Good Morning everyone and we welcome you with the loud shout of "Hosanna"! Let us begin with a passage from the Bible....
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." - Matthew 21:1-11
This coming of Christ was described by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9). When Christ would appear in his glory, it is in his meekness, not in his majesty, in mercy to work salvation. As meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in Zion's King, and marked his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem, how wrong covetousness, ambition, and the pride of life must be in Zion's citizens! They brought the ass, but Jesus did not use it without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as came to hand. We must not think the clothes on our backs too dear to part with for the service of Christ. The chief priests and the elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused him upon the cross; but none of them joined the multitude that did him honour. Those that take Christ for their King, must lay their all under his feet. Hosanna signifies, Save now, we beseech thee! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! But of how little value is the applause of the people! The changing multitude join the cry of the day, whether it be Hosanna, or Crucify him. Multitudes often seem to approve the gospel, but few become consistent disciples. When Jesus was come into Jerusalem all the city was moved; some perhaps were moved with joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the Pharisees, were moved with envy. So various are the motions in the minds of men upon the approach of Christ's kingdom.
Something to notice here is that Jesus chose a donkey instead of a horse. Moreover He walked a long distance before entering the city. Why would he need a ride at the end of His journey? Doesn't this strike you that Jesus is making a statement here.
Jesus knew in His mind that He is not entering a good city, but He knew that He is going to lay down His life. Moreover riding on a donkey was a sign of peace.
Verse 13 we see people are singing "Hosanna, Hosanna!" Why were they singing? Because they knew that He will establish His kingdom and will take the people to salvation.
Here in this group there were different kind of people. We also fall under one of the following categories:
1: People who were thinking who He was.
This is the group who are coming after Jesus and they are excited. However these people political minded people. They believed that since Jesus is going to be yhe kingdom, they might be a part of that revolution. They were already looking for somebody to rally around. They were looking for a hero, however the Bible says that Jesus came as a servant.
These people started admiring Jesus assuming a revolution is coming. Many times we also become the part of crowd and follow Jesus because we sometimes have a pre-conceived idea. When they looked at Him as a revolutionary and asked people who He was, people said that He is a prophet. These are the group of people (the one who were asking) who never knew Him.
2: People who thought that He is a miracle maker.
"And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods." - Luke 12:18The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign." - John 12:18
Christ's riding in triumph to Jerusalem is recorded by all the evangelists. Many excellent things, both in the word and providence of God, disciples do not understand at their first acquaintance with the things of God. The right understanding of spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, prevents our misapplying the Scriptures which speak of it.
These people serve Him in search of miracles and benefits. Many people go to Church or religious sessions such as conventions, Healing seminars etc in search of some benefit. They are following Christ not for who He is, but for something. What if a miracle doesn't happen, what if a prayer doesn't work, will you still follow Him? Jesus says, if you want to follow me, first deny yourself, pickup your own cross and then follow me.
"Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." - John 6:27
Do not look for miracles, looke for the maker of the miracles.
3: People who were ready to give something with enthusiasm but without any commitment.
We noticed people took their clothes and spread on the path for Jesus. Imagine, a donkey walked on it. Does it really matter? What God is asking from us is a total comittment.
Manytimes, we give whatever we can, but without real commitment. And people also appreciate this giver, however God is not looking for an outwardly thing.
God says, "Don't give me your garments or gifts, give me your heart."
4: People who were doubting, cheering and confusingly joined the rally, for the sake of doing what everyone was doing at that time.
Church is not a place to be entertained, for entertainment watch a circus. These people maybe sitting on the fence adding no efforts thinking, "God knows what is in my heart." These people have nothing much in their hearts, but for the sake of doing what others are doing, they act.
5: People who were truly committed to Him.
There were people who wanted to see Jesus from closely, lift Him, hug Him and cheer for Him. Not because of some benefits, but because they honored him and were committed towards Him. Their hearts were for Jesus.
Illustration: During a football match, people cheer for their favorite teams. When their favorite score a goal, they cheer loud and get happy. But when other team scores, these very people are ready to throw empty glasses at their head and what not. This is not a true commitment.
"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."- Matthew 7:27
Let us be more and more decided and earnest, making some one or other of these blessednesses and Christian graces the main subject of our thoughts, even for weeks together. Let us not rest in general and confused desires after them, whereby we grasp at all, but catch nothing.
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." - John 3:17
There is a price to be paid if you want to follow Jesus. All disciples were persecuted, they paid the price with their life.
Peter and Paul - Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Andrew - Went to the "land of the man-eaters," in what is now the Soviet Union. Christiansthere claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.
Thomas - Was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.
Philip - Possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
Matthew - The tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Bartholomew - Had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.
James - The son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
Simon the Zealot - So the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
Matthais - Has the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.
John - Is the only one of the company generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. During Domitian's persecution in the middle 90's, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament--the Revelation. An early Latin tradition has him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome.
The words of Jesus were the words of God; he had the Spirit, not by measure, as the prophets, but in all fulness. Everlasting life could only be had by faith in Him, and might be thus obtained; whereas all those, who believe not in the Son of God, cannot partake of salvation, but the wrath of God for ever rests upon them.
We hope you are encouraged with today's service. We look forward seeing you for the upcoming 'Good Friday' service. God bless!