Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 21:9 Holman Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who
followed kept shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He
who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Psalm 118:26 was the basis of this chorus of praise. “Hosanna” meant save now. “In the highest” meant they regarded His coming as a gift from God above.
For the Twelve, this event was a pleasant memory. For the rest of their lives, they would relish this happy moment from their past, seeing it as a foretaste of their happiest time yet to come in their future.
For the other onlookers in Jerusalem, this event would be a disappointing memory. They would remember it as the day they thought their conquering warlord had come, but they were wrong.
One reason they were so fickle is, they had no grasp of what they had shouted about. They wanted it to be all about them. The Jerusalem crowd was much more concerned about what Jesus could do for them than for what they could do for Jesus. Despite their hoopla for Him, it was in the end about them, not Him.
Too many are most concerned about what they can muscle or leverage from God. Listening to a cassette in my car, I once heard Peter Lord ask a group of preachers, what is the number one goal of your life? I said to myself, “To build a great church”. No sooner had I thought it till he said, if your chief goal is to build a great church, you are a religious idolater. I was so taken aback that I almost swerved my car into a ditch. Peter Lord taught us God is never to be the means to an end. Everything starts with Him, flows from Him, and ends in Him. Rare are the ones who serve Jesus for His sake, who seek His face rather than His hands.
“Hosanna,” in addition to being a request meaning save now, was a word of congratulations and good wishes, much like our words hurrah and huzzah. This raises a new thought for me. I owe Spurgeon for it. There is a limit to what we can do for God, but no limit to what we can wish for Him. If we can’t serve God adequately with deeds, lay wishes on the altar. Give Him a desire, what you wish for Him. If we can’t do a needed task, ask God to do it through someone else.
I can’t preach all over the world as I should, but I’ll do what I can, and pray for places I can’t reach. I can’t force others to serve Jesus, but I can wish for them to serve Him, and pray they will do it. This is a wonderful way we can bless Jesus. We can let Him know we hurt for Him, for all He deserves but does not receive.
Matt. 21:10a When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken,
“Shaken” translates the word we derive “seismic” from. Long suppressed emotions exploded. Jesus always seems to be shaking things up. He had already shaken Jerusalem at least twice. Thirty-three years earlier the Holy City was shaken by traveling Magi, who asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (MT 2:2a). Twelve years later, Jerusalem was shaken again, this time by the presence of a child prodigy who’s knowledge astounded the religious leaders.
Springfield, Missouri, like every other city in the USA, needs a spiritual shaking. It has had other kinds of shakings. President Truman came here in 1952 for a reunion with his WW1 buddies. While he was here, an actor named Ronald Reagan was in town promoting his new movie. There’s a famous picture of the current and future Presidents close to one another during a parade here.
Elvis Presley performed here in 1956 and 1975. It’s fair to say our city was “All Shook Up”. Every time Brad Pitt and/or Angelina Jolie come to town, Twitter and Facebook are shaken up with clandestine sightings of them in stores.
Now Springfield’s greatest need is for a shaking that is spiritual. I remind us, the excitement at the Triumphal Entry was started by the disciples. They were the first to lay robes down. As long as we are in a society where over 80% of believers have never shared their faith with an unbeliever, we need to quit wondering why things are going sour spiritually, and to pray for a shaking that starts with us.
We are underestimating the vast extent of our problem. If we focus only on our holy huddles, we don’t see how unchurched our area is. Lostness abounds in Springfield. At least two-thirds of the people in our county are not in church today.
Springfieldians generally don’t hate the Gospel. They just don’t care to hear it. They have, like people elsewhere in the Bible Belt, just enough religion to be dangerous. They suffer from repentance immunity due to religious inoculation.
Doses of religion in the past are making it harder for unbelievers to absorb it now. Something extraordinary is needed to shake them from their spiritual stupor. That “something extraordinary” is a mighty work of God in us believers.
Sadly, being catalysts for shaking our city is often the last thing we believers want to do. We expect no power in prayer, and seem to fear the title fanatic. You who love calm or dull, worry not. There’s little danger of our shaking Springfield.
We need Heaven-sent help, a mighty touch from God. If we are not praying for revival, we’re playing. Our task is to stay faithful, keep our hands to the plow, and pray without ceasing for God to touch Earth. The Holy Spirit is our only hope.
Matt. 21:10b-11 . . .saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds kept saying, “This
is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”
Jesus was the prophet predicted to come and be like Moses (DT 18:18). The promised One had arrived in Jerusalem. He was on His way to the best deed in all of history. The cheering crowd was on its way to the worst deed in human history.
“Who is this?” “Who is this?” You can almost hear the buzz flying across the crowd. They weren’t the last to ask the question. Everything hinges on Jesus. He always has to be reckoned with, and if He is not God, He is very hard to classify.
Even angels are in awe of Him. They look down on the mercy seat with amazement and wonder. “Who is this?” Virgin-born, equal with God, God incarnate, rose from death, ascended to Heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand.
“Who is this?” The question must be asked now in humility and love, or later in terror. “Who is this?” Some ask out of curiosity. They are truly seeking.
I once knew a great soulwinner who asked a person first, “Have you been thinking about spiritual things lately?” He felt if they said no, the Spirit probably was not dealing with them, but if they said yes, he went through the open door.
“Who is this?” Some ask out of contempt. I’m sure many in the crowd snarled at Jesus being a carpenter. “Next thing you know, fishermen will be sitting on thrones.” Frustrating. But don’t count angry people out. The Gospel has power. The cynic says, “No it doesn’t.” I say it has enough power to get your dander up.
A person angry with the Gospel is often easier to win than a complacent person. “We cannot do anything with logs” (Spurgeon). People with no energy are listless. Give me a spirited argument before you give me a boring nap.
Matt. 21:12a Jesus went into the temple complex. . .
Jesus went to the city’s spiritual center, not to the palace. He was not on a political mission. Why would He have wanted a palace? He left one in Heaven.
Jesus went to the temple. He was always conscientious about attending the synagogues and temple, places of public worship. The book of Hebrews reinforced this by saying we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (10:25).
Jesus cared about the public expressions of worship. Some believers say they don’t need church gatherings, and can be spiritual on their own. They evidently see themselves as stronger than John the Baptist, the second greatest man who ever lived. When isolated from other believers, John doubted (MT 11:3).
“The man who neglects private devotion may often attend public; but it is very seldom, I think, that the man who customarily neglects public, attends private worship. I confess to have little faith in the private devotions of those who systematically neglect the social devotions of God’s people” (David Thomas).
Let me echo David Thomas in throwing down this gauntlet. What is your valuation of public worship? I fear several of us are here in church today because we happened to have no other commitments on our calendar. It can become easy to let all other excuses, however trite, cause us to okay our absence from church.
You who devalue public worship, how is your walk before God? Where do your tithes go? What ministry do you serve in? What mission trip have you taken lately? What missionaries do you help? How often do you take the Lord’s Supper?