“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Today we are beginning our Easter season. We’re beginning it by looking at the beginning of passion week for those who are pilgrims, who are followers of Jesus Christ.
Easter is the red circle in your faith calendar. Paul says the Easter. Is the reason that we follow him all of the other days too. And the greatest thing about Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the best thing about Easter is that Jesus is not dead right now. And so we take seriously this moment in our faith s our, our faith life, and we are gonna do that by focusing these six weeks upcoming to Easter, not letting it sneak up on us, but taking seriously our ride to this Easter.
40% of the gospels are written, uh, in, in the Passion week, in the final week, 40% of the gospels. That’s how important this final week of the coming of Christ at this moment in time is leading up to him receiving the cross and eventually rising from the dead. As mentioned, these, uh, Easter readings go alongside that we have in the Common Life Book and these Easter readings go alongside of that, uh, Collingswood campus and Mount Laurel campus.
We’re doing this together. So welcome here, Mount Laurel. Welcome here in Collingswood. As we begin this time together, we’re gonna do so, do so by reading in Luke 19. If you’ll join me in Luke 19, and we’ll start in verse 28, and here we see the triumphal entry. Of Christ into Jerusalem. And this triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem gives us beautiful ways of understanding how Christ himself approached this passion week, how Christ himself approached Easter.
So Luke 19, and we’re gonna start with verse 28. And when he had said these things, he went on ahead going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Beth Phage and Bethany at the Mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples saying, watch the intentionality here. Go into the village that is in front of you.
Where on entering you will find a cult tide on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, why are you untying it, you shall say this. The Lord has need of it. So those who were sent away found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the cult, its owners said to them, why are you untying the cult?
And they said, the Lord has need of it. And they brought it to Jesus and throwing their cloaks on the cult. They set Jesus on it. And as he wrote along, they spread their cloaks on the road. And as he was drawing near already on the way down the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen saying, blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. In some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, teacher rebuke your disciples. He answered, I tell you, if they were silent, the very stones would cry out. And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it saying what? That you even you had known on this day, the things that make you make for your peace, but now they’re hidden from your eyes for the days will come upon you when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hand mute in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you.
And they will not leave one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation. Pray with me this morning.
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest God. We walk in from so many different circumstances on the way here. Most of us this morning as we have tried to gather ourselves and get ourselves here, ha have entered what feels like lots of unspiritual territory, but there’s not a one of us that doesn’t long for this peace.
We thank you for Easter for what we know that it means and all that. We’re still finding out what it means for our every day in the name of Jesus who rode to die. Amen. So this passage is the passage probably in your Bible. It says something about the triumphal entry. This is the passage where Jesus took himself and rode to Easter.
This moment begins passion week. He has come to Jerusalem to die. As we begin our journey to Easter, I just wanna point out three things. Of which we can learn from Christ of how he approached Easter so that we can take these six weeks approaching our Easter alongside of him as he took this time very seriously.
The first thing we see is here is that Jesus is king. He is the first office I want to mention. He is the warrior King. Jesus has been away from a Jerusalem for 18 months. He, most of what he has been doing is in small towns in the Galilee region up north. He’s going from small town to small town to, to then the wilderness and everyone comes to meet him, and then he goes here, and then he goes over on the Sea of Galilee, over the Sea of Galilee, then back teaching healing.
But mostly in the outskirts, 18 months since he has been to Jerusalem, there is not a person in that region, whether you’re near Jerusalem or you’re up in the hills of Galilee, that you are not aware of the significance of Jesus, where he is, and the significance that Jesus is not in Jerusalem. He is this teacher.
He is this figure who people are trying to figure out. And eventually as he takes on the mantle and as he takes on the titles of being the Messiah, his gather his followers or gathering, there would not be many campfires that would exist around of people who are following this Jesus, who don’t say, when is Jerusalem?
When does the king take on his crown? This is the moment where Jesus rides. To Jerusalem, and this ride entering in the Eastern gate is a declaration of war. This Messiah who comes is what people would have been looking for his whole life. We know that yes, that Christ came as a child and people’s hopes were for him.
People’s hopes were not for four year old Jesus. They were not for nine year old Jesus. They were not for 13 year old Jesus people’s hopes for when the Messiah would finally come and when they can see him, they, they start to see their hopes begin to be lived out. But the real hope, the real moment that the, their looking for Messiah is when he would enter into these exact gates to become king.
