The Road to Jerusalem and to the Cross

by Skip Heitzig

On Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, we consider events that occurred while on the road. As Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem for His atoning death and glorious resurrection, He was met on the road by a crowd of worshiping supporters who laid their garments on that road as Jesus entered their city. This singular event, traditionally called the triumphal entry, displays four attributes of God’s personality reflected in Christ’s life and ministry.

Happy Palm Sunday.


So when I was a kid, perhaps Palm Sunday was my favorite– one of my favorite Sundays of the year. Of course, I didn’t get branches this big, but I loved going to church on that day for a few reasons. Number one, because I actually got something back at church. I didn’t have to like just get up and be there. They gave me something, and I thought that was cool.

 Number two, I love palm trees. We have a lot out in California, and I always think of it as God’s favorite tree. And then number three, because Palm Sunday was that transitional period of the year where I knew, as a kid, the days were getting longer and there would be more time to play. It’s a very carnal reason to like Palm Sunday.

 But for those reasons I really enjoyed Palm Sunday growing up. On one particular Sunday, a boy had a sore throat so he didn’t make it to church on that Palm Sunday, but his family went. And they came back, and when they came back, they all had these little palm leaves, palm fronds. And so he said, well, what is that all about?

 And the father explained that the people held them up as Jesus walked by. And the little boy got very sad when he heard that, and he said, great, wouldn’t you know it, the one Sunday I miss church Jesus shows up. 

In one church, the ladies wanted to decorate the sanctuary with anemones, little flowers, like purple and white wildflowers. They came into the sanctuary and found it already decorated with these, with palm fronds. And they went to the Pastor, and they said, well, we like to decorate it with these flowers instead of these palms. And the Pastor just said, well, with fronds like these, who needs anemones?

That’s a dad joke. The theme this year for Holy Week, the team has chosen On the Road, and that is because so many significant events in the life of Jesus’s ministry, especially in the final week, Passion Week Holy Week, happened on the road. So we’re going to consider today On the Road to Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city on Palm Sunday, a message that I have preached in different texts of the New Testament on a number of occasions.

 Friday, Good Friday, we’re going to look at on the road to Golgotha Calvary, the Cross, and then on Easter Sunday, On the Road to Emmaus, a post Resurrection event from the Gospel of Luke. Jesus spent a lot of time on the road with his disciples. If you go back to chapter– by the way, turn to Matthew 21 for your text this morning, if you’re not already there. Matthew 21 is where we’re going to be reading from.

 But a chapter before that, in Matthew, Chapter 20, before Jesus even gets to Jerusalem, we read in Verse 17, “now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the 12 disciples aside on the road and said to them,” so there they are on the road, “behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests to the scribes. They will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”

 Then in Matthew 21, the very next chapter, the chapter we’re going to be looking at, in Verse 8, “and a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”

 Roads were important in ancient times like they are in modern times. Roads connect people. They connect cities. They connect countries. They connect civilizations. People bring goods and trade and sell and buy on roads. Armies marched on the roads.

 The Roman Empire was so committed to a road system that they built 250,000 miles of roads. That’s a quarter million miles of roads Rome built. And of those 250,000 miles, 50,000 miles were paved roads. We’re talking 2,000 years ago. We’re talking roads that they paved with stones. In fact, you can walk 2,000 years later on Roman roads still intact to this day.

 They wanted to make sure that those roads were kept safe, so on the roads, they put soldiers stationed to protect travelers from getting hijacked, from getting robbed, from being killed. They wanted to make sure that ideas, as well as commerce, could travel on those roads freely, and that set up for the preaching of the gospel through Paul the Apostle who took advantage of those roads and spread the gospel throughout the empire.

 We’re working at the road to Jerusalem, and the journey that Jesus takes to Jerusalem will end, as you know, in His death. From a human standpoint, what happens on the road on this day that we’re looking in Matthew 21, from a human standpoint, this is the day that breaks the camel’s back. Jesus publicly stages a demonstration, very first time he has ever done this, first and only time. He knew what the consequences would be.

