As we arrive at Jerusalem with Jesus, the question presses upon us. Are we going along for the trip in the hope that Jesus will fulfill some of our hopes and desires? Are we ready to sing a psalm of praise, but only as long as Jesus seems to be doing what we want? The long and dusty pilgrim way of our lives gives most of us plenty of time to sort out our motives for following Jesus in the first place. Are we ready not only to spread our cloaks on the road in front of him, to do the showy and flamboyant thing, but also now to follow him into trouble, controversy, trial and death? And still recognize him, trust him and worship him as KING?

Sermon Notes

Luke 19:28–46 (NIV)
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King (also see Mt 21:1–9; Mk 11:1–10 Jn 12:12–15) 28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Jesus at the Temple (see Mt 21:12–16; Mk 11:15–18; Jn 2:13–16)
45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

For Jesus it’s a royal occasion, to be carefully planned and staged so as to make exactly the right point. The animal he chose… was a young foal, almost certainly a donkey’s colt. (The word Luke uses would more normally mean a young horse or pony; but he knew Zechariah 9:9, the prophecy of the Messiah riding on a young donkey, and he uses the word that occurs there.) Like the tomb in which Jesus would lie a week later (23:52), it had never been used before. The disciples pick up the theme, and in a kind of instant royal celebration they spread cloaks along the road for him. Down they go, down the steep path to the Kidron valley, and the crowd starts to sing part of the great psalm of praise (Psalm 118) that pilgrims always sang on the way to Jerusalem: a song of victory, a hymn of praise to the God who defeats all his foes and establishes his kingdom. Jesus will himself quote from the psalm in one of his debates in Jerusalem (20:17). He comes himself as the fulfilment of the nation’s hopes, answering their longings for a king who would bring peace to earth from heaven itself…. As we arrive at Jerusalem with Jesus, the question presses upon us. Are we going along for the trip in the hope that Jesus will fulfil some of our hopes and desires? Are we ready to sing a psalm of praise, but only as long as Jesus seems to be doing what we want? The long and dusty pilgrim way of our lives gives most of us plenty of time to sort out our motives for following Jesus in the first place. Are we ready not only to spread our cloaks on the road in front of him, to do the showy and flamboyant thing, but also now to follow him into trouble, controversy, trial and death? – N.T. Wright

Though Jesus engages in provocative street theater by entering Jerusalem on a mount that betokens his royal dignity as an earthly king, Luke understands this to be a divine visitation. If the people do not respond with welcome, they will face judgment. Jesus’ action in the temple is not simply that of an irate prophet symbolically warning of judgment but one of God pronouncing judgment. The problem is that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the temple’s tenants do not recognize Jesus for who he is and do not know what makes for peace. Thus, they will not sue for peace (14:32) but instead will attempt to resist this divine visitation with violence. Their indifference, hostility, and resistance to Jesus are symptomatic of human indifference, hostility, and resistance to God’s intervention in the world and their lives. It is empirically obvious that the world does not know what makes for earthly peace. It is attributable to their ignorance of God and God’s ways. True peace does not come through the violent exercise of superior power, as the Romans would have it. Peace refers to salvation (Rom 5:1) and comes only through Jesus as the Lord of all (Acts 10:36). Because humans do not know what makes for peace, it is now a heavenly quality.23 It is “peace in heaven.” Nolland astutely observes that at Jesus’ birth the angels from heaven celebrate what is happening on earth. As he approaches death, which will lead to his exaltation, the disciples celebrate what is happening in heaven. He cites Col 1:20 and Rev 12:10 as theological parallels.24 The “peace in heaven,” then, “is that of the reconciliation which the Messiah comes to effect between God and the earth.”25 Doble writes, “in the Lukan scheme of things [peace] lay on the other side of Jesus’ [being taken up].”26 Peace comes from his passion, resurrection, and ascension and from worshiping him as the Lord (Acts 2:33). – David Garland