There are 12 nights til Christmas. But can you imagine if Christmas never came? The school holidays never arrive? The bad weather lasts forever? The turkey never comes? At the start of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that is what it's like in Narnia. The White Witch has put Narnia under a curse. But there is one foretold who will defeat the witch, and undo the curse: Aslan. One of the characters, Mr Beaver has great expectations of Aslan to set all wrongs to rights. He tells Edmund an old rhyme that the Narnian's treasure:
"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of the roar, sorrows will be no more.
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have Spring
Narnia is a land full of expectation. They're waiting for Aslan. As we step into the book of Luke this morning, we need to know that Israel was a land full of expectation too. The Jews were expecting the Messiah, the Christ – God's promised king who would set all wrongs to rights. They expected a king who would defeat their enemies, and rule in power from Jerusalem. We'll see today that Jesus challenges and fulfils their expectations.
Since Chapter 9 Jesus has had his sights set on Jerusalem. That is where he'll complete his mission. In verse 28 Luke signals Jesus is now close to his aim:
"After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem."
But he will not fulfil his mission in the way people expect. He doesn't come to Jerusalem in power, but in weakness. To complete his mission he must die, rise again and one day return in power. We saw that last week. This week we'll see that Jesus is the promised king who offers peace.
Firstly, we see Jesus is the King who offers peace with God. That's my first point: Jesus is the king who offers peace with God. Jesus enters Jerusalem amongst great expectation. Just as the inhabitants of Narnia had held onto rhymes promising the return of Aslan, so the Jews knew the promises about God's king.
As Jesus enters Jerusalem he shows himself to be God's promised king who offers peace.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Zechariah wrote of the promised king:
"Rejoice 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. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth."
What do we learn about this king? He brings salvation – peace with God. He's gentle. He comes to his people on a colt, the foal of a donkey. More than that, this king will rule the nations in perfect peace; there will be peace on earth.
Hold that in mind. Let's go back to Luke. What does Jesus do when he enters Jerusalem? Look with me at verse 29:
As 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. 31 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' "
Jesus is giving a clear signal as he accepts the VIP treatment. He enters Jerusalem not on a war-horse as other kings might have, but on a humble colt. He's saying I am the King who offers peace with God. I am the king who offers peace on earth. Jesus is the one who fulfils expectations, but he challenges them too. He shows he is the king of peace, but gives no indication he'll defeat the Romans now. Remember, he first must die, rise and then return to rule in power.
Jesus challenges, and fulfils our expectations today too. After the Paris attacks there was an outpouring of grief. Because we're made in the image of God we have a longing for peace. But because of our rebellion our longings for peace are often misdirected. Instead of looking to God, we turn to ourselves.
There was the story of the man in the news who packed his grand piano onto his trailer and drove 400 miles to Paris to play John Lennon's Imagine outside the Bataclan Theatre. He said, "I wanted to be there to try and comfort, and offer a sign of hope." For some peace comes by turning our back on God. This week, the band who were playing during the terrorist attacks returned to Paris. They performed in front of 16,000 people. Their opening song was called People have the Power:
"I believe everything we dream
can come to pass through our union
we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth's revolution
we have the power"
For some peace comes through people improving the world. But Jesus challenges that. Yes there is need for diplomacy, wise government, and we must work and pray for that. But there is only one person that can bring true peace when he returns as King, and that's Jesus. He brings peace with God, and one day peace on earth. To enjoy that peace we must accept King Jesus' offer of peace.
Those who accept Jesus' offer have a certain hope. After the Paris attacks there were lots of articles in the papers about 'How do you explain this to your children?' Believers have a wonderful opportunity to speak true comfort to their children about Jesus, the one who will one day take away the chariots, the war horses and break the battle bows. Followers of Jesus have a wonderful hope to share. When we're at work discussing how broken our world is we can say, "I have peace with God now, and one day Jesus will bring peace on earth."
Now Jesus entering on the colt isn't the only piece of evidence Jesus is God's king. Let's look at the other evidence in verse 35:
"35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When 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!"
In this picture, Luke stacks up the evidence Jesus is God's king. The crowd throw their cloaks on the road just as they did when Jehu was made king in the 2 Kings. The disciples praise God for all the miracles they have seen Jesus perform. All those healings, casting out of evil Spirits and control over nature are signs that Jesus is God's king. He is the one who can restore our broken world. The disciples use the words of Psalm 118 to call Jesus "is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" They cry out like the angels at Jesus' birth, "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Jesus is the promised king who brings peace with God.