 Up until now, if you’re familiar at all with the Gospels you know that whenever Jesus did something like a miraculous healing, he would always tell people, keep it quiet. Don’t tell anybody what just happened. Good luck with that.

 But on this day it’s different. On this day, he coordinates all of what is happening in these events to make a public demonstration that will cause the leadership to think in their minds, we have to get rid of this man. We have to kill him. It’s the only way out. That’s from a human standpoint. From a divine standpoint, this day has been planned from eternity past.

 Keep in mind Revelation 13 describes Jesus as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This was always in God’s plan, for this event, for this day to come. Looking at Matthew 21, we’re going to look from verses 1 down to Verse 11. That takes up the story.

 We discover some very practical lessons from the road. We discover four attributes of God, four aspects of the divine personality. So we’re going to look at the story through the lens of four words, four words– sovereignty, humility, punctuality, and controversy. Those four words sum up the events of this day and provide the lens through which we notice these attributes.

 First of all, let’s begin with sovereignty, that God is in control. Let’s just begin the story, Verse 1 Matthew 21. “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage,” that’s how we say it in English. It’s actually a Hebrew word, [HEBREW], which means House of Unriped Fig. It’s a little village just on the top of the Mount of Olives.

 When they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.” So not one, but two donkeys, a mother and its child, a Colt. “Loose them and bring them to Me.

 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, the Lord has need of them, and immediately he will send them. All this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet, saying, tell the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the fall of a donkey.”

 A little background will help. The season is Passover. At Passover the city swelled with people, up to five times its normal population. Every Jewish male within 20 miles was required to attend three major feasts in Jerusalem. Passover was one of them, so thousands upon thousands, if not up to a million or more, were in Jerusalem at this moment.

 Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, tells us that on one particular Passover around this time, between 66 and 70 AD, 256,000 lambs were slaughtered. One Passover, 256,000 lambs. It is not unusual to have one lamb to feed 10 people.

 So many scholars will say up to a million, some will even say 2 and 1/2 million people could have been in and around the city of Jerusalem at that time. You also need to know that there were massive preparations already in place for Passover season. Roads were repaired, bridges were fortified, graves were painted or whitewashed, so that you could see the white and get away from them. You’d never wanted to walk on a grave because you could become defiled as a Jewish person.

 This day is probably Sunday. That’s why we call it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. In the Jewish calendar, it was the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, Nisan the 10th. In our calendar, that would be April 6th 32 AD. Jesus enters Jerusalem from the East. It was probably a sunny day, most days around this season are in Jerusalem. Jesus entered from the East from Jericho. He had been in Jericho.

 You know what happened in Jericho? He met a short, little tax collector named Zacchaeus who wanted to get a look at him. He went to his house for lunch and won his heart. Zacchaeus could have even traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem. Also in Jericho there were two blind men that Jesus met, one by the name of Bartimaeus. Jesus healed both of them. They could have been with him in this entourage.

 So Jesus crests the Mount of Olives. He has been in town probably since Friday, because that’s when Sabbath starts, Friday evening. So he probably went to Lazarus’ house. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, that’s where he stayed in Jerusalem since the Sabbath, spent Friday, night Saturday, all day Saturday until Saturday evening. And then on Sunday morning he crests the Mount of Olives.

 When he does, he gives a strange request to his disciples. He’s never asked for this before– a donkey. Hey, go into that village and get a donkey. Bring them. If they say anything, just say the Lord needs it.

 Now, he has never asked for this before. Jesus has walked everywhere he has ever been, but there’s no word of argument here, like what? Get a what? And that’s because the disciples have learned by now that when Jesus tells them to do something, you don’t need to question him. He’s got something going on. There’s a good reason for it.

 So for example, the time when Jesus said, I need that lunch that kid brought today, because he took it and broke the bread and blessed it and multiplied it and fed thousands of people with it. Or the time when Jesus told his disciples who were fishing in the Sea of Galilee, hey, throw your nets on the other side of the boat like that would make a difference. But it made all the difference. They had a huge catch that day.

