Sermon

John 12:01-19, “The Triumphal Entry in the Shadow of the Cross”

Palm Sunday, 14 April 2019

palm sunday images crosses. TODAY is PALM SUNDAY, let's go to church and hear the words of God. Holy Week na so repent from our sins. May he forgive us. God bless us all.

TEXT: John 12:1-19

ESV Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

I want to speak to you today about the Triumphal Entry in the Shadow of the Cross.

PRAYER

We come to Palm Sunday with a sense of rejoicing. This morning, around the world, Christians are remembering Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Some churches will re-enact the procession. Many churches will use palm branches to symbolize Christ’s coming. It is appropriate that we should remember this event, for this is the beginning of Holy Week, leading up to the cross and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the time of his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus had been ministering in Israel for about three years. From the beginning of his ministry, he had been controversial. On the one hand, there seemed to be every reason to accept his ministry. He traveled throughout the towns and villages of Israel. He taught and preached about the kingdom of God. He healed the sick. He cleansed lepers. He opened the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind. He caused the lame to walk. More than once he multiplied a small lunch to feed thousands of hungry people. He cast out demons simply by his word. He even raised the dead back to life again. He taught in parables in such a way that the common people heard him gladly. “He does all things well!” they said.

But on the other hand, he was constantly in conflict with the religious authorities. They believed that it was their job to protect the traditions of the elders and to make sure that everyone followed their rules. These were rules that they had added to the Word of God. Jesus seemed to go out of his way to undermine their traditions. They said you were not allowed to do good works on the Sabbath, so Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. They said that some foods were not fit for Jewish consumption, but Jesus declared that all foods were clean. They were concerned about outward appearances. Jesus said that they had filthy hearts. He denounced them for their hypocrisy and abuse of the people.

But many of the common people thought that Jesus was wonderful. In fact, they said that he was the Messiah that God had promised. They called him the Son of David and the King of Israel. When they heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, they gathered in great numbers to welcome him.

ESV Jn. 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Palm branches were a sign of victory. Two hundred years before, Israel was under the domination of the Syrians. Antiochus Epiphanes IV had sacrificed a pig in the temple at Jerusalem and set up an idol on the altar. The Jewish brothers known as the Maccabees overthrew Syrian domination and cleansed the temple from idolatry. The Jews waved palm branches as a sign of praise and victory. But during the ministry of Jesus, Israel was still not a free nation. It was under the authority of the Roman Empire. A Roman governor by the name of Pilate had his headquarters in Jerusalem. Roman soldiers patrolled the streets of Jerusalem to maintain order and put down any revolt among the people.

Now Jesus is coming into Jerusalem. Waving their palm branches, the people cried out to him, “Hosanna! Save now!” And “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” “Save now!” they said. They wanted him to overthrow the Romans. They wanted him to set up his kingdom on earth. They wanted him to restore the kingdom to Israel.

You see, they had their plans. They had their agenda. They had their ideas about what the Messiah was supposed to do. Even the 12 that Jesus had chosen as apostles did not understand what he was doing. They completely failed to understand his mission. He told them on several occasions, but they just didn’t get it.

James and John wanted high positions in government. “Hey, Jesus, we want to sit on your right hand and on your left when you set up your kingdom!”

Judas was in it for the money. He thought that Jesus would make him rich. But he began to see that Jesus was not the kind of Messiah that he wanted, so he decided to make a deal with the religious authorities and get what money he could.

I wonder how many people today come to Jesus for all the wrong reasons? How many people start to follow him only to turn away because Jesus is not the kind of Messiah that they want?

Jesus is very clear about all this.

  • If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all.
  • If you want to be first, you must be last.
  • If you want to save you life, you must lose it for him.
  • If you want to follow him, you must deny yourself and take your cross.

Even the way that Jesus entered into Jerusalem indicated something about his kingship. He did not come riding on a war horse. He did not come to conquer foreign governments. He came riding on a young donkey, the symbol of an ambassador of peace. Jesus came the first time not as a conquering king but as the Prince of Peace.

ESV Jn. 12:14-16 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

The story of the Triumphal Entry overshadowed by the cross is surrounded by indications that Jesus had come to give his life.

In chapter 10, Jesus said that he would lay down his life:

ESV Jn. 10:11-18 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

A few verses later, he said, “I and the Father are one” (10:30).

ESV Jn. 10:31-33 ¶ The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.

Jesus was living in the shadow of the cross.

32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

That was not the first time the Jews had attempted to kill him, nor would it be the last. A few verses later,

ESV Jn. 10:39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

In the next chapter, John 11, Jesus announces to his disciples that he will return to Judea because received word about Lazarus.

ESV Jn. 11:8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”

ESV Jn. 11:16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus was living in the shadow of the cross.

When Jesus and the disciples arrive in Judea, Lazarus has been dead for four days, but Jesus calls the dead man back to life, showing that he is the resurrection and the life.

Many more believe in Jesus because they saw what he had done, but some reported it to the Pharisees.

ESV Jn. 11:47-53 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Jesus was living in the shadow of the cross. 

The Passover was near. The great feast when each family would sacrifice a lamb in memory of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. John the Baptist had already point to Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Six days before the Passover, a special dinner was given in honor of Jesus. Martha served. He brother, Lazarus, the one that Jesus had raised from the dead, was eating at the table next to Jesus!

ESV Jn. 12:9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

Martha’s sister, Mary, anointed Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume. When Judas complained about the extravagance, Jesus told Judas to leave her alone, that she had anointed him for his burial.

Jesus was living in the shadow of the cross.

ESV Jn. 12:10-11 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

In the next verses we read that the crowd had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem so they met him with palm branches and cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

ESV Jn. 12:17-19 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

In verse 20 we learn that among the crowd were some Greeks who had come to the feast to worship. They came to Philip and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

ESV Jn. 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Andrew was always bringing people to Jesus. He brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. He brought the boy with the five loaves and two fish to Jesus. Now he brings the Greeks to Jesus.

Jesus answers them and points to the cross:

ESV Jn. 12:23-24 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had already said that he would lay down his life for the sheep and that he had other sheep that were not of the Jewish fold:

ESV Jn. 10:15-16 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Now some of these other sheep, like you and me, were coming to the Good Shepherd.

ESV Jn. 12:27-33 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

Jesus was living in the shadow of the cross.

Just as Jesus lived his life in the shadow of the cross, so must we live our lives in the shadow of the cross:

ESV Jn. 12:25-26 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Before the resurrection of Christ, the cross was a shadow that the disciples could not see, but this side of the resurrection, the cross is the bright light that lights our path and shows us the way.

ESV Jn. 12:34-36 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

As believers today, we walk in the light of the cross.

Conclusion

The disciples and followers of Jesus celebrated his Triumphal Entry with palm branches and joyous shouts of “Hosanna! Save now! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” They did not know that the Triumphal Entry was overshadowed by the cross.

Today believers around the world celebrate the Triumphal Entry because of the cross and the resurrection of Christ. Jews and Gentiles alike have been born again because Jesus, the divine grain of wheat, fell into the ground and died that He might bear much fruit.

Today, Jews and Gentiles alike belong to the same flock because the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep.

Today believers around the world celebrate the Triumphal Entry with palm branches that will fade away. But we are looking forward to our eternal future that will never fade when we will be gathered together around the throne of God and of the Lamb, as we read in the Book of Revelation:

ESV Rev. 7:9-10 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

That is the Triumphal Entry that we are looking and longing for, even as we live our lives in the light of the cross.

See also “Gospel of John”:

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