Looking to Jesus Changes Our Vision

Looking to Jesus Changes Our Vision

That the inspiration of our thoughts may be true and all our ways truly righteous. Pour down your spirit, that we might be lifted up in your presence, that we might dwell in your righteousness and live forever bathed in your truth. We pray this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. This morning, you can see our scripture passage is John 12:12-21. One. Hear now the word of the Lord. The next day, the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 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. ‘ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s coat. ‘ His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered these things that had been written about him and had been done to him. 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.

The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they had heard he had done this sign. So the pharisees said to one another, You see that you are gaining nothing? ‘ ‘Look, the world has gone after him. ‘ Now, among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. And so these came to Philip, who was from Bethseda in Galilee, and they asked him, Sir, We wish to see Jesus. ‘ The word of our Lord. You may be seated. Let me pray for the preaching. Father, as my words are true to your word, may they be taken to heart. ‘ But if my word should stray from yours, may they be quickly forgotten. I pray this in the name and in the power of Jesus Christ. Amen. Well, in about the year 167 BC, Matiathus Macabes led a revolt. He had five sons, and they were all in. And after a while, through some small battles in which they surprised the Greeks, Antiochus sent 60,000 soldiers to crush this rebellion. However, with a superior knowledge of the terrain, this much smaller Jewish army of about 12,000 won battle after battle.

Finally, the decisive battle occurred in 165 just outside of the city of Jerusalem. After the victory, Judah Macabes led his victorious army into Jerusalem. He cleansed the temple, rededicated it, and opened it back for worship at the end of that year. That glorious victory, which the Jewish people celebrated. It brought about Hanukah as a tradition. It gave them freedom in worship and a measure of autonomy for about 40 years until the new power, the Roman Empire, Empire began to strip away at their rights. And around the turn of the millennium in Jesus’s day, the people were looking for a new deliverer, one who would finally overthrow Roman rule and usher in the kingdom. Our text this morning highlights the entry of that deliverer, the coming of the King and his entrance into the city of Jerusalem. And that was an entrance in which so many people in attendance had such profound expectations as they heard of and then saw the Anointed One beginning their journey, beginning his journey into Jerusalem. And yet I hope to show that the coming of the King takes our vision, our ideas of what Jesus was bringing, and turns it away from our personal objectives towards God’s global objective.

More specifically, our text shows that the coming king challenged their national vision as well as what they had been looking for, perhaps personally at a personal level, and instead turns their gaze outward to one of a world in need of redemption. Jerusalem, the center of the religious life of the Jew, was crowded in the week coming up to the Passover feast. The ancient historian Josephus claims that there might have been 2.7 7 million Jews in Jerusalem for the feast. That number is considered by recent scholars inflated, but even their numbers are near a million. In any case, Jerusalem was packed. And so when we read in verse 12 that a large crowd came, it is no stretch to imagine that that crowd was in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people lining the streets. They were interested in seeing Jesus. And there’s a question that John seems to anticipate, why did they want to come? Seems to answer it in verses 17 and 18. They had been with Jesus, some had, when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and they were hoping that Jesus would perform another sign. Several scholars note that who better to challenge and overthrow Roman rule than one who can raise the dead?

This seemed too good to be true. And as the rumors of Jesus’s arrival spread, the crowds flocked the roads to see him as a symbol of their expectation that he would bring relief from Roman impression as the new king of the Jews, many brought and waved palm branches. In addition to palms being a sign of victory, the palm branch had become a symbol of the Jews belonging beginning rather in the Maccabean Revolt. It was then after that, put on the Jewish coinage. In fact, in some measure of satire, after the Romans defeated Jerusalem, they began to include it on their coins as well. But perhaps Jesus would usher in this kingdom. That was what many were hoping as they began chanting, Hosanna or salvation. And in response from Psalm 118:26, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. It was a back and forth chant between the choir and the people of God. And yet, even as they began to see Jesus, if they had eyes to see, they might have realized that he was not coming to fulfill their national vision. He had much bigger plans. F. F. Bruce notes that as Christ, Raine established peace on Earth, it was inaugurated with a disarmment program.

Jesus was coming as a king, but he chose to be mounted on a donkey, not the warhorse. F. F. Bruce and others note that while royalty had ridden donkeys before. It was universally, it was to communicate peace, not war. And as Jesus journeyed towards Jerusalem, he accepts their acclamation and their praise. As a king, Jesus is comfortable receiving praise, and it is truly right to praise him. In fact, in Luke’s account of the triumphal entry, the rabbis who are listening to the praise, who understands what the people are saying. They ask Jesus, Rebuke your followers. Jesus remarks that if these are silent, the very stones would cry out. Creation knows her King and must give that king the praise that was due. The crowds were right in their praise, even if their expectation of a physical and political Messiah were mistaken. Many times, many Palm Sunday throughout our time in the military, we used palms to line the aisle like we’ve done. Other times, we all met outside and carried palms in in a great procession. Sometimes the palms were brought to the front and laid down on the altar. Thought it was curious when I was reading New Testament scholar, Kostenberger.

