Introduction Today, Palm Sunday, begins that most solemn and significant week in the Christian Calendar. We move from the Triumphant Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem to the celebration of the Passover Meal in the Upper Room; to the betrayal, arrest, desertion and trial of Jesus; to his mocking, scourging and crown of thorns; to his death on the Cross of Calvary; to the laying of his dead body in the tomb of Joseph of Arithmathea to his glorious Resurrection from the dead. All four Gospels give up much space to a description of these dramatic historical events when God specially intervened in the course of human history and changed it for ever. John in his first letter writes (1 John 3.8):
"The reason the Son of God appeared (Jesus Christ) was to destroy the devil's work."
In a very real sense Jesus came to live and die to destroy the power of death, evil and sin - all the Devil's works. THE NARROW ROAD Do you remember those words of the Lord as he came to conclude those teachings encapsulated in Matthew's gospel? (Matthew 7: 13,14)
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
The world in general seeks the broad road - that is not God's way. The Christian life is exclusive, narrow and different. The Entry into Jerusalem, the Road to Jerusalem is intimately caught up with the gravity and reality of your sin and mine and with your salvation and mine. That great earlier 20th century Archbishop William Temple once wrote:
"To create for God was easy. That is his nature. God said, Let there be light and there was light ........ but to convert one selfish soul like mine into the nature God intended that cost the agony, the bloody sweat, the betrayal, the rejection, the cruel death on the cross".
From the moment of his birth Jesus had come to die, to tread the narrow road, to live a life completely pleasing to his Father in heaven, to deal once and for all with the reality and power of human sin. Jesus Christ had lovingly and finally kept God's Law in every part and He voluntarily paid sin's penalty at Calvary as if He had broken every part. And He did it for you and me.
"For Christ died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (Peter 3: 18).
God's perfect law makes a double demand on us. It requires absolute obedience to it. It demands the death penalty for it if we break it. In Christ's righteous life and in his substitutionary death as he bears our sins and receives the penalty for our sins - Jesus Christ met both demands in full. For those who give their lives to Him, through what He has done at Calvary, He rescues us from the death we deserve and gives us a life with Him both here and in heaven which we do not deserve. It is a huge and wonderful truth, too deep for us to fathom, that long before Creation, before God had spoken Creation out of nothing, before an angel's wing had stirred, Almighty God had entered into solemn agreement within Himself - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and had agreed in advance the Salvation of His people. THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM Now that agreement was reaching the awesome climax at the end of the road to Jerusalem - from the triumphant entry to the stark reality and brutality of the Cross freely chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ. The event described in the opening verses of Mark's Eleventh Chapter is a very public one. So often in the Gospels we see Jesus withdrawing Himself from public notice - sometimes in the wilderness, in the solitude of the hills, in remoter parts of Galilee, and the open sea. Here the Lord appears by His own choice to call public attention to what He was about to do. He deliberately made a public entry into Jerusalem. He voluntarily rode into the Holy City surrounded by a crowd shouting Hosanna - Save us now, we beseech you ..... That is what He was about to do - but in a way that they were not to immediately understand. In this passage the entry into Jerusalem, the road to Jerusalem emphasises the lowliness and the humility of Jesus. Jesus is demonstrating a kingship - of hidden majesty, of humble power to save. Meekness and majesty ... the man who was God. Jesus is the Messiah riding on an untried colt of Zechariah's promise (Zechariah 9:9)
"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"
In verses 1-6 we see everything turning out exactly as Jesus had predicted - every detail in place. We see clearly Jesus' certain knowledge and power - for, of course, being God and Man He knew all things. The two disciples found everything that Jesus had said - an untried colt, tied at a doorway in the street. We are surely struck by this one thing - the perfect knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see Him describing in advance what the disciples would hear and see. He speaks like one who eyes were everywhere and who knew things seen and unseen. This is, of course, consistent with what the Bible says in other places:
"Jesus knew the thoughts of His enemies" (Matthew 12:25).
"He knew what was in a man" (John 2:25).
"Jesus knew from the beginning which of His disciples would betray Him" (John 6:64).
As we see Jesus on that colt, as we see His journey with steadfast purpose to Jerusalem - we must recognise Him for whom He is - God's eternal Son who came to die and save. Our Lord made very public this last act of His earthly life. Although most of those on that first Palm Sunday missed the point as they shouted "Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our Father David" - they were right without recognising the truth of what they said. Most saw it as an expression of hope of national restoration - the revival of David's kingdom conceived of in an earthly political sense. Few were to see it for what it was - the fulfilment of that prophecy of Isaiah 53 - The Messiah portrayed as the One who would by means of substitutionary suffering and public death make atonement for the sins of His people. He had come on the road to Jerusalem to die. He desires all Jerusalem to know it. Often in His ministry He had sought privacy. Here He makes a public entry into Jerusalem - before priests, elders, scribes, Greeks and Romans. The eternal God was about to suffer in the place of sinners - the once for all great sacrifice for sin was about to be offered up. They who had come to celebrate the Passover - when God's people had been saved by the covering of the blood of the lamb when they were captive in the Land of Egypt - were to see Christ the true Passover Lamb, the perfect Lamb of God slain for the sake of sinners. He was to die before many witnesses. WHO IS THIS JESUS? We see also the remarkable unity of meekness and majesty in this road to Jerusalem - richness and poverty, the godhead and the manhood. As we read the Gospels we note that He who could feed thousands with a few fishes and loaves, was Himself sometimes hungry. He who could cast out devils with a word could Himself be tempted. He who could heal the sick and infirm was sometimes weary. He who raised the dead - was now ready to submit Himself to a public death. He who chose to begin His entry into Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords borrowed a colt to carry Him on that triumphant entry. If we see His Divine Acts only we might forget that He was perfect Man. If we saw His manhood only, we might forget that He was God in human flesh. We are intended to see Jesus for whom He always is - perfect man and perfect God. Conclusion: Our Response What is our response as we ponder the Road to Jerusalem?
We may reject Him as many did then, many have done since, and many do today. We may have already looked upon Him and committed our lives to Him..... and said, "This is our Saviour, this is our Christ, one able to sympathise with our weaknesses because He is Man, but one Almighty to save because He is God. That commitment would be the most important act in our life. We may have allowed "our first love to grow cold", luke warm, lacking vitality. As we look at this Road to Jerusalem, this Road to Calvary ... we see here no cheap grace ... our conversion cost Almighty God the public disgust, the agony, the bloody sweat, the cruel death, the spiritual torment of His precious Son. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
Our response to that each day must surely be, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul my all." That is the cost of discipleship ... there is a narrow road to walk. Like the woman at Bethany who gave her all for Jesus. Do we hold back some aspects of our life? The full response to the Jerusalem Road is "All for Jesus" - our minds, our emotions, our wills, all we have and are and a resolution to follow Him every day.