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The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna! 
B
lessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
John 12::12,13

What in the world was Jesus thinking about!?

Riding into Jerusalem and stirring up a huge demonstration was the kind of thing that could get him killed.
The Pharisees and Saducees, two different groups who normally fought like cats and dogs were finally agreed on one thing: Jesus must be stopped--permanently!
And why is that?
If nothing else, Jesus played no favorites. He told anyone who cared to listen what He thought. He told them the truth in a flat out unvarnished fashion.
Pharisees were laymen unlike the Saducees who were the priestly caste.
The pharisees had begun as an honorable group of Bible scholars whose only desire was to ensure that all Israel knew God's word and observed it. There were many good Pharisees in Jesus time. Nicodemus and Joseph from Aramathea were only two.

But there were many who loved the authority and honors they accumulated. Some were even on . . .

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna! 
B
lessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”   John 12::12,13

What in the world was Jesus thinking about!?

Riding into Jerusalem and stirring up a huge demonstration was the kind of thing that could get him killed.
The Pharisees and Saducees, two different groups who normally fought like cats and dogs were finally agreed on one thing: Jesus must be stopped--permanently!
And why is that?
If nothing else, Jesus played no favorites. He told anyone who cared to listen what He thought. He told them the truth in a flat out unvarnished fashion.
Pharisees were laymen unlike the Saducees who were the priestly caste.
The pharisees had begun as an honorable group of Bible scholars whose only desire was to ensure that all Israel knew God's word and observed it. There were many good Pharisees in Jesus time. Nicodemus and Joseph from Aramathea were only two.

But there were many who loved the authority and honors they accumulated. Some were even on the Sanhedrin, the governing council. Their religious practice had degenerated into legalism. Jesus called them hypocrites, tombs filled with dead men's bones. And he did it in public. Hardly the way to find favor.

The Saducees, Priests and Levites were all the aristocratic blue bloods of Judah. They ran the temple and collected a great deal of money in the bargain. They were upper class and typically well to do.
They did not believe in a resurrection. What you saw was what you got. This life was it. The fact that they were doing very well in this life suited them just fine and anything that threatened their position and privilege would not be welcome. No surprise there.
And then Jesus comes on the scene, walks into the temple and breaks up their money-market.
Imagining going into one of the worlds great stock markets and calling them a bunch of scum bags and somehow running them out of the building and knocking over their trading computers!
That would be on CNN, you bet it would, as they led you away in handcuffs.

On top of that, Judah was balanced on a razor's edge politically.
For years there had been mini insurrections against the Romans, and tensions were high.
A couple of hundred years before Jesus, a man named Judas Maccabeas had driven the remnants of Alexander the Great's empire out of Jerusalem and restored Judah to a brief time of independence. Then Rome filled the vacuum.
This fellow Maccabeas was so famous that the temple money had his face on it along with palm branches which had become symbolic of the rebellion. People had waved palm branches during his glorious revolution and had welcomed him to the city as a conquering hero.

Rome had a nasty way of putting down insurrection. They pretty much slaughtered anyone in sight who was even suspected of having anything to do with it. Think of the worst atrocities of Saddam Hussein and you get an idea of what the Romans did to you. Jews had never taken well to being subjugated and in fact full scale rebellion did break out forty years later in 70 AD.
The Romans put it down so severely they literally took Jerusalem apart stone by stone and punished the Jews by driving them out of the land for two thousand years. Only in 1947 were they allowed to come back. Thousands were slaughtered in the Roman repression.

It was precisely that kind of reprisal that the Saducees especially feared. If Jerusalem were sacked, they lost everything.
There were a group which were pushing for revolution, though. They were called the Zealots.
Jesus had a man named Simon the Zealot in his group.

It was the feast of the Passover, the holiest of all Jewish festivals and the city was teeming with visitors for all over the known world. Think of what you know of Mecca at Ramadan. Lots of people. Lots of excited people.
Roman soldiers on the alert.

