We’re going to turn to John 12. John 12 is where we’re going to be today together as we study God’s word. I wish I could just the first few verses spend at least an hour describing to you the implications of the first few verses that we’re about to dive in to together from verse 12 to verse 19. I’m going to just scratch the surface over the significance of this event today. If anyone wants to know more about it, I guess we can have personal conversations or you can study it on your own.
This section of the scripture is a very important powerful passage for us to understand as it relates to God’s word and we titled today, A Little Donkey Makes A Big Statement. It’s what Jesus is about to ride on a little donkey here, but this little donkey makes a big statement.
So, I have two goals for us today. One is to understand this passage and the other one is to die because that’s what Jesus says. To understand this passage, that’s definitely what Jesus says, verse 16, if you fast forward and just look at that for a minute. Verse says 16 that they did not understand the implications of what Jesus was doing here. So, this is saying this is a very important passage, and we should understand it. God wants us to understand it. He’s highlighting the fact that they didn’t understand it because He wants us to understand it.
So, our goal this morning is to understand this passage and then to die, right? So, if you’re new, you’re like, “Is this guy always this forward?” Probably. I mean, I’m not always together, but this is so important. This is crucial to the Christian, right? This is God’s desire. Really, really, what we know in Christianity, if you’ve walked with the Lord, that in losing your life, you really gain your life. You finally find a purpose worth living for when you find a purpose worth dying for. That’s what makes this passage not only important in the imagery of what Jesus creates here, but also for your life as it relates to your walk with Jesus. It’s so powerful.
So, let’s pick it up here in verse 12. This is what we want to understand together, grasp the imagery of what’s taking place in this section of the scripture. It says, “On the next day …” You remember we just read the story of Jesus going to Mary’s house. They’re throwing a party for Jesus because He resurrected Lazarus from the grave. That’s a big deal, right? He brought a dead man back to life, and Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with a fragrant perfume that was worth a year’s wage, a very powerful moment of anointing Jesus who’s being recognized as the messiah, the sacrificial lamb, about to give His life.
So, it says, “On the next day, when the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, indeed, the King of Israel!'”
A couple of things off the bat real quick with this passage to understand this. When Jesus is going for the feast, the feast that we’re talking about is this Passover celebration. Jesus is going to Jerusalem during this time. I think it’s a very appointed time because this is the time or the season where lamb selection is taking place. When you think about the significance or the parallels of what this means during Passover, they would sacrifice a lamb. In fact, Josephus, when he wrote about the Jews, Josephus was a first century Jewish historian, and what Josephus wrote about this first century, he recorded that from 70 AD to years just previous to this, look at this. You can read this. I even looked at the quote again this morning. I don’t know how he knows this, but Josephus records, a Jews historian, that 256,500 lambs were sacrificed during this day or this time period in Passover.
In the selection for the lambs during this time, it must have been determined that any lamb that was sacrificed must be a lamb without blemish. So, they would go early to Jerusalem to put the lamb before the priest to determine whether or not this lamb was without blemish and worthy to be sacrificed.
When they would come to Jerusalem, they would present this lamb for sacrifice. Josephus records over a quarter of a million lambs are slaughtered during this Passover celebration. This is a very severing time. You can think about how much death and how much blood is flowing out of this temple, but all of the sacrifice that’s taking place is for, ultimately, one purpose, and that is to point to a future messiah who would be that sacrifice on our behalf, meaning Jesus.
So, when you historically study this time period as it relates to Jesus. Looking at dates and time, especially around this particular week, very significant, very significant because Jesus, when He comes to Jerusalem, He’s presenting Himself now as the Lamb of God. This is how John 1 starts verse 29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” That’s how John the Baptist presented Jesus to the world. He didn’t want us to make any mistake to the implications of the importance of who Christ was because He was the ultimately lamb for our lives. All of these lambs that are being slaughtered are foreshadowing of the one lamb who would give His life on your behalf.
It’s why today we no longer make sacrifices. It’s also why today at the end of our service we’re going to celebrate communion. Communion was in the Old Testament what we would have celebrated as Passover. We no longer sacrifice a lamb at communion because our lamb has been slain. Now, we partake of communion to remind us of the importance of this lamb, that He not only rescued us, but He also gives us a future and hope and identity in Him, purpose, meaning, value, because of what He’s done here.