 Or when he was in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus gave the order to take jars of wine that were empty and fill them with water, which made no sense at all until Jesus turned them into wine and then everybody went, oh, that’s what he had in mind. So by now they have learned you don’t question him, you just do what he says, and so they did it.

 Now, what’s amazing about this story is that when you read it there’s lots of details that Jesus gives, and it’s as if, when you read it, it’s all been arranged. And that’s because it has been arranged. You’re going to go into this village. There’s going to be a guy. You’re going to see a couple of donkeys. They’re going to ask you this question, you’re going to say this, and then you’re going to bring it. It’s like, wow, wouldn’t you love direction like that? Wouldn’t you love every day to wake up and you have a little list of things to do that God gives you?

 And so you’re going to go to the gas station. You’re going to meet a man with a blue shirt. He’s going to be driving a red Ferrari. You’re going to go up to him and say, I need your keys. And he’s going to go what’s up with that? And then you’re just going to say, God needs it, and he’ll say here.


So two of the disciples were sent. We don’t know which two. I’m going to make a guess, and I think it’s a pretty good guess. I think Pedro and John went. I think it’s Peter and John, because during this same season of Passover, it says Jesus sends Peter and John into the city of Jerusalem to secure a upper room to eat the Passover in. He specifically sent them to get that done, so I’m guessing he probably used those two here.

 And I like to picture that, because I can just picture them talking to each other during this event. I can hear John saying, I’ll do all the talking, Peter. You’re a little rough around the edges. Besides, I’m the disciple Jesus loved. You can read that in my book, I said so. And then Peter saying, no, I’m the one that Jesus called blessed. Remember up and says Caesarea Philippi, blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah.

 So keep rank here, John, I’m going to do the talking. Whatever happened, happened. But what this illustrates is God’s sovereignty. God is never out of control. He has never not in control, and he is the master of this situation, absolutely in control of every single detail.

 Oh, here’s a detail that Matthew doesn’t add, but Luke does and Mark does. The donkey that Jesus rode, it says here, was a colt. But it says, upon which never a man had ridden, so Jesus getting on that donkey was the first time that donkey ever gave anybody a ride.

 Now, I think that shows sovereignty because an unbroken donkey is not nice. An unbroken donkey would buck like crazy. It wouldn’t like a blanket put on its back and then getting it around lots of people and putting palm branches in its face would not be a recipe for a good ride.

 Question, why a donkey? Why a donkey? Was it that Jesus just said, you know? I’m tired. I’d rather– instead of walking, I’d rather just get– I’ve always wanted a donkey ride on the Mount of Olives. No, we’re told why.

 It says in Verse 4, all this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet. Then he quotes the prophet in the next verse. He’s quoting Zechariah Chapter 9 Verse 9, tell the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, the colt, a foal of a donkey.

 That was a promise given 500 years before this event, 500 years. Matthew quotes it to show that God is sovereign. He is up to something. William Barclay says in his commentary, this was Jesus deliberately claiming to be their King. He’s presenting himself as their King. Like Zechariah said, the King is coming on a donkey.

 Now something also that is an important detail, kings rode horses in times of war. Kings road donkeys in times of peace, so this shows the Jesus’ appearance was not a political appearance. He’s not there to take anything over. My Kingdom is not of this world. He’s not there to fight. He didn’t come on a white horse. He will come on a white horse at his second coming, Revelation 19. He will come to make war, it says.

 But here he is offering peace. Here he is offering salvation to bring people into a state of peace with God. So we see Jesus in complete control, sovereignly orchestrating every single detail.

 And I just want you to hear that, especially those of you who have been thinking lately, my life seems out of control, operative word there– seems. Are you a child of God? Then it’s not out of control. It’s in perfect control. All things work together for good to those who love God.

