Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sermon on Palm Sunday

Christ’s Magnificence in the “Insignificant”

Readings: (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-38; & John 12:12-18).

Let’s turn to Matthew’s account in chapter 21 beginning with verse seven to eleven." They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
The biblical account of Christ’s “Triumphal Entry,” into Jerusalem is one of the few events all four gospels record for us. Five days before the Passover, Jesus came from Bethany to Jerusalem. Having sent two of His disciples to bring Him a colt of a donkey, Jesus sat upon it and entered the city. The significance of Palm Sunday is what has been called Christ’s “Triumphal Entry,” into Jerusalem. It was around 30 AD. Prophets had spoken of such a day, the Psalmist sang of it, and the Messiah was to fulfill it. No greater day could be anticipated. Some celebrated it as a triumphal entry others mourned it as the tragic end of great promise. The excitement of the scene is tempered by the fact that very soon, the same crowds that hailed Jesus as King would be calling for his death.

 It was springtime. The holy city of Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come for the annual Passover celebration. Jesus had spent many months traveling through the towns and villages of Palestine. He preached about the kingdom of God and healed the sick, raised the dead, feed the hungry, wherever He went. Now the time had come for Him to declare His title as the Messiah - the Savior that God had promised to the Jewish people. Jesus knew His mission was almost finished. As they traveled to Jerusalem, Jesus warned His disciples that He would soon be put to death, and after three days He would rise again.
The choice of a donkey is not mere coincidence.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Great Excitement was in the air as the news spread from the small village of Bethany to Bethphage that the one being called “the Messiah” was about to enter Jerusalem. Crowds of people spread their coats on the ground in front of Him. Some waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory. Enthusiastic followers lay a carpet of garments and palm branches before him. At this point they recognized his messianic office and anticipated what they thought would be the inauguration of their promised king.
As the jubilant crowds welcomed Christ into the city, they also shouted, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of Jehovah," a chant taken from Psalms 118:26. In that Psalm the phrase, "he that cometh in the name of Jehovah" meant the worshipper drawing near the temple. "King of Israel," "Hosanna" (is from a Hebrew word which means "save we pray.") The entry of Christ into the city of Jerusalem was not only a literal fulfillment of prophecy, but it was a demonstration of the nature of God’s kingdom (John 18:36).
Notice first that this event is completely orchestrated by Christ.  He carefully choreographs his entrance into Jerusalem.  This is near the time of the Passover and consequently thousands of pilgrims are streaming into Jerusalem preparing to celebrate the feast in the holy city.  The vast majority of them walked into the city but Jesus chooses to make his entrance in a very specific, highly symbolic manner.  He is coming from the direction of the Mount of Olives and has evidently pre-arranged for the donkey but it’s not just any donkey, it’s a donkey no one has ever ridden on.  The choice of a donkey is not mere coincidence, but is made with great intentionality.   Jesus carefully works out the details of this setting to fulfill what the prophets have said about him as king.  Verse four says, "This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, Say to the daughter of Zion, `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”  

The Bible never talks about fate or chance. It speaks instead of what some call "Sacred Time". Scripture speaks of Christian life as being, not just a random collection of disconnected events, but life with purpose and meaning. Jesus rode a donkey into town, because there was a purpose and a meaning to the action. It was an event in sacred time and fulfillment of the prophecies of His first advent.

Why a donkey? 

