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Blessed is He Who Comes the Name of the Lord

Date: Jan. 19, 2020

Author: Bob Henkins

Mark 11:1-11

Key Verse: Mark 1:9

Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

As we get into our passage this morning, for us, it’s the beginning of a new year, a new decade, a new semester, but for Jesus he was facing the last week of his life. And it would be a brutal one at that. An emotional roller coaster. The event this passage describes had a profound impact upon the disciples. We know that because it’s one of only ten specific events that are recorded in all four gospels. While Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all give us a picture of Jesus’ life, each of them are individuals and saw things from their own point of view. Each of them related in their own way but all of them were touched by what happened so they made sure they included them; The beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Mk 1:14), the feeding of the five thousand (Mk 6:44), the triumphal entry (Mk 11:8), at the last supper, when Jesus tells them one of them would betray him (Mk 14:18), Peter’s denial of Jesus (Mk 14:66), Pilate’s sentencing of Jesus (Mk 15:15), Jesus’ crucifixion (Mk 15:25), Jesus’ death (Mk 15:37), Jesus’ tomb burial (Mk 15:46), and the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). These events changed the disciples’ lives forever.

Every year the Jews celebrated what they called “the Passover”. It was probably the climax of their year, their biggest national holiday, as they celebrated their freedom, for they were no longer slaves in Egypt. It was their Independence Day when they were emancipated from their captors and set free from their bondage, similar to our own fourth of July, but different because it had deep spiritual meaning. It was called the Passover because on that night the Jews were to sacrifice a young lamb, eat it and take some of the blood and paint it on the frames of their front doors. So, later in the night, when the Lord went throughout Egypt to bring down his judgment upon them, he was going to kill every firstborn child or animal. But the blood would be a sign of protection, for when the Lord saw the blood, he would pass over their house and go to the next one. In that way, no destructive plague would touch them when the Lord struck Egypt. So, in a way, the Passover was a celebration of freedom and thanksgiving to God for his protection and deliverance. That’s why all the Jews went every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover for it was a day they were to show respect to the Lord. (Ex 12:14) And that’s why Jesus and his disciples were going there.

This was the final week before Jesus’ death. They call this the Passion week as Jesus marches to the cross. It is called the Passion because expresses strong emotion and zeal. It would begin on Palm Sunday and end on Easter Sunday. But first some preparations had to be made. Knowing what was instore for him, Jesus’ mind must have been racing. Imagine if you knew that you would be dead in a week, what would be going through your mind? I would think it would be had to focus and even continue on, especially if you knew all the brutal details like Jesus did. But from this passage we can see just how clear minded Jesus was. He was making sure to take care of every detail from scripture so that nothing from God’s plan would be missed.

Take a look at verses 1-3. “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” When the disciples set out on their mission, how could they be sure that they would find the right donkey that Jesus was talking about? And how would they be able to tell if it had never been ridden? These are two simple, but almost impossible questions to answer. They would probably have to act in faith. Do you find it interesting that Jesus begins his triumphal entry into Jerusalem by telling his followers to go and steal a colt, a baby donkey? Now we know that Jesus is God and the creator of everything, and he really can't tell them to steal anything because everything belongs to him to begin with, but it still seems a little edgy.

Think about what the donkey meant to its owner? It was important to its owner. It was expensive, maybe it was like a car, their primary mode of transportation. Maybe even like a pet, a member of the family. So for someone to go and take another person’s donkey, that would be like a felony, like grand theft donkey. In the wild west, people could be hanged for stealing a horse. So this could have been a dangerous mission.

The amazing thing is that disciples find the donkey just as Jesus said. Take a look at verses 4-6.

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.” Everything went just as Jesus said, down to the last detail. It was almost as if he had pre-arranged for it or planned it.

This passage has been referred to as “The Triumphal entry. But when Mark wrote it down, it doesn’t seem like such a big or extravagant event. But that should discourage us from seeing it’s grandeur, it’s magnificence. It’s just that Mark doesn’t engage in elaborating the stories but reports just the facts. So this passes by in just five verses seen here in 7-11. “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”

Even though this is called “The Triumphal Entry” instead of entering in a grand victorious method, Jesus enters in humility, yet with dignity; instead of coming on a horse as a conquering general, he comes humbly on a donkey. Compared to world leaders, take for example the presidential inauguration. Ones comes on a colt versus the president comes in an armored Limo. The impression is quite different. Ones comes in peace versus a threat of fear or terrorism, Ones is approachable while the other is kept away.