 God is in control of everything. God rules the universe, we like to say, with His feet up. He’s not stressed. Sovereignty, that’s the first word. He is in control. The second word is humility, humility. God uses our resources.

 Look at Verse 3. “And if anyone says anything to you,” about the donkey that you’re going to get from that town, “if anybody says anything to you, you shall say,” here’s the magic phrase, “the Lord has need of it,” or need of them. “And immediately he will send them.”

 Now just meditate on this for a moment. The Lord has need of them. That sounds like an oxymoron. The Lord has need? Since when does God need anything?

 God doesn’t need anything. We say that God is a non-contingent being. One of the essential parts of God’s nature is that He is independent. He doesn’t need anyone. He doesn’t need anything.

 When Paul stood and addressed the philosophers in Athens on the Areopagus, he said, neither is he worshipped with men’s hands as though He needed anything, for he gives to all life, breath, and all things. God doesn’t need anything, but here Jesus said, just tell them the Lord has need of that.

 So this shows us God’s humility, that God is willing to condescend, to bow, to bend, to get down to our level, so that it can be said God needs something he has provided to somebody else. God didn’t need a donkey, and if God did need a donkey, couldn’t He just stand there and go poof, instant donkey. Go get one, say the Lord has need of it.

 So because of this attribute of God, His humility, we can say that God needed a donkey to ride. God needed a boat when Jesus stood on that boat and preach the gospel to a crowd. He needs a mountainside in Galilee from which to preach. He needed bread and fish in His hands to multiply to feed the multitude. He needed to borrow a tomb to stage a Resurrection after His death. So I say to you this morning, God needs your donkey. I’m not talking about your husband.


 I’m talking about whatever God has given you, put in your hands, whatever resource you say is your resource– this is my stuff. I’ve earned this. I own this. God needs your donkey, and the highest use of your stuff is when you allow God to use it for His glory. So God would say to you this morning, I want, I need, your donkey. I need whatever I have put in your hands.

 And so every year when we have an Operation Christmas Child, and we take all those boxes and all the gifts that we bring here, we could say God needs your shoe box this year. You keep the shoes, just give them the box and fill it with toys. God needs this property. God needs that piano, those drums. He wants to use it for His glory. Anything you place in His hands, He can bless and use.

 And why? Why is that? I think God loves when His kids can take part in kingdom work. This is what it’s like. When my son Nate was a toddler, seems so long ago, but seems like the other day for us, when he was a toddler, I needed to build a gate at my house, a little wooden gate.

 And so I was in the garage. I had it all measured. I had the wood. I had my hammer, screws, nails. I had everything set out. Nate comes in, little toddler, and goes, Dad, can I help build the gate?

 Now what’s Dad going to say when his son asks, can I help? I’m going to say, yes, you can help build the gate, absolutely. Knowing when I say that, he’s really not going to give me a lot of assistance that day. He’s a toddler.

 His hammer is a plastic hammer. His screwdriver is a plastic screwdriver. Dad, can I help? Sure. I know it’s probably going to take me longer with his help, but when it’s all done, you know what he says? He says, look what we did. Look what we built.

 And I think God takes particular pleasure when His kids allow God to use whatever their donkey is so they can say look what we did? And we can partner in kingdom work. The Bible says 1 Corinthians 3:9, we are co-laborers with Christ or we are God’s fellow workers.

 So that is humility, sovereignty followed by humility. Third word is punctuality, punctuality. Do you know that God is never late? He’s never late. Sometimes we think he’s like, God, you should have done this at that time. You’re late. No, you’re early. God is never late. He is perfectly always on time.

 So in Verse 6, the disciples went, did as Jesus commanded them. “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut down branches from trees, spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

 It is only John who informs us that on that day they took palm branches. That’s why we call it Palm Sunday. That’s because of the Gospel of John. If we didn’t have the Gospel of John, we wouldn’t call it Palm Sunday. It just says here, there were branches of trees. John says they were palm branches.

