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THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
(SERMON #2 ON THE FINAL DAYS OF CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY)
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt” (John 12:12-15).
On Friday Christ and His Disciples came to Bethany, to the house of Simon the leper. John 12:1-11 records what happened that day. Martha made a great supper for Jesus and the Disciples. Her sister Mary anointed Jesus with a pound of very costly ointment. This perfume was very valuable and had probably been kept in Mary’s family for generations, like gold or real estate. When she put the ointment on Jesus’ head and feet it was a great demonstration of love and respect. This reminds me of a saying by C. T. Studd (1860-1931). Studd was a great pioneer missionary, first to China for 21 years, and then to Africa for 19 years. It was C. T. Studd who said,
Only one life,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ
Judas protested that it was a waste of money, that the money should have been given to the poor.
“This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein”
Judas was stealing money from the purse he carried as the Disciples’ treasurer. Jesus said to Judas,
“Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this” (John 12:7).
Christ knew that He would be crucified the following Friday. He knew that Mary was anointing Him for His burial. Now read John 12:9-11.
“Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:9-11).
This all happened six days before the Jewish Feast of Passover. The events that happened that Friday were these: Jesus came to Bethany and participated in the great supper that Mary had prepared. On that same Friday there was an intense interest in Jerusalem concerning whether Jesus would come there for the Passover the next week. Dr. B. H. Carroll said,
The resurrection of Lazarus had made a profound impression. It stirred the people; it stirred the enemies of Jesus, and there was an increased curiosity in the city about His coming. [At] that time the common people found out that He was already within two miles of Jerusalem, at Bethany, there on Friday, and so a great many of them go out that afternoon to Bethany, just a two mile walk, with a double purpose in view: First, to see Jesus; and, second, to look in the face of a man [Lazarus] who had been raised from the dead [by Jesus] after he had been dead four days. When the Pharisees saw that great throng leaving Jerusalem [to go see Lazarus] they counseled together to put Lazarus to death as well as Jesus. They were afraid that [the raising of Lazarus would turn the multitudes away from them to Jesus].
Saturday, which was the Jewish sabbath, [Jesus] remained quietly in Bethany. Now we notice what took place on Sunday. This is the first time that Sunday is brought into prominence as the first day of the week. On [Sunday] Jesus is proclaimed King; on [Sunday, a week later] Jesus rises from the dead; on [Sunday] he makes His appearance after rising from the dead; on [Sunday] He pours out the Holy Spirit upon His church [on the Day of Pentecost]. From now on Sunday will be prominent. [This first Sunday, when He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, as “the King of Israel,” John 12:13] is what is called Palm Sunday…on [Palm Sunday] He was proclaimed King; on [Easter Sunday, one week later] He was raised from the dead (B. H. Carroll, D.D., The Four Gospels, Baker Book House, 1976 reprint, part II, pp. 222-223).
The term “Palm Sunday” is used to describe this day in many Protestant churches. The term comes from our text,
“On the next day [Sunday] much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:12-13).
spread their cloaks on the road as a sign of their subjection to Christ (2 Kings 9:13). Others spread palm branches before Him as a sign of joy…The people shouted “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:25-26). According to Luke 19:39-40, there was so great a tumult that some of the Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke His disciples for creating such a disturbance. But Jesus answered them, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Jesus entered Jerusalem openly as the Messiah, the Son of God. It was impossible that there should be silence during such a great event!
According to John 12:16, Jesus’ disciples did not at first understand the significance of His riding into Jerusalem on…a donkey. Only after Jesus was raised from the dead – did they understand that in this way the prophecy of Zechariah had been fulfilled…He had come, “having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass,” Zechariah 9:9 (The Applied New Testament Commentary, Kingsway Publications, 1996, page 274).
When Jesus reached the Temple in Jerusalem, He went in,
“And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve”
And that verse tells us He returned to Bethany, either to the home of Simon the leper or the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Bethany was two miles away from Jerusalem. “During this last week in Jerusalem, Jesus returned each evening and spent the night there” (The Applied New Testament Commentary, ibid.).
Now I want to comment on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that Sunday, which is now called “Palm Sunday.” And I have two main comments:
1. First, why did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a little donkey? I think there are two reasons: (1) One, to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, which is referred to in John 12:14-15. Four hundred and eighty-seven years before the birth of Christ, Zechariah gave this prophecy concerning the coming Messiah,
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).
(1) Two, riding into Jerusalem on this young ass was not a sign of humility. It was a sign that He was their King, as Zechariah had said. Dr. McGee pointed out that “The mule was the animal kings rode upon…He came to offer Himself as Israel’s Messiah, and as such He rode a little donkey into Jerusalem. That is the animal which kings ride” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume II, p. 248). King David rode on such an animal, and so did his son, King Solomon (see I Kings 1:33). By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey at the beginning of the Passover feast, Jesus was offering Himself to them as their King. Great crowds of people were there in Jerusalem. It has been estimated that “Jerusalem’s usual population of 50,000 swelled to 250,000 because of all the Jewish pilgrims coming to celebrate (The Applied New Testament Commentary, Kingsway Publications, 1997, p. 289). A great number of these people thronged the sides of the road as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that colt. They cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). But it is quite clear that they did not truly understand who He was, because we read,
“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee”
A Muslim could have said that! “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth!” That is what the world thinks of Him today, as well. He is just a prophet to them. But that is not true. He is God the Son, the Saviour of mankind, and theKing of Israel. He died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and He rose from the dead to give you life. And it is He who said,
“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
2. Second, was this really a “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday? Dr. McGee says no, “It should be remembered that the so-called triumphal entry ended at the cross” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., ibid., volume IV, p. 335). But, though I highly regard Dr. McGee’s comments, I don’t think that statement is quite right. The “triumphal entry” did not end at the Cross. It ended one week later, on the following Sunday, when Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead!
“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).
Seven days later, when Jesus rose bodily from the dead, He triumphed over sin, Satan, death and Hell! So, in that sense, it was a triumphal entry into Jerusalem!
But that is not the end of the story. He is alive today in Heaven, at the right hand of God. You can come to Him and He will wash your sins away with His Blood! But even that is not the end of the story! He is going to enter Jerusalem again. He is coming back from Heaven through the clouds! And this time He will be received the way He should have been then, as
“KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”
He is coming again, He is coming again,
The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again;
With power and great glory,
He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).
(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 21:1-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ride On! Ride On in Majesty” (by Henry Hart Milton, 1791-1868).