At this time every year we celebrate “Palm Sunday” in churches all over the
world. Most of the time our celebrations vary little – children process
down the aisle waving palm branches, we sing songs of praise to the King who
has come, and the preacher speaks for a few minutes about Jesus’ triumphal
entry into Jerusalem. It is a festive day of celebration for the people who
gather at the church, but I have to be honest with you – it’s tough on
preachers. You may be wondering, “How so?” Well, let me explain to you if
you will allow me. If a preacher stays at a church any more than a couple of
years then the preacher has to work, struggle, and pray for something fresh
to say about the story of Jesus’ riding into town. There are only so many
ways that you can tell the same story over and over and over again.

I have been here for more than a few years now and each year Palm Sunday becomes more difficult for me to come up with a “new” sermon. There is that old temptation of pulling something out that I’ve already done before, but I
reject that option as nothing more than laziness. This week I’ve gone back
to the wisdom spoken to me by my pastor, Dr. David Darnell, many years ago
when he said, “Mike, be humble before God’s Word and He will speak to you.
As I have tried to do that this week I had the most exciting thought that
I’ve had in some time. This morning instead of just telling you the story I
want us to take each of the four Gospels that records the story of Jesus
triumphal entry into Jerusalem and look at them together.

I have to tell you as we begin our study that Palm Sunday was much more
than simply a festive celebration for Jesus. The day was filled with all
kinds of emotional experiences for Jesus. On Palm Sunday Jesus experienced
joy, conflict, anger, and heartbreak all before He laid down His head to go
to sleep at the end of the day.
Let’s get busy taking a look at our Scriptures for the day. The triumphal
entry of Jesus is recorded in every one of the four Gospels in our Bible.
Turn to Matthew 21:1-17 and let’s begin.
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you,
and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie
them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, tell him that
the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4This took place to
fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the
foal of a donkey.'” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed
them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them,
and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The
crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to
the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!” 10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was
stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the
prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12Jesus entered the temple area and drove
out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the
money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13″It is written,” he
said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are
making it a ‘den of robbers.'” 14The blind and the lame came to him at the
temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of
the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the
temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16″Do you
hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus,
“have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have
ordained praise’?” 17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany,
where he spent the night. (Matthew 21:1-17)
As we begin our study you need to know that there are similarities in each
of the four Gospels concerning Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the back of a
young donkey. Even though four different men wrote the accounts of the
entry of Jesus we find that their retelling of the stories have given us one
complete, awe-inspiring story of truth given to bless us, challenge us, and
motivate us to fall at Jesus’ feet. Let me share with you some of the
similarities we find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s telling of the story
of Palm Sunday.
All four of the writers of the Gospels tell us that the occasion was the
gathering of the people in Jerusalem for the Passover, the holiest season of
the year for the Jewish people. All four of the writers of the Gospels tell
us that Jesus rode into town on a young donkey, the fulfillment of what God
had told His people through the prophet Zechariah.
9Rejoice 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)
Five hundred years before Jesus came riding into Jerusalem God had already
ordained how Jesus would enter the city. God takes care of the details!
Let’s go on. All four writers tell us that as Jesus came riding into town
the people spread things on the ground. Some laid down their cloaks while
others laid down palm branches or waved them as He rode by. All four of the
writers of the Gospels tell us that as Jesus rode past the crowds the people
shouted – wait a minute, I know somebody doesn’t believe me this morning.
“We don’t shout in our church,” somebody is thinking to themselves right
now. As a matter of fact, if anyone even says, “Amen” we turn around and
give them one of those chastisingly cold Christian stares. Well, let me go
biblical on you for a moment and just share what God’s Word says to us. In
Matthew we read,
9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna
to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
Some would say that Matthew’s own personality was shining through. Some
would say that Matthew was oriented toward a more charismatic worship style
so he included this little phrase in his writing. Well, if that is the
possibility that we are dealing with then let’s take a look at what Dr.
Luke, Mark, and John have to say about what occurred when Jesus rode into
town. If Matthew was embellishing the story because of his own preference
for his worship style then surely one of the other three men were of a
different worship persuasion. Mark says,
9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is
he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10″Blessed is the coming kingdom of
our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
Luke writes,
37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,
the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for
all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the
name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Finally, we read what John has to say,
13They 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!”
“Hosanna!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord!” Shout it from the rooftops! Shout it when you are feeling
low! Shout it when He wins the victory in your life! Shout it when He gets
you up in the morning! Shout it because He’s brought you through the day!
Shout it when He gives you food for your table! Shout it cause He has saved
you, delivered you, and caresses you with His everlasting love! You may not
want to shout it, but I declare to you today that if you don’t shout it the
rocks will cry out praising His name. (Luke 19:40)
The people were not shouting for no reason, they had so many reasons to
shout my friends. They were seeing what they had always longed for unfolding
before their eyes. As good Bible students they had read the prophet
Zechariah, and they had read the Psalmist who wrote in Psalm 118.
25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in
the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. 27 The LORD
is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join
in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God,
and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give
thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalms
118:25-29)
For so many years the Jewish people, all of God’s people, had yearned for
day when the King would come. The King had come! He rode into town and the
people saw the visible answer to their prayers before their eyes. This gave
them ample reason to shout at the top of their voices, “Blessed is he who
comes in the name of the Lord!”
It was a great moment for the people and it was a great moment for Jesus,
but do not be deceived into believing that all was well on Palm Sunday.
There is another similarity shared with us by the writers of the Gospels and
that is conflict. While the celebration was taking place in the streets
there was seething anger arising in the hearts of some of those who had
gathered there for the processional. Matthew tells us,
14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful
things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the
Son of David,” they were indignant. 16″Do you hear what these children are
saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From
the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”
In Mark’s gospel the anger rages on as Mark tells us,
18The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking
for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was
amazed at his teaching.
Dr. Luke saw the same anger rising up from the crowd as the Scribes and
Pharisees were incensed with what was taking place. Luke writes,
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your
disciples!” 40″I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will
cry out.”
And finally, in John’s Gospel we find that the religious leaders not only
wanted to do away with Jesus, but they furious that the people would find
such joy in celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city. Take a look,
19So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere.
Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
I don’t know about you but there is something rather strange that strikes
me about Palm Sunday. It isn’t the young colt that Jesus rode into town on.
It has nothing to do with the fact that people took off their cloaks and
laid them down on the ground. I’m really not that overwhelmed by the waving
of palm branches. What does puzzle my mind and baffle my spirit is the fact
that at one event there can be such division. Jesus rode into town and some
of the people were overwhelmed by the goodness of God while other folks were
seething with anger. Some of the people were willing to lay down the only
cloak they had to be trampled by on by the people and possibly even the
donkey carrying Jesus while others turned their backs in protest while He
rode by. Some people said, “God is so good!” while others said, “The whole
world is following after Him — look how we have failed!”
I believe that God has given us His Word precisely as it is for a reason.
The question that jumps out at us today is, “Why has God chosen to show us
celebration and confrontation right along side of one another and at a high
point of Jesus’ life?” Great question! I am convinced that God allowing us
to see that Jesus can at the same time be the source of celebration for us
while being the source of seething anger for others.
As we look around today we can see how Jesus brings great joy and
celebration to some around us, hopefully even to us. He is the song of our
heart. He is the strength of our life. We see Him as the reason for
living. Our love for Him has caused us to want to rearrange our lives so
that they are pleasing to Him. We count it a privilege and a blessing to
offer our lives to Him in service because we know that He gave His life for
us as a sacrifice.
There is also another group present with us this morning. They see Jesus
as a duty. They don’t get to go to church they “have” to go to church. They
see tithing as a burden, they say, “the church only wants my money.” They
say, “How can I give!” instead of “How can I give?” The Jesus of the Bible
confronts their “old time religion” ideas and they don’t like it or Him.
They would like nothing more than the crowd of adoring worshippers to sit
down, shut up, and go away.
I found something interesting as I was studying these Scriptures this past
week. It is tucked away in a little verse in John’s Gospel. You won’t find
the verse in any of the other Gospels, but it has jumped out at me from John
and captured my heart. Let me read it to you.
20Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the
Feast. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a
request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”
Amidst the celebration and the conflict there were a group of Greeks. They
weren’t part of the great celebration because they were not Jewish. They
certainly weren’t part of the anger and virulent hatred swirling around the
Scribes and Pharisees. They didn’t need a palm branch to wave. They didn’t
have to stand along the processional route. They just wanted to see Jesus.
They just wanted to see Jesus.
I hope and pray this Palm Sunday that your heart is the heart of those
Greeks who had gathered at Jerusalem. How will welcome the King this Palm
Sunday? Will it be with celebration? Are you glorying in His love, His
coming as King to touch our lives. Or have you come to church today because
someone drug you against your will? The family wanted to go to church on
Palm Sunday and you felt pressured to go along with the family. Is Jesus
just some fictional character that you believe everyone has gotten far too
worked up over? You know what? It doesn’t matter how you walked into this
church this morning. What matters is how you walk out. God’s heart is that
you would desire to see Jesus and Him alone. If that is your desire won’t
you act on that desire this morning and ask Him to come into your heart?

