Speaker: Ben Marsh
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11

From the series Holy Week & Easter 2024

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Well, good morning. My name is Ben, and I have the privilege to share from God’s Word with you this morning. A special welcome to any guests that are here with us this morning. And welcome to those that are joining us online as well. This is a good thing to do to gather here during Holy week and to worship God. So we’re glad that you’re in his house. We get to worship him and we get to hear from his word this  morning. Want to kick off with just a very simple question and you feel free to answer what matters more, what you say or what you do. Which is it? Oh, there’s actually like, some mixed responses. Savers do. Well, I have good news for all of you. You’re all wrong. That’s a trick question. It’s what you believe. So what you believe actually influences what you do, what you believe influences what you say. And throughout this week of Holy Week, we’re going to be looking at a few statements, declarations, professions of the faith, ones that we just heard. But looking at them through the lens in the light of what took place during Jesus’s last week before his death and resurrection, you see, this comes from the Apostles Creed.

We just shared it. We had a baptism in the first service. We were able to celebrate baptism just now, which is fantastic to see God do that work. And we go back and we looked at this is nearly 2000 years old that Christians, within the first few centuries, they did not have a Bible. And get this, they didn’t even have a Bible app like. So how do they how do they know God’s word? How did they how do they know what they believed? Because it wasn’t enough to just say, well, I believe the Bible. If the Bible wasn’t, it wasn’t formed together yet completely and in all the books. So early Christians gathered around these things that they knew to be true about Scripture, about God. These are the definitive statements about who God is, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. And so I want us to slow down this week and to take a look at what these really mean, because it’s very easy for us to sometimes just say things and go to the motions or just go and, you know, do what we think is right to do. As far as a good Christian person. 

What do you ultimately believe, though, when you’re saying these statements? Because these are some of the most important, most consequential statements that you’ll ever make in your life, but we sometimes just kind of go through them. I know that I have it memorized and and you work right through the Apostles Creed and you don’t think of the gravity that comes with each of these statements, because ultimately our words do matter. But our words find their way through our belief. We know it to be true that that words can carry weight. You just think about what About when other people talk about you. What do other people say about you? That you’re a good person, hardworking, studious, handsome? Has anyone ever walked into a lunch room or next to the water cooler room coworkers and all of a sudden a hush falls and, you know, maybe something was being shared that maybe wasn’t necessarily meant for your ears or might have been about you, but actually probably more common nowadays is that in the comment section, someone somewhere, someone feverishly behind a keyboard is letting you know exactly what they think about you and your opinion. 

But there’s a tension that can happen for all of us when when we have what we know to be our reality. And then someone’s coming in with their perspective of you or something about you or your family or your opinion, and all of a sudden their perspective in your reality don’t seem to to play very well together. I remember growing up, my brother 11 years older than me, so it was never a fair fight. But even beyond the fight, I just remember I had my reality. My brother also had the reality that he called me a dork, a source. I’m not exactly sure what a dork a source is. I’m pretty sure I’m not one. A little kid. Me. All of a sudden, you feel tension. You know, we’ve experienced it. Name calling. When people say things about you or even in adulthood, when you could be trying and laboring away and working hard and someone might come along and be like, Well, I really working that hard or that you’re trying in your relationship and you’re trying to make the other person feel loved and they’re like, Do you even love me? Your reality and their perspective don’t seem to line up. And when people start to say things about you that you believe to be untrue about yourself, one or two things happens. 

You mean they become very defensive or there’s a piece of you that might go all the way and there’s a maybe there’s a hint of truth in that. And when we start to carry those labels that other people give us, then I kind of take away at our character

and our integrity, and then we start to actually take what they say and then it becomes part of our belief. And it’s not just us being the victims. We all play our own role, too. Like, what do we say about other people? How many times have each of us been the ones that had the hush fall over the around the water cooler or in the lunchroom, wherever it may be? And we were the one that was sharing something that shouldn’t have been shared. We’re talking about a friend, a family member, a coworker, in a way maybe we shouldn’t have where we were making a judgment and putting a label on them, their character, their integrity that didn’t belong because we believe that we had a better understanding what reality is based off of our own perspective. See, what’s actually going to happen here in our text today is that finally,

there’s only been a few glimpses throughout Jesus’s ministry up into this point where what people thought their perspective of Jesus and the reality of who Jesus is actually aligned. And we see that alignment actually take place here on our Palm Sunday text where what people said and why it’s actually true finally come into alignment with what reality actually is. 