 Now, palm branches were a symbol of strength, resilience, because palm trees grow in adverse climates. They don’t need a whole lot of water, and they can withstand lots of temperature change. But 150 years before this event, another event happened in Jerusalem by the Maccabean Brothers, the Maccabee brothers. Judas Maccabeus, Simon Maccabeus, they delivered Israel from the Syrian threat.

 And when they were able to reinstitute the temple sacrifices again, the people celebrated with palm branches and with music and with dancing in the streets. So that was sort of in their psyche to do this. They see Jesus as a deliverer, sort of like a Maccabean come back.

 And so they spread their clothes in the road. That’s very symbolic. When you take something that is your coat, something you’re wearing, and you take it off, and you put it on the road for people or animals to walk on, that’s a sign of surrender. You’re saying, you can have all of me. You can even trample on my clothes. So they spread their clothes.

 And you’ll notice in Verse 9, they cried out saying Hosanna. Hosanna is a word that means save now. Save now, and they’re not just making this up. They’re quoting Psalm 118, which is a Messianic Psalm. Save now, Lord. Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

 So it’s an incredible event. When I mentioned punctuality, there’s more here than meets the eye. I want you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Luke for a moment. Keep your marker here, but turn over to the Gospel of Luke, and look at Chapter 19. It’s a parallel account. It’s the same event, but Luke tells a story, and he adds a few details. And I want you to see those details.

 In Luke Chapter 19 I want to show you how on time God is. Verse 37 of Luke 19, “then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying, blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.

 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, teacher, rebuke Your disciples. But He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these,” disciples, “should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

 I always tell people, when you stand on the Mount of Olives, reach down and pick up a stone. That’ll be your souvenir from Israel. Put it on your desk or put it on your coffee table at home. And when people say, what’s that? You can tell them that’s one of the stones that didn’t cry out.

 And they’ll say, well, what does that mean? You have an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. But I often wish that Jesus would have just said to His disciples, shh, don’t say anything. Watch this. I just wish he would have let this happen, the rock’s crying out. Wouldn’t that be cool? It’d be the first rock concert in history.


 Now you walked right into that.


OK, so I didn’t finish the story. I got sidetracked. Now Verse 41, “as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying,” now watch this, “if you had only known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace.

 But now they are hidden from your eyes for the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, and close you in on every side, and level you and your children within you, to the ground. They will not leave in you one stone upon another.” He is predicting what will happen in 70 AD. This did happen. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

 But watch this, read this, the last phrase. “Because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Jesus is holding the nation accountable for knowing the day, this day, the day of their visitation. You should have known about this day. You didn’t know that day of your visitation.

 Now, in the next few moments, I’m going to beg your attention. Full attention, no cell phone, no texting, no distraction. You need extra brainpower for this, because I want you to– I want to show you God’s punctuality. In Daniel Chapter 9, you don’t have to turn there, just listen to me. Daniel Chapter 9, there is a prophecy given called the 70 weeks of Daniel. It’s the Backbone of Prophecy, it’s called.

 Daniel gives the timing of the coming of the Messiah, and this is what he says. In Daniel 9 verses 24 through 26, 70 weeks are determined for your people and for your Holy city to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens and 62 sevens. The street and the wall will be built again, even in troublesome times.

 And after the 62 sevens, the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself. It’s an amazing detailed prophecy announcing the coming of the Messiah. And he says there will be 70 sevens. Some translations say 70 weeks. Some say 70 weeks of years. More modern translations translate it out 490 years, because the Hebrew construction is [HEBREW], 70 sevens, or 490 years.

 So get this, 490 years are determined for the city of Jerusalem and for the Jewish people for these things to happen, and from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens and 62 sevens or 69 sevens, or 483 years. From the going forth of the commander restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, 483 years.

 This so intrigued a guy by the name of Sir Robert Anderson about a century ago. He was the head of criminal investigation at Scotland Yard. It’s so fascinating to him he wrote a book called The Coming prince. It’s a very tedious book to read. I’ve read it. I have it.