This moment, very important. Even up until the point of Jesus’ death, when Jesus dies on the cross, it even tell you in the bible the exact time He’s crucified and the exact time He dies. The reason they know the time is in reading about this in the gospels you would think, “What? These guys got some watches going, who’s like, ‘Let’s time this perfectly. Okay. He was crucified here and He died.'” How in that kind of moment are you even keeping track of time?
The reason they know when Jesus was crucified and the reason they know when Jesus died is because there were two sacrifices that happened in the temple. There was the morning sacrifice, traditionally, and the evening sacrifice. When those sacrifices would take place, there was a crier that would let everyone know that there’s the morning sacrifice about to take place and the evening sacrifice that’s about to take place.
When Jesus is being crucified, the town crier in the temple is yelling out because the sacrifice is about to take place. In the evening when Jesus dies, the town crier is crying out that the sacrifice is taking place. It’s just an eerie moment to think about that even to the very minute second of Jesus’ death, that He timed it perfectly with Israel’s worship for their sacrifice.
There’s no mistake as to who Jesus was. Jesus, in these moments, He’s identifying Himself as the Passover lamb. I mean, Isaiah 53 described him as a lamb led to the slaughter. It’s important in the New Testament that it calls Jesus born of a virgin, meaning He’s identifying. He’s without blemish. When Jesus goes before Pontius Pilate, and Pontius Pilate says, “I find no guilt in this man,” that He is without blemish. It’s continuing to highlight for us the significance of Jesus. This idea of Jesus going to Passover ties perfectly to the beginning of John, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world to the end of John where the Lamb truly gives His life.
It ties the whole theme of the Old Testament from the time of Exodus 12 when they would appoint. They sacrificed the first Passover lamb as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of the Passover lamb. It ties together all of the bible from Genesis 3:15, when the promise was that a savior, a messiah would come and He would crush the head of the serpent and suffer a heel wound in the process.
You see beautifully all of scripture, all of the theme of the bible and the importance of Jesus tying together in this moment in what Christ has done for us, even when you go throughout the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ is referred to as our Passover who has been sacrificed. In 1 Peter 1:19, “But with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” The book of Revelation refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God some 30 times.
The bible wants to make no mistake of the significance of this moment and how it ties all of scripture together that this Lamb is now entering Jerusalem on the Passover during a holiday that He specifically appointed to ultimately highlight what He would do for us.
It’s during this time that it tells us in verse 13 that Jesus is treated with both palms and praise. They break out the palm branches, and they praise Jesus. Now, why? Why did they do that? Well, when you see Jerusalem and the temple mounts, if historically you’ve ever seen a picture of Jerusalem, you know that the temple mount is on a hill. The Jews traditionally had these songs that they would sing when they would go up to the temple mount in honor of this Passover celebration. It’s called the Psalms of Ascent, the Hallel. It’s Psalm 113 to 118.
When the Jews would come in to Jerusalem, you can imagine how many people this would be. If they’re sacrificing 250,000 lambs, over 250,000 lambs and one lamb represents a family, there’s well over a million people heading to Jerusalem during this time period. Here they are ascending this hill in praise of their God during the Passover celebration, this God that freed them from slavery and gave them identity in Him and called them their own. Here they go up this hill and they sing these songs of praise.
Not only do these songs point to the deliverance that they have had in God because of the Passover that took place in Exodus, but these psalms also point to the future of a deliverer who will come and ultimately deliver Israel, and even as a promise goes through Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him.
So, they’re singing these psalms. I can just imagine this moment as they’re ascending the hill and this great crowd and Jesus appears, and they see Jesus, and they’re in the middle of Psalm 118. Psalm 118, it gives us this phrase, “Hosanna,” which means save us now. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, indeed, the King of Israel!” This is Psalm 118:26.
Now, they’re not just singing this song thinking about what God has done for their people. Now, they’re singing this song thinking about the messiah directly. They’re giving this honor to Jesus. With that, they break out palm branches, which is a weird thing. I don’t know how many times you’ve been at celebrations and you’re like, “You know what we need in this place? A couple of palm branches,” and it’s going to go crazy. It’s not a common thing that we consider today, but it’s like waving a banner or a flag. You’re thinking in the days of Jerusalem, when you traveled, when you made that kind of journey, you had to pack light. You’ve already got a lamb in your hands What else are you going to throw in there?
