Sermon for Sunday, April 10th, 2022 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Zec 9:9-13 ESV] 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. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. 13 For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.
New Testament reading:
[Act 4:1-12 ESV] 1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
[Luk 19:28-40 ESV] 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.”
Each of the Gospels contains an account of the Triumphal Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
Each of the accounts tells of a colt prepared by the Lord to be found by the disciples for use in carrying Jesus.
Each of the accounts have Jesus and his disciples arriving from the East, from Bethany and Bethpage near the Mount of Olives, and coming from there downhill into Jerusalem.
Each of the accounts has the people laying their cloaks and cut branches on the road.
And each of the accounts has the people exclaiming “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
But in the end of each account, the Gospel authors each say something unique. They don’t disagree with each other of course, but each has decided to record something which the others did not record. These four comments — each just one verse in length — are what happened “Upon the Triumphal Entry.” And such is the title of the sermon today. “Upon the Triumphal Entry.”
This is, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”
And we’ll be looking at these four unique statements in an of ascending power or profundity.
First, in Matthew, “Jesus the prophet.”
Second, in John “Jesus whom the world has gone after.”
Third, in Mark, “Jesus who has the key to the city.”
Then finally, in our text from Luke, “Jesus of whom the very stones would cry out.”
I. Jesus the Prophet. (Matthew)
As we look at what happened upon (or after) the triumphal entry, we’ll first look at Matthew.
Matthew notes that Jesus is a prophet. This is what he records the crowds as saying. “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
As is often the case, the crowds are technically correct, but missing out on so much more.
Yes, Jesus is a prophet. He is prophet, priest, and king.
But what they have left out perhaps shows their lack of faith and understanding.
They don’t say “Jesus is the messiah.” And they don’t say “Jesus is Lord, the very son of God, the second person of the Trinity.”
Simon Peter gave the better answer when in another place he said “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
But here when he people say “he is a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” they are short of the full truth.
It is like saying that Elvis was a musician, or that the ‘72 Dolphins were a football team. These things are true, but are vastly underselling their reputations. Elvis wasn’t just “a musician” he’s one of the most influential and best-selling all time. And the ‘72 Dolphins, football fans immediately know, were the first team to go undefeated for a season.
So it is that it is true that Jesus is a prophet. But even many Jews and Muslims agree with that statement. And that statement is not sufficient for salvation.
We must believe that Jesus is Lord, and put our faith in him. There are many prophets, but only one Lord.
II. Jesus Whom the World has Gone After. (John)
The description of Jesus is ratcheted up a bit in John’s Gospel where John has the Pharisees saying of Jesus that “the world has gone after him.”
This sounds like the people — a great many of them — see Jesus as more than a prophet.
No one “went after” the prophets of the Old Testament.
They weren’t the sort of fella’s you’d be thrilled to hear from and to follow. They often said things like “Woe to you, sinners.” and “Beware the destruction ahead.”
Of course the prophets were telling the truth, but they weren’t making a lot of friends!
They didn’t have people following after them.
So if what the Pharisees now say is true — that people are following after Jesus — it is clear that something MORE is going on. Either the people are deceived, or Jesus is the Messiah.
If he were a mere prophet and had people following him in such ways, he might tell them to go home. Prophets don’t have such bands of followers.
The old argument of C. S. Lewis was that Jesus Christ is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic.
The idea of Lewis is that when the people are following Christ it is either because he is rightly followed because he is the Lord, or they are in error because he has lied to them about being the Lord, or similarly he’s lying unknowingly in a state of lunacy claiming to be the Lord. Those are all logical possibilities. But C. S. Lewis’s point is that Jesus can’t be just a prophet; he can’t just be a good guy; for a “good guy” who claims to be God is no longer “good” if he indeed is lying. And if Jesus is telling the truth, then he’s no longer just a “guy” but is also the very son of God.
So it is that the Pharisees said “the whole word is gone after him.” And even some of the Pharisees would join in. Nicodemus seems to have believed in Jesus. Paul the Apostle was a student of Gamaliel the pharisee, and the book of Acts tell us that “many priest came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is ironic that Pharisees in John’s account speak negatively of people following after Jesus, but in time —because Jesus is the way the truth and the life—even they will follow him.
So it is true in a hyperbolic sense that “the whole words had gone after him.” But that’s not yet telling us completely who Jesus is.
III. Jesus Who Has the Key to the City.
Third we have the triumphal entry in Mark’s gospel. Again ratcheting up a bit the understanding of Jesus.
And I was tempted to make this is the ultimate of the four accounts because it presents something quite powerful.