The king had. To declare war. The priest is what has been prophesied. Isaiah 96 talks about this, his, his title that one, one of the titles that is given to Jesus is mighty God In this long list, pens of peace, everlasting father, mighty God is given. Uh, al cancer says this about this, this term, mighty God is used only for God himself, but now is being applied to the coming king.
The phrase has overtones of battle. Some translations call this warrior God. God is spoken of as Israel’s warrior, the one who fights on their behalf, behalf. This king will come do the same. Ezekiel 44. Talks about where the Messiah would come. There’s 11 gates around Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a heavy fortified city, but there are 11 gates that you can enter.
The gate, the Messiah would come through. Ezekiel 44 is the East Gate. The gate closest to the temple mount the gate gate closest to the Holy of Holies. It is the gate through which Christ himself. Comes and enters to take his throne. Zechariah nine nine, with the direct prophecy of this moment says this, rejoice greatly.
Daughter Zion. Shout daughter Jerusalem. See, your king comes to you. This is the moment. This is a verse that they pull out through the Torah to show their kids your king. He’ll come. He comes to you. Righteous and victorious. Humble, and riding on a donkey, a cult, the full of a donkey. Now I love this prophecy, right?
Righteous and victorious. You can’t be victorious without defeating. So, To have victory over something. Christ was coming to claim victory. He didn’t come ultimately, which is what many would want from him, but he did not come to bring a new human empire where what that many of the worshipers were planning on him to come do that.
These empires are what they’re cycl. They’re endlessly fragile and they turn over from one to the next. Christ came to bring a lasting empire. He came to bring a whole new world. This is the whole nature of what we see over and over in the New Testament, the kingdom of God. He came to bring heaven, the realities of heaven to earth and taught us to pray.
Our Father, who is in heaven, hollow be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. He is coming and bringing the spiritual kingdom of God to change. History forever. In this next Passion week, what we will see in these upcoming weeks is there is a number of things that Jesus will rival against.
He will rival against spiritual abuse, religion without the Father. In Mark 11, as he drives people out of the temple saying, my house is a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. He will rival against pride as we see him take the towel and serve his disciples as a servant. He will rival against self-sufficiency as he will talk with Peter, and Peter will be so confident that he will be strong until the crows come.
Jesus’ teaching and message are rivaling. They are seeking to be victorious. They are at war. And lastly, what Jesus came to war against is the separation caused by sin. . We see this spelled out in literally just about every single chapter in the rest of the New Testament that Jesus came to make to take on battle.
To say, I am coming straight in to that gate and I’m gonna go to what I see separates God and man, the sin of humanity. I’m gonna tear the curtain, the veil that is between God and man and the way he wages this war is he takes the knife to his own breast. It is his own blood that will be spilled, as he says, hate didn’t win, fear doesn’t win.
Prejudice, addiction, family trauma, and years of. Generational strongholds that the, the, the mentality of everyone clawing on top of each other, fighting for their own comforts or power that ultimately does not win the love of Jesus Christ as given through the Father by the blood of the Son, ultimately is victorious.
Easter is a declaration that God wins As we enter into Easter, head into this season and, and learning from this warrior, God, a, a couple things. I would say very simply, let’s, let’s approach Easter by being present. by, by being aware, right? Being, being somewhat conscious and we’ll lose sight of it, right?
It uh, we won’t be thinking, oh my goodness, it’s 27 days to Easter. But as much as possible, let’s enter with an awareness. An awareness that, that we are heading towards Easter. One of the things I love about the followers in this story is they were aware they were there. Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem on his own.
They were aware of what was going on. And secondly, to rejoice, we don’t just have a feel good Jesus. We have a Jesus that does have power who declares with blood on his. His own blood on his hands that I have the power to claim victory over darkness. And so we rejoice. One of my favorite things about where Easter falls in our calendar is if you watch and be, be mindful this next six weeks, you’ll be able to see things in nature around you.
That new life will be springing up. And let that remind you. Just recently I found a tiny little weed flower in my lawn that probably is not supposed to be there, but man, it was just this little flower and I was like, wow. Just that little thing. I don’t know how it came up, why it came up here, but we had some warm days and it popped up.
So I probably didn’t do the right thing. I just picked it, you know, it took it right to my wife, you know, look, I got this for you, but, but there’s gonna be new life popping up all around. And don’t let that just be a reminder of the nice, warm season of finally, the winter is starting to break. Let that be a reminder of the warrior God who didn’t let things, didn’t leave, things just cold, dark, and gray.