So, when you get to Jerusalem, if you’re going to sing some praise and you want to think of a best way to do that, you just rip a palm branch off, and you can praise God’s name that way. So, they bring out these palm branches, but the palm branches were also historically significant as well, particularly to the Jewish people.
Palm branches were a way of celebrating dignitaries when they came to town. They’re a way of celebrating conquering and victory of military leaders or some political leader when they would come back to the city after fighting a battle, and so the people would gather in the streets and they would praise leaders that way if they were victorious in battle or they just recognize the position of authority that someone had held.
Now, what’s interesting about this particular moment in Israel is how palm branches are viewed during this exact time period. When Israel would celebrate these holidays, it became known that there tended to be more of an uprising in the people, and they would often rebel against Rome. In fact, there was a political group in Israel called the Zealots. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples was known to be a Zealot. They would create uprisings and sometimes violent.
So, it would be during this time period that Pontius Pilate would flex his muscles. He would often, during the festivities of Israel, would journey into Jerusalem and he would come in a parade as if to say, “If you have an uprising, you’re going to mess with me, and if you’re going to mess with me, look at the display that I’ve brought with me.” There’s some power and some authority.
So, Pontius Pilate would come in to the city on a broad display before the people to exercise his muscle and show the might of Rome to let them know if they try to bring any uprising, he’s going to squash it and he’s going to squash it quickly.
I read some commentators on this passage of the scripture that said, I couldn’t find any written law on this, but what they said was the palm branch was considered such a controversial symbol during this time that it was actually illegal to wave it during festivities. In fact, you could face a crucifixion for doing so because what they tended to see is with the Zealots that had risen in Israel, the Zealots picked a couple of symbols to represent their group. One was the menorah and the other was the palm branch.
So, not only were palm branches used to celebrate, but it also became a symbol of rebellion. So, when more people would come in to Jerusalem, there was a concern that there could be an uprising. So, when they started to wave these palm branches, it could be a symbol of a rebellion against Rome and the people could easily gather together and try to overthrow some government figures. In fact, when Judas Maccabeus led the revolt against Rome, if you remember the story we talked about a few weeks ago, Judas Maccabeus was an individual who led a revolt against the authorities that were oppressing Israel.
It’s what brought the Hanukkah, the celebration of Hanukkah, that the Jews were being disseminated, they’re being oppressed by rulers and this Jew named Judas Maccabeus led a revolt and was successful, and brought freedom to the people, and they celebrate Hanukkah in order to recognize that, but when Judas Maccabeus led this revolt successfully, the way they celebrated him was by waving palm branches. 1 Maccabeus, I think, chapter 15, and I believe verse 21 talks about that. They waved palm branches to honor him.
So, these palm branches became a symbol of revolution of God’s people. So, to wave these during this time period is a very controversial thing to do. It creates tension at the very least among the Jews in Israel and may, in fact, be illegal. I couldn’t find a written law on it, but I did find commentaries that discussed how critical of a moment this would have been in the tension of the life of the Israelites.
In fact, when Israel was ultimately conquered in 70 AD, if you remember there’s, historically, the story that Titus comes in to Israel under the authority of Rome, and he crushes Jerusalem and he destroys the temple in 70 AD and the Jews haven’t had a temple since.
In order to commemorate that moment, they minted a coin. On the coin is a picture of a lady crying, and above her head is a palm branch broken. It’s as if to say to Israel, “Your authority, your power, your position has been crushed, but in this moment, in this moment, they’re recognizing the messiah and praising His name.
You can imagine maybe in this first century what it might be like to be a Jew. They had been oppressed. This government that may represent other people has not done a good job in representing them. They kept them under their thumb. The Romans had kept them under their thumb. They’ve even taken the taxes from collective from Israel to promote things even among the Jewish people that was contrary to their faith.
In the gospels, Matthew is referred to as a tax collector, a tax collector for Rome. Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were not viewed highly among the Jewish people. In fact, if they saw a tax collector coming down the street, they would walk to the other side of the street just to avoid him and they would spit at him just to let him know how they viewed his position among their people.
Rome oppressed them. The person that collected taxes was often a Jewish individual that was working for Rome among their people, so they saw them as a traitor, and that the taxes that were collected, they didn’t see it as being used for their benefit, but rather supported causes for Rome that was often contrary to their own faith.
