Sermon Synopsis for April 9, 2017

Matthew 21:1-11

The Divinity of Jesus is the dividing line which makes Christianity distinct from all other world religions.  Most every other religious leader has taught others how to know God; Jesus was God.  He didn’t merely show the way to God; He made a way to God.  He was 100% human and 100% Divine.  Jesus Himself made claims concerning His Godhood (John 8:58 and John 14:6).  To reduce Jesus to a mere good teacher, good moral example, or good religious leader is contradictory.  Good men don’t claim to be God, unless they really are God.  In his famous work “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis has commented:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.

Scripture maintains that Jesus was and is God.

Matthew 21:1-11 is one passage which makes such claims.  It contains an account of Jesus’ so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before His crucifixion.  It occurred on an occasion which is commonly referred to as Palm Sunday.  Whatever one calls the event, it is portrayed as being extremely significant, because each of the gospels makes mention of it (Mark 1:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; and John 12:12-19).  The reason for the event’s significance is simple — it portrays Jesus’ divine and kingly nature.  It uses three different means to do this.

JESUS AND HIS MIRACULOUS PROOFS (vs. 1-5)

In Matthew’s record, he mentions the way in which Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies which were given hundreds of years in advance (Matthew 21:5).  In the eyes of the gospel-writer, Jesus wasn’t a mere self-made, spiritual guru.  He was miraculously backed by divine announcements predicting His birth years in advance.  Josh McDowell, a twenty-first century Christian apologist, has commented on the prophetic backing of Jesus’ ministry: “The Old Testament, written over a one thousand year period, contains nearly three hundred references to the coming Messiah.  All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and they establish a solid confirmation of His credentials as Messiah.”  Matthew wanted to draw attention to these facts.  He wanted his readers to recognize what they had initially missed.  He wanted them to see that Jesus was indeed the supernatural, otherworldly, kingly, Messianic Son of God.  No other had fulfilled the predictions of the prophets in the way in which Jesus had.

Modern readers would do well to pause and consider the meaning of Matthew’s message.  In a sea of skepticism, many are tempted to reduce Jesus to a mere good man, teacher, leader, moral example, or whatever.  Matthew shows us that He is so much more.  He is greater than Muhammed, Joseph Smith, the Dhali-Lama, or any other spiritual advisor.  He is the only human in human history who had birth and death announcements sent out hundreds of years in advance!  We would be wise to recognize the miraculous proofs which are associated with His life.  We would do well to crown Him King of our hearts, lives, families, resources, and churches!

JESUS AND HIS MAJESTIC PRAISE (vs. 6-8)

As Jesus entered the capital city of the Jews on Palm Sunday, masses of people “spread their robes on the road.”  Imagine throngs of people disrobing their outer-garments and laying them on the cracked, dry dusty streets, allowing a donkey and its baby to walk over them.  The gesture was an ancient way of paying homage to a king (2 Kings 9:13). 

Along with spreading clothing at Jesus’ feet, “others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.”  John’s gospel tells us that the branches came off of palm trees (John 12:13).  Waving palm branches was a way of welcoming a king who returned from battle or from foreign exploits.  All in all, Jesus’ reception in Jerusalem was typical for kings and military victors in the ancient Near East.  By welcoming Jesus in such a way, passover pilgrims were demonstrating their belief that Jesus was a potential king.  He was the one who would perhaps throw off the despised mantle of Roman oppression.  The people failed to recognize that Jesus had to first die for sins.

Despite the crowd’s mistaken passion, their excitement serves as an example for modern believers.  Jesus is King, and He deserves our praise.  He is worthy of our adoration and devotion.  The command to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37) is not such a tall demand when we consider His Majesty’s humility, purity, and power!  May we not make the mistake first century Jews made.  While there is still time, may we crown Him Lord of our lives, our families, and our churches.  May we be on guard against allowing personal interests, political interests, or pride-centered interests to keep us from worship.  As humble servants, may we submit to His will for His creation!

 

JESUS AND HIS MESSIANIC PURPOSE (vs. 9-11)

The story concerning Jesus’ triumphal entry stakes great claim to Jesus’ Messianic nature in verses 9-11.  The gospel writer further depicted the city’s response:

Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!  When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!” (Matthew 21:9-11).

Apparently, a mob formed to lead Jesus into the city, shouting and singing as they went.  Others followed.  They were most likely Jesus’ disciples.  The leading twelve were undoubtedly there, and they were most likely accompanied by more.  By this time, the initial group of 70 (Luke 10:1) had probably expanded to include more disciples.  By referring to Jesus as the “blessed One,” the people indicated that He was the Messiah.

The message of Matthew shows us that Jesus is more than a teacher, religious leader, or moral example.  He is God.  He was the One who came, according to the prophecies of Scripture, to pay for the sins of many.  He will one day return to rule over the earth.  During this space in history, we are to proclaim His salvation and live devotedly for Him.

Get the full manuscript of the sermon for April 9, 2017 here

Dr. Patrick Latham
Pastor

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