He came and he won. We celebrate his victory of the warrior. God, this Easter. , we see him ride in as the warrior God. We also, or Warrior King. We see him ride in as a foolish king. And I realize that that doesn’t sound good. Um, when you read that on the PowerPoint, this is, this is coming from Paul. He talks in Corinthians that the message of Christ, how he came and the message of Christ lived out, has a foolishness to our natural instincts.
We look at it and it, there is some seeming folly from a human perspective. This is pretty much how he entered into Jerusalem. Now Jerusalem, he does come in through the Eastern gate. See these doors back here, right here that you probably entered through the sanctuary, the Eastern gate, the, the collective width of those doors is more than the Eastern gate that he would’ve ridden through for Jerusalem.
leading up to the Eastern gate, it is a uphill climb with some windy streets. I had the chance to be in Jerusalem. One of the things that was so remarkable to me is like, wow, this city was not built for some American SUVs. Everything is narrow and tight and built, um, very close by. This, this scene of Jesus going is, is not the, the, we just had the largest military parade in 2019.
It was in China and Tieman Square. Gman Square, and they had a hundred thousand different people as a part of this military parade. Right? That is the a grand scene. If you think like, how many people is that? Macy’s Day Parade has a staff of 6,500, right? So you think, wow, all the intercontinental ballistic missiles and, and the, the jets and drones, and they had all these kinds of floats and things that they did.
That is a grand parade, a grand entrance. What’s happening with Jesus who’s coming to change the shape of the entire cosmos is pretty pathetic. I, I want to talk a moment about just the mechanics of this. Who is Jesus? How is Jesus entering? Jesus is entering on a cult, which that kind of sounds cool, right?
You could kind of see a knight on a cult. It’s a cult of a donkey. Most donkeys could not handle the weight of a grown man. This is not a full grown donkey. So like I best, let’s say we don’t get the exact age teenage donkey, right? And I realize, you know, I don’t know anything about teenage donkeys. I realize you don’t know anything about teenage donkeys.
Okay? So let me tell you the tiny bit that I found out about teenage donkeys. One, yeah, they could not be ridden on two. If you get on top of the teenage donkey the first time and you’re more weight than it’s supposed to hold, the donkey’s not gonna be like, I am filled with the Holy Spirit. I will have the energy to carry the son of.
The teenage donkey is like, what is going on? Right? Is going to be a messy scene. On top of that, people aren’t throwing saddles on there and cinching, whatever you cinch on a saddle and putting the bit in there. They’re throwing their coats on top of this donkey who has never been ridden, who has no concept of what is going on and is going up rocky, tight terrain with a whole bunch of people yelling at him.
That’s the context of the donkey, right? This is who Jesus, his feet may have been dragging on the ground to get on the donkey. The text says people had to lift Jesus on the donkey. Imagine the mechanic. Some people are trying to hold this donkey. Some people are trying to throw coats on. Some people are trying to throw Jesus on.
The mechanics of this is not at all what the genie had for Aladdin, right? Coming into the city. The mechanics of this are a Zechariah prophesied, humble, intensely humble. There’s no evidence that there was a permit bought that, that the Roman soldiers would line the place of so that they, he could get in through the Eastern gate.
Presumably, there’s merchants all around. There’s people traveling, coming and going. Annoyed by this scene. This may not even have been the largest SPECT spectacle on that day in Jerusalem. This moment, which for his followers carried this much weight, did not carry that much weight for everyone else. It is a scene that is not filled with gold red carpets and fanfare.
It’s filled with palm branches, people’s jackets on a winding road leading to a not that big of a gate. , it is a humble entry. What’s interesting to me is as you look in the New Testament and you see so many of the miracles or the, the gospels and 40% of the gospels are about passion week, almost every single miracle that you will see outside of the resurrection will not happen in Passion Week.
Jesus does not come to to Jerusalem with his own show of power. He does not part the Yates and like the Red Sea, and has this moment. This moment is intentionally foolish in the eyes of the world. And the word I want to, words I just want to use is what Jesus came to do when he would take the towel on Thursday, when he would receive the cross on Friday, when he would not defend himself in this week.
And even as he enters into Jerusalem, Jesus rode to Easter, intentionally unprotected. You will see over and over. The gospel of John is so beautiful in this. What Jesus says he needs is the love of the Father. And he intentionally does not add a whole lot to that list. He intentionally lays down so many of the things that he could have brought to this moment.
