What should motivate our worship? People have various reasons or motivations why they come to worship God. Most of the time it is their own needs and reason that motivates them. What is your motive in worshiping God today? Will you serve and praise him even when things are going not as you expect in your life?
This is the final week of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, also called the Passion Week. The end of this week is the cross and the resurrection. The week begins with His arrival in Bethany and as Jesus is approaching Jerusalem suddenly people get into sudden, spontaneous worship. Let’s read the account:
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,
5some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
The people worshipped Jesus as him and spread palm branches but it ended without any fanfare and Jesus went back to Bethany just with the twelve. That’s a rather inconsequential conclusion to a coronation. It’s because it wasn’t really a coronation. Coronations aren’t humble, they aren’t unexpected. They aren’t unplanned, unofficial, spontaneous or superficial. Not temporary. But this one was all of those. Coronations are not to be reversed in a few days so that the one exalted and elevated becomes rejected and executed, like this one. This was no real coronation. So this is the false coronation of the true King.
The true coronation of Christ has two parts. One has already happened and one has not. The first phase of the coronation of Christ occurred at His Ascension when He left this earth as described in the first chapter of Acts and ascended into heaven.
But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. This was His first coronation and it was a heavenly coronation.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. He was given the name Lord which is the name above every name and everyone in existence bows to that name. Christ has already had His heavenly coronation and is reigning at the right hand of the throne of God.
Revelation 19 and 20 describe His earthly coronation. In the future, the Lord Jesus will return to earth, not riding on the colt of a donkey, but riding on a white horse.
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and wages war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And when He arrives, He will destroy the ungodly in a massive judgment that will sweep across the planet. He will establish His throne in Jerusalem and He will reign there for a thousand years in the Millennial Kingdom. Then there will be no end to His Kingdom throughout all eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. That’s the earthly coronation of Christ.
The event in Mark 11 is neither the heavenly coronation of Christ nor is it the earthly coronation of Christ. It is not a coronation of Christ at all, it is a mock coronation. There are no formalities here in this coronation, no dignitaries, no crown and no army. This really is very similar to His birth. In His birth, His mother arrives in Bethlehem in humble obscurity riding on a donkey. Here He arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Yes, He is the true King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, and no monarch in all human history remotely compares to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is none so magnificent, powerful, wise, sovereign, just, pure and holy. This is a true King, but this is no true coronation.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ earthly ministry had almost come to an end. He had walked in and through the land of Israel and ministered and now he has approached Jerusalem with his disciples for the Passover week. Moreover, it is Passover time. People throughout the land of Israel and outside are traveling and reaching Jerusalem. One of the entries to Jerusalem is through Bethany. But every passing hour the entourage of people has been growing. Jesus and his disciples also approach Jerusalem.
Jesus’ plan for this week is laid out in
33“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Jesus was coming to be killed by the leaders of Israel themselves and to die and rise again. He was to be the Passover lamb that Friday.
Jerusalem is swelling with Passover pilgrims. It is estimated that as many as two million people would be in Jerusalem at a Passover even in ancient days. The crowd around Him must have been in the hundreds of thousands coming through Bethany and Bethpage to go to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. Now you get the story.
The word has circulated throughout that area that He raised Lazarus from the dead. They held his funeral. He had been dead for days and now alive and lives in Bethany. So the escalation of this information about the miracle worker, raising Lazarus from the dead, has this crowd excited and they’re following Him. So some people are walking back from Jerusalem because they want to see this Lazarus.
This is a problem for the leaders.
10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him, many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. How hard-hearted are they, trying to kill Lazarus too. How sad! However, there is a huge crowd.
Until now, Jesus had never allowed such an occasion as this. In Galilee on one occasion some were motivated to worship and make him a King, He fled the scene. That was not his purpose this time. He didn’t allow this thing to happen. And the reason is that it would precipitate the aggressive action of the leaders who already wanted Him executed. Any kind of massive demonstration that made them think His popularity was expanding would then be a threat to the leaders and would only hurry up their act of murder against Him. So He never let it happen. But here He lets it happen.
God’s divine schedule
This is strangely designed by God, not as a legitimate exaltation but to inflame His enemies at exactly the precise time to get things moving so there would be time for a trial and an execution at exactly the right day. God planned it so that His enemies would be severely threatened and would execute Him on the divine schedule.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples. Bethany is that town, that village 3 km east, down the slope from Jerusalem. Bethphage is a smaller little tiny village further. Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and He sent two of his disciples to this neighboring place called Bethphage.
saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
How did Jesus know that? He knows that because He’s God. This is omniscience. He knows every cattle, every man and every woman that exists. He knows everything about you.
If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ You know, the disciples need to know that because it’s a little awkward stealing somebody’s animal. Well, that’s not a very good explanation, but it does assume that whoever is in charge of this animal knows who the Lord is. This must be a believer. Jesus knows where the animal is. He knows who the man is. That’s divine omniscience.
