Ultimate, Eternal Salvation

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So 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!” 14 And 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!” 16 His 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. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:12-19)

We will once again look at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Last week we looked at this passage primarily from the perspective of both a sovereign God and a willing Savior.

The only explanation for this public entry of Christ basically into the hands of His enemies is that He was willingly giving Himself into their hands, He was allowing them to take Him, to arrest Him to beat Him to mock Him and to nail Him to a cross for the world to see. As we picture Christ Jesus riding into town we must see Him as a willing sacrifice, offering Himself as the Lamb of God for the remission of our sin.

He could have avoided it all, He could have escaped as He had done many times in the past, he could have spoken a word and annihilated His enemies, but no, He came to suffer and die and so He did.

Now, these are not my words, these are not just my thoughts. No, Jesus explicitly informs Pilate of this. He tells Pilate exactly who is in control and of His willingness to be a sacrifice. If there is any doubt as to who was in control of the death of Christ then John 19:10 and 11 clears it up. Pilate is speaking and says to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have the power to crucify You, and power to release you?” Do you remember Jesus response? Jesus said, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

I love that passage! The only power Pilate had is the power that God had given Him! No more, no less…just what God had given. God set boundaries for the seas right? You can go this far and no more. God gave Satan parameters when inflicting Job. God said you can do this but not that. The only power Pilate had was what God had granted to Him. He could cause no more suffering than what God allowed.

And by the way, No person has ultimate control over you. Right? Oh, it may feel that others have power over us at times. It may feel that someone is controlling you simply by their own will and power, but they only are as much as your Heavenly Father allows. There are boundaries set by God when it comes to others influences over you, God stands in the gap for us, He sets the boundaries. Again, these are not my words, not just my thoughts.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Now, God could not say that if He were not able to regulate, to control what enters into our lives at the hands of other people who appear to be controlling us or appear to be lording over us with great power, right?

There was a barrier of sorts between Pilate and Christ. Only those things that God wanted to pass through passed through. It is the same way with us and those around us. God stands in and only allows what He wills to pass through from them into our realm of living. In other words God is protecting us, only allowing what is good for us to get to us.

So we have seen God’s sovereignty at work and we have seen Christ as a willing sacrifice.

Now I want us to shift gears a bit. Up to now we have mostly focused on the Father and the Son in this passage. But for the rest of our time today, let’s look at the others who are involved in the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. And as we consider them, this crowd who had gathered to greet Jesus, let’s consider both their actions, and their desires. So two things: The actions of the crowd (what they did) and 2. The desires of the crowd (what they wanted).

And I hope this will be instructive for us, that is to look at both their actions and their desires because anytime someone acts it is because of a desire right? Something is moving them to act the way they did, there were motives behind their actions. Just as there are reasons why we act as well.

So, what does the crowd do as Jesus rides into town?

Look again at verse 12 and verse 13,

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So 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!”

So the crowd first of all took palm branches to meet Him and secondly they shouted or cried out quoting Psalm 118:26 adding a short phrase at the end of it.

The palm branches would have had a significant symbolic meaning back then that is kind of foreign to us in our culture. It would have not been strange to them.

Palm trees lined the road from Jerusalem to the mount of Olives in those days and the branches would have been cut and probably waived as a way of expressing joy, or of great rejoicing. It was a sign of righteousness and spiritual vigor in Psalm 92:12. In Leviticus 23:40 the children of Israel were commanded to take palm branches and shake it as an expression of joy during the feast of Tabernacles.

Probably here in John 12 the symbolism is the same. A great number of people waved the branches as a token or a symbol of rejoicing and triumph. It was common practice to greet both Kings in this way and victorious generals after a battle in this way. It was the ticker tape parade of the 1st century for the Jewish people.

What an exciting, jubilant time in Jerusalem! Not only did they wave their palm branches but in their excitement and joy they also raised up a mighty shout which would have echoed from hill to hill and it began with the exclamation, “Hosanna!”

The word Hosanna is derived from a verb meaning “to save” or “save now.” The crowd no doubt got this from Psalm 118:25 which says, “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.” It is a cry to save and to give prosperity or victory.

The shout continues with “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Again from Psalm 118 verse 26.

Psalm 118 is a distinctly Messianic Psalm, meaning that it is a clear reference to the coming Messiah. It was also a Psalm sung at Passover. But the question is, did the Jews regard it to be Messianic. In Mark 11 it is clear that the vast multitude proclaimed Jesus to be the Blessed One as well as in our passage in John. However, it is also clear that very many of those people who cheered so loudly and who acted with such enthusiasm were hoping that this Messiah would answer, not their need for salvation from sin but their earthly expectations. And we even see some confusion from His disciples in verses 16 which we will see in a moment.

Let’s note to that Jesus rode in on a donkey verses 14-15

14 And 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!”

This was in part to fulfill one of the many prophecies, this one from Zechariah 9:9. We need to see that riding on a donkey back then was not as humiliating as we may think it to be today. The eastern donkey is not like those here. They were much larger, stronger and were valuable. Many times in the Old Testament a person’s wealth was measured by how many donkey’s they owned. In the days of the Judges, to ride on a white donkey was the mark of a great man.

So the donkey was of value, however, it was not the animal that a king or ruler would chose to use on such a public occasion or in heading up a procession. The horse would be the preferred animal of a mighty king.

Jesus riding in a donkey would not have alerted the Roman soldiers or given them indication that Jesus was coming as an earthly king to overthrow the Roman government.

So here is what we have so far. We have Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, a respectable animal but not an animal suitable for an earthly King. We have the crowds of people having been stirred by the miracles of Lazarus raising, coming out to meet Him, waving palm branches and laying them on the ground and shouting loudly, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

A jubilant, joy filled crowd welcoming Christ Jesus into Jerusalem. That is the picture we get here isn’t it? So we see the actions of the crowd, what they did to greet Jesus now let’s see if we can discern their desires.

The actions of the crowd (what they did) and 2. The desires of the crowd (what they wanted from Jesus?).

What did they want from Jesus? Well, this may not be an easy question to answer just from this text but I think if we take a look at another text it will give us some insight into the motives of the crowd on this day or of what was driving their jubilant behavior on that day. To get some insight, let's look at another familiar passage, an event that took place just 4 days after the triumphal entry.

In John’s gospel chapter 18, after Jesus had been arrested Pilate offers to release Him according to their custom of releasing one prisoner at Passover. But on that occasion the multitudes, the crowd, and it was a multitude by this point and I believe much of the same crowd that had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem a few days prior, Said, “not this man!” Not Jesus, give us Barabas. And in Matthew's gospel we read that they shouted “Crucify Him!”

Now how can we reconcile this? This seems crazy. On Sunday the crowds treat Him as royalty waving palm branches singing His praises, bowing a knee and on the very next Thursday, having an opportunity to set Him free they instead yell “Crucify Him!”

Were these people sane? Had their hearts turned from Worshipers of the living God on Sunday and on Thursday become haters of God? What were their reasons for welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem? Was it true worship or was it something else? I think that is a legitimate question.

I think their motives at the triumphal entry become more clear in reading of their desire for His murder. The crowd, at the triumphal entry must not have been true worshipers of God. I think that what they wanted was clearly an earthly King and they thought they had found one who could finally crush their Roman oppressors, their enemies, after all He had raised an dead man from the grave!

I think when they lifted their voices singing Hosanna what they were saying was not save us from our sins but save us from our oppressors, and as in Psalm 118:24, send now prosperity, in an earthly way. There greeting of Jesus was primarily a parade of anticipated victory over their enemies, the Romans. I just don’t see any other explanation. If Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead there would be no limits to His power. Prosperity, victory, salvation all from an earthly perspective! That is why they welcomed Him with such joy.

And if that being the case it is easy to see why they could, 4 days later after seeing Him captured, mistreated and looking helpless recant and say forget you…You are not the guy we thought you were, you cannot even free yourself from Rome much less us free us…“Crucify Him!” Their desires did not change in 4 days, but their view of Jesus had changed. When it became clear that He would not defeat Rome, which was their highest desire, what they lusted after, they could discard Him like an animal. If He could not give them what they wanted then let Him die!