You ever been a part of a government that might use your money to do things contrary to your faith? How would you feel? It gives you an idea of maybe how the Jews would feel in this century when they saw Jesus coming, the messiah, the elation that would come over them and the desire to celebrate even at the risk of their life by waving these palm branches?
Verse 14, I love this, this verse. Picture this moment. Everybody is going crazy. They’ve heard all about this Jesus. This might be their first time meeting Him. There’s over a million people, perhaps more people than ever because Jesus’ popularity is growing and they thought, “He’s been at the last couple Passovers, maybe He’ll be at the third. This is our chance.”
So, everyone is pouring into Jerusalem to celebrate this. Now, they happen to be a part of the road that Jesus is walking. So, they’re just going crazy over the fact that the messiah is here in Jerusalem at this moment as they’re holding this lamb. Now in verse 14, what does Jesus do? “Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it.” I’m just thinking. Hold on, guys. Jesus is about to speak and He just goes, “Hmm,” but what Jesus does in His action speaks volumes to His identity.
When Jesus sits on the back of the donkey, Jesus is saying several things without even saying really anything. What Jesus is communicating to us is a couple of things. First, that’s a picture just of a Mediterranean donkey. For those of you that don’t know your donkeys, the one that you will remember is the Mediterranean donkey, and the reason that you’ll remember the Mediterranean, there’s a legend that comes with this donkey.
If you look at the Mediterranean donkey, down the back of the donkey you’ll see this black stripe and then across the shoulders a black stripe. The legend is that Jesus rode on a Mediterranean donkey when He went into Jerusalem. From the time for that Jesus rode this donkey, the donkey bears the mark of a cross on its back. So, that’s how you know a Mediterranean donkey when you see it. Jesus doesn’t just ride any donkey. He rides a young donkey, a colt into Jerusalem. This communicates something about His intentions.
First of all, this communicates peace. In Jesus’ day, if your intentions were not peace, the animal that you tended to ride upon was not a donkey. No one’s like, “Let’s fight valiantly. What are you going to ride?”
“Let me take the donkey.”
That is not the animal of choice in Jesus’ day when you’re going to battle. When you want to go into battle, what you pick is a horse, right? In fact, when you think about Revelation 19, when Jesus returns a second time, it tells us in Revelation 19 Jesus rides on a white horse, right? Jesus comes as a warrior prepared for battle. When you want to fight a battle, not on a donkey, you fight on a horse. When you come on a donkey, when you ride into Jerusalem on this donkey, what you’re communicating is you come in peace.
Not only does He come in peace, but it’s also the mark of a king. In 1 Kings 1 when David presented Solomon to Israel as their next king, David had Solomon ride on the back of a donkey, one, to demonstrate the idea of a king of peace, but also to present him to Israel as a king.
Third is the image of the messiah. The reason we know it’s the image of the messiah is because of the book of Zachariah 9:9. It says, “When the messiah comes, He’ll come on the back of a donkey.” So, without saying a word, Jesus is presenting to us His identity. Here they are, praising Him, argue who we think you are. They’re heralding His name, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Save us now, Messiah.” Jesus, in demonstration of His position as they call out, sits on the donkey. Peace, king, messiah.
Now, you look at verse 14 and you think, “Well, how do you just know that that’s what that represents because all it really says is, “Jesus, finding a donkey, sat on it,” and that doesn’t seem very profound? When you read verse 15, it then tells us why we know that’s true, right?
“Do not fear, daughter of Zion.” Peace, right? “Do not fear, daughter of Zion, behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Meaning, verse 15, don’t fear, there’s peace, your king is coming showing that position of kingship, and then seated on a donkey, which is the quote from Zachariah 9:9 identifying Him as the messiah. Without saying a word, Jesus declares who He is, a little donkey making a tremendous statement.
When I consider this phrase as Jesus’ journeys into Jerusalem, this phrase in verse 15 is a very comforting phrase, “Do not fear,” right? It shows a leader in control, does it not? It’s not, “Guys, I hope this works out. I’m just going to give it a shot. If I go down, run,” but it’s, “Guys, this is why I came. Here is am as the lamb. Everything’s worked out as planned. I’m in Jerusalem during the time that I’m supposed to be here. The lamb is being presented without blemish. I’m going to die when I dictated that I would die. I am in control. Do not fear.”
