Jesus Enters Jerusalem Prepared to be Our Sacrifice (John 12:12-15)
I like football a lot. I REALLY like football. One thing I like about football is watching the perfect play. I like to watch the highlight shows, you know those shows that talk about a particular athlete? It used to be NFL films, now it is “A Football Life.” I’ve watched “A Football Life” about Terry Bradshaw twice. It is really neat watching the film of Bradshaw throwing a long pass to Lynn Swann. I have also watched “A Football Life” about Barry Sanders, it is really neat watching him maneuver to get the perfect run. I have watched “A Football Life” about Jim Brown, wow! The highlights of him playing were amazing. I have watched “A Football Life” about Paul Brown, now he is a coach who does not get the recognition he deserves. I have watched many other football shows in addition to the games. One thing about football, the fans love these players when they are winning, but if the game goes wrong they are quick to start booing. Terry Bradshaw retired and then did not enter the Steelers stadium again until the early 2000’s. He brought his daughters with him and he did not know how the fans would react, but they cheered for him. Isn’t it interesting how the fans will boo one moment and cheer the next?
On Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people cheered for Him. They were waiting for a Savior. They were waiting for a King. But on the following Friday He would be crucified. Many believe it was NOT the same crowd that cheered for Him as the crowd that wanted Him crucified, but my point is the same, He was welcomed on Sunday and crucified on Friday.
But, today I want to talk about the why. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem? Why not stay away. Jesus knew that He would be crucified. He knew (Luke 13:33; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; Mark 8:31). If you knew you would go somewhere and be crucified would you go? Jesus did. Why? He enters Jerusalem and the people love Him. He is later crucified. Jesus entered Jerusalem thinking about us. He did this for us (see Phil 2:3-11).
My theme today:
Jesus entered Jerusalem KNOWING that the cross awaited Him. He did this for the salvation of sinners.
We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.
- Jesus enters Jerusalem, let’s look at John 12:12-15.
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 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!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
- I am not going to talk a lot about the passage today, instead I am going to focus on applications.
- We see in the passage that Jesus is entering Jerusalem. A large crowd had gathered for the week of Passover. The feast is Passover.
- The next day would have been Sunday (cf. v. 1). The great multitude that had come to Jerusalem for the Passover undoubtedly included many pilgrims from Galilee, where Jesus had His greatest following. The crowd evidently surrounded Jesus since Matthew and Mark wrote that there were many people in front of Jesus and many behind Him (Matt. 11:9; Mark 11:9).
- Allow me to share some background: Those already present in Jerusalem typically welcomed pilgrims to the feast and strewed branches in their path. Palm branches were used at the Feast of Tabernacles but had to be brought from Jericho. They had been one of the nationalistic symbols of Judea since the days of the Maccabees, were consistently used to celebrate military victories and probably stirred some political messianic hopes among the people. “Hosanna” means “O save!”; both this and the next line of verse 9 come from Psalm 118:25–26. Psalms 113–118, called the Hallel, were regularly sung at Passover season, so these words were fresh in everyone’s mind.
- I like what one source shares: Unfortunately, many in the crowd thought of Jesus only as a political deliverer and not a spiritual Savior. Instead of riding in on a horse like a warrior, Jesus chose a donkey—a burden-bearing animal. OT prophecy had identified the Messiah-King (Zch 9:9; see the comments there) as coming to the daughter of Zion (v. 15; a common OT idiom for the people of Jerusalem) seated on a donkey’s colt. The donkey was also a symbol of peace and humility (2Sm 19:26).
- Most of us know this story. Most of us have heard it many, many times. Jesus enters Jerusalem. We now begin Holy Week. Jesus will wash the disciples feet in a few days. In between now and Maundy Thursday Jesus will teach as well as anger many of the religious elite. Now, what I want to focus on is the application. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem?
- Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing that suffering was ahead of Him. He entered Jerusalem because He was going to the cross. He entered Jerusalem because that is what was necessary.
- Jesus did NOT avoid His mission. He was always about His Father’s will (Luke 2:49 and many other passages).
- This is so different from what we do. Oftentimes we take the easiest path.
- The rest of this message is about applications.
- We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.
- How much do we care about the salvation of others?
- It would be easy to apply this as “Stay focused on God’s will even if things are difficult.” But that is not the main reason Jesus went to the cross. Yes, Jesus went to the cross for the Father’s will, but specifically He did this for our salvation.
- How much do we care about the salvation of others?
- Are we being intentional thinking about the salvation of others?
- Like Jesus, we must be willing to go through with situations knowing that we are in God’s will even if suffering is ahead of us.
- Jesus went to the cross for us our need (Phil 2:3-11). We must also be willing to go through death, or persecution, or difficult times for the need of others.
- Jesus went to the cross for our salvation. We must be willing to go through persecution, tribulation, and even death for the salvation of others.
- This must have been very difficult for Jesus. He knew what awaited Him throughout this week, yet He entered Jerusalem.
- We may know family members or friends who need salvation, but being around them is difficult for us. We can be like Jesus and enter those relationships thinking about the greater need.
- We may think that our neighbor, or our coworker, or our relative, are our enemy because of our conflicting worldviews, but they are not. They are our mission field. Jesus entered Jerusalem for the mission of the cross.
- We must be willing to enter what we think of as enemy’s territory for the Gospel.
- We must be willing to be INTENTIONAL and PURPOSEFUL for the Gospel. Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem knowing that this was His Father’s will.
- We must seek the Lord’s will and NOT avoid difficult situations.
- We must pray and seek the Lord’s will knowing that nothing is off limits.
- Maybe the Lord will call us to serve in overseas missions EVEN in our retirement. I was in the Dominican Republic and met a couple who chose to serve the Lord there during their retirement years.
- Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Rescue Mission.
- Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Pregnancy Help Center.
- Jesus did NOT avoid the most difficult day, and the most difficult week in history. He stayed on mission. We must stay focused on the Lord’s work.
- We must NOT rely on peace meaning that we are in God’s will.
- Let me explain the last point. Many times, we think if something is the Lord’s will we will have peace about it. Invert that. Turn it around. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will you may NOT have peace about it. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will it will be difficult, but the Lord wants you to depend upon HIM. The Lord wants you to trust Him. The devil wants you to take the easy way out. To be sure, the Lord can give you peace in the midst of difficult times, BUT that is often when we jump into the deeper water and trust Him. Don’t rely on the peaceful, easy feeling. Trust the Lord. Seek Him. Quit taking the easy way out.
In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace had many opportunities to take the easy way out, but he did not. He wanted to die for his cause.
Anyone who has seen the movie knows the major speech he gives halfway through the movie:
A soldier shares with him: “Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.”
Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!
In fact, he went through torture yelling “Freedom” knowing that was his mission.
That is a movie based on the legend about a real person. But Jesus was also a real person and He went through to death, on a Roman cross, in order to give us freedom. Jesus gives us freedom from sin. Jesus gives us life everlasting. Jesus gives us abundant life. That is why He went to the cross for us.
Love Him. Worship Him. Serve Him. Live with Him.
 Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 12:12.
 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 12:12–13.
 John F. Hart, “John,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1642.