WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT TRUE WORSHIP?
The raising of Lazarus from the dead had a pronounced effect upon the people who had suffered under the strength of the Roman Government. They saw that one had come who fit the description of the Messiah. They were believing that this great miracle was only a prelude to the many great things which were to happen if Jesus were their King. There were so invigorated by the miracle that they wanted to declare Him King now. They cried, “Hosanna” which means; “Save Now.” They no longer wanted to delay that which they had prayed for and hoed for, for so long.
Those who were students of prophecy had gleaned from the prophecy given in the Psalms, Isaiah, the book of Daniel, as well as the prophetical writings of others. The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, known as the seventy weeks of Daniel, is divided into three periods. First, may we look as this important passage of Scripture. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even the troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” The first period begins in 445 BC when, in the twentieth year of his reign, Artaxerxes issues his decree permitting Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and build it (Nehemiah 2:1-8). This represents seven weeks of Daniel.
The second period is a longer period than the first and leads up to the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. This represents 62 weeks of Daniel.
The third period has been postponed because of the refusal by the Jews to properly accept Jesus as the Messiah. The last seven weeks (in years) is to take place when the Lord comes to “catch up” the saints, and is marked by the seven years of tribulation. It is during the time between the 63rd week and the 64th week that the church age is placed. This is an indefinite time, mysteriously known by God alone.
With these explanatory remarks, may we properly understand the climate that marks the triumphal entrance of Christ. Three things that we may observe, I. The Triumphal Entry of Christ, vv. 12-19; II. The Transition Expressed by Christ, vv. 20-21; and III. The Truth Explained by Christ, vv. 24-26.
I. THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY OF CHRIST vv. 12-19
Notice the crowd, v. 12. Verse twelve describes the crowd with the expression, “much people.” The people began in earnest to address Jesus as the Messiah. They signaled their intent with the strewing of the Palm trees along the way. Palm trees symbolized national Israel. It was the people’s way of saying, “You are our Salvation. You will deliver us from the tyranny of Rome; we will be strong again.” The crowd was not concerned as much with the spiritual significance of what was taking place as they were with the political significance. This is what energized the people and brought them together as a crowd. Selfishness undoubtedly marked these people. They wanted Christ to be King for their own purposes. Politics certainly has not made a great change since then. The politician knows this and plans his platform around the needs of the people, often making promises he is unable to keep.
We should not be overly critical of the motivation that brought the masses together. Most were probably living a life of physical bondage. A greater bondage than physical bondage is certainly spiritual bondage. But being in an intense state of physical bondage, with its entire ramification, will certainly cause ones judgment to be impaired. In addition, the pressures that he feels will shape ones general attitude. Under the pressures of this kind, the people now see this miracle working person as being suitable to delivering them from their state of bondage.
Notice the cry, v. 13. Before giving attention to the cry “Hosanna,” may we describe the three entries into Jerusalem. This chronology is established by comparing the gospels. The first day he quietly, without speaking, rode into the city, came to the temple, looked around and then left. It was on the second day that He came and cleansed the temple. The third day had the rulers gathering about Him. John only considers the first entrance and with very little description. Matthew tells how not only the palm tree branches were “strewed” along the way, but also that they spread their garments as well.
During this time, on the first entrance they cried or sang sentences from the great Hallel. “Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the Kind of Israel.” “Hosanna” means, “save now.” With the depressed climate of people, this must have been a thrilling time to hear the jubilant cries of all of the assembled. There were some that wanted the cries to be silenced. Another gospel tells us that there was a command by the rulers to silence the people, to which Jesus replied, “If these should hold their peace the stones would become vocal and would cry out.”
As refreshing as the voices now were, could it be that some of the same voices would later cry, “Crucify Him”?
Notice the cause, vv. 14-19. In every instance and at each event, the Lord Jesus is seen accurately fulfilling the words of prophecy. “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” (John 12:14-15). Within the predetermined plan of God, the Lord is performing that which He must, even though the disciples do not immediately understand (v. 16). They would remember that these things are written of Him when Jesus is glorified (v. 16). At this time, prior to the crucifixion and the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus rather than the Truth of prophecy is motivating the crowds. (v. 18).
With the cause of their worship being fueled by their either hearing of or witnessing the resurrection of Lazarus, they captured the attention of the Pharisees. “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”
The Pharisees show their concern and bewilderment at their own inability to defuse the intense reaction of the crowds. They said, “the world is gone after him.”
II. THE TRANSITION EXPRESSED BY CHRIST vv. 20-23
This section covers the time just before our Lord’s final departure from the temple (Matthew 24:1; Mark 13:1) and it was probably on the Tuesday after the triumphal entry. Again a careful study of the synoptic gospels will help establish a proper chronology. Verse number 20 is the verse that introduces the inquiring Greeks. Understanding that Christ came to the Jew first and then to the Greeks (Acts 1:8), one can see the obvious transition that is being signaled by the presence of the Greeks. In an addition to that, one can see a clear transition by the responding answer of Christ upon hearing of the Greeks presence, “And Jesus answered them, saying, the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (v. 23). What a pronouncement on the part of Jesus!
