A time for……..Welcoming the King
Sermon date: April 14th
Reading: Luke 19 v. 28-40
From what we see on television and in other media, what ways are important people welcomed?
At the same time how do you welcome people who are important to you in your life?
[Practical things – red carpet, marching bands handshakes for heads of state etc. To our home – big clean-up, hugs and kisses, a good meal]
Background to the passage
This passage, commonly called the ‘Triumphal entry’ gives us the opportunity to take the journey into Jerusalem alongside Jesus. It is his final journey before crucifixion, and very different from other journeys. For Him it is the time to reveal who He really is:
Jesus, on this journey, leads from the front and approaches Jerusalem through the village of Bethphage and Bethany:
As you can see on the map they are close to Jerusalem and we know his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived at Bethany.
"Going up to Jerusalem" is literal, since Jerusalem is at a higher elevation than most of the towns of Palestine. The road Jesus is traveling rises from 850 feet below sea level at Jericho, to elevation of 2,100 to 2,526 feet above sea level at Jerusalem.
The Mount of Olives, located just east of Jerusalem, is a ridge about 2.5 miles long, part of the north-south mountain chain. If you stand where the Jericho Road crosses the ridge, to the west is the city of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley, and just to the east of the summit lie the towns of Bethphage and Bethany.
In relation to the donkey word "needs" is the Greek noun chreia, "need, lack, want," used in the phrase "has need." Although the disciples are to ask for the donkey and it will be given, it doesn’t mean this is a supernatural activity. Jesus had many friends, who had probably offered to lend him anything he needed. Notice that once the disciples say, "The Lord needs it" there is no further argument. The owners are happy to have Jesus use their possessions for his work.
The word translated "colt" is Greek polos, the young of any animal. Here the "colt" or "foal" of a donkey is the reference. Luke and Mark don't discuss the significance of the young donkey, but Matthew and John quote from Zechariah 9:9
‘See your king comes to you, righteous and having Salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey’
The donkey was domesticated in Mesopotamia by the Third Millennium BC and was used as a beast of burden from the patriarchal period. It was renowned for its strength and was the animal normally ridden by non-military personnel (Numbers 22:21). The Bible indicates that riding a donkey is not at all beneath the dignity of Israel's noblemen and kings (2 Samuel 18:9; 19:26). Indeed, David indicates his choice of Solomon to be king by decreeing that the young man should ride on the king's own mule (1 Kings 1:32-40).
Jesus' instructions are clear, the donkey must be one that has never been ridden. It is set apart, consecrated for a specific use, for the Master's use. Rabbinical tradition states that no one should use the animal on which a king rides.
When Jesus indicates to his disciples that he should ride on a donkey that no one had ever ridden before, he is initiating a public, kingly act. He is revealing openly that he is the Messiah.
Spreading clothing to carpet one's pathway was a way to honour the person. When the people are aware that Jehu had been anointed king of Israel,
"They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, 'Jehu is king!' " (2 Kings 9:13)
Mark tells us, "Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields" (Mark 11:8). John's Gospel indicates the people were going out to meet the procession with palm branches (John 12:13).
The phrase "joyfully to praise" (NIV) or "to rejoice and praise" (KJV) consists of two Greek verbs, chairo, "rejoice, be glad” and aineo, "to praise." The word translated "miracles" is the Greek noun dunamis, "deed of power, miracle, wonder”. Also observe that the term "disciples" in verse 37 is used in a more general sense, not of just the Twelve.
As this increasingly large band of "disciples" crosses the ridge and begins its descent into the Kidron Valley the people sing praise from Psalm 118:27, though only one line is quoted in Luke. Read the full passage to see how much refers to the coming of the Messiah. His claim as King must now be clear. Indeed, this claim of Messiahship, this open acknowledgement of Kingship, seems to precipitate his death. It was certainly on the lips of everyone in Jerusalem that week. Jesus is not crucified for his good works. He is killed for his claim to Kingship.
Please now open in Prayer [Maybe get someone else to do this]
Please read together Luke 19:28-40 [either round, or individuals]
Questions on the Passage:
Why do you think Jesus gave such cryptic instructions to the two disciples about where to find the donkey and what to say if they were challenged? (v. 30-31)
What is the significance of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey? Why a donkey that no one had previously ridden? (v. 30-31)
What elements of the Triumphal Entry point to Jesus' claim to be the King of the Jews, the rightful Anointed One, the Messiah?
Why do you think Jesus is now open about being the Messiah, whereas previously this was something he didn't want his disciples to discuss openly?
What was the reaction of the people to Jesus' glorious entry?
How did that compare with the reaction of the Pharisees? Why the difference in reactions?
How genuine do you think the peoples’ reaction was?
The disciples did exactly as Jesus instructs them – and they learnt it works. This coming week let’s try to follow Jesus’ instruction more closely as well!
How do we welcome the Lord into our lives? Practice rejoicing; also practice with others (some have entertained angels that way) and rejoice in welcoming people to your home.
Please finish with a time of Prayer for the world, our nation and ourselves, rejoicing in God our Saviour.
Anne Milton-Worssell, 05/04/2019