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
It sounds almost like a note in passing, or the conclusion of a long day. “As it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”
But see how powerful the statement actual is. Mark has Jesus going first into the temple and then “looking around at everything”—the whole city, as if he had the key to the city and the right to view that was his kingdom or would one day be.
Who can look around at everything unless they own the place?
Only the King. If Matthew has Jesus as prophet, now Mark has Jesus (first like a priest going in the temple), but then has him as King.
And that is a central point of the Triumphal Entry. Jesus is the King promised by the prophet Zechariah:
Zec 9:9-13 ESV] 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.
The King has come!
But it is always striking how Jesus’s death was so close upon the horizon. And it is always striking how all of these people who said “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,” how they would be nowhere to be found when Jesus died.
But it was the plan of God that Jesus would go to the cross without his disciples, so that would might focus all the more on Him. For it wasn’t Jesus + John or Matthew or Luke or even Mary that brings our salvation. It is Jesus Christ alone who died for the sins of man.
And the fact that the disciples did not go with him, but yet were saved individuals, shows us the character of God. He forgives us, who have sinned so greatly and so grievously against him. He forgives even his disciples who abandoned him at his death. [REPEAT: Jesus forgave even his disciples who abandoned him at his death. He died for them.]
It was easy to celebrate with cloaks and palm branches when Jesus was coming into the city. The people wanted that. But when Jesus was brought out of the city to be killed at Golgotha, NO ONE wanted THAT.
But it is the same Jesus. The humility of Him who rode upon a donkey and the humility of Him who died upon the cross, is the humility of the one and same Lord.
And while Jesus’s kingship was proclaimed in the Triumphal Entry, it would be proclaimed even louder in his resurrection from the dead. This story would quickly spread around the globe. Jesus of Nazareth who once died came back to life, declaring his power over death, forgiving sins as foretold in the Scriptures, and declaring himself King of Kings, Lord of Lords, very God of very God.
He indeed has the key to the city, and he indeed has the key to the world, and the key to life and death. Jesus is Lord.
IV. Jesus of Whom the Very Stones Would Cry Out.
So we come to the fourth of the Gospel accounts of what happen upon the triumphal entry.
The message of Jesus — of who He is, and what He does for us — cannot be silenced.
Luke’s account ratchets up the description of Jesus and his message.
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.”
If the disciples were to be silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Nothing can stop the plan of God.
All the efforts to stop Jesus and the Gospel are doomed to fail.
The governments can declare that no one is to preach in Jesus’ name, but they can’t stop the heavens from declaring the glory of God. They can’t stop the stones from crying out “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Or as John the Baptizer said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
We have thousands of competing messages in our world. But there is one that takes precedence – the message of the Gospel. Even now, over two thousands years Anno Domini, the Bible remains every year the best selling book.
In the hardest places, the Gospel makes inroads. In China, in Russia, in the Middle East, and even in the atheist academies of the West. Scientific, scholarly men and women have laid down their Darwin, their Freud, their Marx, and have taken up Jesus Christ. And how far superior a message.
I’ve long called the philosophies of the world anti-philosophies. And the philosophers of the world anti-philosophers. They love not wisdom, they love not the Lord. But are every “learning” and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
All the forces of the world, political, religious, or otherwise seek to suppress the Gospel. They hate the word of God because in it they know they are sinners. But they miss the Gospel message – that sinners can be SAVED!
Though they seek to suppress the Gospel, GOD ALWAYS FINDS A WAY. The word of the Lord goes forth. And if he didn’t have preachers, teachers, evangelists, Bibles in many places, then the very stones would cry out. God is sovereign, and he finds a way for the Gospel to be known to His people. Against all foes, Christ has the victory.
As we’ve looked at each of these four Gospel accounts Upon the Triumphal Entry and what they each say, we should also note WHO said these things.
It was the PEOPLE who said “he is a prophet.”
It was the PHARISEES who said “the world has gone after him.”
It was the disciple MARK who records that Jesus looked around at everything in the city.
But it is the LORD JESUS HIMSELF who says “the very stone would cry out.”
What can we conclude then from the accounts of Christ “Upon the Triumphal Entry”
We’ve already concluded that Jesus loved his disciples even though they abandoned him. And we, in our sins, in our life’s, have at times forgotten our Lord. But he can forgive the disciples then he can forgive us. We have a forgiving and loving God.
We can also conclude truths about Jesus; that all of these are indeed true:
Jesus is a prophet
Jesus is to be followed
Jesus is the King of Kings
Jesus is the Lord of Lords
We are called to believe these things. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation.
King of Kings, Lord of Lords
For ever and ever, Hallelujah.
Let us pray.