April 1, 2012: Who Is This?

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we lift our hearts and voices toward praising You holy name! For today You have come into our midst to save, deliver, and comfort us! You have come to show forth Your glory while giving us Your love. Lord, may we never tire of announcing Your victory over sin and death on our behalf, and may we never neglect living Your forgiveness, either. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

TEXT: Matthew 21: 1-11

Dearly Beloved By Christ Who Have Come to Praise the King!

The Lord provides! In this case, the Lord provided me with some interesting news I want to share with you today. I ran across an article sent to me by a fellow pastor I knew as a teenager. He quotes some intriguing statistics.

Did you know that there are more than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah which Jesus fulfilled? By the laws of chance, the conservative odds of just 48 of those prophecies being fulfilled by one man are one in 10 to the 157th power—that’s 10 followed by 157 zeroes! In his book, “The Holy Bible—Wholly True,” a fellow named Winkie Pratney has written this:

“We’ll take a very small object, let’s say an electron. (Electrons are so small that if you lined them up, it would take 2 ½ quadrillion of them to equal one inch). Now let’s go back to our figure of 10 to the 157th power. If you tried to put this many electrons into a big pile, it would be 10,000,000,000 times larger than the universe as we know it—which scientists calculate to be 6,000,000,000 light years across. (A light year is the distance that light will travel in one year, moving at the speed of 86,000 miles per second). Now, take just one electron out and color it red. Stir it back into the pile with all the others. Then blindfold a man and send him to pick it out—the first time! Impossible! These would be the same odds that one would live and die according to only 48 of the prophecies about the Messiah if it were only an accident.” Amazing isn’t it?

Well, on this Palm Sunday we run across a few of those prophecies and their fulfillment in Christ. And as we examine all this, I want you to ponder the exact same question that the people of Jerusalem asked that first Palm Sunday. Namely,

WHO IS THIS?

I

Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the Messiah, Who came to save God’s people from the ravages of sin and eternal death. In this small section of Matthew’s gospel we see a few of the prophecies about His coming fulfilled. First, there is the timing of the day. Did you know that the very day Jesus entered the city was the same day that the devout Jews chose their Passover lambs to kill and eat later that week? Of course, Jesus was the real Lamb of God and on Palm Sunday He chose to take up the job of offering Himself for our sins.

Then there is the reference to Zechariah’s ancient prophecy about the coming of the Messiah. “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Just like the ancient ark of the covenant had to be pulled in a cart by animals never used for any work before, so Christ road into the city on a colt of a donkey who had never been ridden. (The colt’s mother was brought along so that the it would go willingly.)

Additionally, at the sight of this spontaneous parade the people waved palm branches in the air to celebrate. This was the accepted practice used in celebrating the great Old Testament jubilee when the people walked around the altar waving such branches and shouting “Hosanna!” Note also that Hosanna means: “help, save, or deliver us.” Just as the prophet Haggai stated in chapter 2 vs. 9 concerning the new temple: “And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord.” Yes, since Christ is the Living Temple of the Lord incarnate in His body, in His person peace and deliverance have come!

II

Who is this? It is Jesus! The one who stirred hearts! The crowd was large around the city that Sunday. Pilgrims from around the known world had come to celebrate the Passover. They were camped out all around the city walls. As Jesus approached with His disciples, their hearts were stirred. They wiped the sleep from their eyes. They acknowledged His lordship and His kinship with David of old. “Hosanna to the son of David!” Imagine the scene. Men climbing into the palm trees to cut branches. Women cheering. Kids running around. Dogs barking. They were excited because the Holy Spirit had stirred their hearts and was preparing them for welcoming God’s eternal Son. As Christ said elsewhere when asked by the Pharisees to shush the crowd: “If they keep silent the stones will cry out!”

Meanwhile Jesus begins this march to the cross by looking just up the hill to Gethsemane where He would suffer so greatly 5 days later. He looks down into the Kidron Valley where Golgotha and death would greet Him, or rather, He would greet them. No doubt, His heart was stirred, too. Because soon, soon, He would win the greatest victory the world has ever known.—A victory over death via His death and resurrection.

III

Who is this? It is Jesus, Who elicits praise! The crowds praised Him. Thousands lifted their voices to honor Him as their King. Yes, in their words: “Hosanna in the highest” the crowd was mirroring the angelic choir at that first Christmas: “Glory to God in the highest peace on earth and good will toward men.”

You have come today to be reminded of this parade of praise and to join in it. You have come to honor in advance Jesus—your Savior. We don’t wave palm branches around to do it. No, we use our voices, our hands, our feet, our hearts, yes our entire lives. For Christ is the King of all the Living! He is the King Who makes us alive inside through faith in His sacrifice, in His victory over death.

Christians often forget that the greatest thing they can do to honor Christ is to praise Him. It sounds so simple. Yet, it is true. And God never, ever, turns down our praise. Not when it comes from a humble heart. “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Today you and I can give an even more complete answer than that. For through prophecy fulfilled we know that This is our Savior, the Son of God! Yes, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Amen