2019 04 14 Gordon Green PALM SUNDAY
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Create DateApril 25, 2019
Last UpdatedApril 25, 2019

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Palm Sunday

John 12:12-15,19

Redhill. 14April 2019. Presented by Gordon Green

 

There are many statues of kings and generals on horses throughout the world. A man on a horse symbolised power, pride, glory and majesty. One such statue is that of Alexander the Great. At the age of 32 he had conquered the world. At about the same time that King Alexander the Great was conquering the world on his horse the prophet Zechariah prophesied about a very different king:

Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, o daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king comes to you; he is just and having salvation, patient, meek, lowly, and riding on a donkey, upon a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech 9:9) A king on a donkey? A meek, humble, patient king? What kind of king is this? What was this all about? The Gospels give us the story.

Jesus was travelling with his disciples and followers from Galilee up to Jerusalem. Jesus was on his final pilgrimage. He was going to Jerusalem to be crowned king but not in the way his followers expected! Near Jerusalem Jesus sent two of his disciples to fetch a donkey. Not a full grown donkey but a colt. A little donkey. In doing so Jesus was making sure that Zechariah’s prophecy would be  fulfilled. There were probably about 500,000 people in Jerusalem. Most had travelled from all over the world to celebrate the Feast of the Passover – a commemoration of freedom from  oppression of the Hebrews by the Egyptians. Then Jesus entered. His followers were singing “Hosanna – Save us now. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were proclaiming Jesus as king, as messiah. As they shouted and sang and danced they threw palm branches on the ground. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory over death in the Jewish culture. But he was not riding a war horse. He was riding a little donkey!  In fact the donkey was so small his feet were almost dragging on the ground.

But unknown to everyone there what was about to happen was destined to be one of the most famous events in all human history. In fact the event that was about to unfold would be so significant that it would be commemorated every year around the world. 2000 years later people would still be celebrating this day! But many were wondering; how can the people be shouting king when Herod was the king?  This was a very dangerous situation for the authorities – and for Jesus. The whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.

What was all this about? What was this about Jesus being king? Where was his kingdom? To understand we have to grasp God’s plan and the big picture. To do this we have to go back in time. When God created the angels they were to be in God’s presence and serve him. God rules the heavens. He is king of the realm. It is the kingdom of heaven. One of the angels revolted and persuaded some of the other angels to follow him. These angels were thrown out, exiled from the heavenly realm. They were put outside of God’s presence. Then God created the earth and he crowned his creation with the pinnacle of creation - human beings. They lived in God’s presence and served him in a garden called Eden. They were also called to rule the earth with God’s authority. And then – tragedy. Just as the fallen angels rebelled against their creator so too the first humans rebelled against their creator. Because of their disobedience Adam and Eve were thrown out of, exiled from the garden. They were, in a sense, put outside Gods presence. The fallen angel, Satan, now began ruling the earth instead of humans. This is why he is called the prince of this world and the god of this world. But God wanted to recover the earth back to human beings. He chose a man named Abraham to relaunch his original intention. God gave Abraham’s descendants (the nation called Israel) a land called Canaan. It was to be the new Eden -the place where heaven and earth meet just like the Garden of Eden was. It was also to be the place where God would rule the earth through humans. It is the place where the Kingdom of Heaven will touch the earth. The land of Canaan and Eden symbolised God’s presence in life. Exiled from each symbolises separation from God and death. This is what happened to the angels and humans. Both lived in God’s presence and both were exiled.

Israel was to show the world what it looks like when God is in charge. That was the purpose of Canaan and why God gave them the land. Sadly Israel followed  the way of the fallen angels and Adam and Eve and rebelled. As a result Israel was exiled from Canaan. They were put out of God’s presence just like the angels and Adam and Eve. So the story of Israel repeats the story of Adam and Eve which repeats the story of angels. But God promises the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth. Or to put it another way the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. So that was not the end. Prophets have some amazing good news. Included in their announcements was that God would deliver Israel. God would send his servant to free the people. God would reign over the whole world. Messiah, God’s anointed one would come at last and bring peace, justice and salvation. But no one expected how it would be fulfilled. Zechariah makes his prophecy about Jesus the king riding a donkey. However 400 years later still nothing had happened! Then John the Baptist arrived on the scene and he prepares the way for Jesus’ arrival. He called the people to repentance and prophesied that God was going to inaugurate a new nation on the earth. This new nation will not belong to this present world and its systems but will come from the heavenly realm and will have a king. It will be a kingdom that will never end. The king of this nation will be the Son of almighty God. He instructed the people to get baptised and confess their sins and they would be forgiven and turn away from all ways of life denoting death to an old system and aliveness to the coming nation. Wait for the promised king to come and establish the new nation. John’s message demanded complete devotion and total allegiance. It was non-violent, peaceful revolution. His message was about a new king and his new nation that was about to enter history. The name of  the new nation would be the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. It would be the rule of heaven come to earth. But it would come in a surprisingly shocking way. In Jesus’ ascension the promised new age would break lose into the earth.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey was the last week of his earthly ministry. And what a week it would be! Palm Sunday was the beginning of the end. It was the beginning of Jesus’ suffering. Soon he would be mocked, insulted, spat upon, whipped and murdered. Five days after Palm Sunday our king would fight his great battle and win his kingdom. Not by killing but by dying. Our king would be crowned – with thorns. and would sit upon his throne – a cross – and win the great battle - “Father forgive them…” Now 2000 years later we are part of his kingdom. The Kingdom of God has come and we can participate in it. We can experience in part the kingdom of God now. We can experience the blessings of the kingdom now. The kingdom of God is already present, but it is not yet here in its fullness. Jesus said it would it would be like a mustard seed hidden and unseen but it would grow till eventually it covered the whole world.

What can we do?  We don’t have to worry about making the kingdom real. We never have to work to build or create or make the kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not our project. We don’t have to help  God realize his kingdom. It is Gods achievement not ours. It is his gift to us. What we do is receive it, enter into it, be a witness to it and begin to experience some of the benefits of Jesus Christ’s reign now. We don’t have to pray about making these things happen but we can pray “Lord whatever you are doing now I would love to participate in what you are doing. I would love to join you. I am available.”

Homework

In the next few days before next Sunday read the accounts of the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with resurrection Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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