Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE ENTRANCE OF THE KING”

 We are one week from this year’s annual celebration of Easter, when all of Christendom will commemorate the bodily resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God. We will attend to our Lord’s glorious resurrection next Sunday, Lord willing. Today, however, we will address some of the events relating to and including the Sunday before His resurrection. It is referred to as Palm Sunday, taking its name from the excited people tearing branches off the trees and waving them in the air as a salute to the King as He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey colt never before ridden.[1] Many people celebrate Palm Sunday every year, just as they celebrate Easter, Christmas, and the fourth of July, without any real consideration of what they are celebrating.

Some know, as some in Jesus’ day knew who were actually there, that the Lord Jesus Christ was fulfilling prophecy by riding into the city on that donkey colt. However, we should ask ourselves how many people knew the donkey colt had never before been ridden? How many were aware that when He dispatched disciples to fetch the animal He was demonstrating that as a King His is the right of confiscation?[2] Methinks most people there that day were already excited, about their arrival in Jerusalem after having traveled so far, about being away from home and renewing friendships, about the miracle worker they were told was in their midst who had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead and only a few days before gave sight to two blind men, and about the prospects of the despised Roman occupiers being subjugated. I am convinced they would have grasped at just about any straw they could lay hold of to justify engaging in festivities. Therefore, when word of mouth spread about Jesus entering the city, and when they saw Him riding the animal accompanied by His entourage, they became really excited “And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way,”[3] “began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest,”[4] and they wildly celebrated.

We should ask ourselves; did the multitudes really understand what they were celebrating? It is not likely, since five days later they would say about the man they were praising, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Then, when the Romans actually did crucify Him, they stood by and did nothing to stop the travesty of justice. It needs to be recognized that even when someone knows something of what is happening; he does not usually know fully what is happening. Even you, when you grasp the truth of what is occurring, will look back years later and realize that there was so much more unfolding that you did not appreciate. At the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry, His cousin John the Baptist identified Him to onlookers when he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”[5] Yet, there was so much that the Baptist did not understand that shortly after saying those words he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”[6] As well, we all remember Peter’s words at Caesaria Philippi: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[7] However, not only did Simon Peter subsequently deny the Savior three times the night He was arrested, but just moments his confession that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God, he was brazen enough to rebuke the Lord Jesus Christ, who responded by saying to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me.”[8]

How do we explain these things? Men are spiritually dimwitted and nearsighted. We are all afflicted in this fashion. Thus, what John the Baptist grasped superficially he did not understand fully. What Simon Peter knew by divine illumination he quickly forgot, or did not appreciate the implications of what God had shown him. You and I are the same way. Even what we understand we understand only in part. Therefore, on that Sunday before our Lord’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection from the dead, on which occurred what we term the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus Christ, so very much more was going on than even those who were celebrating could possibly understand at the time. No wonder the Apostle Paul later declared to the Corinthians, “For we know in part,” and, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”[9] Though he was certainly no theologian or Bible scholar, perhaps not even a Christian for all I know, when Thomas Edison said, “We don’t know a millionth of 1 percent about anything,” his opinion certainly applies to our perceptions of spiritual reality. This being the case, we gain certain advantages over those who were in Jerusalem on that Sunday so long ago, by virtue of our access to the completed revelation of God’s Word, and by virtue of our leisure to study and quietly reflect on events that they were caught up in.

I bring four considerations to your attention related to this triumphal entry of our Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem that people who experienced that exciting event did not appreciate, or did not appreciate fully:

 First, THERE WAS CHRIST’S CONDESCENSION

 Did those people in Jerusalem who watched Him ride by on the donkey colt have any appreciation of what the Apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 2.7, with these words? “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

The Lord Jesus Christ’s condescension cannot be fully appreciated, of course. However, one can begin to see its significance once you realize who Jesus Christ is and where He came from. In Genesis 1.1 we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” However, in John 1.3, we read, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Colossians 1.16 reads, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Thus, Jesus Christ is the Creator. In Psalm 2.7 and 12, the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s Son. In Isaiah 6.5, He is “the King, the LORD of hosts.”[10] In Psalm 24, He is the King of glory, the LORD strong and mighty, and the LORD mighty in battle.

