Palm Sunday: Journey to the Cross (Luke 19:28-44)


By Daniel L. Sonnenberg | March 24, 2013 | Palm Sunday

Recording not available.


2013-03-24 Palm Sunday: Journey to the Cross |  Luke 19:28-44

Lk.19:28-44 28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,  30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.  31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'”  32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them.  33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”  34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.  36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.  37 As he was drawing near– already on the way down the Mount of Olives– the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,  38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”  41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,  42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  43 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  44 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.”

 

Today we celebrate a bittersweet day in the Christian year, alternately called Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. In Luke’s gospel from chapters 9 to 19 Jesus is pictured as journeying to Jerusalem in the final months of his life. Today, on Palm Sunday, we see Jesus travelling the final leg of his journey to Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives down the Kidron Valley and up toward Mount Zion and the city of Jerusalem. As we watch today’s events unfold, we will see that Jesus’ journey is alternately – and simultaneously – a sovereign journey, a sorrowful journey, and prophetic journey, and for those who are in Christ, we will see that ours is also a sovereign, sorrowful and prophetic journey.

First, Jesus’ journey to the cross is a SOVEREIGN journey

Jesus’ journey began ten chapters ago in Luke 9:51 where it was said of him, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” His will is fixed today, like it was that day, and his sights are set on accomplishing God’s purpose. He will face opposition and rejection today, but the growing band of disciples accompanying him – faithfully gathering the items he requests, amazed that he seems to know exactly where to find them all, and who are soon joined by others from the city who have heard testimony of his miracles – are not fearful – far from it. Not because of their courage in the face of the impending danger, but because they have no clue – in spite of Jesus’ repeated explanations – to what is will take place later in the week in the city.

In fact they are jubilant, praising God for the great miracles they have seen and heard and touched and tasted these past months. They mistakenly anticipate that THIS entrance into Jerusalem – finally – is THE prelude to their deliverance from bondage to Rome. Surely this is the Messiah, the promised deliverer, performing miracles even greater than those of Moses. He, like Moses, has certainly been sent to set them free from the oppressors of their nation once again.

The true meaning of Jesus’ victorious, peaceful, humble approach to the city on a young donkey eludes them, yet it reminds them of the story their fathers had often told them of how David had his son Solomon ride the royal mule on his way to be anointed as king (1 Ki 1:33), and the story of the day Jehu was anointed king in which “every man took his garment and put it under him and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed him king.” (2 Ki 9.13). So they are doing the same! Rolling out the red carpet as it were and proclaiming the excellencies of their new king, shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psa 118: 26) and even repeating the angels’ acclamation of praise at Messiah’s birth, (Lk 2:14) “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” There is no doubt in their minds this is the king who has come.

See if you agree with me that Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem is first a SOVEREIGN journey in several ways.

It is a sovereign journey because it is part of God’s sovereignly designed and executed plan to rescue his people from bondage to sin and death, just as Peter will confirm later in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:23-24 ” 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

It is a sovereign journey because we are told today in verse 28 and for the sixth time in Luke’s gospel that Jesus is intentionally “going up to Jerusalem[1]”. 28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

It is a sovereign journey because three times in this passage Jesus is said to be “drawing near” to his sovereignly intended and executed goal. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet,  37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives— 41 “And when he drew near and saw the city,

It is a sovereign journey because Jesus knows what is going to happen before it takes place.

Jesus sends two disciples to get the colt, tells them where it will be and what to say when they find it. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.

Also, the two disciples find the colt just where Jesus said it would be and its owners say just what Jesus said they would. 32b So those who were sent…found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

It is a sovereign journey because Jesus is directing the course of events. The two disciples did as Jesus said they should, and the owner of the colt did Jesus said he would. 32a So those who were sent went away… 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”

It is a sovereign journey because Jesus assumes the right of “angaria[2]” or the right of kings or lords common in that day, to commandeer a donkey from a local man and the man recognizes that authority and gives it to him. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 35 And they brought it to Jesus…

It is a sovereign journey because the disciples treat Jesus as an ascending king by placing him on a donkey, throwing their cloaks on the ground and acclaiming him as king. 35 and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37-38 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

It is a sovereign journey finally, because Jesus acknowledges his own role as a sovereign, victorious, yet humble king.

