HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, April 10, 2022
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey7Qgk6L8RE
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Claiming Kingship” – Palm Sunday
Texts – Matthew 21:1-11; Zechariah 9:9-17; John 4:39-42; Luke 9:51-56
Today is known as Palm Sunday. What is the significance of Palm Sunday? Jesus declared himself the King, the long-awaited Messiah, and the crowds acknowledged him with enthusiasm.
Matthew 21:1-7– “As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, 5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.”
Imagine being the owner of the donkey…two guys show up asking to borrow the animal and promising to bring it back. It’s quite possible that the men recognized the disciples as being followers of Jesus and that they knew which ‘master’ the disciples referred to. We don’t know for certain, but they had obviously been prepared to say, ‘Yes,” in that moment.
But why did Jesus need a donkey? Why not just continue to walk in on foot? Because Jesus was doing more than just making a visit to Jerusalem…he was making a very clear declaration. He was the Messiah!
Jesus was fulfilling prophecy as written about by the prophet Zechariah over 500 years earlier.
Zechariah 9:9-11 - “Rejoice, O people of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey--
riding on a donkey’s colt.
10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel
and the warhorses from Jerusalem.
I will destroy all the weapons used in battle,
and your king will bring peace to the nations.
His realm will stretch from sea to sea
and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth
11 Because of the covenant I made with you,
sealed with blood,
I will free your prisoners
from death in a waterless dungeon.”
In this same passage, Zechariah prophesies that the hated Philistines will become like a clan of Judah (v.7). This humble king will bring peace to the nations and his rule will encompass the whole earth (v.10). Jesus declared that he was that promised king. He was the picture of ‘humble’—he came from an obscure and poor family from the region of Galilee, from the ‘hick’ town of Nazareth. And he came riding in on a donkey…
Does anyone know the significance of a king riding a donkey? When we think of great kings of history, don’t we often picture them riding on a warhorse, surrounded by their military men fresh from conquest, sword drawn, sitting high and regal above all the plebeians…the lower cast or ‘commoners?’ Riding a donkey signified that Jesus was a king who was coming in peace. Kings rode horses into battle and as a means of instilling fear into the conquered. Jesus had not come to wage war, but to bring peace to people as our King of Peace—peace between God and humanity and amongst people.
Though we may understand that as the significance from our historical perspective, given the events over the coming days, I think the majority in the crowd completely missed the point.
MOMENT OF RECOGNITION
Matthew 21:8-11 – “8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the jubilation of the crowd, they recognized that he was fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy, but while Jesus was focused on ‘peace,’ their desire centred on a wrong understanding of the prophet’s continued proclamation.
Zechariah 9:12-17 – “12 Come back to the place of safety,
all you prisoners who still have hope!
I promise this very day
that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.
13Judah is my bow,
and Israel is my arrow.
Jerusalem is my sword,
and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks.
14 The Lord will appear above his people;
his arrows will fly like lightning!
The Sovereign Lord will sound the ram’s horn
and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert.
15 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will protect his people,
and they will defeat their enemies by hurling great stones.
They will shout in battle as though drunk with wine.
They will be filled with blood like a bowl,
drenched with blood like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people,
just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
17 How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
and the young women will flourish on new wine.”
The people had been taught to understand that the events depicted by Zechariah would all happen together; however, from our vantage point, we know that isn’t the case. Jesus did come on a donkey, but the battle depicted in v.12-17 may be in reference to the period of freedom the Jews experienced after the enslavement by the Greeks or it may be in reference to events we are still waiting for. Jesus had not come to overthrow the Romans which was precisely what the Jewish nation expected at this time.
The people wanted a warrior king whose reign of peace would be ushered in through the decimation of Rome and all other foreign armies that threatened the peace of the Jewish nation. They wanted war: they wanted victory; they wanted blood! And they firmly believed they would have it given their understanding of Zechariah’s words.
In their mind's eye, the Messiah would once and for all clear out not only the invaders, but would elevate the Jewish nation to a place of pre-eminence. After years of struggle, they would finally know vindication. After years of living for God, they would gain the upper hand…and all the disobedient would finally get their just reward! Yes, the Jewish nation wanted peace…but only after they got their revenge.
The peoples’ response to Jesus highlights their growing acceptance to the idea that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah. Many had heard the stories or were first hand eyewitnesses to his miracles—lepers were cleansed, new eyes were given to the blind, the lame could walk, demons were cast out, crowds were fed and the dead were raised back to life.