And there’s something that powerful that happens when these when that actually happens, when you say something that’s actually true. Because so often our society now it’s so very easy to twist words and say it’s well, it’s just kind of up to everybody. There are certain things that are certainly true. And we’re gonna take a look at one of those things today about the very person of Jesus. So in Matthew 21, picking up our text, familiar text on Palm Sunday as day, that is Jesus and His disciples. As they approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, and Jesus has a mission. He takes two of his 12 disciples and he says to them, Go to the village ahead of you, and once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt by her, untie them and bring them to me. How many donkeys are there to? Yeah, the scene of everybody still awake. You’re still with me. Sometimes we miss that. There’s actually two there, and this is actually fulfilling a prophecy. We’re going to see that in just a moment. He has a mission for them to basically just go take these animals. But he already had this all in mind throughout his whole ministry. 

Jesus is doing things around the region, but we see a shift happening in Scripture where all of a sudden he turns his face towards Jerusalem and he knows exactly what he has come to do. And it wasn’t all these other miracles and all these other healings and things elsewhere. But he came here for this purpose and he already orchestrated it. Here’s we’re beginning to see this fulfillment of time that Jesus has already has this things plan that He needs a donkey and here he has a donkey in mind, so just go get it. And he tells the disciples, Now, if anyone says anything to you, say, The Lord needs them and the servant will send them right away. I believe what we see right here is the first glimpse into what a now has been stolen by so many buddy cop movies that when they need a vehicle, they just run up and say, We need this. You know, I’m commandeering this vehicle because it originally happens here with the disciples for a moment, just to see here’s a servant living in Jerusalem. Maybe he had traveled there for the Passover. He needed a he need a new a new ride. So he goes down to his local dealership. He wanted a Bronco. 

There’s no Broncos there. They’re sold out. But the feels guy, he needs to make a sale, that he needs his quota and so he convinces the guy, you know what? You know, I don’t have a Bronco, but I do have a donkey. And if you buy right now, I actually just talk to my manager and I can toss in this colt for free as well. And so we go ahead and so he’s leaving the donkey dealership and all of a sudden two guys just run out of nowhere and say the Lord needs this. We go over these details so very, very quickly. So often, if you were to be driving down 23 mile and someone stopped you waved you down, had you pull over  and said, the Lord needs your car and I’m going to take it. How many of you were handed the keys over? How many of you are quietly calling the police with your phone just out of their sight? Yeah, it’s small little details, but the fact that that Jesus already orchestrated all this, that he’s already working in the heart of the servant who has this donkey in this colt, there’s going to be no problem whatsoever when his disciples go, he already has mine. He’s ultimately in control. And what he’s even telling his

disciples here to go and say, faith that the Lord needs it. 

When you go back into the original language and you look, there’s lots of times that we see this word Lord all over the place, but here in this instant, like other places, it’s used in this regard, the Lord is the one who exercises supernatural authority. That’s not the disciples running up and saying, My boss needs your donkey. That’s the disciples running up and saying, God, God has use of these animals and we need them. So He’s even telling His disciples, God is orchestrating all this. God needs this. We start to see a glimpse of exactly who Jesus is. And so they go. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the Prophet. This connects all the way back into the Old Testament, where it says, Say to Daughter Zion, See, your king comes to you gentle and riding on a donkey and animal, a fall of a donkey, that he’s also king. So he’s not only Lord who has supernatural authority, but that we’re going to see in just a moment that as he goes into town riding on that donkey, that people are going to shout out that he is their king. And often time we do think of a king coming on a bronco, on a horse and something mighty and majestic. 

KING Maybe you’ve heard that before and that that would be proper and good. But we also we know that in the Old Testament, there are times that sometimes a king comes just on a simple donkey. A king coming back from war would be coming on a horse because he’s victorious. A king on a donkey is coming to become the king, to be crowned the king. And that’s what we’re going to see. This is just one, too. We have to make note of this as well. This is one of over 300 prophecies made about Jesus that is coming to pass, where Jesus was going to be born, where he was going to come from, which gate into Jerusalem. He was going to come, what time he was going to come to Jerusalem, that all these things are being fulfilled. And here is just yet another thing that this is the fulfillment of time that Jesus has orchestrated all this. And this is just another box ticking. There is something going on here about who this person is that is extraordinary and unlike any other person in existence. The disciples at this point, having followed Jesus for three years, they know He commands it and they go and do it. They went and did it. Jesus instructed. They brought the donkey and the cold and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. And then we see a very large crowd again, have to look at the detail here. 

