, confessing that God in grace gave us every opportunity to repent of our sins and believe in Him for salvation, but we never did. Either way, you and I, along with all humanity, will bow before Jesus and confess that He is the true King of kings and Lord of lords.
That is why it is so crucial to confess Him now, to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” Ecclesiastes 12:1 teaches children and young people of every age that now is the time to confess Christ as Lord and Savior and live for Him all the days of your life!
Another reason why Jesus made His triumphal entry to the praise of the people was to infuriate the Jewish leaders into crucifying Him. Jesus knew that His appointed time had come. The Passover feast was rapidly approaching. As people came to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, they brought a sacrificial Passover lamb to sacrifice.  The Jewish historian, Josephus, records how over 256,000 lambs were brought for sacrifice at Passover.  Christ is our Passover Lamb. 1 Corinthians 5:7 declares: “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.”   
Jesus, realizing that His appointed time had now come, used this event, not only to fulfill Scripture and to reveal Himself as the eternal Messianic King, but also to ensure His own trial, crucifixion and resurrection at the time of the Passover. By doing so, He changed the plan of the Jewish leaders. They wanted Him crucified, but not at the time of the Passover, lest there be riots by the people. In Matthew 26:2-5 Jesus said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
       Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him.  But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
But there again, God is the One who controls time. God is the One who sets His agenda. Not only for the time of the ultimate sacrifice at Passover, but for all things: The length of your days and mine. The duration that any given nation has power to exist. And the Father has set the time for when this world, as we know it, will end. Time is truly in His hands. Time is His creation, for He said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. And let them serve as signs to mark seasons, and days and years.” (Gen. 1:14).
Motives for Praising Jesus
But what further application is there for us today? Just a waving of Palms? A unique event in the life of our Lord and Savior as He fulfilled Scripture and insured His sacrificial death?
As we read about Jesus coming into Jerusalem to the praise of the people so long ago we are reminded to examine our motives and our consistency in following Jesus. The people in the first century were praising Him, but many were praising him for the wrong reason; they were looking for a political king, someone to set them free from Roman rule just as the Maccabees had set them free from Greek domination before the Romans came to power.
Rome had done much to improve the world of its day. The Romans had built a network of roads to facilitate travel and commerce. They brought safety to the seas, clearing the seas of pirates. They established an effective postal service along with many other improvements.  But as they enacted these improvements they also raised taxes; they were a burden to the Jewish people.  Understandably, the Jews wanted their own kingdom, their own roads, postal service and other services.
Now, here was Jesus. What a king he would make! He had resources that were beyond comprehension: He could feed great multitudes with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He could heal the sick and even raise the dead. What a king he would be, liberating Israel from Roman rule and ushering in legislative reform in a new nation of Israel!
That is why many in this large crowd sang His praises; they were looking for an earthly king to establish Israel as a nation. And in their eyes, He would be the perfect earthly king, a powerful political ruler, the perfect president.
Just as long ago the multitude followed Jesus for all the wrong reasons, so today many seek Jesus with the wrong motives.  Many seek a popular Jesus of wealth and health, not a bloody Jesus, not a King who in great humility sacrificed Himself on the cross for His people.
Many others in the great crowd were praising Jesus because of His miracles, as verse 37 notes. After all, they had seen His power firsthand. His miracles included sight for blind Bartimaeus, and Lazarus had been raised from the dead.  
Both of those miracles have application for us today: We were once blind, but now we see. We were dead in our sins and trespasses, but by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are born from above and have eternal life. Yet, what is our motivation for following Christ? Are we looking to Him just for earthly blessings – heaven on earth here and now? Just health, wealth, material and physical blessings?  
And if, by grace, our eyes are open to the truths of the gospel, if we have been raised with Christ, do we live lives of praise and gratitude to the Lord?  Do we even begin to fit the description of what we should be, in the words of Ephesians 1:6, people who live “to the praise of God’s glorious grace”?
Shouldn’t verse 38 be our heartfelt sentiment?  Not just on Palm Sunday, but every day?  Verse 38: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Prince of Peace
As the people praised Jesus, seeking an earthly King, they also sang His praises as the Prince of peace. They sang: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (v. 38).
Ever since the fall of humanity into sin, people have yearned for peace. The people in the first century, waving their palm branches before Jesus, were looking for peace. Most of them looked hopefully to Jesus as a great political leader who would free them from Roman rule. But true peace will never come politically, for us, or those who lived so long ago.