As we've gone through the book of Luke, he's stacked up the evidence that Jesus is who he says he is. Jesus is the promised king who offers peace with God. But Luke shows us as ever there are two responses to the king. We follow the evidence and welcome Jesus as king just as the disciples did that day, or we refuse the evidence and reject Jesus as king. We see that plainly in the response of the Pharisees in verse 39:
"39 Some 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."
The Pharisees tell Jesus to keep his disciples quiet. Stop all this talk of you being God's king who offers peace. They simply feel threatened by Jesus' claims to be king. So they refuse his claims. It's not an intellectual problem they have. It's a moral problem. They don't want Jesus interfering in their lives. It's a picture of our sin and rebellion. And how does Jesus respond? He says if my disciples don't acknowledge me, the stones will! Even the lifeless rocks are aware of who Jesus is, yet the leadership of Israel are wilfully blind to him. It's tragic because King Jesus offers peace with God. But if we reject him there is nothing but conflict with God. A conflict we cannot win. Jesus knows this, so Jesus is the King who offers a lament for his rejecters. That's my second point, the King who offers a lament for his rejecters.
Who does Jesus lament for? He laments for the city who will reject him. Come with me to verse 41:
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Jesus weeps for Jerusalem. He cries for Jerusalem. Like a parent who sees their child making a foolish decision. Jerusalem would turn its back on the king of peace. The crowd welcome Jesus into the city as God's promised king. But only a week later he would be taken outside the city as an imposter king. He enters carried by a colt. He leaves carrying his cross. Jesus would be executed at Calvary. Tragically, they are wilfully blind to the one person who could offer peace with God.
Jesus is the only one who can end our conflict with God. Like the Pharisees, we resist the rule of God. We're rebels living in God's world. He gives us over to what we want. We lose peace with God, and peace with each other. Ultimately, God will one day end our rebellion when Jesus returns. God can't let us off the hook. There must be punishment. So how can Jesus offer peace with God to rebels? In his mercy God sent Jesus to offer peace. When Jesus died outside Jerusalem it was he who bore God's punishment. It means that if we trust in him we can know peace with God now, and when Jesus returns. You see right relationship with God is the key ingredient to true peace. So Jesus is the only way to know peace with God, and to live in in Jesus' kingdom of peace.
So Jesus grieves for Jerusalem for they have rejected his offer of peace. Rejecting peace with God invites his judgment. That is what Jesus foretells. Because they rejected Jesus, God will reject them. They would experience this through the brutal Roman siege, and destruction of the temple which took place in AD70. Look with me at verse 43:
" 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They 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."
What is true of the Jewish nation can also be true of individuals too. The judgment of Jerusalem is a sign of the judgment to come on those who reject Jesus' offer of peace. Sometimes warnings are visual. When you see a bottle of acid with a skull on it, we read the sign don't we? To drink it is to die. A few years ago we went for a walk in Northumbria where we walked past a sign that said MOD Firing Range – Keep Out. You could hear the artillery from far off. You could see the flashes of the guns going off. So we kept to the path, to ignore the sign would be dangerous. So we have here a picture of consequences of ignoring Jesus.
If you're not following Jesus this morning, whether that's a loud rejection of him or quietly ignoring him, please heed the warning. To reject Jesus is to face God's judgment.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Jesus says in verse 41, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." They didn't know the time of God's coming to offer peace. Knowing the time is important. If we don't know the time we miss out on things. My car is coming up for MOT; I have a month to renew my MOT. If I don't get my registration sorted I face the consequences. Knowing the time is important. How much more important is it to accept Jesus' offer of peace? Jesus' offer of peace like the MOT period doesn't last forever. It ends when we die or he returns in judgment. And God's judgment of Hell is far worse than any human court can throw at us.
Let's close with this. Many of us may have advent calendars at home, if you're lucky they've got chocolate in. We're counting down the days to Christmas – when Jesus first came. But we're also counting down the days until he returns again too. We don't know when that will be, but the most important thing we can do is accept his offer of peace so when he comes we'll know his peace and not his judgment. Are you ready for his return? Are you confident Jesus will bring you peace? If you're not, accept his offer peace while you can.
If you're following Jesus already, keep trusting in his offer of peace. Rejoice that you have peace with God now. When you look at your calendar counting down the days to Christmas, remember he will come again to rule in perfect power and peace. On that day all "wrong will right." For Jesus is the promised king who offers peace with God.