It’s not tens of people, it’s not hundreds of people. There are thousands, dozens of people that have descended on the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. There are thousands of people potentially in this crowd that’s gathering. And what they’re doing is they’re spreading their cloaks on the road. They’re cutting down branches from trees and they’re spreading them on the road. Why are they doing this? Well, some have lived in that region around Jerusalem. Some have traveled there, and they have heard they’ve either heard or they’ve seen themself about this miracle worker, about this rabbi, this teacher who teaches with a different type of authority about this man who cast out demons, this man who heals blind men, this man who makes lame men to walk, this man who fed a multitude with loaves and fish, and they all want to come and see. And also we can’t lose sight of the fact of what those people were experiencing at that same time as well, because they’re coming there for the Passover. They’re coming in to their their capital city. But their capital city is still under rule from another nation that the Roman government is still ruling over them, still tax them, still oppressing them, and they are not their own people. 

And so they see someone coming in and we see what they believe to be their new king coming in, because the crowds not only gather in that way with such excitement to cut down branches and to lay their cloaks, but the crowds went ahead of him and those that followed shouted and they said, Hosanna to the son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Does anyone know what the word Hosanna means? Save us. Save us. What do they believe about this person who’s coming in riding on this donkey there? You can save them, but save them from what? Well, we have every reason to believe that what they’re thinking is that it save us from the taxes of the Romans, save us from the oppression from the Romans, save us from this other government ruling over us so we could be our own people again. Come and unite us and be our king, just like we had in years past before going into exile, Be our king, Save us from this other ruler. And then we see a glimpse, too, that they have at least a little bit of understanding of who Jesus is, because they call him the son of David. And that is to say in a tribute to Jesus that he’s a promised one, He’s the anointed one. He’s the one that we heard about in the Old Testament, and now he’s here, that he’s coming in the name of the Lord, meaning that he has authority, but they don’t yet fully see exactly who he is yet. 

This raises questions because all this this frenzy around Jesus and people shouting out to him or lifting up their voices and laying down their cloaks, it only naturally for those that are surrounding and don’t know, it makes them ask a question. And what I believe follows in this text is so wonderful that it’s in Scripture because this question is ultimately the most important question that you’ll ever answer. Everyone will have to answer this question. So everyone’s excited, the shouting and hear recorded in Scripture When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this? Which again is ultimately the most important question that you will answer and not just answer by saying what you think the answer is, not just answer by living out the consequence of that, but answer by a deep seated belief in who you actually believe believe he is. Now, the crowds answered at the time. This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. What they don’t know is what they’re saying is that you’re the anointed one. 

You’re coming in the name of the Lord. It doesn’t line up with him simply being a prophet kind of echoes what happens earlier in the Gospels where Jesus actually just just gathers his disciples and he asks them, Who do people say I am? And they answer, Well, some say that you are a prophet, some think you’re this something pure that and that. Peter and all boldness says, You’re the Messiah, you’re the chosen one, you are the anointed one. You are the one that is to come. And Jesus tells them. It’s not just that Peter thought his way there and he figured it out, but that God had ultimately revealed it to him. And we have to answer that question. Who is this Jesus for ourselves? We just stated it. It is found in the Apostles Creed that we say, I believe in Jesus Christ. His only son pointing back to the Father, his only son, our Lord. What I love about this statement as well is that it’s personalized. I believe this isn’t mom or dad. Faith or grandma Grandpa’s faith. I believe God has worked this in me, this faith in me, but it’s also collected at the same time. 

So it’s individual, this statement of faith, profession of faith, but it’s also communal in the way that we’re saying this is our Lord, that my experience of who he is now finally aligns with what reality is, is Lord, we’re going to dig into that a little bit more of what that exactly means. But I think it’s also interesting. We might not always realize it. Do you realize that every time that you attribute a label or a title to someone else, that you’re also saying something about yourself to think about it? If you call someone mom, that makes you a a child son or daughter. If you call someone a coach that makes you a an athlete. If you call someone doctor, it’s likely that you’re a patient. When you start attributing titles to other people, all of a sudden you actually are learning more about who you are in relation to that person. And so as we find out exactly who Jesus is and what his key title, that every other title is subservient to the clearer we see him, the clear, we actually begin to see ourselves. Which then has to raise the question, Who are you really? 

