How many of you like to travel? Sometimes, going on trips is exciting, isn’t it? And when most people travel, they do not plan on being gone for long, and even so, when they get to where they are going, the first thing they do is unpack their belongings and find places to put them.
When I travel, I do not unpack everything, because why unpack it if you are not sure if you are actually going to use it, right? Besides that, when it’s time to go home, most of my things are already packed and it saves me a lot of time that way.
I do not put much focus on short trips because I know I will not be there long enough to make much difference in things. I choose to put most of my focus on where I will be the longest amount of time. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
So, no matter how long we might be upon this earth; 50-years, 70-years, or even longer, we aren’t going to overly focus on this life because, compared to eternity, this life is no longer than a weekend trip.
We started off talking about trips, and since this is Palm Sunday, we should talk about a trip the Lord Jesus once took. It was down the side of a mountain and He made that trip riding on a donkey.
He had just left Jericho where he had dinner at Zacchaeus’s home, and then left there on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The last part of that trip was his riding the donkey down the path from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem.
And as He rode that donkey down that mountain, His followers lined both sides of the path and put down palm branches and coats in front of Him as a way of celebrating and praising Jesus. But just five short days later, those same people were screaming to have Jesus crucified and killed.
This trip, called “the Triumphal Entry” demands our undivided attention, because it turned out to be the most expensive trip ever taken and it impacted the world more than any other trip before or since. Jesus knew full well where He was going. He also knew fully what that trip was going to cost Him. But He chose to take it anyway. Let’s find out why.
Jesus was going to celebrate Passover, which every Jew did every year. Let’s get into the Word and start reading what the Scripture says about this trip.
LUKE 19:29-31 KJV, describes Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem –29 “And it came to pass, when He was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called Olives, He sent two of His disciples. 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: lose him, and bring him hither; 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him, Because the Lord hath need of him.”
CONTINUING IN LUKE 19:32-35 KJV;
32 “And they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.”
HE RODE AS THE PRINCE OF PEACE
We are seeing here the first glimpses of how God was orchestrating each step of this story. So, He could offer salvation to the world.
How did Jesus know there would be a young colt tied up in the town? How in the world could an owner of an expensive animal like the young donkey be okay with letting two strangers come up and walk off with it without questioning them or charging them?
And why a donkey instead of a horse or a camel? Actually, there is a clear explanation for each of these questions. First of all, Jesus knew about the donkey because He was also God. Secondly, the two men were influenced by the Holy Spirit to let the donkey go. Thirdly, it had to have been a donkey to show who Jesus was.
When a king rode into a town on a horse, it signified that he was their military king, their protector, and that he was ready to go to war with their enemy! However, if the king rode into town on a donkey, it showed him to be a king of peace, one who would focus on their peace and prosperity rather than their military might and power.
Jesus rode the donkey because He was the Prince of Peace, who came to save them, not to kill their enemies.
LUKE 19:36-38 KJV
“36 As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “And blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
HE RODE WITH A HEART FOR THE CITY
The people celebrated, partly because it was the time of Passover and so it was a very festive mood there in Jerusalem, but also because they were glad they finally had a king who would deal with their Roman enemies. Oh, how they praised and celebrated Him.
The Latin meaning of “celebration” means to display joyful feelings of happiness. The Latin meaning of “passion” means to have deep suffering.
First, We See Jesus’ Love And Compassion.
Jesus says, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:42 KJV). In these words, Jesus reveals the reason for His tears: love and compassion. As He looks upon the crowd with their shouts of joy, He knows they don’t get it.
They are looking for a King who would lead the Jews in revolution against the Romans and bring freedom, peace and prosperity. And His heart is broken because they had failed to recognize their long awaited Messiah, the One they had prayed for and longed for and His true purpose.
So, as He approaches the city, Jesus delivers a Message of Love warning the people of the city: “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:43-44 KJV).
The judgment Jesus was talking about was the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem that would come 40 years later in 70 AD.