He notes that there’s an irony hear because the palms show the crowd’s misaligned expectations for Jesus. So he thought, Are we? And I began to wonder, Are we all Also bringing misaligned expectations for Jesus in our own lives. What a reign do we expect from Jesus in our life? I’m embarrassed to recall the many mistaken expectations that I’ve had of King Jesus in my life, where I’ve treated him much more like a personal genie than the king of Kings that he is. Jesus, his goals, his dreams, his purposes are so much bigger than mine. Our text shows that Jesus, he receives the praise, he receives the worship of his people, even while pursuing his purposes and not those misaligned national dreams of the assembled Jews. Among those assembled, we can also see that they were not only viewing Jesus’s entry in a national sense, but additionally, many came hoping for personal advantage or some dramatic experience. John alludes to this in verses 17 and 18, that the crowds had come because they had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. And throughout the gospel, John has referred to the crowds responding to Jesus’s signs. You would read in, for instance, John 2:11, that after Jesus had turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, we read in John that the disciples believed in him.

In chapter 4, Jesus interacts again with another group from Cana. But this time, Jesus remarks, Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. John 6:2, John 11, which speaks of Lazarus himself. There are similar occasions in which the crowds are consumed with wanting more signs. Even in our own chapter, a little later in chapter 12, John records this spectacular dialog that occurs between the Father in heaven, Jesus on earth, and the crowds who hear the Father’s voice as like thunder. They marvel at these events. But John writes in verse 37 of chapter 12, Though Jesus had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him. Hermann Ritterboh remarks, They had come to see signs, and this is as far as their faith went. I’m reminded of the parable of the sower whose seed falls on different types of soil, and some seeds sprout quickly, but with no real roots, it withered and died in the heat. This seems to be often the case with those who spend time and energy chasing after signs in some spectacular spiritual high. The heat comes and there is no, there is no roots, there is no depth.

So I was reading through this passage, I was struck by John’s insertion of this passage from Zechariah 9:9, which was fulfilled as verse 14 declares, Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it. Now, this first grabbed my attention because of the stark contrast with the other Gospels, more robust and lavish accounts how Jesus gives instructions to his disciples on where to go and who to speak to to find the donkey. But John’s not concerned with that at all. He has another point to make. And so in quoting Zechariah 9:9, he declares, Fear not daughters of Zion. Behold, your king is coming, seated on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. If you were to turn to Zechariah 9:9, this is what you would read there. 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. You can see immediately how beautifully Jesus fulfills this prophecy. He is seated humbly upon the cult. He is the coming king. And the phrase, he is righteous and having salvation, is he, is about to be extraordinarily displayed for us on Good Friday.

But you might also notice that in Zechariah we read, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud. This is rather different from our fear not. D. A. Carson and Kostenberger both believe that John is here sighting Isaiah 40:9. There you read in part, Fear not. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God. ‘ It’s a rather common New Testament practice to bring several prophcies together, and this seems to be the case of what John has done. He may have wanted his audience to remember the fear that many of them would have had in the days following Jesus’s triumphal entry. Reminded me of the parable of the sower again. I remembered that some of the seeds fell on unprepared ground, and as it began to grow, the thorns choked out the plant. I can only imagine the pain and the wonder of many of the followers of Jesus when in just a few short days, it appears that everything they had given their lives for was falling apart. There would have been plenty of reasons for the daughters of Zion to fear. The phrase daughter of Zion is commonly used to designate all the citizens of Jerusalem, specifically, but also the children of Israel in general.

I’m reminded that we are regularly faced with opportunities for fear and doubts to choke out our lives as we follow Jesus. At those times, and in fact, exactly at those times, We would do well to remember John’s joining of Isaiah 40 and Zechariah 9. Fear not, daughters of Zion. Behold, your king is coming. That John wants us to pause here and think a little more deeply about what is happening is evident by his inclusion of verse 15, where he reminds us that Jesus’s disciples did not understand these things at first. But when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered these things that had been written about him. John’s used this language before in chapter 2, where Jesus had declared, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. There, John reminds us in verse 22 of chapter 2, he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, the disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scriptures and the word that Jesus had spoken. So too in our text, after Christ is glorified, the disciples remembered. The term that John is using here as glorified refers to Jesus’s resurrection, his 40 days on Earth and then his ascension.