There’s comfort when there is a leader who’s in control and that leader is for you because with that statement, “Do not fear,” also comes an identity in the name that He chooses to say here, daughter of Zion, daughter of Zion, people that belong to Jesus. “Do not fear.”
I mean, it’s a beautiful picture of what a father’s position should be over his daughter. When tensions rise and there’s concern, your heart is waning and maybe troubled and oppressed, and in a position where you feel like yo need rescued and healthy dad in that moment will step in to defend the daughter. It’s saying to us as people that we need to be reminded of this all the time. I think we struggle as people that we tend to fear, we tend to stress out, we tend to pass.
So, it’s as if to say to you God knows right where you are. God knows exactly what you need and He loves you. “Do not fear, daughter of Zion. Behold, your king is coming seated on a donkey’s colt. He comes in peace.” I mean, that’s what your soul needs, is it not? You think in this world, this world is at war. It’s not hard to see. I don’t just mean like armies fighting. You can just see it in society that just things are not right, that there is a battle in your soul once more than a battle. Can this just please stop and end? What my soul longs for is ultimate meaning and peace and value that I don’t want to go to these broken cisterns of this world, these wells that have nothing but holes in them, that they promise to deliver, but when I look inside, they’re nothing but empty. I want my soul satisfied. I want my soul to find peace. Shalom.
I mean, that’s what we had in the garden of Eden when God created us for His purpose, relationship perfect between Adam and Eve, but once sin entered the world, it was lost, but it was promised to be found again when Genesis 3:15 tells us the head of the serpent will be crushed, that one will come and He will deliver us and He will bring us peace. Jesus promises that peace.
Verse 16.”These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things for Him.”
Let me just stop right there and say this. Guys, sometimes when we read the scripture, we don’t always understand it at first, but can I just encourage you just to keep reading, keep digging, keep seeking after the Lord? As you start to understand the themes of the bible, the way God writes the bible, God will illuminate the truth and title together for you. You can even see from beginning to end like we talked about today how Jesus, these aren’t just story after story. These are stories that transcend all of scripture. They not only transcend, but they tie it all together for us.
This is not just an event. This is a story that’s happened that ties a much bigger theme to what the entire bible is about. So, when you study just a story, it’s important, but as you study all of the bible, you can see how all of this comes together, and the beauty of Jesus is even just in the gospel of John from the time it begins, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” to the time where the Lamb presents Himself as the Lamb of God to take away our sins. It’s incredible.
So, don’t just stop with a story. Keep reading, keep seeking, keeping. Now, I will say that works for Christianity because the bible is true. Other things that are taught to you that may not be true, not matter how many times you study it, it just don’t make sense. It’s like, “Wait a second. That don’t make sense,” but studying the scripture, seeking after the Lord is important.
Verse 17, “So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went out to meet Him, because they heard that He had performed this signs. So, the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are not accomplishing anything; look, the world has gone after Him!'”
None of the Pharisees feel like the world has gone after Him, but we’re going to see the opposite in just a little bit. When I think about this passage, let me just say this. People want to know about Jesus. Help people know about Jesus. Now, it doesn’t say that people want to know about Jesus for the right reasons. They may just want to know about Jesus because they think when Jesus shows up, the circus is in town because He does some great miracles, but they do want to know about Jesus, and we should be a resource to help them come to know this Jesus or at least to know about this Jesus.
It’s interesting I’ve noticed even in our area where we live, when I first moved to Utah, there was receptivity to hearing about Jesus, but it wasn’t that great. Over the last decade or so, there’s been a shift. I feel like there’s a little bit more hunger in our society today to hear about Jesus. That’s encouraging to me that if you know Jesus, help people know about Jesus. Point them to the goodness of who Jesus is.
Now, let me move on. So, this is the owner saying this passage. You have a little bit of background why this is important. Now, let’s get to the dying part, right? Point number two, die. Verse 20, “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these people then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and were making a request of him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip came and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus.”
Verse 23, “But Jesus answered them by saying, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
A couple of things about this passage. One of the very important phrases to just remember, verse 23, Jesus says this, “The hour has come.” “The hour has come.” This is a phrase that’s repeated multiple times in John. The first time it’s said is in John 2:4 when Jesus turns water into wine. We talked about that passage. I told you you will not understand why Jesus turned water into wine unless you understand this phrase. I’ll tell you about it in just a minute.
