John 12: 12 – 19
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”
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16 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.
17 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. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
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This short passage marks a significant turn in the life of Jesus and His ministry on earth. Up to this point, whenever Jesus had performed a miracle, He kept asking the people to remain quiet concerning His identity. Now Jesus knew who He was, the Son of God. But He wanted people to know that there were many other aspects involved in who He was.
John accomplished this in his gospel account by using a number of “I am…” statement by Jesus. Such as “I am the Good Shepherd,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Each of these statements gives us more insight into the nature of who Jesus is, and what He can do for those who believe in Him.
John’s gospel also began with a statement made by John the Baptist, who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) And now we see Jesus being hailed by the people as “The King of Israel”. Are these two ideas in conflict with each other? We know a lamb was brought to an altar to be killed as a sacrifice, and a king comes to a throne to rule.
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The incredible thing about Jesus is that He was both the Lamb and the King at the same time. Once His first mission was accomplished of raising up a group of followers who believed in Him as their Messiah (the One whom God had chosen to save His people), then Jesus turned towards Jerusalem to be “crowned” as the King of Israel.
Notice His humility though as He rode in calmly and quietly on the back of a donkey. He knew that what would await this new King of Israel would not be a throne, but a cross where He would be crucified. The way He would lead His people would be through the road of sacrifice and death to self. As verse 16 says above, even Jesus’ disciples, His closest friends and companions did not realize at that time what was happening that day, or in the week to follow.
But the people who welcomed Him into Jerusalem saw their hope of a new era to be ushered in for the Jewish people. Many times before this passage, the religious leaders in Jerusalem had threatened to kill Jesus, and they had issued orders to the general populace that they would be thrown out of the Temple and synagogues if they followed after Jesus. But even this threat could not stop the praise of the people on this “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem.
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What I think is worth commenting on now at this point is to consider the things that people offered to Jesus as they worshipped Him as their coming King. I heard this in a sermon recently, and I think it’s worth passing along. We know from the other gospel accounts (see Matthew 21:1-11 for example) that the disciples went ahead of Jesus to ask a man who owned at least two donkeys to give them up for Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem.
We can suppose that this man was wealthy, or at least well off, having multiple domesticated animals. And so out of his wealth, he gave to Jesus as a way to honor His arrival. Then we see a number of people taking off their outer cloaks and spreading them on top of the donkeys and on the road before Jesus as He rode along. They gave out of what they personally owned that had value.
Some people had come to Jerusalem ready to celebrate the coming of the Passover Festival and had not brought anything extra with which they could offer something to Jesus. What were these people to do? Did they have anything they could give to Jesus? And the answer was yes, according to Matthew. They went into the fields and cut down palm branches to wave over Jesus and spread on the road to make it a smooth ride for Him as he entered Jerusalem.
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And how about you? Have you recognized Jesus for who He really is? He is the Lord of Life, and Sacrificial Lamb who gave His life in order that we could live eternally. And He is the Coming King, for He will come again one day to gather all those who believe in Him.
And all of us have something that we can offer to Jesus, even if we do not feel like we can offer much. The most important thing we can offer is our own lives, being obedient to Him as our Lord. In addition though, we all have some resources nearby, like those people who found the palm trees, that we can give to God as an act of worship. And God is pleased with whatever it is that we give to honor Jesus, the King of the Universe.
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