I could continue for an hour, but you get the idea. The Lord Jesus Christ’s existence did not begin in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He is the eternal God, the Second Person of the triune godhead, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, terrible in majesty and regal in His splendor. Where did He come from? He came from eternity. He came from heaven.

Yet He left heaven’s glory. He temporarily set aside His royal and divine prerogatives. He deigned to take upon Himself human flesh and real human nature (yet without sin).[11] Thus, He abandoned the loftiest and most exalted place in heaven to live as a common man among sinful men. That, my friends, is condescension. And so He lived in our midst for about thirty-three years, with all the human frailties, and without the attendance of His holy angels except in extreme circumstances.

Did anyone in Jerusalem on that Sunday so long ago recognize any of this? Understand any of this? Appreciate any of this? It is not likely that they did, though the Savior’s condescension was profoundly important. Think of it! God became a man.

 Then, THERE WAS CHRIST’S COMING

I speak here of His entrance into the city as the King. He was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, and ministered throughout the land. He was presented to the Lord in Jerusalem in accordance with the Law of Moses during His infancy.[12] We know that He visited Jerusalem when He was twelve years old, and several times during His earthly ministry.[13]

However, His entrance into the city on this occasion was very different. He had raised people from the dead before, and healed folks and cleansed lepers before. However, this time He entered the city not long after raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem.[14] This time He entered the city only days after being acknowledged in public for the first time in Jericho as the Son of David, a Messianic title.[15] This time He rode into the city on the back of a donkey colt, showing Himself to be what the wise men had described Him to be when they looked for Him years earlier, the King of the Jews.[16] This time He told His enemies that if His disciples had not praised Him the stones would have cried out.[17]

Did the people who thronged Him as He rode into the city know that He was powerful? They certainly did. They knew of His miracles, cleansing lepers, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons, feeding thousands with little food, healing the lame, and even raising the dead. They had no questions about His great power. They were excited about His power. They expected and anticipated great and awesome manifestations of power. Jewish people knew that God was supernatural, that He superintended nature, and that He worked miracles. Thus, anyone truly associated with God could be expected to work miracles.

As well, they had no issue with the King of the Jews sitting on a throne of glory. They just could not accept that along the pathway to the throne, Jesus would have to spend time in the Garden of Gethsemane, would then suffer the cruel death of the cross, and would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. They did not realize that but for thorns there would be no throne, but for the cross, there would be no crown.

Third, THERE WAS CHRIST’S CONTRAST

The Lord Jesus Christ is truly, and was then, the King of the Jews. However, He was so unlike every other king who had ever lived, so different from any conception of a king those people could ever imagine.

Contrast the Lord Jesus Christ with other kings. Many kings enter cities in peace, but they do so after they have entered the city to conquer it. He, however, came first in peace, which will later come as a conqueror, while other kings first come by way of conquest, and then later come in peace. Other kings are very careful about their exaltation and glory, while the Lord Jesus Christ comes in humiliation after having set aside His glory. Philippians 2.8 is very careful to point out to us that the Lord Jesus Christ “humbled himself.” Most kings entering a city are surrounded by ranks of smartly dressed troops, but not this King of the Jews. He could have called ten thousand angels, but instead His entourage included mostly poor men and a few women. Earthly kings enter a city after they have imposed their will upon the populace and subjected them. The Lord Jesus Christ, on the other hand, accomplished His mission by not subjugating the population, but by giving them free reign to act out their wickedness. While other kings are pompous, the Lord Jesus Christ was pious. While other kings are seeking glory, He set aside His glory. While other kings exalt themselves, Jesus is shown to humble Himself. While so many other kings have tried to portray themselves as divinity, He went to great lengths to display His humanity. Other kings, even some Jewish kings, had in the past defiled the Temple; Jesus on the other hand twice cleansed the Temple.

The multitudes expected the Lord Jesus Christ to act like every other king, to be just like every other king. In fact, He was like no other king. While most kings wielded illegitimate authority to achieve their own ends, the Lord Jesus Christ was given authority by His Father that He might do the Father’s will. Truly, the crowd in the streets that day had no idea what was in store for them.