“If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” (Luke 19:31)
The donkey is a creature of peace. You would expect a King to arrive on a War Horse, or in a chariot pulled by a pony... not so Jesus. Jesus enters Jerusalem, the City of God, riding upon a creature considered insignificant, humble and gentle. The donkey was not simply a method of transport for people. It was also a beast of burden. A donkey can carry a great deal on its back. It is sure-footed in rocky terrain. In many parts of the world it is still considered a working animal. When you think about donkey, there can be all kinds of connections. But the most important one we need to make in this Season is between our lives and the Jesus who rode into Jerusalem to die upon a cross and was raised to bring Resurrection life to bear on our daily lives. If we can get that connection right, then a whole lot of other things in our lives start to make sense as well. We may well discover that sacred time is breaking into our daily lives. Notice the words of Christ in Luke 19 verse 30: “Go into the village opposite you, in which, at your entering, ye shall find a donkey tied, on which yet never man sat; loose him, and bring him here.” Do you resemble the donkey?     Donkey was tied. – We were under the bondage, hooked, victims of habit, bound by lifestyle.  Donkey was Untamed. We all were sinners, Donkey was outside. – We all were “without Christ, God, Hope.”  Ephes. 2:12 says “that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens…and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Donkey was Untied. - Jesus sets us free. John 8:32   “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Donkey was brought to Jesus. - "And they brought the colt to Jesus. (V7)  Donkey did not resist. - "He sat upon him" (V7) Donkey was used for God's glory. - "Hosanna in the Highest" Donkey was submitted to the will of the Savior. - He rode him.

Jesus said “Learn from me--for I am gentle and humble in heart." Matthew 11:29
Have you ever thought of those little insignificant things that Jesus always preferred for throughout His brief life on earth? Things that we would not normally prefer to embrace by many, but things that insignificant, Christ thought were extremely important and essential to Him. Bible says “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” He was eternally, truly and totally God. But He ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped'. Glorious as his heavenly existence was, he did not cling to it as if nothing else mattered, but relinquished it in the interests of others. “He emptied himself', He laid aside the majesty and glory that were eternally his in heaven. He took the form of a servant'. Just as he was truly God, so he truly became a servant, not only of his heavenly Father, but also of mankind. As he himself told his Disciples, ‘I am among you as the one who serves' (Luke 22:27). He was ‘born in the likeness of men'. God became man; the divine Son became a servant; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, like any other child… Paul wrote “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The Bible also declare that, ‘For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him' (Colossians 1:16). Every created thing, from the vastest galaxy to the tiniest particle in the universe, owes its existence to Jesus Christ. But He chose to leave eternity and submit himself to the limitations of time and space. He became ‘obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross'. He knew exactly what would be involved in his earthly mission.

He exchanged the perfect harmony of heaven for the turmoil of life on earth, with its pressures and pains, trials and tensions, conflicts and crises. He exchanged being worshipped by angels for being reviled by his enemies. The one by whom ‘all things were created' (Colossians 1:16) had to borrow a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41), a donkey to ride into Jerusalem ( Luke 19:28-40) and a coin to give an illustration (Luke 20:19-26). The one who owned every square inch of Earth was so poor that he had ‘nowhere to lay his head' (Luke 9:58). The one who created water as a liquid compound with its molecule made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms (H2O) had to ask someone to give him a drink when he became thirsty ( John 4:1-7). Even in death his body was laid in a borrowed tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).

Remember the word of Jesus in Luke Gospel “So Jesus said to them, “What is important to humans is disgusting to God.” (God’ word translation) KJV says “for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”(Luke 16:15b)
The above Scripture is followed by the literal account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  The Bible contrasts the extravagant and pleasurable life of a rich man verses the sorrowful existence of a poor beggar named Lazarus.  In the end, the Bible tells us that the rich man went straight to Hell to be tormented in flames; but Lazarus was escorted by angels into (heaven) Paradise.  There is not a clearer passage of Scripture in the Word of God, testifying to the vanity of earthly fame and fortune.  The rich man had it all―wealth, health, power, security, friends, and fame; BUT, he didn’t have God.  In sharp contrast, Lazarus had nothing except God.  He was sick and the Bible says that dogs came and licked his wounds.  Lazarus ate from the rich man's garbage, whatever he could scrape together.  The Bible tells us that the rich man was consumed in his mind concerning building bigger storage barns for his grain, and laying up massive wealth for his old age; BUT, his retirement never came because God ended his life.  The selfish rich man never gave thought to helping Lazarus in any way, nor did he think about neither God nor the eternal destiny of his soul. 

