One Last Appeal,      Luke 19: 28-40,         March 28, 2010
 
Jesus knew all along that he would need to make the trip. In Luke 18:31, Jesus tells his disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” He goes on to predict his death and resurrection for the third time, but even his own disciples do not understand the plan (18:34).
 
Prophets of the Old Testament period had a regular custom which they used when words were of no effect, when people refused to take in and understand the spoken message. They creatively resorted to some dramatic action which put their message into a picture to illustrate the message they were trying to get across. Here are some examples extracted from the following Scriptures:
 
1 Kings 11: 29-31
 29 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.
Jeremiah 13:1-11, A Linen Belt
 1 This is what the LORD said to me: "Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water." 2 So I bought a belt, as the LORD directed, and put it around my waist.
 3 Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time: 4 "Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath [a] and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks." 5 So I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD told me.
 6 Many days later the LORD said to me, "Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there." 7 So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.
 8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9 "This is what the LORD says: 'In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! 11 For as a belt is bound around a man's waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me,' declares the LORD, 'to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.'
 
Jeremiah 27:1-11,  Judah to Serve Nebuchadnezzar
 1 Early in the reign of Zedekiah [a] son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 This is what the LORD said to me: "Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. 3 Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 Give them a message for their masters and say, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Tell this to your masters: 5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. 6 Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; ( I will make even the wild animals subject to him. 7 All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him .)
(  8 " ' "If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the LORD, until I destroy it by his hand. 9) So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon.' 10 They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. 11 But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the LORD." ' "
 
Ezekiel 4:1-3, Siege of Jerusalem Symbolized
 1 "Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. 3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.
 
Ezekiel 5:1-4
 1 "Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber's razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. 2 When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair with fire inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. 3 But take a few strands of hair and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. 4 Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to the whole house of Israel.
 
 
It was just such a dramatic action which Jesus planned now.
 
Jesus proposed to ride into Jerusalem in a way that would be an unmistakable claim to be the Messiah, God’s Annointed King. There are certain things we can note about his entry into Jerusalem that will help enlighten this passage.
 
 
(1) Jesus triumphant entry was carefully planned; it was not a sudden, impulsive action. Jesus had planned this previously by having made arrangements to borrow the colt with the owners. In effect, the words “The Lord has need of it” were a password chosen before the occasion of today’s text.
 
 
(2) Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem was “an act of glorious defiance and of superlative courage,” in the words of William Barclay. There was a price on Jesus head by this time. (John 11:57) 57But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.
 
Jesus could have slipped into Jerusalem quietly, hidden, unseen by some secret place or back street entrance. But he made his entry spectacular. The scene of his entry drew attention to himself – he was in the lime-light and occupied center stage.
 
This was a courageous thing to do. Here was a man with a price on his head—wanted—like an outlaw—yet, he deliberately rode into the city in such a way that every eye was upon him. There’s no way we can exaggerate the courage and deliberateness with which Jesus did this.
 
The old refrain that goes “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” doesn’t fit this picture. Meekness can be defined as “power under control,” which fits this scene perfectly.
 
The crowd accompanying Jesus was as humble as his conveyance — a ragtag collection of disciples and hangers-on spreading their cloaks in the road, which was the ancient equivalent of rolling out a red carpet.
 
(3) Jesus triumphant entry was a deliberate claim to be king. It was a deliberate fulfilling of the picture in
 
Zechariah 9:9 The Coming of Zion's King
 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.
 
Jesus clearly demonstrated the kind of kingship that he claimed. The donkey in Palestine was not the lowly beast that it is in this country. It was noble.
 
Jesus had specified that the donkey was to be a young colt that had not been ridden. This suggests the sacred aspect of his journey to Jerusalem. Only animals that had never been used as beasts of burden could be considered suitable for sacred purposes (Numbers 19:2; 1 Samuel 6:7). . . . This is not a political occasion but a sacred one. (Tony W. Cartledge, “The problem with palms,” March 4, 2003, biblicalrecorder.org/content/opinion/2003/3_4_2003/ed040303the.shtml. Retrieved October 5, 2009.)
 
The gathered crowd did not stop and reflect on this scene. Only in war did kings ride upon a horse; when they came in peace they came upon an ass. A king on a colt was distinctive. The donkey was the mount of a man of peace, a merchant, or a priest. Jesus, by this action, came as a king of love and peace, and not as the conquering military hero the mob awaited and expected.
 
It is easy to see making a saddle for Jesus as the act of a disciple being respectful and helpful to his teacher, but the disciples’ next act moves beyond the realm of the expected. They also cast their garments in front of Jesus as he rides down the path. In Israel’s Scriptures (2 Kings 9:13) and in Josephus (Antiquities 9.6.2), this is an action performed on behalf of a king.
 
 
(4) Jesus triumphant entry, this prophetic presentation of God’s promise to his people is being acted out one step at a time, one shout of “Hosanna” at a time, one robe thrown across his path at a time. It is as if Jesus is saying, one last time, with outstretched arms, and pleading hands, making one last appeal to the people, to us, “Even now, will you not take me as your king?”
 
Before the hatred of men engulfed him, once again Jesus confronted them with love’s invitation.
 
The crowds did not reflect on Jesus as king of peace/man of peace. How do we want to see Jesus?
 
Palm Sunday is a great time to assess our preparation for the King’s arrival, not only in our individual hearts but also in eschatological terms.

If our King comes to us so gently and humbly, how might we prepare for his return by following his example?
Would we be prepared?
 
If Jesus were to arrive in your congregation this Sunday, how would you welcome him?  With what stories would you regale him? With what songs and shouts would you praise him? What would you be proud to show him (or ashamed to show him)?
 
Would you recognize him for who he is or, like the religious leaders, would you mistake him for someone else because his humility doesn’t fit the paradigm of a leader? How would you roll out the red carpet for the King? Let us pray . . .
 
Rev. Rosemary Stelz

 
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