He rides the donkey as an ascending king and He accepts the praises of his followers. In doing so, Jesus fulfills the Messianic prophecy found in Zech.9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 

And by telling the Pharisees that if his followers did not praise him, the stones would praise him, he claimed to be creator and lord.

Not only is Christ’s journey a demonstration of God’s sovereignty, as believers in Christ, our journey to the cross is a sovereign journey as well. In Ephesians we learned that 2 Grace and peace have been extended to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. That 3 God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, that  4 he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love,  5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

If you have any doubt about God’s sovereign plan for you, you should read this over and over and even memorize and recite it to yourselves and and to one another.

Second, Jesus’ journey is a SORROWFUL journey

Jesus’ opponents are present today as well, just as they have been – persistently – especially these past few months. Once again they are standing on the sidelines, watching every move he makes, hoping for some way to discredit him, and today especially they are watching his disciples make fools of themselves in their misplaced allegiance to this self-proclaimed “messiah.” They demand that Jesus MAKE THEM STOP! But Jesus’ reply drips with irony when he says in so many words, “even the lifeless creation recognizes who I am, yet you – sons of Adam, in whom God breathed the breath of life – do not even know me!”

Shortly, as he draws even nearer to the great city, his heart overwhelms him – with the pain of sadness, with the anger of repeated frustration – so that he begins to sob and wail aloud like the prophets of old.

See if you don’t agree with me that Jesus’ journey to the cross is also a sorrowful journey in several ways. Throughout his journey he has prepared his followers for what will shortly take place. Remember what he said, in Lk 18.31-33? …“everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.

It is sorrowful because Jesus has to endure those who subtly or openly attack him.  39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”  Jesus is never at a loss for a come-back their verbal attacks, yet at least one time when he is physically threatened, he simply passes through the crowd to  escape his attackers because it is not yet his time.

Also, it is sorrowful because today we see Jesus weeping aloud in order to express his sorrow, pain, frustration and anger over those who reject him. 41 “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.

            Not only is Christ’s journey to the cross one of sorrow, but as believers in Christ, our journey is sorrowful as well.

You too have to endure those who attack you because they don’t understand you, and because they oppose your Lord. As Paul wrote to Timothy, 2 Tim.3:12-1312 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.”  Yet in Christ you can be hopeful even in affliction as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 2 Co.4:8-11 ” 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”  Just as Jesus said to the Pharisees in so many words, “you missed it,” so we can say to those who reject us, “It’s your loss.”

Also, you too will at times experience the frustration, anger and sadness over the persistent rebellion and sin of those around you – in your own family, in your school, your workplace and in the world at large. Jesus said in Matt.10:34-39Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  37 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.  38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Jesus journey finally, and much more briefly, is a PROPHETIC journey

The great city of his ancestor David, the nation as a whole, and even its religious leaders – those who should know better – have rejected the final terms of peace God has offered through his only SON. In fact, they are preparing even now to kill the Son so that they might regain full control of the vineyard which they were only hired to tend.  Jesus foretells the death and destruction that will come upon the city and its children because its leaders missed their opportunity to respond to the divine visitation.

It is prophetic journey in two ways: through Jesus’ prophetic preaching or forth-telling of the gospel and through Jesus’ prophetic fore-telling the result of their refusal to respond.

Throughout his journey Jesus has preached the gospel to Israel, constantly warning against the possibility of national failure, explaining how peace with God might be restored through repentance and faith. Here – today – he recognizes their failure to respond in v 42 “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

Also, Jesus prophetically foretells the destruction to come because they have refused God’s offer of salvation in his Son.  43 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 44 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.””

As a believer in Christ, your journey is prophetic as well. Unlike Christ, we cannot foretell the future, but like Christ we can preach the gospel, offering the free gift of salvation in Christ and warning of the results of persistent refusal of his offer. Just as he was “sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36), so we are sent by Christ to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. saying, 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Even in the celebration of the sacraments in worship, as Paul wrote 1 Co.11:26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

 

Thank you Lord for the picture of Christ’s sovereign, sorrowful and prophetic journey to the cross. May we walk by faith along the journey of this new life into which you have called us by your grace. Enable us to follow in his steps for your glory.

Receive the offering

Sing “Hosanna”

[1] Scriptures…

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[2] in Roman and civil law : a compulsory service exacted by the government, a lord, or the church

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