 But he does the calculations. He calculated that 483 years according to the calendar would be 173,880 days exactly. So we know the date and history when a commandment went forth to restore and build Jerusalem. On March 14, 445 BC, Artaxerxes Longimanus, the Persian, said, restore and build Jerusalem, and you can build the wall and the streets again, just like the prophecy said.

 So Sir Robert Anderson said, well, that means if I count 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC, and if I go– I should be able to come to some significant date of the Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:24, 25, and 26, so he did. He did all the calculations, and he discovered that 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC took them all the way to April the 6th, 32 AD or the 10th of Nisan. Or the very day Jesus said, go get that donkey. I’m going on a little donkey ride. I’m going to present myself to the nation.

 And then he said, you should have known this your day. This is the day of your visitation. Another little detail, the 10th of Nisan was always the day– the 14th day of Nisan was Passover. The 10th day of Nisan is when the lambs were selected that you would sacrifice on the day of Passover. So here is the lamb presenting himself to the nation, holding them accountable for that day.

 How precise is God, right? How precise is God? Down to the detail. Now just let me give you a quick little warning. Some of you are going to go home, because you’re fascinated by this. And you’re going to come back, and you’re going to get really mad. You’re going to get right in my face. You go, you’re wrong. I did the math, and it’s not 173,880 days, it’s 176,295 days. That’s what you’re going to tell me.

 And if you do that, I’m going to tell you you’re wrong in your calculation. You’ve been using the Julian calendar or the modern calendar. You need to go back and use, not the solar calendar, but the lunar calendar, which isn’t in 365 and a third days. That’s the modern calendar, but 360 day year. That’s the lunar calendar. You use those calculations, and you’ll come up with April 6th, 32 AD.

 No wonder Jesus wept over the city. He showed up exactly when their prophet Daniel said He would show up. And He said, you should have known the day of your visitation.

 So that’s punctuality. Let me give you the fourth word and we’ll close– controversy. Controversy, he always divides. Verse 10 of our text, “and when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved.” It’s a very powerful word– moved. It’s used three times in the Gospel of Matthew always referring to an earthquake.

 But here it says they were moved. They were shaken by this. “The city was moved, saying,” now get this, they’re saying, who is this? You know, talk about the insanity of a crowd, here’s a crowd saying all this, Hosanna, bless God, praise God and then they’re going, what are we singing about? Who is this?

 Crowds can do that. You can get caught up in the melee of a crowd and not even know what the issue is. It’s just a crowd making a lot of noise. Who is this? So the multitude said, that is some who are in the crowd, “this is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” The crowd was moved. The problem is some in the crowd were moved toward Him, others in the crowd were moved away from Him.

 It’s not a homogeneous crowd. There’s different hearts. There’s different ways of looking at the same situation. Some are shouting Hosanna to the Son of David. Others are saying, like we saw in the Gospel of Luke, master or rabbi, teacher, tell your disciples to stop. Rebuke your disciples.

 The question for you is, how will it move you? Will that move you toward him or will it move you away from him? Now I love the exuberance of this moment. I love the fact that Jesus comes and some people are so stoked that they’re quoting Psalm 118, going, this is it. Hosanna, praise God, bless God, and it says they did it with a loud voice. Here it says in Verse 9, they cried out. I love exuberant praise. That’s how praise ought to be. It ought to be exuberant.

 I think some of us need to inform folks that Jesus is worth celebrating, because sometimes you come to church and Jesus risen from the dead, and it’s kind of like– yeah? Yawn. Oh, I’m supposed to say sing or get excited about Jesus being alive from the dead or something? I mean, it’s like, hello?

 Martin Luther was right. He said, you know, why is it in the secular field there’s such good music, but in the religious field there’s such lifeless, dead stuff? I think Martin Luther would like it here. Here we sing, and we sing with a loud voice.

