Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sermon: Luke 19: 28-44 The Coming King

Knock knock. - who’s there? Cows go - cows go who?
No, cows go ‘moo’.

Knock knock - who’s there? Little old lady - little old lady who? I didn’t know you could yodel!

Knock knock - who’s there? Etch - etch who? Bless you!

Knock knock - who’s there? Boo - boo who? There’s no need to cry, it’s just a joke!

I love a good knock knock joke - maybe if you have a good one (better than mine) you can tell me after the service. But the idea behind a knock knock joke is really simple. Someone is arriving at the door. The person inside asks ‘Who’s there?’ Then the person tells them who it is.

Someone arrives, people ask who’s there: who is it, the person tells them.

Our Bible reading today is a bit like a knock knock joke. Someone is arriving, people are wondering who it is, and then he tells them. Only, there isn’t a door the person is arriving at - it’s a city, the city of Jerusalem. So who are they? ‘Who’s there?’

The person is Jesus, but in the story we’re told three things about Jesus - who Jesus is, who’s there, at the entrance to the city.

Now, today is Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem before his death on the cross on Good Friday, this coming Friday. And if you know how Family Fortunes works, what would be the top answers for things linked to Palm Sunday?

You might expect palm leaves to be high on the list. (Luke doesn’t mention them - like something that happens, different people remember different things, and Luke’s witnesses don’t mention the palms that John mentions). Definitely high on the list would be the animal - the donkey, or in the word used in the reading, the colt.

We’re told that when Jesus comes near two villages just before Jerusalem, he sends two disciples to go and bring a donkey to him. We’ll see why in a wee moment, but for now, look at what they’re told to say when they are untying the donkey - ‘The Lord needs it.’ Jesus is first of all, the Lord. He’s the one in charge, the ruler of the universe, Lord of all. Yet he needs a donkey.

When the donkey is brought to him, Jesus gets on it. Some have put their cloaks (coats) on the donkey for him to sit on, others put their cloaks on the road, like a red carpet when the Queen arrives.

So they move along the road, until they come to the Mount of Olives. The road goes down the valley, and rising in front is the city of Jerusalem. The disciples ‘began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.’ They had seen the blind man given his sight; lepers cleansed; lame men walking; deaf men hearing; even the dead raised to life. They sing and shout. And look at what they say:

‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ They’re answering the knock knock by saying that Jesus is the king, who comes in the name of the Lord, on God’s behalf. That’s why Jesus was riding on the donkey. He was acting out the promise of Zechariah 9:9; he was saying that he was the true king of Israel, coming in peace.

Now some in the crowd didn’t like what the disciples were singing. They thought that the disciples were wrong to call Jesus king. They didn’t see Jesus as Lord or king, they just saw him as a Teacher. They say: ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ Tell your class to be quiet! Tell them to stop saying these silly things!

But do you see what Jesus says? ‘I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ Jesus says the very stones would shout out if the disciples were silent. Have you ever heard a stone shouting? Me neither. But Jesus says that if everyone was silent, if everyone stopped singing God’s praise, then the stones would cry out.

Now why is that? Why would the stones shout out? Remember what we’ve seen so far? Jesus is the Lord; Jesus is the king. But Jesus is more than both of those.

As Jesus rides along, you’d think he would be happy. He has a big crowd of people cheering him along, singing praise to God. He is coming as the true king, and Lord. Surely this is a happy moment. But look at verse 41. Jesus is crying, weeping. He’s sad. He sees the city, and he bursts into tears.

Why is this? Well, Jesus knows what is about to happen. He knows that even though everyone is cheering for him today, welcoming him as king, in just a few days everyone will turn against him. They’ll not cry out ‘hosanna’ any more. Instead, they’ll cry ‘crucify.’ They’ll want to get rid of Jesus.

Jesus is coming to bring peace, and if they accepted him, they would have peace. But instead they reject him. They don’t want to know him. And in the end, that will lead to trouble. The city will fall, enemies coming against it, the whole thing destroyed.

Why will this happen? Look at v44. ‘They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’

Do you see what Jesus is saying here? He has said he is the Lord, he is the king, but now he is saying that he is... God. Jesus isn’t just a Teacher, as the Pharisees thought. Jesus isn’t just a good man, as some people think.

Knock knock - who’s there? Jesus, the Lord. Jesus, the King. Jesus, who is God. Jesus knocked on the door of Jerusalem, but they didn’t want him. They put him to death. They got rid of him.

Jesus comes to us as well, to this church, to our homes, to us as individuals. He knocks on the door of our hearts. Will we reject him, like Jerusalem, and want nothing to do with him?

Or will we welcome him in? Will we sing his praise? Do what he asks us? And receive the peace that only he can give, because he came, to live for us, and die for us.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Lord, King, God. Will you open the door and let him in?

This sermon was preached at the Church Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Palm Sunday 20th March 2016.

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