Peninsula Community Church
Triumphant Entry – Jesus Showed Up!
March 25, 2018
Matthew 21:1-9 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!”
I love this time of year! For one, I love March Madness. One reason I do is the way the NCAA handles their basketball tournament. Every year they include teams that would not be considered under other circumstances. This allows teams that are not very strong on paper to play those who are much stronger. We have seen this played out this year when the sixteenth seeded team UMBC (University Maryland Baltimore County) beat UVA (University of Virginia) the number one seeded team. The tournament was stunned by the win by UMBC and more stunned by the loss of UVA. This was the first time a sixteen seed team beat a number one seeded team. Because of the many upsets they say as of the second round, of this year’s tournament, every bracket has been busted.
The triumphal entry of Christ reminds me of March madness in the sense that the unthinkable occurred. This man, who came as the Savior of the world, showed up not as a warrior, as some had hoped for. He did not show up as a King, as the Jews had wished. He showed up, but in a totally different way than anyone ever thought or had believed He would. In some people’s minds, Christ was a sixteenth seed who did not have a chance to win, but He did and that is the beauty of this story. He showed up! He gave Himself! And by the way, He won the tournament!
The steps taken by Jesus were somewhat strange, but it was all in the design of God and a part of His plan. Jesus asked the disciples to go into the town and get a donkey for Him. He told them where they would find it and what they would say when they found it. The disciples obeyed and found the donkey tied up and as instructed they asked the owner to loan it to them, which he did.
For some, this seemed to be strange, but as Jesus did so often, He wanted to communicate the truth of the Gospel in a purposeful way and in a way we would never forget. He was specific in His choice of a donkey rather than a white steed. He chose not only a donkey, but this was a fold of a donkey, so in essence, He rode an untrained, unbroken donkey baby. It symbolized two things: humility and peace. The very act of riding the donkey was amazing as you cannot ride an animal before it is broken. This is especially true of a baby donkey that is to be ridden through a yelling crowd! Humanly speaking, no rider could do this, but Jesus showed up and in the midst of all of this, an unbroken young animal remains totally calm under the hands of the Messiah who controls nature, and stills the storm.
First, the donkey was symbolic of humility. As we know in reading about Christ, we find that Christ’s entire life was characterized by humility. He was known as being meek and lowly. He stated. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29). While most people confuse meekness with weakness, that is not the character of Christ. Rather than weakness, meekness is in reality strength under control. His act of entering the city was just that, it was an act of strength under incredible control. He could have rushed into the city with proclamations of His greatness, but He chose instead to enter the city with humility. He could have overcome the opposition with a word, but He chose instead to walk out the events of the next week without anger or revenge.
Secondly, the donkey resonated the symbolism of peace. When a warrior would return from battle He would normally ride a grand horse and would be followed by a processional of soldiers as well as prisoners in chains. This would symbolize the victory and battle won, but instead of a steed Jesus came riding on a donkey which was a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Jesus showed up. He came. He came with humility and He came in peace.
It is noteworthy that some have suggested that this act by Jesus was no accident. Historians have suggested that as Christ was entering Jerusalem, Caesar was arriving back into town with his own triumphant entry, but his looked so different. He rode a steed with a large army following him and behind them was the mass of enemy soldiers that had been captured. While Caesar came into town with the fanfare of a warrior, Jesus came with the fanfare of a servant. Christ rode this colt and those around Him began to honor Him by placing their coats on the donkey and then proceeded to throw their coats and palms before Him. They began to shout Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
As awesome as this was, there was some problems. The problem is that they were worshipping Him for all of the wrong reasons. Many of those in the group had a mob mentality rather than a personal acceptance of who Christ is. Many in the crowd wanted a super champion. They wanted a king to rule them. They wanted a warrior to fight for them. The problem was that they were projecting onto Jesus what kind of God they wanted, but that has never been effective. Rather than trying to recreate and reinvent God, we must surrender to who He is already. He is God and that does not change. He showed up, but not as a King or a warrior. He showed up as a servant, ready to give himself on their behalf.
Like the crowd, we can celebrate Jesus for the wrong reasons. We can try to pigeon hole Jesus into our vision of who He should be and what He should do. When He does not live up to our expectations, we hold that against Him. We can turn against Him, as the crowd did, when He does not live up to our expectations. Remember one week He was being praised, four days later He was rejected and there were calls to crucify Him.
He showed up! He showed us the way of victory. He did not come to fight the war we wanted him to fight, but to fight the war that we did not even know we were in. And so, we call this the triumphant entry of Jesus, not because He came and conquered nations and empires, but because He came and conquered sin and death. He showed up in all of his humility to bring peace, not from a military or political perspective, but from the soul. He showed up to give us life, eternal life with Him.
He still shows up today to lead us in triumphant processional as found in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
He still shows up today in the most interesting places. He shows up on our job, in our home, our car, our schools, and more. He shows up in our need and desperateness. He did it then and He still does it now. He shows up to change our lives. He shows up to make a difference in us. He shows up to conquer death and all sin in us.
There is an action on our part that is required. If we are going to trust God with our lives, we must receive Him for who He is, and not what we project Him to be or want Him to be. Perhaps we need to get off our high horse, and get onto our donkey. Instead of pride and arrogance, we need to humble ourselves in peace. To do so, we have to move away from fame and power, and move towards service. We have to step away from self-centeredness, and move to treating others how we would want to be treated. It means we choose humility over arrogance. Gentleness over violence. Generosity over greed. And then, we will begin to change.
When we are riding a donkey, it becomes much easier to not take ourselves so seriously, to laugh at ourselves, to honestly evaluate our brokenness, to find rest from trying to constantly prove ourselves as powerful and worthy. When we step down from our high horse, and onto our donkey, we relinquish our entitlements, our preferences, and our selfish desires. What entitlements can we hold on to, if Jesus, as the King of the World, gave them all up. He showed up and He still does today. Do you see Him? Has He shown up for you?
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom