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Celebrating Jesus: John 12.12-18 (ESV)

John 12 celebrates the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem.  This is the Sunday before Easter.  There’s a timing of events that will take place.  This is a special day to celebrate Passover.  Millions of people filled up Jerusalem.  They are hungry for the presence of God.  This was a time for tremendous celebration.  They were going to worship.

Our hearts long for God’s presence.

Maybe our hearts long for God’s presence now more than any other time in our lives.  We have this same longing.  Think about all the people Jesus has met along the way.  Jesus met people in different settings.  Remember the friends who lowered their paralytic friend through the roof to be healed?   Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead; Jesus fed 5,000 people.  People have seen Jesus do miraculous things.

                    12The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

All the people who met Jesus along the way knew what it was like to be in the presence of Jesus.  They’re excited!  We have these same longings.  When you know what God can do in your life you hunger for God.  Many in Jerusalem carried palm branches.  They had a tradition to carry branches cut from date trees.  Thousands of people gathered together and as they sang a chorus in the right moment of worship they responded by waving their branches.  They waved their branches and worshiped Jesus along the way.  The King is coming!  Hosanna!  God save us!

Spending time with Jesus leads to extravagant responses.

            13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 

The Romans used palm branches when an army returned in victory.  People would line the streets and wave branches in celebration.  Some Roman coins have branches on them as a symbol of victory.  People are celebrating like a Roman parade that Jesus, the King has arrived.  People are spontaneously worshiping God. 

Earlier in this same chapter, Jesus is in Mary and Martha’s home after Lazarus’ healing.  Mary pours out a strong smelling perfume over Jesus’ body.  Judas gets upset and condemns Mary for this act of worship.  The perfume was worth 300 denarii, a year’s wages.  Mary knows the power and presence of God leads us to do anything for God.  Right now in 2020 we know what God is able to do.  We can also pour our hearts out to God. 

Jesus is worthy.

John tells us the same story as other Gospel writers, but John doesn’t tell us where the donkey came from.

                    14And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

John wants us to know that Jesus riding on a donkey symbolizes Jesus is King.  John ties this back to Zechariah.  Jesus will go on trial for being an insurrectionist to overthrow the government.  If Jesus was trying to raise an army he would have arrived on a war horse.  Donkeys don’t evoke fear. Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh is a gentle donkey.  This is a powerful image.  Jesus is presented in victory.  Victory has been won.  John wants us to know Jesus comes in victory, a triumphal entry.  Jesus is fulfilling what angels said at his birth in Luke 2.  Jesus comes to bring peace.  Something else is about to happen.  Fear not, don’t be afraid of what’s about to happen.  Jesus will be arrested, on trial and his body will be destroyed, nailed to a cross for your sin and my sin.  Jesus us bringing peace.  Jesus will go to the cross for our sin.  Jesus will be victorious in a way we never anticipated.  We have a God who knows how to get us through difficult circumstances.  Our God can defeat death.  Jesus brings this kind of peace.
                                                            
Some experiences only make sense when we look back on them.

When we look back we can understand some things that have happened.

                    16His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 

Our King came to die for us, to take our place, to go to the cross for us.  As the people cried out, “Hosanna!” they didn’t know what salvation looked like.  We have a King who loves us.  He will do everything it takes to restore us to God.  This hope is longed for in the world.

People met Jesus because someone celebrated.

This is a time to celebrate!  It’s Palm Sunday.  Everything is different but we have a God who will never leave us or forsake us.  A question we have is why did all these people go out to see Jesus?

                    18The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 

They heard Jesus performed signs and wonders.  Someone told them what they saw Jesus do.  It was life changing.  There are people in your life longing for the presence of God.  Can you invite someone to church for Easter?  Can you invite someone to watch our service for Easter?  There’s no need for fancy clothes this year.  Men don’t need to pick out a pastel colored shirt to wear.  When John tells us they remembered Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, somebody told him.  Jesus met a woman at the well who in John 7 went to her village and told everyone.  In two weeks Mark will have a message on how you can do this.  Will you invite friends and family to join us in worship next week?  HOSANNA!  JESUS IS KING!  How are you acknowledging Jesus is King?

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