Now let’s just note something. And this is really important. Jesus had not changed. He had not misled the crowd of Jews. God’s plan had not been altered. Jesus had in no way presented Himself to be something or someone that He was not. He had not deceived the Passover crowd even in the slightest way. No, He was the same man with the same determined purpose on Sunday coming into Jerusalem as He was on Thursday standing as a prisoner before Pilate. He possessed the same power within Himself in prison and being beaten as He did when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He was the same man, the same God the problem was the people's thinking. With their thinking. And you know what that is usually where our problems are too. Our problems are usually with our thinking.

I received a call a few years ago from a man who attended the church I was pastoring at that time. He was very upset and alarmed. His daughter was saying things to him that deeply troubled my friend. Some bad things had happened in her life and she was reacting to those bad experiences by expressing both disappointment and anger toward God. She was angry with God. She was a professing Christian, she was very upset and she was just venting and her venting was all directed toward God. You may be able to relate to this story, perhaps in your own life or maybe in someone else’s life whom you know. It was very troubling to my friend and he was looking for help.

Come to find out she was angry with God because she came to believe that God had let her down. That is what she thought. Isn’t that what was happening with this crowd of Jews from Sunday to Thursday, they thought Jesus had let them down, He had really disappointed them. They had such high hopes and look what has happened. They had Him saving them from Rome in their minds and now Rome was controlling Him. That is what this young girl was thinking as well.

She had things planned out, she had hopes and aspirations and dreams and they were important to her! She had after all prayed for God’s blessings and guidance. And things didn’t work out and she got really, really mad…at God.

But here is the thing, and the lesson for us. God had not let her down! God did not disappoint her. God had not changed. God did not promise her anything that He had not delivered for God cannot lie. God did not leave her alone, not even for a moment to allow her to stumble or fall beyond His sovereign reach right (He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.) God had not stopped working in her life to progressively sanctify her and make her more like Christ, right? For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son.

God did not fall asleep on the job, He neither sleeps nor slumbers. He was not slow, Our God is not slow.

God was faithful in her life during the circumstances in which she became angry as He had been before those circumstances arose. The problem was not with God and His activity in her life that was not the problem. The problem was with her thinking! She had failed to understand the purposes of her trials, the love in which they were administered, the grace given to her by God for her endurance. She failed to see the hand of God protecting her in it and His desire to grow her through it. And she needed to be reminded of these truths.

We must be careful of the same things. Our thinking must be biblical. We must see our circumstances as from God. The crowd failed to see the glory of Christ as a willing sacrifice. What is greater than that? Some temporary freedom from Rome? Would that be greater than the sacrifice of Christ given for eternal salvation? They failed to see that. They failed to see the purpose of it all. And instead they elevated the temporal they lusted over freedom from Roman oppression to such a degree that it blinded them to the most freeing event that was about to take place as Christ died for their sins. Eternal life is what was being secured and what they could not see.

Sometimes we foolishly desire temporary things and may even complain to God that things are too hard and yet oftentimes behind it all is a faithful Father, ever so faithfully and diligently and carefully working for the greatest good of conforming us into the image of Christ and ushering us into eternal bliss!

My friend lovingly explained these things to his daughter and she began to see that it was her thinking that had been wrong and that her God had been faithful and true.

Anytime we are tempted to become dissatisfied with God or angry with Him we must remember these things. Remember that God is able and will do all that He says He will do. He will not waiver. He will not capitulate to our fickle ideas of what is good. And if we do not like what He is doing then the problem is with us and our lack of understanding of His will and His perfect plans that are always right and good not just for the world but also for us as individuals as well.

No Jesus had not changed. It was the crowds perception of Jesus that had changed. And that perception was clouded by their lust that their temporal desires be fulfilled instead of a greater desire that God’s great will be done.

Thank the Lord also that many of the Jews that we have spoken of who were blinded by their desires eventually, no doubt, became followers of Christ, eventually they did as seen at Pentecost and just after Pentecost. Foolishness and unbelief yesterday can be corrected by repentance and belief today. That gives us hope! Praise be to God!

I’m glad that Jesus faithfully rode into Jerusalem on that day, to save us from our sins and to glorify His Father. He is our salvation not from hard things in this life but to go with us in the hard things and growing us during those hard things. He is our salvation spiritually and eternally.

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So 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!” 14 And 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!” 16 His 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. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:12-19)