Chapter 7:30, chapter 8:20, this phrase is repeated. His hour has not yet come. His hour has not yet come. His hour has not yet come. That’s what it says throughout the gospel John. His hour has not yet come, but then when you get to John 12:23 it finally says, now, His hour has come.
What Jesus was saying to us from the time of the gospel of John and every miracle that He performed leading up to this moment, that these are great miracles, but this is not the ultimate reason He came for. When Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast, He wanted us to recognize, “Look, I’m coming as a groom for my bride, but this is not the miracle to represent that because my hour has not yet come.” Then John 7:30, John 8:20 as He performs miracles, He continues to say that, “My hour has not yet come. This is not the ultimate reason I’m here for. I’m doing some things outwardly to demonstrate who I am, but this is not what I’m ultimately here for. You want to know what I’m ultimately here for? This is it. My whole life was about my death.” That’s what Jesus is saying here.
You think what the crowds are saying to Jesus. “We want to meet Jesus. Andrew, go get Jesus. Go get Jesus for us. We want to meet Jesus. Jesus, entertain us. Jesus, do a miracle. We want to meet you. You just resurrected Lazarus. How are you going to top that? Seems like every miracle keeps getting greater. Let’s go see Jesus. Everybody, grab your lamb, let’s head to Jerusalem. Maybe we’ll see Jesus.”
Then they’re like, “Okay. We hear Jesus is here. Let us meet Jesus.”
Jesus is like, “I’m done doing that, but I want to show you why I’m really here. My hour has come.”
Then he gives us a demonstration of what that hour looks like, what it means that He’d be glorified. It says, “But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” What Jesus is identifying for us is the entire purpose of His life is His death. He compares Himself to a seed. It’s a beautiful picture, that when a seed dies, it multiplies into more fruit, and the seeds can continue to die to multiply into even more fruit. Unless the picture of what Jesus begins with us, He is the ultimate seed that brings forth the fruit of life.
Then in verse 25 and 26, Jesus, in this whole experience, then gives us something to do, which is the dying part. “The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
This is an interesting statement Jesus gives here for many reasons, but if you put it in the context, it’s maybe even an odd statement that Jesus gives because we’ve clearly, clearly talked about a massive crowd that is praising Jesus and even the Pharisees are acknowledging the whole is going after Him, but as that’s happening, it’s as if Jesus sees it but acknowledges that what He wants from them, they’re not really giving. It makes you just pause and say, “Wait a minute, Jesus. Aren’t these people gathered to praise your name?”
I mean, think about us being here this morning. Is that not why we’re here? How can you look at that circumstance then and tell us to do something that you don’t think when we’re doing, when we’re obviously here to praise Your name? So, Jesus gives this interesting statement about following Him and I don’t think He’s affirming them to say, “Look, follow Me because you’re following Me and I think it’s great, so keep following Me,” but He’s giving this statement to try to help them because what they’re doing is not what He ultimately wants from them.
In fact, when you read this gospel story, Jesus riding on the donkey is in all four gospels. When you read this gospel account and the gospel of Luke 19, I think I have Luke 19:41. Do I have it on the slides, guys? Okay. Luke 19:41, just listen to this. “When He approached Jerusalem,” this is Jesus, everyone praising His name on the back of a donkey. “He approach Jerusalem, He saw the city and He wept over it.” He wept. That’s incredible.
You look at that and you might the question, “Why in the world would He weep?” Maybe He’s just so overcome with joy that He just can’t even contain Himself just how great of a moment this is. He’s all emotional, right? So, He weeps or maybe He’s weeping because He is thinking about the cross. He really knows that all of this is leading to His death. So, He’s thinking about the cross. I mean, who’s not going to cry when they got a cross in front of them, right?
The story goes on and says, in verse 42, “Saying, ‘If you had known on this day, even you, the thing which makes for peace!'” You know why Jesus weeps in this moment? Jesus weeps because He know the people are so close to Him but they miss then entirely. They miss Jesus entirely. They have an agenda for the messiah that actually pushes the messiah away.
When we think about this passage, what Jesus is saying is what we need to discover is not primarily what you want from Jesus, but why you want Jesus. Guys, I don’t think it’s wrong to not want to be oppressed. I don’t think it’s wrong to not want bad things to happen like Israel at this moment just frustrated with rogue. The important question for us to ask as it relates to Jesus and circumstances that we find difficult isn’t so much what you want from Jesus, but why is it you want Jesus. Why? Why did they want Jesus?