In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model in all aspects of our earthly life. Jesus was chose to be born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's glory was made manifest. Jesus flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.”. Christ's whole earthly life - his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking - is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", and the Father can say: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father's will, even the least characteristics of his choices manifest "God's love.” The whole of Christ's life was a continual gesture of his grace, compassion, love and special affection towards his creation, particularly for the little and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of the world, and his Resurrection are the actualization of his word, full demonstration of his love and the fulfillment of Revelation.

Let us consider few of those little insignificant things that Jesus always chosen for throughout His life?  Things that we would not generally we think insignificant, but things that, Christ thought were extremely important and essential to teach us the majestic truths, thus exhibiting to the world the most beautiful picture of humility. Christ’s Magnificence in the “Insignificant” He asked a drink of water, some fish, a coin, a little child and a towel and a donkey. Not much of a list for the Creator of the universe and Redeemer of mankind. Let us look at few of those little things Jesus asked.

In his encounter with the woman at the well Jesus asked “Please give me a drink.”John-4
Bible says “So he left Judea and went back to Galilee.  On the way to Galilee, he had to go through the country of Samaria. In Samaria Jesus came to the town called Sychar, which is near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his long trip, so he sat down beside the well. It was about noon.  A Samaritan woman came to the well to get some water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” (John 4:4-7ERV)

The Samaritans were a mixed race people, who had intermarried with the Assyrians centuries before. They were hated by the Jews because of this cultural mixing, and because they had their own version of the scripture and their own temple on Mount Gerizim. In his encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus broke three Jewish rational man created customs: first, he spoke to a woman; second, she was a Samaritan woman, a group the Jews traditionally despised; and third, he asked her to get him a drink of water, which would have made him ceremonially unclean from using her cup or jar. This shocked the woman at the well. By reaching out to the Samaritans, Jesus showed that his mission was to the entire people of the world, not just the Jews. Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs or prejudices. Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion.

5 Loaves and 2 Fishes to feed a hungry multitude (Mark 6:34-44)

Every time Jesus healed someone who was sick, the people were amazed. They wanted to see more miracles, so they would follow Jesus wherever He would go. Sometimes, Jesus would look back and see hundreds, even thousands of people following right behind. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” “Bring them here to me,” he said. Jesus gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Jesus' disciples focused on the problem rather than on God. When we are confronted with an unsolvable situation, we need to remember "For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) This miraculous feeding of the multitude was another sign that Jesus was the Messiah. The 12 baskets of leftovers may symbolize that God is not only a generous provider, but that he has unlimited resources.

Bring me a denarius- Mk 12:13-17

Jesus’ response to the question put to him about paying the imperial tax to Caesar.( Mk 12:13-17) The Pharisees and Herodians two antagonistic rivals came together in a common purpose to “trap” Jesus Christ asked . “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?" If Jesus can be shown to incite disobedience to Caesar then a political charge of sedition could be manufactured. If he can be shown to side with Rome, he could be discredited religiously before the people as be a compromised quisling of the Empire. Jesus recognized the Pharisees hypocrisy; "Why are you trying to trap me?" The trap that the Pharisees and Herodians had planned backfired on them; the Pharisees and Herodians got caught in their own trap! "Bring me a denarius and A denarius is brought – it was the small silver coin used for paying tax to Rome on one side of which would have been inscribed “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son the divine Augustus”, and on the other “Pontifex Maximus”. The coin propagated the Imperial Cult and proclaimed the divine identity of the Emperor. Jesus’ reply not only sidesteps the designed pitfall but implicitly makes a startling claim of his own authority. On the one hand Jesus accepts the legitimate authority of the pagan state to exact tax from it provinces, such as Palestine. In doing this he seems to undermine nationalistic Jewish claims to political and ethnic purity for Israel. His kingdom is not a purely political one. On the other hand he sharply limits the power and legitimate authority of the state and seems to resist and reject the idolatrous claims to divinity of the Roman Emperor. Only God is due complete allegiance and unreserved worship, not a man. His kingdom is not of this world.
Greatest in the kingdom of heaven -Matthew 18:1-9