Oh yes, and don't forget, Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead.
Now that really annoyed the Saducees who say there is no resurrection.
It really annoyed the Pharisees because it was proof that Jesus is from God.
Lazarus is alive and the only fitting response is that Jesus must die.
Now if he could raise Lazarus, did they think they could keep him in a grave?
I guess they didn't want to even consider that possibility.

So that's the background. From the moment word gets out that Jesus has raised a man from the dead, everyone wants to see him. The Roman garrison are on at least a yellow alert anyway, but the town is really buzzing.
Could it be that Jesus is the Messiah?
When you say Messiah, read Judas Maccabeas, maybe better.
When you hear Messiah, think "kick out the Romans".

So if you are an advisor to Jesus, what is your advice?
You know all the authorities are out to get you.
What you say to Jesus is... I wonder what the weather is like down by the Dead Sea this time of year.
Or you say, "Lord, if you insist on being in Jerusalem, I know a secluded spot where we can hide out until things simmer down."

What you don't say is "How about a parade?"
Especially you don't suggest he come riding into the city on a donkey with everyone waving palm branches.
That would be suicidal unless you have about twenty legions of soldiers hiding somewhere nearby, or some very fast horses and enough food and water to last until you reach Egypt.

In case you didn't remember, doing that is a clear and unambiguous signal that you are indeed the Messiah.
A very clear messianic passage is from Zechariah chapter 9 which says

What in the world was Jesus thinking about!?

Riding into Jerusalem and stirring up a huge demonstration was the kind of thing that could get him killed.
The Pharisees and Saducees, two different groups who normally fought like cats and dogs were finally agreed on one thing: Jesus must be stopped--permanently!
And why is that?
If nothing else, Jesus played no favorites. He told anyone who cared to listen what He thought. He told them the truth in a flat out unvarnished fashion.
Pharisees were laymen unlike the Saducees who were the priestly caste.
The pharisees had begun as an honorable group of Bible scholars whose only desire was to ensure that all Israel knew God's word and observed it. There were many good Pharisees in Jesus time. Nicodemus and Joseph from Aramathea were only two.

But there were many who loved the authority and honors they accumulated. Some were even on the Sanhedrin, the governing council. Their religious practice had degenerated into legalism. Jesus called them hypocrites, tombs filled with dead men's bones. And he did it in public. Hardly the way to find favor.

The Saducees, Priests and Levites were all the aristocratic blue bloods of Judah. They ran the temple and collected a great deal of money in the bargain. They were upper class and typically well to do.
They did not believe in a resurrection. What you saw was what you got. This life was it. The fact that they were doing very well in this life suited them just fine and anything that threatened their position and privilege would not be welcome. No surprise there.
And then Jesus comes on the scene, walks into the temple and breaks up their money-market.
Imagining going into one of the worlds great stock markets and calling them a bunch of scum bags and somehow running them out of the building and knocking over their trading computers!
That would be on CNN, you bet it would, as they led you away in handcuffs.

On top of that, Judah was balanced on a razor's edge politically.
For years there had been mini insurrections against the Romans, and tensions were high.
A couple of hundred years before Jesus, a man named Judas Maccabeas had driven the remnants of Alexander the Great's empire out of Jerusalem and restored Judah to a brief time of independence. Then Rome filled the vacuum.
This fellow Maccabeas was so famous that the temple money had his face on it along with palm branches which had become symbolic of the rebellion. People had waved palm branches during his glorious revolution and had welcomed him to the city as a conquering hero.

Rome had a nasty way of putting down insurrection. They pretty much slaughtered anyone in sight who was even suspected of having anything to do with it. Think of the worst atrocities of Saddam Hussein and you get an idea of what the Romans did to you. Jews had never taken well to being subjugated and in fact full scale rebellion did break out forty years later in 70 AD.
The Romans put it down so severely they literally took Jerusalem apart stone by stone and punished the Jews by driving them out of the land for two thousand years. Only in 1947 were they allowed to come back. Thousands were slaughtered in the Roman repression.