If you take everything else away because it’s so easy, if you go introduce yourself to someone, what what is usually the very first thing that you tell them your name, what you do for a living? How many family members you have married, single if you have kids, are any of those things your core identity? No, no, they’re absolutely not, baby. They. They can be true of us, but they’re not at our core, our identity. They’re different titles. They’re different hats that we wear. We all we’re multiple at the same time. You can wear multiple titles and hats at the same time. If you just think about it this way, right, that in high school maybe this might be from personal experience. I went to a school where, like many lot of the teachers are also coaches. And so if you’re in your coach’s class and maybe you’re acting up a little bit, they could send you down to the principal’s office. They could give you an extra Simon as teacher. But if you’re messing around in class and school lets out and you go to practice and they remove the title teacher and they put on the coach, now the fear of God strikes you because you realize I’m no longer dealing with teacher anymore. 

I’m actually dealing with coach and they’re going to make you run. They’re going to make you do whatever they need to do because they hold more than one title. And when they’re functioning, the title of coach, now all of a sudden they have different authority. We all function with different titles too, and even Jesus does is see ourselves clearly. We can actually even God. Look, there’s a book that helps us understand, you know, this is written by a theologian, Martin Luther. It helps us understand this, the second article of the Apostles Creed, and it says, We could sum up the whole second article. That is to say that Jesus Christ is our Lord, that he was conceived, that he died, all those things all the way down, that second paragraph, all about Jesus. But it could all be summed up in Jesus, His Lord. But then it begs the question, what does it mean that Jesus has Lord? And again, when we know what Jesus is, Lord, what that means, then we know who we are. So for Jesus to be Lord, He said it this way. It is this that He has redeemed us. He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death and all evil. For before I had no Lord nor King, but was captive under the power of the devil, condemned to death, enmeshed in sin and blindness. 

He is attributed to Title Redeemer. That means we are the redeemed, but again redeemed from what? Saved from Hosanna. Save us from not Save us from the problems out in the world that save us from the Roman government. Not save us from taxation, not save us from all the problems that are out there, not even save us from the fact that we we screw up every now and again. But save us from this. Save us from sin, from the devil and from death, from all evil. Because we were at the very end of it. It says we were under the power of the devil, condemned to death, enmeshed in sin and blindness. Now, when I ask you what your career identity, how many of you thought to yourself, I am enmeshed in blindness and sin, that is my core identity. Now, that’s an issue for us, isn’t it? Because now here comes in this perspective, here comes in this label, but we want to line it up with our reality because I’m I’m ultimately a good person, right? I’ve got bad news for you. That’s not what Scripture says whatsoever. And all too often we can think of it in Jesus, come and help me with these problems. Jesus, Jesus, come be Jesus can be healer because someone’s sick, Jesus can be provider because the bank accounts a little low. Jesus, come in, help me in this situation and help me get out. 

And so we’re willing to bow and knee and we’re willing to worship a God who’s less than fully God because we don’t see our sin fully as sin. We see sin out there in the world, or we see sin in some of the mistakes we make, but we don’t see sin as our primary identity. Yes, we’re all God’s children. But Scripture also tells us in Ephesians chapter two that you’re all children of wrath. The leader says, We’re dead in our trespasses. And in Romans five, it says that you’re an enemy of God outside of faith, out of a life seeking faith in Jesus Christ, that you’re actually his enemy, you’re against him, you are brought forth in sin, and so that you are God’s child. But that child of God is brought forth with a stain of sin, one that we can’t kick, that we can’t just shirk, that we can’t just shrug off. And if you think about it this way, that really is all of our experience, isn’t it? Because it’s very, very easy for us to come in on a Sunday morning and wave a Paul branch and say, Hosanna, save us, God, worship God. And then 10 minutes, 20 minutes, two days, two weeks later, we find ourselves again enmeshed in sin. 

It could happen even just as you drive home, someone cuts you off and some unholy words come out of your mouth. And it’s not that all of a sudden that sin was burden you in that moment. It’s the fact that there’s this old sinful nature that we need to continually drown, continually needs to die, and that we actually can the more clearer that we see the state of sin that we’re in, the more clear we can see the goodness of this king, Prophet and ultimately Messiah Redeemer, who’s coming in to Jerusalem. Because as you look at him, you could answer in so many different ways, Who is this Jesus? I mean, we love Jesus on Christmas in a manger. We love Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us here, God is with us, and we love Jesus, who’s a provider. And then he’s the bread of life. And we love Jesus as a king who we can come forward to worship. But do we realize that as he goes through Holy Week, that he comes in as a king, but then as he moves through the week, his title changes? Because as he ultimately goes to The  Last Supper and as he goes up on the cross, he looks at each of us and he says, That title that you carry, Child of Wrath, liar, adulterer, greedy swindler, all the titles that we carry with ourselves that either we believe to be true about ourselves or others have put on us the very title of original sin. 

