A New Kind of Messiah
RUMC 20 March 2016
The Academy Awards, or the Oscars, is the most famous of all film award festivals in the world. This televised event takes place every year in the 3400 seat Kodak Theater in Beverly Hills. But what makes the Academy Awards so unique is the special red carpet. I am told it takes two days for workmen to install the 10,000 pounds of carpeting in the theatre. Stored in 300 pound rolls, it is cut and glued to perfection so no one trips or falls. This year when the Academy Awards was held on Sunday, February 28, all the movers and shakers of the film industry were present as they walked down the red carpet in front of television cameras and hundreds of paparazzi and fans.
In our bible text, the people of Jerusalem rolled out their version of the red carpet in the form of palm branches and clothing; they did this to honor Christ. Although this event took place 2000 years ago, we continue to honor Christ when we keep his word in our hearts and do those things to help others in their time of need.
My text is Matthew 21:1-11.
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
This is the Word of God.
In the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, he and his disciples had left the tiny village of Bethany and began their 5 mile walk into Jerusalem. Just before they approached the next village of Bethphage, a suburb of Jerusalem, our Lord sent two of his disciples to find a young donkey for him to ride, which they did.
As Jesus was about to enter the city, the people along the way began to spread their clothing on the ground, waved palm branches, and shouted the following.
- Hosanna (God Saves)
- Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. (Greeting given by pilgrims when in Jerusalem)
- Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. (Acknowledge Jesus is Messiah)
- Hosanna in the Highest Heaven.
As our Lord rode on a donkey through the Eastern Gate so long ago, he came as a messenger of peace, unlike the kings of his day on their horses and chariots. But when Jesus came as the prophetic Prince of Peace, he came as one who would conquer the spiritual hearts of the people. I don’t know if you realize it, but in each one of us is a spiritual vacuum that needs to be filled, and Jesus is the answer to that void. For many in this congregation, that vacuum has already been filled. This is confirmed in John 10:10 when Jesus said.
John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and more abundantly.”
There is a legend or a fable about a king who was about to pay a royal visit to an ancient village in Spain. This was the first time a king had come for such a visit to this little community and of course the people were excited. Local officials had decided that a big celebration was in order and since many of the villagers had made their own wine, they asked everyone to bring a bottle of their own wine to the town square. The plan was to have the king to draw wine out of the vat, so when he tastes it, this wine will be the very best he’s ever tasted. So all the town’s people did as instructed and they poured their individual produced bottles of wine into the vat.
When the important day arrived, the king was escorted to the town square, given a silver cup, and told to draw some wine, which represented the best produced in the region. The king placed the cup under the spigot, turned the handle, filled his cup and began to drink.
But to his shock and amazement, it was water. You see, every villager had reasoned, “I’ll withhold my best wine and substitute it with water.” They figured with so many bottles of wine, the king would never know the difference. But the problem was that everyone thought the same thing and in the end, the king was greatly dishonored.
The moral of this story is that the people who were supposed to give their best, failed in the end. In the spiritual realm, we honor Christ, when we give our best with our lives, our prayers, our giving and our service. And when we do that, He is pleased. That is what Palm Sunday is all about.
When Jesus rode the donkey through the Eastern Gate on that first Palm Sunday:
- He came as a messenger of peace.
- He came as David’s greater son.
- He came as a suffering servant bringing salvation to all who want the truth.
- He came as the vice regent of God on earth.
- He came as the Mediator between God and man.
And that is the God we serve.
Philippians 2:9-11. Therefore God also highly exalted Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
In this, the church age, we honor Christ in our worship. As an extension of our faith, we honor Christ through those things we do to help in the lives of others. When we do this, it is like we are waving palm branches as we honor and exalt the name of Christ. And someday when we see our Lord face to face, we will honor him as well.
Let me close. For those Academy Award winners and guests who had the privilege to walk on that special red carpet on Feb 28, it must have been a memorable evening, but for all intents and purposes, it was an event that came and went. And with the exception of some controversy, it will soon be forgotten. .
On the other hand, the first Palm Sunday will always be remembered, because of the simplicity of the way Jesus rode on a borrowed donkey to the shouts of people who waved palm branches.
When we receive this palm, think of it as a symbol of Christ’s death but also of his ultimate victory and how he reigns in our hearts. It is a reminder that someday, he will come back and rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lord. But until that day, we need to continue to honor him in our hearts and lives.