He approaches Easter, intentionally unprotected. Something that I, I want us to think about as we approach Easter. And this is gonna be, gimme five minutes here cuz some of you, this is gonna be like, I’m trying to understand what you’re saying, but to follow our foolish king in the eyes of the world to intentionally unprotect from the ways that we try to feel big, to choose to release the ways you’ve defended yourself or tried to satisfy your neurotic need for security and significance on your own.
And I, I put a lot of those big words in there on purpose. I’m one of the ones you’re like neurotic. I do not have a neurotic need to feel safe or define significance on my own. Well I do. Um, and I think probably many of us do very simply to be intentional as we come to Easter that we’re aware of how we try to make ourselves big.
You know, like on every nature show there’s like, I don’t know, some predator and some prey and like they both have this mechanism that these animals use to make themselves look big, right? Birds fluff up their feathers and like people do weird dances, like, or not, people, animals do these weird dances to try to intimidate each other and cats like somehow like do this weird thing which cats need no helping.
Intimidating, in my mind, I hate those things, but, um, except for your cat, your cat is perfect, but like the all animals have this way to make themselves look big. Well, I’m, I’m reading this book, my four-year-old just loves this book. About 10 things you need to know about elephants, and I’m reading about this elephants and, and the elephants are kind of fascinating.
You know, one of the reasons how elephants use their ears, yes, it’s to flap themselves, you know what I mean? Like, uh, keep themselves cool. One of the primary functions that an elephant uses his ears is to make itself look big and intimidating. I’m like an elephant needs help looking big. Like even an elephant is trying to look bigger than itself.
Right, but that’s in it’s instinctual. No Mama elephant is training baby elephant by like flap. Look flap here. No, no. A little bit more on the left ear, you know, like, like do this. Right? No, it’s instinctual. Even in elephants to try to make themselves look bigger, to try to elevate them themselves in the way they are to have a defense.
It is so instinctual in the human heart to try to look big. To try to look like we matter. As we think of a question, what do I think of when I answer the question? Am I impressive? What do we use to rank other people as be ahead or behind? , but these things in, in spiritual formation language, these are attachments, right?
Like, I feel like I am important because I have this, or I rank here, or I feel like I’m unor important and I self reject because I’m not, I don’t have enough of this, or I don’t rank high enough here. But these attachments that we have to define our very identity are core to us. And I know this is a, a little bit murky ground and some of you are like, I know exactly what I do inside of my heart and what I say to other people to try to appear impressive.
And some of you that, that might not come as clear, but I just wrote down some practical ways I think we can intentionally unprotect or unfriend ourselves towards Easter. If one of the ways you want to feel impressive or you’re desiring to feel big is in your career or, or popularity or success in school, success in some way, and you can tend to see people as ways that you can get there.
How about far Easter? Take out three people who won’t advance you in any possible way and get to know their story if, if your body or beauty is just a real point for you and you find yourself thinking and analyzing yourself how you look a lot and you really want to look better so that you can be impressive.
How about take half the time, think about how long do I take to get ready? Intentionally take half the time to get ready and use that time to pray for contentment in how God made. . If your thing is money and that, and you are always thinking, where’s the four ohk? Where’s the savings account and how does this rank among other people or my peers?
Or you meet with your friends and you think, okay, I’m a little higher, a little lower. If it’s money that you use yourself to feel big, you need to find ways to give it away. If it’s the image of your peers at church, right? A lot of us that like, okay, in your church environments or, or various, maybe it’s your other environments and your image of how they look.
Find someone you love in that environment and tell ’em how you need help. My gosh, share your secrets. If it’s, if it’s how intelligent you are and, and you’re holding, you hold this role perhaps in the family or, or in your workplace of you just had these really smart things to say and that that’s a big way that you, you feel at the end of the day, you know what I’m, I’m.
I’m smarter than these people, or at least I’m on the smarter side of the ledger. Take six weeks intentionally. Don’t offer advice or share your knowledge unless asked one time. What you’re gonna find is you’re gonna do it six times in the first day and then you’re gonna be like, wow, how much do I rely on that to feel impressive?
And then you’ll go to five and then four and realize, this is my elephant ears of trying to feel impressive. If it’s how many people you help and how many ministries that you do say no once a week. And it’s not easy. It’s so in sync. And I know you’re, you’re saying like these are really weird specific applications.
And I realize that, and, and for some of you it’s gonna be something different, but my encouragement as we follow Christ to Easter, it is to lay down some of the things we tried to impress of, because why it’s so instinctual, right? Your parents did not teach you, your mom, your grandmom, your, your, your environment did not sit down and teach you.
