Righteous Worship – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry
INTRODUCTION: PALM SUNDAY
Today marks the anniversary of Palm Sunday. We call it Palm Sunday because Jerusalem’s people came out to meet Jesus on the road from Bethpage leading into Jerusalem waving palm branches. It takes place on the first day of the Jewish week celebrating Passover. It is the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion.
It is springtime, and the atmosphere is festive. During Passover in Jerusalem, the population grows five to six times and reaches as many as 150,000 people. For the Jews to spend Passover in Jerusalem is like us having Easter Sunrise Service next to the grave where Jesus is buried.
Palm Sunday also marks the last week of Jesus’ ministry. He spends His evenings in Bethany and travels the two miles into Jerusalem during the daytime. A large crowd accompanies Jesus. He is a huge celebrity. Everybody is talking about all the signs and wonders that He has done. In the town of Bethany, where He is staying, Jesus calls Lazarus from the tomb. It is no small event.
Jerusalem is all abuzz because of Passover, but more so because of Jesus. John’s Gospel tells us that in the temple courtyards people are saying to one another, “What do you think; do you think that Jesus will come to the feast?” (John 11:56).
It’s the perfect storm for something to happen! It’s springtime. We are in THE center of Judaism, Jerusalem, for a week-long party to celebrate Passover. We can almost smell the lamb on the BBQ.
The people can’t wait to see what Jesus will do next. The miracles of Elijah are nothing compared to the signs and wonders of Jesus. The Israelites have not seen anything like Jesus since the days of Moses.
The focus of today’s sermon is worship. Not just any worship, but righteous worship. Righteous worship is worship that is pleasing, acceptable, and right in the eyes of God.
Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that God is seeking worshippers who worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23). Righteous worship is done with a heart filled with spirit and truth.
True worship knows what is valuable. We gather on Sundays to sing about Jesus because He is worthy. We proclaim true things about Him as we sing. He is our treasure. When we worship Jesus, it is righteous in the eyes of God.
It is possible to worship Jesus for the wrong reasons. There are some people in the world that worship Jesus, but their reasons are not pleasing to God. In Mark chapter 11, he writes about people who worship Jesus as He enters into the city. We know that some of these people who worship on Sunday will cry out to crucify Jesus on Friday. Not all people worship Jesus in spirit and truth.
If we want to do what is right in the eyes of God, and I know that we do, we need to worship Jesus for the right reasons. There are three reasons to worship Jesus that we see in Mark’s Gospel.
• It is righteous to worship Jesus as a gift sent from God.
• It is righteous to worship Jesus as Lord of lords.
• It is righteous to worship Jesus as a loving Savior.
IT IS RIGHTEOUS TO WORSHIP JESUS AS A GIFT SENT FROM GOD
It is righteous to worship Jesus as a gift sent from God.
Mark’s narrative of Palm Sunday begins by describing how Jesus has His disciples fetch a donkey for Him to ride into Jerusalem. He tells two of His disciples to go into the opposite village, find a colt that has never been sat upon, untie it, and bring it here. If anyone asks why they are doing that, say, ‘The Lord needs it.’
Everything Jesus does is for a purpose, including riding a donkey. Jesus performs miracles to validate His authority. John the Baptist asks Jesus, “Are you the one?” and Jesus responds, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5). Jesus deliberately, perfectly, and obediently works according to the plan designed by His Father.
Jesus asks for His disciples to get the colt as part of the plan. He is fulfilling a prophecy written 500 years earlier by the Prophet Zechariah, who wrote the Messiah will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
The disciples are unaware of Jesus’ deliberate action to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah. It is not until after the resurrection that they realize the fulfillment of prophecy (John 12:16). For 4000 years, God communicates to us His plan of salvation. We have specific details about the way He will deliver His people and save us from sin. During the revealing of His plan, God records 300+ prophecies about the Messiah.
It is as if God is saying, I am sending you a special gift, My Son. Don’t miss Him. You can know I am giving you My Son because I will give you signs so you may be sure it is Him. He is the Messiah. See? That’s Him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
We take this little piece of information about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and combine it with all the other prophecies about the Messiah. Yup! There is our gift of God’s beloved Son!
God wants us to recognize the Messiah, so we listen to Him and put our faith in Him. He wants us to receive Jesus as His valuable gift. God so loved the world that He gave us His Son. All who receive Him receive eternal life.
Look at the elaborate and intricate detailed descriptions of how to recognize the Messiah. Look at His lineage, place, and circumstance of His birth, His forerunner John the Baptist, the miracles, the betrayal by Judas for 20 pieces of silver, and over 300 more prophecies of Jesus life and ministry. It is upon these details we may establish our faith.
The window of opportunity for anyone to fulfill any of the Bible’s Messianic prophecy is closed. The prophecy dictates that the Messiah’s time is when second Temple is in Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple is the first Temple. Herod’s Temple, the one during the time of Jesus, is the second Temple. It is destroyed in 70 AD.
The history of mankind consists of billions of people. Only one person may be the Messiah. Do you see Him? If you do, know that it is righteous to worship Jesus because He is a gift to us sent by God.
IT IS RIGHTEOUS TO WORSHIP JESUS AS LORD OF LORDS
It is righteous to worship Jesus as Lord of lords.