Finally, THERE WAS CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION

The death of Christ is anticipated throughout the Old Testament. He is the One whose heel is bruised in Genesis 3.15. He is the ram who died in the place of Isaac in Genesis chapter 22. He is the Passover sacrifice in Exodus chapter 12. He is the innocent sacrifice in the sin offerings and the trespass offerings of the Mosaic Law. He is the substitutionary sacrifice of Isaiah chapter 53. He is the firstborn Who is pierced in Zechariah 12.10.

Though the people did not realize it on the day of Christ’s triumphal entry, Mary’s anointing of Christ’s feet with expensive oil for His burying two nights later reveals that she knew the Master would die.[18] He had spoken with Moses and Elijah about His crucifixion on the Mount of Transfiguration.[19] He had spoken to His disciples about His crucifixion frequently since they had been in Caesaria Philippi.[20]

However, despite His frequent references to it, and in spite of the many types and predictions in the Old Testament, which showed the importance and the necessity of Christ’s crucifixion, it was so contrary to most people’s understanding of the Jewish Messiah that they could not get their minds around so profound a departure from their preconceived notions.

Even after Christ’s resurrection, His disciples continued to choke on the absolute necessity of their Lord’s crucifixion. I read two passages from the final chapter of the gospel according to Luke: Luke 24.13-27:

13     And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

14     And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15     And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16     But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

17     And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18     And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

19     And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

20     And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

21     But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22     Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23     And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24     And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25     Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26     Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27     And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Verse 26: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things . . .?” Jesus recognized that they still found the importance and necessity of His crucifixion difficult to grasp. Luke 24.44-47 records events later the same day:

44     And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45     Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46     And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47     And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

In verse 44, Jesus reminds His disciples that He had taught them what the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms said about Him, “it behoved Christ to suffer,” verse 46.

Is it not amazing how people celebrate something they have no real understanding about? Multitudes of people in Jerusalem rejoiced and lifted up their voices in praise to God when Jesus entered the city on a donkey colt as the King of the Jews. That so, they had no real idea what was going on, what had led up to that point, and where it would lead to five days later. Even after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, His disciples could not grasp the importance and significance of His crucifixion. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.”[21] Therefore, we can be certain that on the day of His triumphal entry, which we commemorate on Palm Sunday, people had only the dimmest possible grasp of what was transpiring. They likely had no understanding of Christ’s condescension, which meant they did not see the spiritual realities of the Son of God’s entrance into the city as their king.

Though we can now clearly see how Christ differed from mortal kings, the people of His day had a fatally flawed concept of Him as their king, with no place in their thinking for His crucifixion. Thus, perhaps they saw Jesus as the conqueror of the Romans, but not as the Savior from sins. However, Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13.8. It has always been God’s plan for His Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of men. He has always been the King of the Jews Who would die for men’s sins. Therefore, if His death on the cross for sins does not fit into your understanding of Him, you have no understanding of Him at all.

Think of it, beloved. They celebrated Him while He sat on that donkey. They praised Him as He rode into the city. They rejoiced in His arrival. They anticipated His great deeds. Yet their concept of Him was fatally flawed. Like so many today who claim to be Christians, and who think they are Christians, they were wrong.

Jesus is not someone anyone can afford to be wrong about.



[1] Klaas Schilder, Christ In His Suffering, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979), pages 119-120.

[2] Ibid., page 106.

[3] Mark 11.8

[4] Luke 19.37b-38

[5] John 1.29

[6] Matthew 11.2-3

[7] Matthew 16.16

[8] Matthew 16.22-23

[9] 1 Corinthians 13.9, 12

[10] John 12.41

[11] Hebrews 4.15

[12] Luke 2.22

[13] Luke 2.42; John 2.13; 6.4 (though Jesus may not have actually visited Jerusalem for this Passover)

[14] John 11

[15] Matthew 20.30

[16] Matthew 2.2; Zechariah 9.9

[17] Luke 19.40; Habakkuk 2.11

[18] John 12.2-8

[19] Luke 9.30-31

[20] Matthew 16.21

[21] 1 Corinthians 15.3



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org