Jesus knew that instead of the political peace that the people sought they would face the army of Titus. In the year 70, Titus, a cruel Roman emperor, destroyed Jerusalem, bringing fulfillment to verses 43-44: “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
The people gave lip service to Jesus as the One who brings peace, but they did not recognize “the time of (their) visitation” as Jesus expressed it in verse 44.  They were still looking for a political king, not recognizing that as the true King, Jesus is the only One who can bring peace to our troubled souls. Through saving faith in Him, Jesus brings us peace with God, peace with each other, and peace with our circumstances.
Perhaps there are some among us who are still looking for peace in all the wrong places.  It is only through faith in Christ our King that any of us can experience true peace. Through faith in Jesus, we have peace with God. As Romans 5:1 puts it: “Since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Isaiah 53:5 explains how Jesus made peace for us: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
This Friday we remember one of the most cruel and humiliating deaths ever inflicted on a man. We remember how Jesus, being innocent was yet declared guilty, stripped, beaten, humiliated and crucified between two thieves.  And yet what do we call that day of remembrance?  “Good Friday.” We do so because the suffering of our Savior was for the greatest good imaginable – the salvation of sinners for the glory of God. By His suffering and death Jesus brought peace with God to His people, as He bore the curse we deserve, and as He imputes to us His record of perfect obedience.
And that is why Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed at the time of the Passover. He did so because just as the Lord passed over the homes of the Israelites in Egypt that had blood on the doorposts, so too He passes over with judgment all who have faith in Him alone, trusting that His blood covers all our sins.
If you have true saving faith in Christ this morning, then his blood is on the doorposts of your life, so to speak. Christ has borne the judgment you and I deserve for our sins. In the place of our sin, He has imputed His righteousness. And by that redeeming work of Christ, we who believe have true, eternal peace with our triune God.
Through saving faith in Him, we also have peace with others. When we are reconciled to the Father through faith in His Son – when we have that “vertical peace” – then we can also be reconciled to others and have peace where hostility once burned.
The Bible describes this in many passages, including Ephesians 2. The Jews and Gentiles harbored hostility toward one another that was deep and divisive.  It is hard for us to comprehend how much hatred they had for one another. Yet Christ brought peace between Jews and Gentiles. In the words of Ephesians 2:14, “He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” That is also why in heaven there will be people from every race and tribe. And in the true church here below, there must be that same peace and reconciliation, regardless of the color of skin or ancestry.
Also, because Jesus truly is King, since He controls all things, we can have peace with our circumstances no matter what they may be. Because of that the apostle Paul, writing from prison, writing with a thorn in his flesh, writing to a small, persecuted church in Philippi wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).  In that same fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul writes: “I have learned to be content in any and every situation.... I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:12, 13).
Palm Sunday celebrates an historic event; it celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem so long ago. May you and I see beyond the palm branches to see with the eye of ever increasing faith, Jesus Christ, who came to fulfill Scripture, who allowed the crowds to hail Him as King to infuriate the Jewish leaders who would call for His crucifixion, so that all those who believe in Him would not perish in their sin but have eternal life – would have peace with God, peace with others, peace with circumstances, even a peace that surpasses all understanding! Amen.
bulletin outline:
        “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”
               “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” - Luke 19:38
                           “King of Kings; Prince of Peace”
                                            Luke 19:28-44
I.  The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem represented a change
     from the secrecy Jesus had often sought (Mark 1:44, 7:36) as it: 
     1) Fulfilled Scripture (Matthew 21:4-5; Zechariah 9:9; 2 Cor. 1:20)
      2) Revealed the Kingship of Jesus (38a) and pointed to its eternal
           character (Rev. 7:9,10)
     3) Infuriated the Jews into crucifying Jesus, our Passover Lamb” 
          (1 Corinthians 5:7), at the appointed time of the Passover (Luke 22:1,7)
II. The events of Palm Sunday call us to examine our motives and our consistency
     in following Jesus. They also remind us that only Jesus Christ can bring true
     peace (38b, 41). Through saving faith in Christ, we have peace with God (Isa. 53:5;
     Rom. 5:1), with others (Eph. 2:14-18), and with circumstances (Phil. 4:12-13, 19)



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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