When Jesus entered, he received honor from the people. The people put their cloaks on the donkey and under the donkey. When Jehu (2 Kgs 9:13) was proclaimed king, the captains put their garments under him, as a token of their subjection to him. While others cut down branches from the trees, and laid them in the way, as they used to do at the feast of tabernacles, in token of liberty, victory, and joy. Also, unknowingly the crowd calls out Hosanna, which means "save now!" or “save us we pray” (Ps. 118:25- 26) and in doing so the crowd openly gives Jesus the title appropriate for the Messiah. In fact, even Jesus’ name means “he saves”. All the dots are being connected. The town was stirred singing praises to Jesus thus fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Zechariah. (Zech 9:9)

But what if we look at this from the donkey’s point of view? Donkeys were used in that country for travel; horses were used for war and by wealthy men. Jesus could have used anything to carry him but it was Jesus who chose this specific donkey and called it into his service. The donkey didn’t volunteer its services, Jesus reached out and sent his servants to bring it. The donkey was an animal for service, but can you imagine what did the donkey thought about of all of this? What if the donkey thought the celebration was for it? That would be silly. I heard a story about a preacher who was asked if he was influenced by the honor his friends gave him. He said, “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, many people spread their clothing and palm branches on the street in honor of the Lord. Jesus was riding, as the prophets foretold, on a donkey. In this way the feet of Jesus did not touch the street adorned with clothes and branches, but instead the donkey walked over them. It would have been stupid of the donkey if she had imagined that she was very important. It was not for her that the people threw their clothes on the streets.” Stupid are those who spread the good news of Jesus and expect to receive glory themselves. The glory should go to Jesus.

As I mentioned Jesus and the disciples were coming to celebrate the Passover like the other roughly 2.7 million other Jews. But what people didn’t know was that THIS Passover was going to be unlike ANY OTHER Passover. And it’s here that we find an interesting parallel about the lamb that was to be used in the Passover. Let me read to you from the Jewish law (found in Exodus chapter 12) what it says about the lamb, “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. …. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.” (Ex 12) According to Jewish law, every year, every household should take their lamb (called the Paschal lamb) on the tenth day of the month and present it to the temple, then on the fourteenth day of the month it would be killed and the blood used for their protection. The interesting parallel is Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered into Jerusalem was the tenth day of the month and where did he go when he entered the city, straight to the temple. The symbology of this cannot be mistaken. Jesus came as the Paschal lamb and all the people from the city gathered (unknowingly) and celebrated Jesus’ coming with shouts of Hosanna, meaning “he saves” and then Jesus was presented at the temple that night and four days later, he would be killed and taken down from the cross at twilight. Everything coincides with and fulfills the law of God.

After this Passover, everything changes. The four-inch-thick temple curtain was ripped from top to bottom signaling that Jesus, once and for all, had opened the way for mankind to come God. Jesus, who came into this world so humbly as a baby in a manger, triumphantly completed God’s mission giving his life as a ransom sacrifice for the sin of the world. Because of his obedience and sacrifice, Jesus was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords and the next time he returns it will not be humbly as he came the first time. Then next time with be in power and glory as every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. There is victory in Jesus.

I chose verse 9, “Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”” as the key verse because it speaks perfectly about Jesus. It says, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus is blessed because he is God’s one and only Son that came from Heaven. Jesus is blessed because all authority in heaven has been given to him. Jesus is blessed, because he obeyed God’s commands absolutely without falter even though it was the most difficult thing to do; struggling to the point that his sweat was like drops of blood. Jesus is blessed because only he is worthy of all our honor, praise and glory. Jesus is blessed because all his enemies will be his foot stool.

We too are blessed when we come in the name of the Lord. We are blessed because of Jesus saved us from God’s wrath, judgment and condemnation. We are blessed when we accept God’s gift of salvation. We are blessed when we act and respond to God’s call to service. We are blessed with peace that transcends all understanding. We are blessed with joy in the midst of persecution. We are blessed with understanding of the meaning of suffering. We are blessed when we do everything for the glory of God.

We are blessed when we recognize that we are just like the donkey in this passage. I’m pretty sure that no one here wants to be told you are like a donkey. (especially when it’s called an A$$) But in this case we are very similar to the donkey in this passage. How so? Just like the donkey we are called into service of the Lord. The Lord needs us. The Lord called us to his service in order to bring glory to him, not ourselves. How silly it would have been if the donkey thought the celebration was for it and tried to take the glory for itself. Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” We all need to recognize that we are no more than God's instrument, like Balaam’s donkey. (Numbers 22) When we begin to puff ourselves up and start thinking how great we are for God and His Kingdom; we need to remind ourselves that we are just His instrument and the glory is HIS not ours.

Also, in our time there have been many of God’s servants that have become really popular, like Christian superstars. And often we have become too easily impressed by Christian celebrities: musicians, authors, lecturers, television personalities, and pastors. While it is good to have the proper respect for God’s servants, we should not raise them to a level of worship. It is important for us to have a firm grip on what our attitude should be toward those who bring Jesus to us in any form. If we find ourselves quoting our favorite Christian celebrity more than the word of God, we should be alarmed.

For donkeys live and die, but the Rider (Jesus) lives forever. - Rev. 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Donkeys can change, but the Rider (Jesus) doesn’t change - Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (and know I’ll quote a famous donkey – I know I just said don’t do that too much, but this one is from the Bible) We need to have the same attitude as John the Baptist who said “He must become greater; I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:30-31) The rider (Jesus) must increase, and I (the donkey) must decrease.

But having the donkey’s attitude can help us too. When people are rude and unfaithful, remember, you are just the donkey. It is not just us who are being insulted, it is our rider. We are just the servant. When we wonder why we must keep going when others don’t, we should remember we are here to serve, so be slow and steady and serve just like the donkey.

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