“Don’t Skip that Scene!”
Palm Sunday Sermon by Josh Montague
Text: Mark 11:1-11, April 5, 2020
Part One: The Expectation
We often seek to celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and the crowd’s acknowledgement of his kingship. But the tone of the Triumphal Entry is more bittersweet than a celebration. The crowd was celebrating a coronation, but Jesus was heading to his execution.
I. Mark’s Readers: Mark has built his readers up to see Jesus as the Messianic Son of God who comes with all authority. But as he’s approaching Jerusalem is instructing his followers that he will suffer, die, and rise and if they are to follow him, they too will suffer.
II. The People of Israel: The Messiah King is coming to save! “Hosanna” = “Save us!”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” But they were forgetting Zech 9:9’s picture of humility and Is 53’s prophecy of a suffering servant who must suffer for the sins of his people. In their enthusiasm for the crown, the people of Israel were neglecting the cross.
III. Us: We want shortcuts to glory. Suffering and servanthood don’t fit our cultural expectations. But God often does his greatest work in the middle of the hardest suffering.
Part Two: The Entrance
Most of his ministry has been in the north, but now in 11:1, Jesus “drew near to Jerusalem”, the place where he would suffer. Matthew highlights prophetic fulfillment of the OT. Luke highlights the deserved praise Jesus receives. Mark highlights the humility of Jesus. The King of the Universe is riding a colt. This is the King, though. He’s supposed to be on a powerful steed or in the back of a chariot!
I. “For Mark it’s the lowliness and humility of the entry into Jerusalem which matters, not its triumphant nature. It is a kingship of hidden majesty, of humble power to save.” (Donald English)
II. Jesus wasn’t coming to conquer in the sense the people expected. He was coming to ransom a people (10:45) by serving them through laying down his life on their behalf.
III. How do we view Jesus? A “Get Out of Trouble Free” Magic Card? A “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” option? Or … as a the sovereign Son of God who suffered and died on our behalf?
PART THREE: THE CROSS FOR A KING
Jesus is the sovereign king with all authority. He’s also a servant who predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection. The King willingly goes to the cross to ransom a people. He humbly lays down his life rather than take up the throne. The need is for a spiritual Savior not just a political champion.
I. Mark’s Readers were struggling to put together a Crown and a Cross
II. The People of Israel were enthusiastic for a king. Even a donkey-riding king. Solomon rode a mule to his coronation in 1 Kings 1:38. (See also Gen. 49:10-11 and Zech. 9:9).
III. We want the crown without a cross. Sovereignty without suffering. Victory without sacrifice. Glory without pain. But Jesus points his followers to a different path. “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
IV. In other words, the path to glory first involves loss. You will suffer. Christians should be the least surprised by hard roads. We mourn, we lament, we struggle, but we have deep joy and hope.
Jesus’ triumph over the grave and his eventual triumphant return is glorious because of his humble willingness to go the cross. He fought for our salvation. And his triumph is glorious because the only way we could share in that triumph is if he suffered on our behalf. The Cross precedes the Crown. For Jesus. For us. Don’t skip the suffering. It’s there where Jesus does his greatest work.
- Read Mark 8:34-35. What promise does Jesus make for those who follow him?
- What are 2-3 ways that you can already see God working good in the suffering being faced around the world?
- Spend some time thanking Jesus that he humbly and willingly endured suffering for our salvation. Ask for strength to endure and be shaped by hard things that God providentially brings.