Humility and exaltation

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They 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!”  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:  “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

John 12:12-15 NIV

1) Jesus entered Jerusalem humbly

  • He didn’t enter on a stately horse as kings normally did. He entered on a colt of a donkey.
  • This was typical of his humble nature that he demonstrated throughout his life.
  • He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. A humble birth.
  • He was approachable and allowed people from every stratum of society to approach him freely.
  • Now, instead of entering Jerusalem with all the usual pomp and ceremony of kings, he entered humbly on a beast of burden. And even lower than that – a colt of a donkey which had never been ridden before.
  • He wasn’t entering to take up his throne in Jerusalem as the crowds thought. He was entering Jerusalem to die on a cross there – a sacrifice that was the ultimate act of humility as he was going to offer his life willingly. It wasn’t going to be taken from him.
  • He was a king, but his kingdom is not of this world and its values are in contrast to the values of this world.
  • The crowds were soon to be sorely disappointed when he didn’t meet their expectations which were based on misinterpretations of the scriptures. They thought that he was going to be the king who would take up his throne in Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman’s and establish the kingdom of Israel in line with the throne of David.

2) Jesus entered triumphantly

  • As humble as he was he nevertheless knew that he was a king and never stopped people from laying palm branches in his path ahead of him as he entered. Palm branches were a symbol of victory which were laid before a victorious king after he had beaten an enemy in battle.
  • Jesus wasn’t returning from a victorious battle but was on his way to the most victorious battle that would ever be won. The battle over sin, self, Satan, the world, and even death itself at the cross on our behalf.
  • He fully understood the pain that lay ahead, but he saw the glorious victory that lay beyond that pain.
  • He entered Jerusalem confidently as the victorious king of the battle that he knew he was going to win.

3) Jesus received praise due to him

  • The crowds called out “Hosanna, blessed is the king of Israel.”
  • Not everyone was happy about Jesus being praised in this way as we see in Luke’s account
  • Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
    Luke 19:39-40 NIV
  • Throughout his life his disciples often worshipped him and he never stopped them. He always received their worship.
  • In this case not only did he receive the worship of his disciples, but he encouraged it. If they didn’t worship him even all of creation would.
  • He was making a bold statement that he was more than just the king of Israel. He was the king of all creation.
  • It is fitting, therefore, to worship him and give him all the honour due to him.

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