4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. (That would be like a cushion on the back of the animal to provide comfort for the Lord riding it.) 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.
David and his son Solomon rode on a mule or donkey when Solomon was anointed king of Israel and the people worshipped him. This was a literal demonstration that Jesus was the King. The people were motivated and expected Jesus to be their king who would make a riot, out throw the Romans, and establish a Jewish state.
Matthew points to us another reason as to why Jesus rode on a mule.
4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Jesus comes faithful to the prophet’s words, 500 years ago. Jesus fulfilled prophesy to its fullest details. In this Jesus fulfilled another prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. It was a faithful arrival. Faithful to the divine purpose, prophecy, and timetable. We serve a faithful God!
At first, his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified and worshipped did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
2. Faithless People.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. That was an old, ancient gesture, a custom that showed submission meaning, “You can walk on me, you are above me.” Kings were always elevated and people were under their feet. And this was a way to symbolize that. You see it in the coronation of Jehu in 2 Kings 9. This is an affirmation, at least superficially, “You’re our King, You’re our sovereign.”
Their hope for the Kingdom was really high, but they had their own view – attack the Romans, throw out the Romans, give us our place in the world and fulfill all the promises of the Old Testament to us. And they were all superficial and earthly.
This entourage coming up the hill is massive by now. The crowd is swelling. The enthusiasm is growing. Luke says
37When 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!”
What had caused that? Because, writes Luke, of all the miracles they had seen. There was plenty of evidence that He was the Messiah. Moreover, if you descend from the Mount of Olives you could see the temple doom. That is the epicenter of Jewish activity. They were all excited. Their escalated enthusiasm expected Him to do what they wanted Him to do. They show their fealty to Him by worship and spreading leafy branches under Him.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him. Palm branches in the Scripture can be symbols of salvation joy. Throwing down these branches was a symbol of joy. You are our deliverer. You are our source of joy.
The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed him (Jesus was in the middle of the crowd.) shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David!” (That’s the most common messianic title.) “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” That means, “Save us now, Deliver us now. And they’re talking about an earthly, political, and military deliverance.
Luke adds that they even said:
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! This is mob hysteria. They know that these things relate to the Kingdom. The Kingdom will be a Kingdom of salvation, a Kingdom over which the Son of David rules, it will be a Kingdom of peace and the Kingdom will be a Kingdom of glory. Everything shouted is true, scriptural, borrowed out of the Old Testament and accurate. This is God’s King, but this is not God’s time.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.
In reality, this is a faithless approval. The crowd is fickle the next day when He attacked the religion by attacking the temple. When He didn’t do what they wanted, they began to turn on Him. And by the end of the week, they’re screaming, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him, we’ll not have this man reign over us.” Just a few days later they completely reversed their sentiments. Why? Because He didn’t do what they wanted Him to do. They wanted Him to attack the enemy, He attacked them – Definitely a faithless approval.
The Jews missed the whole point of the message that God gave them through Jesus. They called him savior but they did not know that Jesus was the true savior, worshipped him but they never recognized Jesus’ mission. The people waved palm branches to greet Jesus as king, but history says that is exactly what their great-grandparents had done when the Maccabees overthrew the Syrian oppressors & re-established worship in the temple. Additionally, they thought that Jesus was a warlord. The keepers of the law were skeptical of Jesus’ actions and never understood what was written about Jesus in the law. This was one last time Jesus could prove to them that he was the Messiah but they still could not understand Jesus’ mission.
When Jesus came to Jerusalem, they were ready to hail Him as their Messiah if He did for them what they wanted. And when He didn’t, they turned on Him and cried for His blood that Friday. This was not a true coronation.
If Jesus doesn’t do what the sinner wants Jesus to do, the sinner will turn on Him. Can I tell you something? False coronations like this go on every day, all the time. That is what prosperity messages do. It promises the sinner what the fallen sinner already wants in his corrupt condition. What a true believer wants is what will glorify God, honor Christ and increase His attractiveness to the people around him.
Well, false coronations of Jesus go on all the time. This was one, but this had a divine intent and purpose. God used this to escalate the timetable to bring about His purpose to be crucified on Friday. God’s in charge of everything. His timetable is perfect. And when you crown Christ the true King, when you put your trust in Him, you will as a true believer say, “Lord, give me what You would want me to have. Reign in my life according to Your will, not mine,” right?
The Bible says, that day Jesus entered Jerusalem, came into the temple and looked around at everything. He left for Bethany with the Twelve since it was already late. Boy, that’s a really sad ending to a huge coronation. Go out of town and go back to where you came from. After the coronation, the king goes to the palace, not back to where he was staying.
What motivates our worship? Are you serving God for what he has done for you or what you want him to do for you? Do you understand God’s timing in your life? The Jews worshipped him for their own reasons and when their hope failed they turned on Jesus. Will you give your life over to Jesus today and tell him, “Lord I trust in you and worship you. I will worship you no matter what happens to me in my life.”
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