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02.21.21 Political Rally for Jesus Matthew 21.1-11 Sermon Summary

by on February 23, 2021

NB: This sermon was preached in first person.

Yo, my name is Saul. I’m what you might call an animal rental associate. My shop is on the edge of Jerusalem, the Bethphage side. Jerusalem is bustling just now. We have pilgrims from all over. It’s Passover week. That’s the festival when we Jews commemorate our liberation from slavery in Egypt. It’s feels like Margi Gras or St. Patty’s Day. 

We have special food and religious ceremonies. There’s a wide continuum of people. Some come just for the party atmosphere. Some want to re-connect with their religion. But there are others who are political about it. They want to get the Romans out of our land. 

This year represents some special excitement, because Jesus is coming. He’s gained a lot in fame and following. Let me tell you about what happened at my shop on Sunday.

Two guys came up and started untying a couple of my animals. That’s like you going to rental car company and jumping into a car and starting it up. They said Jesus told them to come. I asked them what they were doing with two of my animals. This started a bit of an argument between them. 

It all started with a quotation from one of the prophets, Zechariah 9:9. It says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

So one of the guys says, “We need two animals because Zechariah says so.” The other responds, “That’s not literal, it’s poetic. It’s called parallelism.” “No, the clear sense of scripture is unambiguous, a donkey and a colt.”  “Actually it’s one animal referred to twice.”

“Take both!” I yelled at them. Apparently not everyone realizes that what Bible says and what it is saying are different. 

They were surprised at my willingness to let my beasts go. You might be also. Some have said I was moved in the moment—like by the Spirit. Others say Jesus knew and exercised some supernatural power over the whole situation. Some say I knew the scriptures and recognized what was going on.

Explain it however you want. But the whole thing was planned. Political rallies like this don’t spontaneously appear despite what some people say. This was planned.

Jesus planned his entrance into Jerusalem quietly for two reasons. The first was publicity. Tensions had been mounting around Jesus. Three times on the way he predicted his death. Most of this was because of his message about the Kingdom of God. People were being healed, the deaf heard, the blind could see, the lame began walking, the mute could speak. I even heard some dead people were raised!

Some people had called Jesus “Son of David.” Now Jerusalem is David’s capitol and so it seemed Jesus was coming to claim it back from Rome. When people heard “David” they thought of Goliath and all the warrior things David did. But when Jesus heard “David” he thought of the shepherd of the people—poor people like us, which is what “humble” actually means in Zechariah 9.

And that’s why the donkey. It was a spectacular stunt. Didn’t know Jesus? You do now! People recognized it, too. They laid their cloaks and branches before Jesus and started singing. The first reason Jesus planned the grand entrance was publicity.

The second reason was protest. Remember, it is Passover week. It’s one of our big festivals—the freedom festival. All these pilgrims are here, all wanting freedom from Rome. 

Pontius Pilate the Roman ruler also marched into town Sunday. He had war horses and chariots and banners and standards and weapons and marching bands. He wanted to remind us, “Rome gives you freedom and can take it away.”

But Jesus’ message was, “NO! God gives you freedom and what you do with it determines how much more you get.”

Rome proclaims, “Caesar is Lord!” But Jesus teaches, “Worship the LORD your God and serve only him.” Rome projects peace through power. But Jesus teaches peace through love and justice. That’s actually what “triumphant” means in Zechariah 9—it means “righteous” as in social righteousness. Nobody in need because everybody shares.

This is the Kingdom Jesus preached. He calls us to a willingness to humbly approach poverty so that others don’t have to live in it. To a willingness to yield some of our rights so everyone can enjoy life. And this is what eventually saves us, which is what “victorious” means in Zechariah 9. And that’s why we shouted “Hosanna”—Save us!

Look, the more the world looks like Jesus, symbolized by his entrance into Jerusalem, the more it will look the Kingdom of God and less like kingdom of Rome. The two reasons Jesus made this entrance were publicity and protest. For first timers to Jesus, they asked, “Who is THIS?” For those more familiar with Jesus, we asked, “Who IS this?”

Maybe you’re asking those questions. Maybe you’re a part of the crowd. Who is this? What kind of Kingdom is this? Will you live like Jesus? Will you live in such a way as to bring this Kingdom to reality?

Take a few moments to think about that. I’ve got a paying customer to take care of.

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