But Jesus didn’t come as the kind of king they had been expecting. Their hopes for rescue from the Romans through the reign of Jesus were dashed. Many in the crowd on this day of jubilation would have been the very ones screaming for his blood just a few days later. He did not come to bring about an earthly revolution against a human oppressor. His work was far greater—the eradication of the effects of sin on God’s whole creation. He may have been the king they needed, but he was not the king they wanted!
Jesus’ work was to make possible the restoration of a relationship between humanity and God. As his followers, we are called upon to continue what he started, but too often we have adopted the wrong-headed notions of the ancient Jewish people…wanting revenge on our enemies, vindication of our way of life, a chance to be given the upper hand over those who do not accept God’s truth…or at least our version of it.
Sometimes we get in the way…
“The Chosen,” a current television series on the life of Jesus, combined two accounts of Jesus’ reception by the Samaritans into one episode to highlight how his disciples still didn’t understand the kind of king Jesus had come to be. We, too, often suffer from the same misunderstanding.
ARE WE GETTING IN THE WAY?
John 4:39-42 – “39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Luke 9:51-56 - “51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up* ?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.* 56 So they went on to another village.”
The Chosen – “The Sons of Thunder are Born” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enwt-3kQsu4
Do we ever get in the way of Jesus’ message? Do we ever feel the need to rally to Jesus’ defense? Like John and James, too often our knee jerk reaction is to go on the attack when we feel our ‘rights’ have been infringed on or when we feel disrespected or when others demonstrate a lack of good moral judgment and behaviour.
However, by doing so, we resemble the Sons of Thunder, James and John, who Jesus rebuked and not the One we are to look like. We are called to discern right from wrong, to use wisdom and “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord, always prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). And not just when people are being nice, but when you are being disrespected, being made fun of and even persecuted…so says Peter.
Why can we not see the problem with the picture of a ‘humble king of peace’ riding on a donkey in front of an angry crowd of followers waving placards, spewing hatred, condemning and judgmental of all outsiders? And to be clear, I am talking about Christians.
Love wins over people…not hatred.
And love is precisely our job…not condemnation and judgement. That’s God’s job.
Not even convincing or transforming. That’s also God’s job.
Paul did instruct the Corinthians to judge the Christian who was living in direct disobedience to God’s laws by living with his father’s wife as his own; judge those within the body, but leave those outside of the Church to God’s judgement.
Our job is to become like Jesus, to so fully embrace the truths of God, to exercise complete humility and submission to him, to mirror his compassion and kindness for others to such a degree, that our lives irresistibly cause others to want to know more, to recognize that we have something they do not have. God wants us to scatter the seeds of the Good News, but they will never take root as long as we don’t help to soften people’s receptivity to us through transparency, honesty and caring relationships.
I want to close by telling you a story of an interaction I had this week with a man who came by to Hope Chapel. On Friday morning when I came into the church building, I noticed a bike leaned up against the wheelchair ramp at the back of the building. When I checked the security camera to figure out which student I needed to talk to about not parking their bike at the church, I discovered another story altogether. Turns out it was left by a gentleman roughly my age, who I have seen a couple of times throughout the winter. Given what I observed on the camera, I decided to bring the bike in and see if he came back to get it. He did. I assured him that the bike was safe, but I had some concerns about it being stolen (given the events recorded on the security footage). He assured me it was his and I invited him in. During the course of getting his bike, I was able to confirm he had been the individual I had seen previously and invited him to come into our Community Cupboard for other items he might need. Rather than being scolded, he left with five bags of needed clothing, footwear and food, having been treated more kindly than I could tell he is accustomed to. He is rough around the edges; there is evidence of addiction; I’m not convinced he isn’t fencing bikes; but my job was to show care and not get in the way of Jesus reaching him. No, we are not to turn a blind eye to sin, we are to use discernment and discretion, and we are not to enable people. But we are also not to judge or condemn; we are called to tangibly demonstrate the love of God to all others. If this gentleman came to our church gathering, he would not ‘fit in’…but as Jesus’ representatives on earth, he should feel welcomed and cared for.
If Jesus is who he claims to be, if he truly is our Prince of Peace and the King of kings, we need to prove it. We too are to be ambassadors of peace. As the body of Christ, he is the life source that flows through our veins—our every action, thought and attitude should be reflective of the One who is our head!
References and for further study / inspiration…
“Crown Him with Many Crowns” – The Village Chapel Worship Team - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0cMGey6n1E
“Why Did Jesus Ride a Donkey on His Triumphant Entry” - https://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/why-did-christ-ride-a-donkey-on-his-triumphant-entry/
Friday, April 15, 2022 @ 10am – Community Good Friday Service at New Life BIC (Anyone wishing to help out should speak with Pastor Jane)
Sunday, April 17, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Ascending as God” – Easter Sunday In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!