Here’s how you try to be impressive any more than Mama Elephant taught Baby elephant, how to put out the ears. It’s instinctual. We all want to feel impressive and big to ourselves first and to others as well. But because it’s so instinctual, we need to be so intentional. And so my encouragement leading up to Easter as we ride with Christ towards Easter, find a specific way.
Of saying, I’m going to unde defend, I’m going to unimpress. I’m going to take this specific step back in my life to try in my own devices, to find peace and be impressive. Oh, we, we understand that a little bit. Does that make sense? And some of you’re like, dude, I’m not proud or trying to be impressive at all.
Well, thank you for that cathartic moment because I really am right. This takes, and it takes intentionality to rival our own sense of trying to be impressive on our own. Lastly, and third, the weeping king at a Professor Crawford Lures great pastor. He asked the question, he, he said, what makes you pound the table and weep?
And that was his sense. Well, that’s where your calling is, right? Or you’ve heard the quote when your, your great longing in the world’s great hunger. Where they meet is what you’re calling is. We see here a weeping Christ. Christ wept three times that we know about in in the scripture. In this one, he is weeping aloud.
These are not cute tears, cute man cry that’s happening. The Christ, after the scene turns around, presumably before he goes through the gates and the worshipers are still there on that crowded street and openly weeps, and he says, if you even you had known on this day what would bring you peace, what is Christ?
Pound the table and weep about as he goes to Easter. It, it’s not just, oh, my people won’t behave, or, oh, that guy won’t share Christ with his coworker. He weeps. When we don’t realize how much peace he really offers, how much peace he really gives, he will punctuate this exact message. All week on Thursday.
He says, peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid. The first times he sees his friends after, after, uh, after he’s been resurrected, right? And they all gathered, it’s his big resurrection moment with his disciples. First thing he says, peace to you. How do we ride to Christ with this weeping king who wants to offer peace to his people?
I don’t know, a more creative, more effective, or whatever way to find peace with God than to simply be with him And, and why we’re doing language of, of saying, okay, these are ways we find false peace by trying to be impressive. And why? How do we lay aside some of these impressive things? What we, what we try to find our impressives is to make room.
To say, Hey, if I starve this, my attachment to how I look, my attachment to how important I am in the company, my attachment to these things, if I starve that a little bit, cuz I know that’s fake and doesn’t last anyway, it leaves some opening to spend that time, spend that energy to find Christ. And there there is peace.
How do we ride with Christ to Easter? We follow his tears. And what does tears say if is this? If you verse 42, even you had only known what would bring you peace. We ride with Christ desperately seeking true peace in him and warring against false security that will crumble soon anyway
as we spend time with him. This is what his presence is like. And I realize some of you’re like, I pray and it hits the ceiling, and sometimes I wonder if he even gets that far right. I, as you seek and spend time with Christ real quick is what I would suggest. How has he made you? How has he uniquely formed you?
Some of you’re like, well, I don’t, I have trouble sitting on my knees and praying, but man, do I love being in nature. Be in nature, go be with God there. Some of you say like I have, you know, I, I have the hardest time with attention. I try to do the 30 minute Devotional every single day. I would say, ah, you know what, there’s one guy, dear friend of mine, he said he had the hardest time praying.
He just couldn’t pray. He has, he has adhd, and it was just a big struggle for him. He couldn’t pray because he couldn’t stay still that long in prioritized stillness. He would walk and pray. He turned into, to this day, perhaps the greatest prayer warrior I have ever known, and he said, what changed my life is I just had to.
Walk like everything else in my life. If you’re a writer, writer, pray to God. Start with dear father. If you’re a person who’s like, I am so spiritually confused, I can’t stand up from now. Find a trusted friend, pursue spiritual direction. I don’t know what it means for us to prioritize our time with Christ, but I would ask starve a little and feast a little, and in that we find a pure, beautiful way to a little more understand what deaths and what resurrection are all about because they exist without the other in the Christian life.
Won’t you stand with us? I’m, I’m gonna conclude. I know we’ve, we’re in time.
Dear friends, Mount Laurel, dear friends online and in Collingswood this morning, very simply, as we head towards Easter, may we ride to Easter together with Christ. May we, may we war for true peace. May we intentionally unprotect from our own devices that we falsely use to find our homes in our identity, image, comfort, or pride.
May we journey to Easter with the living resurrected no longer dead? Jesus, may we speak with the deep assurance of Paul, that he is our peace and with the open-hearted pilgrims who approach Peter, sir, we would see Jesus. We are dismissed.