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

There are many incidents in the gospels where Jesus has pointed out to his apostles just what constitutes greatness in the kingdom. He has taught repeatedly that to truly be considered great, one must be servant of all. This teaches us the value of humility. As a Christian virtue, humility has been considered the most highly regarded traditionally, because without it, cultivation of other Christian virtues might be impossible. My study bible notes that humility "is the acknowledgment of divine grace and mercy, and the constant denial of man's achievement." Worldly power, then, and our notions of power that stem from a materialistic standpoint, are at odds with what defines "greatness" in this kingdom

Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Children are sincere, pure, loving, simple and trusting. When we believe in Jesus Christ as our savior with simple, childlike faith, we receive eternal life. When we continue believing God by walking in fellowship with him, we receive blessings now and store up treasures in heaven for later. For those tempted toward false humility, God's blessing and treasures glorify him. God wants to bless his people. Think about this: The greatest in God's kingdom are those who serve God with a humble heart. God created us to glorify him, not ourselves. In other words, the way up in the kingdom looks like the way down in this world. Jesus illustrated this at his last meal before his crucifixion when he washed the feet of his disciples. Peter was so shocked at the notion of Jesus washing his feet that he refused to allow it initially.

To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become "children of God" we mu–t be "born from above" or "born of God". Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this "marvelous exchange":

O marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity

The Basin & the Towel- Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet- John 13:14 

In a famous passage in John 13, Jesus took a towel and a basin and washed the feet of His disciples. He told them “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).

After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He put His garment back on, sat down and asked them, “Do you know what I have just done to you?” In other words, “Do you understand the spiritual significance of foot washing?”
The background to thus passage is Jesus’ consistent lifestyle of love expressed in three years with the disciples. Having loved them, He now shows them the full extent of His love. This becomes even more remarkable when we consider what Jesus knew, and John spells out three vital facts of which He is aware but the disciples are blissfully unaware: 1. His “hour” had come (v1) The word “hour” (unfortunately translated by the NIV as “time” in this verse) appears 10 times in John in relation to the ministry of Jesus. It adds momentum to the book as Jesus moves relentlessly forward to the “hour”. Of course the “hour” refers to His death, and it is an hour of humiliation but also an hour of glory. The fact that Jesus knew His hour had come adds urgency to what He does. This will be the last parable of Jesus, and it is a parable in action! 2. Satan had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus (v2) Judas is mentioned eight times in John’s gospel more than any of the other gospels. The fact that Jesus knew about the betrayal by Judas adds poignancy to the scene as Jesus demonstrates love even to the disciple who will betray Him. He will stoop and wash the traitor’s feet. It is important to note that we are told that Satan had prompted Judas – Judas was still responsible for his own action in betraying the Lord as Satan prompted him but didn’t possess him. 3. The Father had put all things under His power and that He had come from the Father and was returning to Him (v3)From Luke we learn another significant fact about the context of this scene – the disciples were arguing about who was greatest (Luke 22:24). As they bicker, Jesus, fully aware of the glory and majesty that was His by right, and would be His eternally after His return to the Father. This fact adds contrast to the scene as we consider Jesus’ rightful position and authority. Given this knowledge, we know that Jesus was not posturing. This act is not a futile gesture or a false attempt to appear humble but an intentional, calculated action that grew out of a real situation and need. Christ’s timing, as always, was impeccable.

Jesus was not instituting an ordinance to be carried on throughout the church ages, such as communion or water baptism. If so, He would have instituted it at the beginning of the disciples’ training. He would have submitted to a foot washing Himself, as He had done with water baptism. I believe Jesus was giving us an example of the kind of physical manifestation He desires most, that of “taking up the towel.”

I believe that if we understand what Jesus did in washing His disciples’ feet, we will understand the concepts of service and submission. You see, serving one another in love and submitting to one another in godly fear mean much more than taking orders or being accountable to a higher authority. Rather, these glorious truths are unlocked only in the context of “taking up the towel.”

Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of Jerusalem "his father David". Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation the "King of glory" enters his City "riding on a donkey ". Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth. And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God's poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds. Their acclamation, "Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord", Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem manifested the coming of the kingdom that the King-Messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his Death and Resurrection.