The people of Judea treat Jesus and welcome Him like a King. People put their coats in the road (imagine letting a donkey walk on your coat). Along with their coats, they spread leafy branches on the road (which is why it is called Palm Sunday).
The people are right in worshipping Jesus as a King (even if they do so for the wrong reasons). If Jesus were to come to Plainfield, we should do the same. It is righteous to worship Jesus as King (Lord).
The people call out, Hosanna, which in Hebrew is hoshiya na, meaning, “save please.” They are quoting from Psalm 118 (Psalm 118:25-26). It is not surprising they quote this Psalm because it is one of the Psalms sung every Passover.
What do we want a king to do? A good king saves his people from tyranny and oppression. A good king fights battles and wages wars against all enemies. David was a good king. He defeated the enemies of Israel and brought peace and prosperity to the land.
Jesus encourages people to see Him as a King. Throughout His ministry, Jesus refers to Himself frequently as the Son of Man. It is from the book of Daniel.
“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Jesus is a King over all kings. He is Lord of lords. Every person of every tribe and language will have Jesus as Lord. No enemy is powerful enough to destroy Jesus kingdom. His is everlasting and will not pass away.
We need the King described in Daniel. We need a King who is good for every people, nation, and language. We need a King who will be King forever, not just for a few years. We need a King who can stand under any attack without being destroyed. We need a King who fights our greatest enemies.
Throughout the history of mankind, people have thought our greatest enemies are men or nations. People today think the greatest enemy is a pandemic, climate change, or a bad economy. These things are not our greatest enemies. Our greatest enemies are sin and death. We need a King who can conquer sin and death.
Jesus is victorious because He does not fight with swords, bullets, or bombs. He doesn’t use science or education, or political clout. Jesus conquers evil with love. His weapons are holiness, humility, and obedience. Jesus is the King of glory who is mighty in battle and conquerors our greatest enemies and His victory is everlasting.
Jesus disarms the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places and makes a public display of them, having triumphed over them on the cross. The last enemy Jesus conquers is death. He wins the battle against death by walking out of the grave with life everlasting.
All the angels of heaven worship Jesus as Lord. It is righteous for us to join in on their worship.
IT IS RIGHTEOUS TO WORSHIP JESUS AS LOVING SAVIOR
The third reason why it is righteous to worship Jesus is that He is our loving Savior.
Mark finishes his commentary on Jesus’ triumphal entry with this sentence.
Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the Temple, and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. (Mark 11:11)
The Temple is very, very big. It sits at the main entrance from the road to Jericho. It is a magnificent structure that is the size of about 15% of the city.
Mark doesn’t tell us why Jesus enters the Temple. Perhaps He is thinking about His upcoming sacrifice Friday, and He knows everything is coming to an end.
Jesus is in Jerusalem for a specific reason. On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus tells His disciples what will happen when they arrive.
They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” (Mark 10:32-34)
Here Jesus stands. He made it. His work is almost finished. Today, Sunday, He sees priests and scribes walking in the Temple courtyard. On Friday, He will be delivered into their hands and condemned to death.
The priests in the Temple on Sunday will be out of a job after Friday. On Friday, Jesus will become the one and only High Priest who will intercede for the saints before God’s mercy seat in heaven.
Jesus looks at the beautiful stone walls of the Temple, knowing its purpose is coming to an end. After Friday, there is no use for a Temple structure. There is no use for Temple sacrifices. Jesus will make one everlasting, perfect sacrifice on Friday. Jesus’ sacrifice is not offered at the Temple. It will take place outside the city walls.
After Friday, the Holy of holies in the Temple will no longer be where God meets with men. The veil at the entrance of the Holy of Holies is split from top to bottom. The symbolic separation between man and God is torn forever. After Friday, if anyone wants to meet with God, the way to do so is by Jesus. Jesus is the mediator between God and man. He is the Way, Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father except by Jesus.
The Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus is in Jerusalem to give His blood as a sacrifice for sins. Jesus gives a perfect sacrifice because He lives a perfect, sinless life. He is the perfect High Priest, who takes His blood and sprinkles it on the altar before God in heaven.
Jesus brings a New Covenant with His blood sacrifice. The Mosaic Covenant is nailed to the cross, and a New Covenant takes its place.
The most amazing truth about Jesus’ sacrifice is His motivation for allowing Himself to die. Jesus is a loving Savior. He doesn’t give His life because it is His duty; His motivation is love. Later in the week, Jesus will say to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
It is righteous to worship Jesus because He is our loving Savior.
Luke’s Gospel tells us when Jesus approached Jerusalem, He sees the city and weeps. He weeps because the people do not know what is taking place before their eyes. The people are crying out for salvation, but it is not the salvation He provides. They want a kingdom, but not His kingdom.
They want to be free from the slavery of the Romans, and He seeks to save them from the slavery of their sin. Jesus said that the things which make for peace are hidden from their eyes (Luke 19:41-42). These same people who cry for Him to be King will call to release Barabbas.
Those who worship Jesus righteously worship Him in truth. We worship Him as a gift sent from God. We worship Him as Lord of lords. He is mighty in battle and defeats our greatest enemies. We worship Jesus as Savior. We cry out to Jesus, “hoshiya na, save us, please.” We worship Jesus as our loving Savior.