Jesus Enters Jerusalem – John 12:13-19
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 2, 2015
Living in a small town like Wenatchee growing up we used to get excited when the Fair used to happen each summer, but imagine how excited we were when we found out that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus was coming to town! Sure, we had seen the Shrine Circus and the Wenatchee Youth Circus, but now there would be actual animals like elephants, lions, tigers, and bears… oh my! And they would have a big parade downtown! Everyone for miles around came to the parade.
Now imagine living in an area that has seen, heard, and some had experienced the ministry and miracles of Jesus. Can you imagine what would happen if the folks heard he was coming to the Passover in Jerusalem, especially after raising the man Lazarus from the dead? Needless to say, hundreds of thousands of people would come for the Passover in Jerusalem, and even more would try to see, hear, or experience Jesus if he came as well. However, there were those who were not as excited to see or know that Jesus would be there for the Passover. Let’s discover what happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem…
“And the crowd goes wild” is an expression we often hear during sporting events, but for a religious occurrence, hardly ever. Yet John describes for us that…
I. Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowd! (Vv. 12-16)
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!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
1. A wild enthusiasm over Jesus broke out. Thousands of pilgrims had come to the Passover, and evidently they had seen some of his miracles. Previously Jesus had rejected the role of a political Messiah but perhaps the crowd thought now was the right moment to declare Jesus their king. Jerusalem was the city of the great King and Jesus, the Messiah, was coming into it. Waving their palm branches, symbols of victory, the people were shouting “Hosanna!” “Hosanna” in Hebrew means “Please save” or “Save now”. Notice they also prematurely shout, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Thinking Jesus would declare himself as their ruler. Of course Jesus kind of reinforced this notion by finding “a young donkey” and riding in on it to the acclaim of the adoring crowd. Jesus and the disciples were approaching Jerusalem from the east as they came up the road from Jericho. When they reached the town of Bethphage east of the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead to find a donkey. All four gospels testify about this. Was Jesus actually trying to declare himself king of Israel or did he have something else in mind? I believe the latter. John related that it was a direct representation of what the Prophet Zechariah foretold which contrasted with Jesus’ coming when he declared, “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.” (Zechariah 9:9 NIV) Sadly, even his closest associated missed the point to what was occurring. Hindsight is better than foresight and they had not experienced Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection yet, so, “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.” Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowd!
EXAMPLE: It is exciting to go to some sporting events. At hockey games you hear the pipe organ sound play the familiar chords datta-duh-duh-da; at basketball games you get the announcer who yells, “Are you ready for this?!!!” At football games you hear the build up right before the team comes through the tunnel with smoke, fireworks, and cheerleaders! And well at soccer games you get horns blowing, people dancing the conga, and all sort so weirdness. But would you expect that at a religious celebration? I have read where Billy Sunday used to come out onstage by doing back-flips and I have heard and read where some mega-churches do some pretty weird things with tigers and live animals, but really? Can there be a false crowd-induced atmosphere? Certainly, and curiously here in John’s gospel we discover a celebratory mood as Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowd!
However, not everything was as it should be with the entire crowd. In fact, we find that…
II. Jesus entered Jerusalem to the disdain of the leadership! (Vv. 17-19)
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
1. Not everyone was so enthusiastic over Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. In fact, some saw it as a threat to their way of life, their power structure, and their own personal influence. The crowd, like most herds, was oblivious to the machinations of the Jewish leadership. John writes, “Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.” Not the word of God, the gospel, but rather the word that Jesus, the one who had raised Lazarus, was coming to town! That perhaps Jesus was indeed the proclaimed Messiah coming true! The size of the crowd kept growing. The news that Lazarus rose from the dead spread through Jerusalem and the area, and others surged out to see Jesus and proclaim him king of the Jews. It was a moment of great popular and emotional acclaim, but sadly like many of the people today they had little spiritual perception or depth. Rather motivated by the crowd mentality and the emotion of the moment, they readily rushed out to meet Jesus. Crowds are easily swayed and the Jewish leadership knew this, just like many dictators, politicians, and preachers. John comments, “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!'” When one who enjoys their prestige loses their influence they always lament in the extreme. However they knew that the crowd would emotionally follow for the moment the one they wanted and their hard won schemes were getting them “nowhere.” Now they lament, “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” In the immortal words of Snidely Whiplash, “Curses, foiled again!” Jesus entered Jerusalem to the disdain of the leadership!
EXAMPLE: It is hilarious to watch some people and how they respond to different things. The expressions folks get on their faces over things they do not like or do not want to see. There are whole YouTube videos devoted to babies, children, and adults and how they respond to different situations. The Fine Brothers have created a whole plethora, which means a large variety, of these popular videos. Go figure. I like the ones where kids react to old computers or dial phones. You should see what I see sometimes on Sunday mornings and how some the congregation reacts. Not all of these reactions are good. And we discover that John related that Jesus entered Jerusalem to the disdain of the leadership!
Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowd! Jesus entered Jerusalem to the disdain of the leadership! Now how will you react to Jesus this morning, with disdain or acclaim?
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.