Sunday, March 16, 2008

HE COMES! John 12:12-19

John 12:12-15 
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."
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!"   (NIV)
Well, today, Pastor Stan had a little problem.  He was losing his voice.  He spoke in a very low voice.  It was 12 years ago Easter that he had the same condition.  Thanks to hot water and some medicated drops from a new friend and the Power of God, he was able to say...

Jesus knew what was ahead for Him. He had set His face toward Jerusalem for this very reason: to go to the Cross, just as it was written by the Prophets of Old.  

There are three times during the year that all Jews are supposed to go to Jerusalem. They were all religious celebrations and the population of the city really grew. As this great crowd was beginning to gather from around the country toward the central city of Israel news about Jesus was spreading. People were wondering whether He would come to this feast (11:55-56). On Sunday, the day after the party in Bethany at which Mary anointed Jesus, news arrives that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (v. 12), and a crowd of pilgrims, presumably those who had been wondering if He would come, goes out to meet Him.

Can you imagine the feeling of the crowd? You have heard of Him. Some of your group may have seen Him. Some others have even heard this amazing Man. Some had been healed by Him. One or two had been touched by His Hand. Many were asking some major questions as to WHO He really was and could this be the time of the deliverance from Roman rule?

People really wanted to know and there were plenty of other people who were in a place to tell them anything they wanted. Some, the truth, while others, twisted lies.  

And as the narrative tells us, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. This city had been the center of the Jewish culture long before King David. During the fight for the Promised Land, certain people lived within her walls. They were attacked and yet some stayed there as the Jewish people could not remove them.

The King of Salem was from there, or Melchizedek (found in Gen. 22 and in Hebrews 7. Melchizedek was the one Abraham gave his tithe to after Lot was set free.) And, as I mentioned just before, it was later called the City of David, his capital city and a city that was chosen by God to have His presence known and seen, as in the Temple.

A lot has gone on before this trip into the city. Back in John 11, Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died and Jesus called him out of the tomb after being dead for three days. People tend to take notice of such things. Before Jesus did His thing at the grave, He made an important statement. 

Look at John 11:25-26.
 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

I would guess that a verse like that would cause some to question, What does He mean? It sounds like something that does not make sense. Believe and die and lives and believes and never die. What does this all mean? It is all connected to this trip now to Jerusalem. Three things, this morning.

  1. Jesus came.
  2. They took.
  3. Jesus found.

1. Jesus Came. 
Even when there was a plot to kill Jesus, which He knew about, Jesus came. My most favorite story in John comes when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. John 9 tells of the the Blind man who was called to come to Jesus and was healed...all on His way to die. “As He went along…” sounds so innocent, yet, He KNEW. Yet He Came.

It was back at His birth, He first came. On that evening that Angles spoke to shepherds on the hilltops around Bethlehem, proclaiming the birth of the Promised One. And now, here He comes! Many were expecting a lot out of Him on this weekend! What a perfect time to announce that He would fight against the Romans! Almost all of Israel was in town. The garrison of Romans were there too but the sheer numbers of the people could put them down. The religious leaders were not siding on this Man’s side as they liked the power the Romans gave them. They were comfortable with how things were and Jesus bothered them big time. Yet Jesus came.

And today, He still comes as people look at Him, ignore Him, question His existence, ponder His Words. He comes today into our hearing as the One and Only Son of God who can and will take away all our sins and have us stand before the Creator God, clean. Jesus Comes today to do the same thing He came to do 2,000 years ago: to show us the only way to the Father’s Forgiveness and salvation! He comes. And people both open their hearts to Him and shut Him out. The time to open our hearts is NOW. NOW is the time for salvation!

2. They Took.
They took liberties with what they said and in most cases, I believe that they did not really know what they were talking about. They spoke out with words from the Psalms of Ascents (Ps. 118:25-26) and sang a Biblical welcome to Jesus. Caught up in the moment? Hard to know for sure but let’s look at the words they took--and spoke out to The Lord Jesus.

They cried out with the word HOSANNA! While in English, there is little deep meaning, in Hebrew, it is very deep and rich. It was a word that actually meant “Save!” or “Help!” which became an exclamation of praise. This was a word that people used to address the king with a deep need. (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26)

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Ps. 118: 26. There is not a truer statement every spoken. Jesus was coming in the Name of the Lord!  

Then there is the matter of the Palm branches… These are symbolic of a victorious ruler. It was during the Maccabean revolt that these were used as a rally point for the cause: to remove foreign powers from Israel. This would make the religious leaders nervous as the Roman government would take notice that maybe a revolt was in the making.

While both the cry for help and the palm branches were powerful pointers to a powerful Man, what came next is even more important. They added a further line of “Blessed is the King of Israel!” They saw Jesus as the leader who could throw off the Roman rule. He could feed them, heal them, raise the dead to life and grant peace. He was the Number One kind of a leader. He was their answer but their answer was not connected to the right question. Back in John 6:15, the crowds wanted to force Jesus to become their leader but He did not. They took the situation at hand and tried to force Jesus to be a ruler of men. He could establish everlasting peace and subdue the Gentiles. But they took too much for granted, because He…

...3. He found a young donkey to sit on. Not a horse of power but a donkey. It blew their plans right out of the water! Jesus was always a number of steps ahead of the people. They were looking for Him to do this and He did that! To say this and He says that! There was no real power in the things the people had in mind for Jesus. What is it to be king of people when you are already King of the Universe! They did not ‘get it!’ They did not put the events of Jesus coming into Jerusalem and the Writings together. They did not grasp what was happening there then and I dare say, many do not grasp the importance today either.

Jesus found new meaning for the words of the Prophets. They cried out “HELP!” and “SAVE!” and that is just what Jesus came to do for them and for us all today. To help us and save us from the darkness of sin in our lives. “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” This really speaks of Jesus.  

Jesus found now the right time to be there. He’d been to this city many times before. Sometimes, He would almost sneak in. Other times, like the first time, when He was 12, with his parents, he was doing His Father’s Will. Now, too. This is the reason for this trip. He was to give Himself as a ransom for the penalty of sin in our lives. He went to the Cross a few days later, while those crowd were screaming out for His Blood! May have been the same people-don’t know for sure-and now they hated Him! Wanted Him dead.

What do you want? What do you say? “Help me!” Or “Die, You interferer of my life!”? How do you greet Him today says a lot about how He deals with you during the week to come. Jesus comes into our lives today...What will you take-what will you say to Him? Has He found a resting place in your heart?

Will you welcome Him into your heart today?

Just a reminder of what is going on NEXT SUNDAY!
It starts with a SonRise Service at 7AM just outside the Kokukoen Station on the Park side, a few dozen steps from the exit.  If it is really raining, don't come, as it will be very hard on us being outside and all.  Showers or a light snow fall (!) would be OK.  (I hope for warm, dry weather!)
At 8:30, back at ICCS (6-16 Enoki-Cho, Tokorozawa) we will be serving a short breakfast including good hot coffee and Tea!  
Then stay for GrowZone, part of ICCS' Christian Education Program--for all ages at 9:30.
Worship in the main downstair hall starts at 10:30, so plan to come a little early as many CEO will be there as well.
The Lord has Risen!
He has Risen, indeed!