The Greeks come with desire (vv. 20-21). When one sees these Greeks demonstrating their desire to see Jesus, he should be reminded of the very first chapter of John in verses 11-12, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” This shows that God’s purpose and God’s timing is right on schedule. God’s schedule and activities are preset and will not be violated. The presence of the Greeks fits into the scheme of God’s design. The Greeks are there not to contradict but to complement God’s purposes. We learn that the veil of the temple will soon be rent in two and will allow even these Greeks access into the presence of God. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Un-circumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” (Ephesians 2:11-14).
The Greeks come by design (vv. 22-23). The Greeks coming to see Jesus and Jesus’ response, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified,” is just like a traffic light that has turned green signaling that it is time to go. This twenty-third verse is very pivotal. All the miracles, teaching, and events in the life of Jesus are compressed into this one statement of truth, “The hour is come …” Every instance relating to Christ’s incarnation was with design. Such is the case here. From this point on, the events will be closely traced to the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Chronologically, this section is commonly referred to as Passion Week. When Jesus said, “the hour is come” it was a literal statement of truth that signaled the beginning of that which Jesus had come for. All of this is being emphasized to properly draw attention to the Sovereign councils of God at work. Embedded in the pages of God’s Word are the clear markers and road signs that have pointed to this moment of time being marked by the Lord Jesus saying, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.”
It was, and still is God’s purpose and design that men come to Jesus. The method by which this design is to be implemented is to be explained in verse 24 through 26. May we notice, “The Truth Explained by Christ” (vv. 24-26).
III. THE TRUTH EXPLAINED BY CHRIST vv. 24-26
The glorification of the Lord Jesus means more that that Jesus is to be crucified and resurrected from the dead. It means that He is to be exalted to the throne of His Father. He is to be returned to that place of doxology, praise, adoration, and worship. This can only be accomplished by death on the cross. The explanation of this is illustrated from nature. By using the “corn of wheat,” the Lord paints a beautiful picture of what will soon be taking place.
He paints a picture v. 24. The picture of that which is planted is what writers refers to as a “word picture.” With words one takes something that is commonly understood to shed light on that which is not easily understood. In our illustration, the corn or grain of wheat is normally planted into the ground to be separated or removed from its recognized existence. While in the ground it is forgotten and will never be seen again in its previous recognized form. Even as life was encased in the kernel, but not to be released unto it was planted, so the Lord is not glorified until his resurrection. The Lord was indicating that there was going to be a death and then a burial (planting) and then a resurrection. One grain of wheat is planted for the purpose of producing many grains.
As part of the Lord’s Kenosis (self-humbling), He chose to walk in humility until this designed period of time. The key features of the resurrection and glorification of the Lord will never allow Him to take on the role of a servant again. He will be forever reinstated to His place of glory and power. He will be highly exalted and given a name that is above every name.
Philippians 2:5-11 explains this, as we refresh our minds, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
He proves a point (vv. 25-26a) The Lord uses a very strong paradox to prove a very strong point. It is this: Even as Jesus demonstrated the principle that sacrifice yields glorification, likewise, when one determines to live for Jesus here, even if it means sacrifice, he can recover eternally what he may have forfeited here for just a little time. Yet if one lives selfishly in this world he will be the loser in eternity.
Selfishness takes on many different faces. As I write this, it is deer season. Deer hunters hunt with a passion. This is all right if it is not done selfishly. Yet, sadly many wives are all but abandoned during this time as the husband makes their selfish plans without at all considering the needs of his wife. To do so is an awful inconsideration and display of selfishness.
Anything that is done to solely satisfy self is wrong. This spirit of selfishness is what the Lord is referring to when He says, “He that loveth his life shall lose it …” (v. 25). That verse may be explained this way, He that liveth his life for himself alone shall ultimately lose all.
Jesus is actually proving and will prove by His example that which is being illustrated about the “corn of wheat.” The corn of wheat, which is lost to the soil, is revealed in a different glory unlike and in contrast to the way it was privately and carefully tucked away. The seed requires the element of time. With that, the seed turns into a plant. The plant will pierce the darkness and resurrect into a world never seen before to continue its giving in a way that’s compounded and more productive than it previously was capable of. One seed becomes many. When one gives his little, God makes it much. “Little is much when God is in it,” the song says.
He provides a promise (v. 26). “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (v. 26). The Lord has stated His purpose for coming to the earth. In humility He is placed upon the cross, taken down in death, and then buried. In triumph He is resurrected from the grave and seated in glory next to the Father. He leaves a challenge and a promise when He beckons man to follow Him. There is no greater challenge than being told that one may be honored by the Father by following the Son.
There are many such promises scattered throughout the Scriptures further indicating how gracious the Lord is to us all. As we worship and serve Him may we do so by looking at our great example. Do as Hebrews tells us, Look unto Jesus; Consider Him; Look diligently. By doing this our worship will be more pleasing to the Lord and will be rewarded by the Father.
Sermon From Dr. Max Alderman