It’s likely that John wants us to remember Jesus’s promise in John 14:26, that he will send a helper who will teach you all things and bring you to your remembrance of all or bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. This helper who Christ sent is the antidote to chasing after signs, the antidote to being controlled by our fears. Rather, the Holy spirit, for this is who the helper is that Christ sent, leads us into truth. The Holy spirit recalls Christ’s words back to us, enlightens our time in scripture reading and meditation. For all who have recognized that Jesus is the King, who have surrendered their life to his rule, who have received his forgiveness and pardon, they, as daughters of Zion, also receive the blessing of this helper. Who faithfully comforts and counsels us as we have need. As we look back to our text, we’ve already spent some time in verses 17 and 18. And when we look in verse 19, we notice that the pharisees remarked to each other, You see that you are gaining nothing? Look, the whole world has gone after him. There were, at this time, three major political positions with respect to Roman rule.

The Zealots, one of the groups, they were the extremists who felt that any accommodation to Rome was high treason against God. And so they were always stirring the pot. On the other side were the Sadducees saw no problem at all with compromise and concession. The pharisees, however, seemed to believe that the Jews had to endure Roman rule, that God had brought that for his own purposes, and so they simply needed to endure until God delivered. The pharisees began to realize that their strategy of trying to contain Jesus, and therefore to prevent the even harsher Roman rules, was beginning to fail. And so here, some of them were lamenting to others, Our plans are useless. Most scholars believe that the pharisees also thought that Jesus was coming to lead another what they would expect would be a short-lived political revolt. But what’s beautiful about their declaration is what D. A. Carson calls the superb Jocelynine irony. When the pharisees say, the whole world is going after them. They meant all of Jerusalem and the Jews from the regions around. But John regularly uses the term world to describe, and I’ll quote Carson again, people everywhere without racial discrimination who are lost and in rebellion against God.

Notice immediately what follows in verses 20 and 21. Some Greeks came to worship at the Jewish feast. And what do they want? To see Jesus. Indeed, the world is going after Jesus. Bear with me for a moment if it feels like I’m going backwards. But if we look back again at verse 15, which I’ll remind you is quoting Zechariah 9:9, Riddable remarks, When Jesus mounted a donkey, he fulfills not just that element, but the whole prophecy. You can immediately see the fulfillment in Zechariah 9:9 But in verse 10, if you were there, you would notice the disarmment. The chariots are parked, the blows are placed down, the rulers are disarmed, and that reign of peace has brought not war. But even more remarkable as Zechari 9:11, which reads in part, As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free. Verse 9, Righteous and having salvation. Verse 11, Because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free. It seems highly likely to me that this was a part of what the disciples finally understood with assistance from the Holy spirit as a helper.

Jesus coming into Jerusalem. John recognized he was coming not to fulfill their national expectations, even the expectations of some of the disciples, nor to fulfill their whims and wishes for some grand experience, but rather to launch or relaunch that global vision which the scriptures had been revealing again and again from the garden till Golgatha. That God would provide a way, that he would be our God and we would be his people, that all the nations would be blessed in the descendants of Abraham and others. Two quick comments as I close. First, God may be giving you ears to hear this morning. You may feel, even right now, like one of those prisoners trapped in the bondage of your sin, overwhelmed, perhaps with its guilt, gaining a fear of its penalty. If that describes you, I say, behold, your King is coming, and he has brought salvation with him, and he freely offers it to you Trust in him. Confess your sins to him. Receive his forgiveness and his helper. And please let someone know what you’ve just done. You may be here having walked with the Lord as your king for years. And to you, I would encourage you to ask yourself, who are the Greeks, if you will, in my own life?

Who is there around me that wants to see Jesus? Who can I pray for? Who can I perhaps even invite next week to come and see this King of Kings? This, the one who conquered death that I might live. Pray that the Lord might use you in their life to declare, ‘Behold your King. ‘ And as you go to them, remember that as you go, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. ‘ Let us pray. Father, we do give you all thanks and praise that you have come to us. And Father, that your plans are so much bigger and better than ours. Lord, you have declared yourself God because you are. And you have declared that we are your people because you have provided a way for that to be. Lord, we rejoice in your provision so costly to you, so free to us. Father, I pray that in this time of celebration, as we anticipate the joy of your glorious resurrection next week, as we look to the painful path that you took for us, or that you would impact us again with your deep love, that we would set aside our personal whims, and we would truly trust you with our life.

Father, your love is so deep and so lavish, and your plans for our life are so perfect. Let us rest in you. We pray this in Jesus name and for his sake. Amen. I invite you to.

Discaimer: This sermon text was generated by an automated transcription service.

A New Human