Mike Hays
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 7314
hazemon@flash.net

1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount
of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the
village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied
there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone
asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will
send it back here shortly.'” 4They went and found a colt outside in the
street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there
asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6They answered as Jesus had
told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to
Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread
their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the
fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the
coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” 11Jesus
entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything,
but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. 12The
next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the
distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When
he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season
for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you
again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus
entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and
selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the
benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry
merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, “Is
it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all
nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” 18The chief priests and
the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him,
for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19When evening came, they went out of the city. (Mark 11:1-19)

29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of
Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30″Go to the village
ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no
one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why
are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'” 32Those who were sent
ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33As they were untying the
colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They replied,
“The Lord needs it.” 35They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the
colt and put Jesus on it. 36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on
the road. 37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount
of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud
voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your
disciples!” 40″I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will
cry out.” 41As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it
42and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring
you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43The days will come upon you
when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and
hem you in on every side. 44They will dash you to the ground, you and the
children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another,
because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” 45Then he
entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. 46″It
is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you
have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” 47Every day he was teaching at the temple.
But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the
people were trying to kill him. 48Yet they could not find any way to do it,
because all the people hung on his words.
(Luke 19:29-48)

12The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus
was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They 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!” 14Jesus 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.” 16At 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. 17Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the
tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18Many
people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went
out to meet him. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is
getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” 20Now
there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast.
21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request.
“Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22Philip went to tell
Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. (John 12:12-22)

How Will You Welcome The King?
Matthew 21:1-17
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