The Romans laid siege to the city, built a retaining wall around it so no one could escape and then constructed a ramp of earthen dirt to scale the 39 foot tall wall of the Temple mount. They used a battering ram to knock down the walls and then stormed the city and completely leveled it to the ground as they set it on fire, killing everyone whom they could not sell into slavery. The people did not listen to Jesus.
What’s interesting is that there was another prophet named Zechariah who arrived in the city of Jerusalem in 63 AD and preached for several years the destruction of the Temple and city but still the people did not listen! And so, Jesus weeps over the city because His heart is broken. He offers them spiritual salvation but all they want to do is take physical salvation or freedom into their own hands. What moved Jesus on that day was love and compassion.
Second, We See Jesus’ Grief.
In both circumstances where Jesus weeps, we see His grief. In the first, it’s when He encounters the grief of Mary and Martha and their family and friends over the loss of Lazarus and Jesus is deeply moved. When those close to us hurt, we hurt. And our God hurts.
In our text, Jesus looks upon the crowd and experiences this deep sense of loss over what could have been in their lives. They had the Messiah in their midst and they knew Him not nor did they understand Him. Have you been there before? When you grieved over what could have been, if only you had said something different, done something different, or if the circumstances had been different?
This passage not only allows us to see Jesus’ grief but know that Jesus understands our grief because He has experienced it Himself. Psalm 34:18 KJV says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Our God doesn’t stand at a distance, but steps down into our story.
God knows our pain, weeps with us and not only suffers with us, but on our behalf. God knows our pain, He knows what a mess our lives are, and He knows how much we need His grace and strength. God grieves over how we often misunderstand His will and purposes, how we are blind to His work in our lives and He grieves over the sin in our lives. Even in our blindness and rebellion, He walks beside us.
So, let me ask you a question, “Have you wept over your city?” When you look at your city, do you see only your little secure corner, or do you see the city and its crime, the struggling educational system, the homeless living on the streets, the children who go hungry and those living in poverty. Do you look at the spiritual condition of your city which is reflected in the declining moral fabric as seen in its crime and violence and how people treat one another daily? Do you see the churches closing and the empty pews and weep?
As much as I love the city of Everett, Washington, I must admit that it is a broken place. Many of us don’t live in the city proper. Instead, we live in the suburbs. Some people moved here out of the city to escape the problems of violent crimes, prostitution, and drugs. But the problems that once were confined to the city proper are now a part of the suburban communities. And know this, how the city of Everett goes, so goes the suburban communities. Do you weep over your city? As for me, I weep over my city.
What caused the people of Israel to go from loving and honoring Jesus to hating Him and wanting Him killed in just five days? They just didn’t understand why He was there in the first place.
He had come to offer forgiveness for their sins and to offer Himself as the One who would pay the price for them. They could not understand this. All they seemed to understand is that He turned out not to be their military king, and therefore He was of no use for them. And when the leaders began wanting Him killed, they joined forces with them and yelled, “Crucify Him!”
And that day God had anointed to reveal His Son’s true nature to mankind. The hatred had to happen so the Cross could happen. And the Cross had to happen so the Resurrection could happen.
And through this Blessed Resurrection, God has given His children the knowledge that since Christ could overcome death, we can overcome it, too. Maybe not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.
Remember how I opened this message by talking about trips, and I said that compared to eternity, this earthly life is nothing more than a quick weekend trip? That is why we put our focus, our love, and our hope on the eternal rather than the physical.
And that is why our eternal life is so much more important than our physical lives.
Next Sunday is Easter Sunday; a time when we honor our Lord and what He means to us. It is a holy time. Yet, even for believers, what will most of us be doing? Instead of going to church, most of us will plan nice backyard barbecues and Easter egg hunts, or if we do go to church, it will be to satisfy that twice a year tradition of getting dressed up and going to a church service.
And just as quickly as it is over, we forget about it until we start the same process all over again next year. Somehow, I do not think this is what the Lord wants or how He would want us to remember what He did for us.
There is an old saying: “Since Jesus was willing to die for us, shouldn’t we be willing to live for Him?” Somehow, I think we would be much better off in every way if we would just pay honest tribute to the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords. And then to fashion our lives after Him the rest of the year and every year for the rest of our lives. Amen!