It was precisely that kind of reprisal that the Saducees especially feared. If Jerusalem were sacked, they lost everything.
There were a group which were pushing for revolution, though. They were called the Zealots.
Jesus had a man named Simon the Zealot in his group.

It was the feast of the Passover, the holiest of all Jewish festivals and the city was teeming with visitors for all over the known world. Think of what you know of Mecca at Ramadan. Lots of people. Lots of excited people.
Roman soldiers on the alert.

Oh yes, and don't forget, Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead.
Now that really annoyed the Saducees who say there is no resurrection.
It really annoyed the Pharisees because it was proof that Jesus is from God.
Lazarus is alive and the only fitting response is that Jesus must die.
Now if he could raise Lazarus, did they think they could keep him in a grave?
I guess they didn't want to even consider that possibility.

So that's the background. From the moment word gets out that Jesus has raised a man from the dead, everyone wants to see him. The Roman garrison are on at least a yellow alert anyway, but the town is really buzzing.
Could it be that Jesus is the Messiah?
When you say Messiah, read Judas Maccabeas, maybe better.
When you hear Messiah, think "kick out the Romans".

So if you are an advisor to Jesus, what is your advice?
You know all the authorities are out to get you.
What you say to Jesus is... I wonder what the weather is like down by the Dead Sea this time of year.
Or you say, "Lord, if you insist on being in Jerusalem, I know a secluded spot where we can hide out until things simmer down."

What you don't say is "How about a parade?"
Especially you don't suggest he come riding into the city on a donkey with everyone waving palm branches.
That would be suicidal unless you have about twenty legions of soldiers hiding somewhere nearby, or some very fast horses and enough food and water to last until you reach Egypt.

In case you didn't remember, doing that is a clear and unambiguous signal that you are indeed the Messiah.
A very clear messianic passage is from Zechariah chapter 9 which says
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Coming into Jerusalem with a crowd waving palm branches, just like you are Judas Maccabeas, is a pretty clear sign that you are proclaiming yourself the new King.

What in the world was Jesus thinking?

 He was thinking that He is the king.

Now there is a subtle distinction you need to recognize. When a King goes to war, he rides on a horse.
Going into battle on a donkey is not too swift literally.
But when a king comes in peace, he comes on a donkey, which was considered a noble animal.
There is plenty of historical precedence.
Jesus is saying to everyone who had eyes and ears, "I am coming as your King, but I am coming in peace."

We read in John's gospel that some of the Pharisees say to one another, "It's too late, everyone is following Him."
True. It was too late, but there was no chance they could have stopped what He was doing in any case.
They thought they were in charge of events. They weren't.
Not even the Romans were totally in charge.
What Jesus is doing is what had been His mission from the beginning.
From the very beginning.

Paul writes of Jesus that he is the lamb slain before the foundations of the world.
This is not a haphazard series of events lurching toward disaster.
It was what God had planned from before He even created the world.

That's hard to understand, but it's at the heart of creation.
The fundamental principle of life is that Jesus died for you and me.

What in the world was Jesus thinking?
He was thinking that even if at that precise moment people didn't get it, they would eventually.
That looking back from the perspective of his death and resurrection, we would understand what He was trying to tell us:
He is our King.
He came not to over power us, but He came in peace.
And He came to die, to fulfill what God planned from the beginning.

What can we do in response?
We can honor Him.

He is our King

Stand with me in honor of our King as we pray.

Prayer: Lord we stand in honor of you. Whether the whole world is following you or not, we are and we recognize you as King and Lord of all. Hallelujah! Hosanna! Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord.
Amen


Preached  April 9, 2006
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Resources Consulted
William Hull, "Luke-John", Broadman Bible Commentary, Broadman Press.
William Barclay, "The Gospel of John", Vol. 2, The Daily Study Bible. Saint Andrew Press.

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