The purpose behind the Palm Sunday

The purpose behind the triumphal entry was to communicate that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah, the King of the Jews and by extension, the King of the Universe.  The purpose of the message is to spread the truth that God’s soverign kingdom had indeed come and that every person must be challenged to renounce their allegiance to the kingdom of self-rule, which is ultimately the dominion of Satan reigns over.  When a person rules their life independent from God, they are behaving just like Satan who also rebelled against God’s rule.  We can renounce that self rule through repentance and when a person does that the words of Colossians 1:13 are true of them. “For Christ has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”  In Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9, prophet says “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”   That’s what Jesus wanted to communicate—that the peace-loving, gentle King had now come.  He comes to Jerusalem as a pilgrim and because he is well known to many who have witnessed his ministry-especially the raising of Lazarus, which has just occurred, he is greeted with words from a traditional pilgrim’s Psalm---Psalm 118:25-26.  Mark 11:9-10 renders it, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David” Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 

There are over one thousand prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament and five hundred of them have already been fulfilled in relation to His first coming. Listen to the prophetic words of Zechariah regarding what was to happen on that first Palm Sunday: “Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you, He is righteous and victorious, yet He is humble, riding on a donkey - even on a donkey's colt" (Zechariah 9:9, NLT). First of all, this is the fulfillment of the prophecies of His first advent. Those people welcome Jesus in a manner consistent with the Messiah.  But there is little evidence that they understood the true importance of what they were saying and less still that they understood that this was the actual fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy that the Messiah would indeed enter the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.  In their traditional pilgrims welcome they were speaking much more than they knew!  It’s fascinating to note in the bible that when prophecy is being fulfilled, especially in the earthly ministry of Christ it is fulfilled by people who have no idea of the significance of what they are doing. We know this event was cloaked in secrecy because in John’s account of this in chapter 12:16 he writes, “At first his disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.”

 In this event of Palm Sunday, the veil that lay over Jesus’ royal status, though not totally removed, was partially pulled back and for those with eyes to see, this was a glorious and historic event.  The shroud over his kingship and of his deity wouldn’t be totally pulled back until a week later when the stone was rolled away from his tomb and he rose from the grave in royal majesty having defeated the power of sin and death.  But for now, his royalty was only partially accessible.  The main message of the events of Palm Sunday, which we can much more fully appreciate than did those pilgrims lining the road into Jerusalem, is, “Jesus is King—Hosanna!”

We must see just how supremely important this event and even more the resurrection is in the flow of salvation history so let’s put this in its larger biblical context.  The events played out on Palm Sunday reveal, albeit parabolic ally a message the entire bible has been gradually revealing from the third chapter of Genesis. That is, Jesus is the King.  In the progressive revelation of the bible God has been putting together pieces of a puzzle—a puzzle that gradually, as each piece is added shows us various expressions of the kingdom of God, all of which reach their fulfillment in Christ Jesus.  

Death through Adam, Life through Christ

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

First Adam fails miserably and forfeits the kingdom but there is another Adam, a second Adam—“the seed of the woman” who will fulfill the kingship Adam forfeited. Where the first Adam fell to the serpent, Christ prevailed over him.  After the garden, God expresses his kingdom among the children of Abraham, the Jews, but they too fail to bring God’s kingdom reign on the earth.  In contrast to the Hebrew nation, Christ, as a Son of Abraham is the true Israel if you will—God’s chosen Son, the seed of Abraham through whom the entire world will be blessed.  Just as Christ fulfilled the purpose of Adam so too does he fulfills the purpose of God’s chosen people.  Finally, Jesus is the Son of David.  David was Israel’s model king and God promised Him in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”  Solomon built the temple but David’s kingly line was crushed in 586 BC at the Fall of Jerusalem.  How is one of David’s offspring going to rule forever?  Christ, who is born in the family line of David fulfills the prophecy by establishing a kingdom that will never fail and by building a house for the Name of God called the church, the temple of God.