 But a word about this crowd, as we bring this to a close, not everyone in that crowd, even those– not everyone singing Hosanna, praise the Lord, not everyone was a true disciple. This is a bandwagon effect. Some are shouting and saying, who is this? What’s going on?

 And some people in that crowd, in a few days, are the very ones who, when Jesus stands before Pilate, will say of Jesus, crucify him. Crucify him. They’ll turn in the other direction. And others, as we said, are mad about this– teacher rebuke your disciples.

 Here’s what’s fascinating to me, of all of the characters in the story, you know who’s the most compliant? The donkey. The very animal who is usually associated with stubbornness and non-compliance in this story is the most compliant. In Isaiah Chapter 1 the prophet said, the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know. My people do not consider.”

 I heard about a preacher who went to church on a Monday morning only to discover a dead donkey, which is an odd thing to find at church. So there he is looking at that dead donkey, doesn’t know who to call, so he gets on the phone, calls the police. The police tell him, well, is there evidence of foul play? He says, no, it’s just a dead donkey. He just looked like he just collapsed.

 And the police said, well, if there’s no evidence of foul play, it’s not under our jurisdiction. You need to call the health department. So he calls the health department. The health department said, well, it doesn’t sound like it’s a health hazard. So because it’s not a health hazard, it’s not under our jurisdiction. You need to call the sanitation department to come pick it up.

 So he gets on the phone, calls the sanitation department. Sanitation department also has– this is how government works– calls the sanitation department, sanitation department says, well, we can’t really pick up a dead donkey unless you get permission from the mayor. Well, the pastor knew the mayor, knew that the mayor was sort of cantankerous, stubborn, not easy to work with.

 But he calls the mayor on the phone. He goes, Mr Mayor, I have a dead donkey, and I’ve been told by this person to call that person to call that person. They all said I’ve got to call you to get permission. And the mayor got angry, and he said, why do you call me anyway? Isn’t it your job, preacher, to bury the dead? The preacher said, yes, Mr. Mayor, it is my job to bury the dead, but I always like to notify the next of kin first.


In this story, the Pharisees are the next of kin. Teacher rebuke your disciples. They’re the next of kin. Two questions as we close, number one, a God who is this accurate and this detailed, can you trust?

 Then why haven’t some of you trusted Him yet? Why haven’t you placed your life in His hands? Which is the follow up question, how will you respond in the day of opportunity, the day of your visitation? Will you be like the compliant donkey? Or will you be like the next of kin mayor?

 Father, this is an incredible story. It shows us so many things about Your nature, Your character. Things that we know from reading Your word and from our experience of walking with You. You are in control. you are absolutely, totally sovereign. But also it shows us that You are willing to stoop and bend Your humility of using common things, and even saying, I need that donkey.

 We’re amazed at Your punctuality, Lord, how perfectly timed this event was. And how Jesus showed up exactly on the date the prophet spoke of. But we also understand that not everybody sees Jesus or wants Jesus or talks of Jesus the same way.

 So Lord, I pray that this Jesus, not the ones we have made up, but this Jesus, the one who is the King, the one who presented Himself first to save the world from their sin, would be the one that has received today.


As we close the service, I’m giving you an invitation. If you have never surrendered your life personally to Christ, or if maybe you have done something like that in the past, but you’ve walked away from the Lord, you’re not living in obedience to him today, and you need to turn around on that road and come back to him. If you’re willing right now to say, Lord, receive me, forgive me, make me your child, renew and refresh my relationship with you.

 If that’s you, I want you right now just to raise your hand up in the air. Say, Lord, I give you my life, just raise your hand up, just keep it up for just a moment. Raise it up in the air, and just say, Skip, pray for me. Here’s my hand. In raising your hand, you’re just saying, I’m willing, I’m ready, to receive Christ as Savior or to come back to him as Lord and Savior.

 And then wherever you’re at, just say, Lord, come into my life, forgive me of my sin. I believe Jesus died for me on the cross and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin. I repent. I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow Him as Lord. Help me to do that in Jesus’ name, amen.

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