They didn’t want Jesus in order to live for His kingdom. I mean, that’s what He’s representing, a king on a donkey, but they didn’t want Jesus for His kingdom. They wanted Jesus to improve their kingdom. They wanted Jesus to remove Rome so they could be in charge.
You know what’s really interesting about the story is the same Psalm at the recording, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” Psalm 118:26, if you just back up just a little bit, few verses before, verse 22, it says that He is the stone with the builders rejected. The same Psalm that tells us that the people who praise His name is the same Psalm that tells us that the people will reject Him. Their rejection all has to do with the motive.
I mean, think about what the importance of the Passover lamb is. The Passover lamb is not about trying to improve your world, but it’s about saving you from it. You think Israel, they were slaves in Rome. They were slaves. God doesn’t come and just improve Egypt. God completely removes them out. That’s the whole symbol of the Passover lamb. The Passover lamb is not about improving your world, but saving you from it. This is what Jesus is saying to us. Until you’re willing to die to this world to embrace is you’re going to miss Him. You could be so close to Jesus but miss Him.
Romans 8 reminds us of what God desires for us, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestine to become conformed to the image of His son.” Jesus doesn’t want to make you into what you desire. Jesus wants to make you into what He desires. That doesn’t happen until you’re willing to die to self to embrace Him.
If I give it a nice little memorable way, I would say it like this, Jesus doesn’t desire to make you comfortable. What Jesus desires for you is for you to be conformable to the image of His son. It’s not until you find something worth dying for that you find something worth living for. Jesus is not interested in just improving you. He wants to make you new, new identity, purpose, meaning, value.
It’s important, this passage. This passage is really revolutionary for our culture because what our culture teaches us is you find the importance of life by looking deeper in you, but when you think about what Jesus is saying here, you don’t find your purpose and happiness in life by looking deeper in you, in your wants, but rather by dying to self for Him.
You want to know why our country is coming unhinged? Because we’ve bought into the lie that the purpose of life is within us, and I ask the question, “What is it that we want because we’re the king of our world?” It’s not until we die to ourself to live for Him that we find exactly what God desires for us.
When we think about this text, Revelation 7 has a beautiful really reenactment of this section of scripture, but it’s in a different way, and it’s one of the reasons this passage is so important for us, guys. I mean, you think about what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is saying, look, He knows the world is broken, and He’s also saying stop looking in the world for a solution. You need to die to that and embrace it because embracing Him, that’s where you find life.
When I think about culture today, I think more than even how important that message is because I think we look at a society that knows it’s broken and everyone is scrambling to try to find some solution, some cause to prop themselves up upon, to see themselves as some justice warrior to get them value in this world and they’ve completely missed it because they’ve made their life about a kingdom that they have built, and if they invite Jesus at all, it’s just to help them improve the kingdom that they desire and Jesus is not interested in your kingdom. He’s interested in His.
His whole purpose in life was to die and to call you do the same because only in dying do you find truly living for which He has called you to. In Revelation 7:4, it gives a story of … I’m going to just skip this real quick and go to the end because I’m running out of time, but the very end of this end of this, guys, look at what it says to us.
Verse 9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and with palm branches were in their hands; and they’re crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb of God.'”
What Jesus is saying in our lives that they may have done it wrong in this moment, but you don’t have to get it wrong in your life, that you can come to Jesus for Jesus and that is more than enough. In fact, when you do it, you truly find the reason worth living.
The end of eternity, there is this picture of God’s people or into eternity there’s this picture of God’s people. Though we may have missed it the first time, Jesus came at us. Jesus’ next coming for us, when we all are around in every tribe, tongue, language, we get the opportunity to do it right together.
So, here’s the question, though, we could end with. How do you know? How do you really know if you’re devoted to Jesus in this way? Can I tell you one way to determine where your heart devotion truly is? It’s just to recognize in your life when you have nothing going on, when you’re in that moment of life where you have an hour or two to yourself, no busyness, mind could be free, you have that opportunity to find your leisure activity, where does your heart go? What is it you fill that time with?
It’s a good way to indicate what you worship or maybe what you idolize. I’m not saying every free moment of your life just have to be Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but what I’m asking is when you have that free time, does it fill up with the mind of Christ? Where does it go? That’s a good recognition for our soul. Is it truly devoted to Him? Has it died to the world to live Jesus?