And he takes that and he who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He takes on the title of sin and He hands you the title of righteousness. And it’s from that place. And hearing that good news that that we actually recognize what it means for him to be Lord. It isn’t Lord that he’s all mighty and powerful and he’s come to fix our problems, but he’s Lord who’s willing to come down in all humility into the muck in mire of our sin and actually take that sin from us and then hand us righteousness in unmerited grace. And that now all we have to do is not clean up our act, but all we have to do is it says in Romans chapter ten, which I’ve grown to love this chapter, that if you declare with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and if you believe it in your heart, if you believe not just see. If you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified. And it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. This is why this question of who is Jesus is the most consequential question that you will ever answer, the most important question you will ever answer. 

Because this question has eternal consequences that if we can come into alignment with reality, that Jesus is in fact Lord, that He is the elephant, the Almighty God, that He is the one who has created you. And not only that, but he’s also the one who’s more importantly, he’s redeemed you and he’s the one who’s ultimately going to sanctify you to bring him home with him. Well, then that is good news for us. So for you this morning, and as we go through this week, you need to answer this question. It’s for each of us to answer. You cannot hand down this faith. You can’t just hand it over. Who is this Jesus to you? And what we come to realize is that our actual state of sin, our original stain that we have on ourselves that we inherited from Adam and Eve, has infected us to such a degree that we can’t even come to the correct conclusion of who Jesus is without the help of God. In first Corinthians it says this How do you declare and believe? Because no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. You can go through the motions, you can wave a palm branch, you can come to church, you can you can do some of the right things. You can say some of the right things. 

But again, the most consequential thing is actually what you believe. And the only way that you can come to belief is actually by the power of the Holy Spirit. And later in Romans chapter ten, it tells us exactly how the Holy Spirit works. And these are ten or some of the verses I’ve grown to love How it answers the question how then can they call on the one they have not believed in and how can they believe in the one they have not heard and how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless someone is sent? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ. The word of Christ is and isn’t just going through the motions and just having this idea of, yes, Jesus was a good person, but you actually have to come into contact with God’s Word and the gospel message. And I believe that that’s what happens here every single week and every single worship service throughout Holy Week. The best thing that we can do because we recognize in and of ourselves, we can’t even come to the right conclusions of who Jesus is  Let us alone think that we can act in the right way or speak in the right way. We can’t even believe in the right way. 

But we need to come into his house to hear his word preach like you’re hearing right now that God’s coming to you and saying, it’s not about your efforts, it’s not about your actions. It’s already done for you on the cross. Now you can hear that. And as you hear that, that what happens is now that label, that title of Sin, original Sin and Stain and Child of Wrath, that’s actually taken from you and you can actually receive from God for the first time one of the multitude of names that he wants to give you. And he wants you to actually believe that you are his friend, that you are his child, that you are connected to the vine, that you’ve been justified, you’ve been redeemed, that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that you are a branch connected to the vine, that you are an air, that you are God’s workmanship, that you are an adopted child of the most high God now and no longer live under that title. I’m a sinner. You’re now simultaneously that awful sinner, but you’re also all these things that your loving Heavenly Father calls you and he doesn’t just do it by calling you it. He does it by taking action because he stepped into reality to change reality. 

So now you actually are all the things that your lovingly Heavenly Father calls you because you’re clothed in Christ through his death, through his resurrection. Reality has changed. So now, now, unlike when someone calls you a mean name or says that you’re not great or you’re not awesome and you think, well, that doesn’t line up with reality, I think I’m wonderful. Now you actually have a Heavenly Father who’s calling down to you and he’s saying, you’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved, you’re forgiven, and you are enough in Christ. And again, we feel dissonance because it doesn’t line up with our reality. We don’t see that to be the case when we look at ourselves. That’s why we have to look to Christ, to look who to who he is. And then we see all those names of the father calls us. Those are all Yes. And a men in his son, Amen would join me in prayer. Heavenly Father, God forgive us for all the ways that we get entangled, enmeshed in sin. God, God forgive us for all the ways that we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing good enough. God help us to see clearly not only the state of sin that we are in, but God help us to see clearly the redemptive work that you’ve already completed through your son and that through that now God, that you give us the gift of your Holy Spirit to believe who Jesus is and what He has done.So we might now also believe that we are, in fact yours.We pray this in his name. Amen.