In Daniel chapter 7:13-14, the prophet reveals the character of the Kingdom of this Son of David who is to come. He writes, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”  Notice three truths about this kingdom of Christ.  The nature of this kingdom will be universal.  “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language”.  This kingdom will be eternal “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away.”  And this kingdom will be invincible. “…his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” 

Whereas the first kingdom under Adam was anything but invincible—the serpent quickly dispensed with him, the Second Adam crushed the serpent’s head. Whereas the kingdom of the Jews was anything but universal, seldom stretching beyond their geographic borders, the Kingdom of Christ will be made up of every tribe tongue, nation and language.  And whereas the kingdom of David was anything but eternal—dismally evaporating in 586 BC, Christ’s Kingdom will know no end.  All these other previous expressions of the kingdom of God are simply echoes of Christ’s resounding universal, eternal and invincible kingdom.  These other kingdoms are just small plumes of smoke that anticipate the nuclear explosion of this glorious kingdom of King Jesus.  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9:6-7]

 The biblical revelation reaches its grand and glorious climax in the person of King Jesus and his kingdom will be fully consummated when he returns to earth.  In Revelation 19:11 the apostle John describes our King this way, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse (no donkey this time, this is a stallion-- the mount of a victorious warrior King)...verse 15, “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” On Palm Sunday, the image of the King is veiled in parable, but there is nothing veiled about this conquering King in Revelation 19!  Palm Sunday pictures the peace-loving King who is going into Jerusalem to die to restore relationships torn by sin by establishing a new covenant in his blood.  Revelation 19 pictures a warrior King who will bring his wrath against all his enemies and destroy them for all time.  In a sense Revelation 19 is the final biblical portrait of the King to which every previous kingdom portrait in Scripture points. 

  Now, what does this have to do with the mission of the church and the Great Commission? …EVERYTHING!!  The fact that Jesus is King and the main message of the Bible is the spreading of his kingdom through his saving plan ultimately executed on the cross should have huge implications for how we view Christ, how we view the message of the gospel and how we view ourselves.  The first implication for us as we spread the Great Commission is Christ the King is our message.  One of the grand ironies of the way the modern church often does evangelism is we do not present Christ at the center and the Christ we DO present has often been functionally dethroned.  Far too many evangelistic appeals are targeted at people’s “felt needs” rather than their real need, which is to have their sins forgiven and undergo a radical change to bring them into submission to the loving, joy-inducing rule of King Jesus.  

In memory of this remarkable event, Christians celebrate Palm Sunday. It is referred to as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid on the road as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was also the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel's "seventy sevens" prophecy: “According to this prophecy, the Messiah would show up, present Himself as Messiah to the nation and then be “cut off” Jesus Christ presented Himself to the nation of Israel on Palm Sunday, and was crucified four days later on “Preparation Day” (the annual day on which the Passover Lamb was slain), and rose from the dead on Sunday.
Jesus Christ came and lived a perfect life, died a sin-atoning death and rose from the grave, displaying his defeat of sin and death and manifesting his royal, reigning power.  That’s the gospel and the reason the gospel of Christ’s kingdom is absolutely necessary is because humanity is in mass rebellion against God—living lives of emptiness and futility because sin rules their hearts instead of the God.  .  

The heart of the gospel is that God has a plan to save lost sinners and that plan is absolutely centered on King Jesus who is the savor and Lord.  Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” we can receive God’s mercy and forgiveness by turning to repentance from our self-rule. Jesus the incarnate Son of God prepared to offer himself as the Prince of Peace to set up his kingdom of righteousness in our hearts. He came to offer the gift of salvation. His coming to Jerusalem was an act of mercy and grace, not an act of Judgment. But His Next appearance He will ride in great power and Glory as a Judge (Rev.19) The Prince of Peace is still inviting us to place our trust in him and be reconciled to God in order to enjoy the everlasting life and the peace of God! Christ is the only true answer to happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our king, let us try and make time for Him in our daily life, let us be reminded that He is the one with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us priorities and place Christ the king as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in such a confused and complex world. God Bless you.