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THE LORDíS TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
8 APRIL 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
The Lord's triumphal entry was considered so important by the Gospel writers, that each of them recorded the event so that its story would be told to future generations.
But, as each of them, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, record the event, they see things in their own frame of reference; and in so doing, they collectively provide us with a much fuller picture than any one of them by himself could have.
Let me give you some examples of how this works in our lives.
Last Sunday afternoon, the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee had a meeting; and as part of that discussion, a question was asked about being ''born again" and about what it means; for there are some who have believed from childhood, but have never had any dramatic experience.
Then there are others who are ''born again" with a dramatic experience that is manifested by a truly changed life.
And someone commented that there are people who claim to be ''born again" and yet everything in their life, outside of church, says that they are just like every other person in the world.
See Ė just like the Gospel writers, who had different points of view on the triumphal entry, so do people give us differing points of view on what it means to be "born again."
Let's begin our spiritual journey by looking at 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, a passage we discussed about a month ago.
Scripture reading Ė 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:
14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light and darkness?
15. Or what harmony has Christ with Belial [the devil], or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
"I will dwell in them and walk with them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
"And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18. "And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,"
Says the Lord Almighty.
In relation to this Scripture passage, the discussion about being "born again", and to the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we are very much like Jerusalem.
Just as the Temple was central to life in Jerusalem, so is our heart central to our life.
And more importantly, just as the Temple in Jerusalem was to be the temple of the living God, so are we.
But in order for God to be there, we must separate ourselves from the worldly way of life around us and allow the Lord to make His triumphal entry.
And only when we do this, will we have a "new birth" of eternal life.
All four Gospels tell us that Jesus entered Jerusalem upon a donkey. It was important to all four of the writers to mention this.
Why do you think it was important?
This is very similar to saying, "Unless we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cannot be "born again," we cannot enter heaven, and we cannot come to the Father."
Now hang on to this thought for a moment, as we continue.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell of Jesus sending the disciples to get the donkey, but John doesn't.
All that John believes is important is that the Lord found a donkey on which to ride.
It isn't important how we come to recognize Jesus, or how we came to hear the message, or in what way the message comes to us, or who it was that told us.
All that is important is that we believe in the only begotten Son of God, Jesus, our Christ.
But Matthew and John felt it was important to let us know that Jesus' riding upon the donkey fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9.
9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Mark and Luke didn't believe that this was so important for our believing, for sooner or later we would find out about the prophetic message.
This is like saying that what is really important for us to understand is that Jesus died for our sins, but later on is time enough to understand why He had to die.
Matthew, Mark, and John recorded that the people were crying out "Hosanna," which means "save now"; but Luke didn't mention "Hosanna," as if to say, "It isn't important that everyone is saved now, but just that they are saved."
Matthew, Luke and John thought it was important to mention that there were unbelievers present.
Matthew reminds us of a person who still refers to Jesus as a prophet.
Luke shows us that the heart of the problem was with the Pharisees, for they
told Jesus to rebuke those who were calling to Him as their Messiah.
John picks up on this same point, but he indicates that the Pharisees really knew the truth, for they remarked that the way they acted was not having any effect on the true believers.
Which is like Luke's recording of Jesus' answer, "If these [people] become silent, the stones will cry out!"
If we are willing to let the truth enter into us, no evil force around us can prevent it.
The forces of evil cannot prevent our salvation, if we truly want to believe.
And Luke, wanting us to understand the extent of Jesus' love, let us know that Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the unbelievers who lived there.
And in the same way, Jesus weeps for those of us who don't believe.
John brings out the weakness of our faith, as he remarks about the disciples, of whom he was one: that even they didn't understand at first, when all of these things were going on.
Even the disciples didn't come to fully understand until after Jesus was glorified, after He rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
This is the same with us.
It is important that we come to believe in Jesus Christ; it is also important that we follow Him, but it is not so important that we know all things, or even understand them when we gain insight.
What is important is that we trust in God to reveal the unknown things to us that we need to understand when it's time for us to understand.
John also brings out this weakness of our faith, when he describes the multitude as being many of those who had seen or heard of Him having raised Lazarus from the dead.
We see this same kind of behavior from people when any famous person comes to town.
With God, such things are only to attract our attention.
In themselves, they do not bring salvation.
Our salvation comes when we believe in Jesus Christ for who He is, and not for the signs and wonders that He performs.
That is the difference between being born again and just saying, "I am born again."
New birth comes when we allow Jesus to enter triumphantly into our lives, and change our lives into the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, that He desires us to be.
Remember, there were people who lived in Jerusalem all of their lives, even in sight of the Temple, who did not truly believe.
Similarly, there were those in Jerusalem who truly believed.
The proof of belief is not that one comes to church all the time, or only sometimes.
The proof of belief is when Jesus comes first in our lives, and because we believe, we desire to come to church and live Christ-like lives when we are not in the church.
The proof of belief is when we do everything in our power to brings God's heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven.
So, my beloved, if you don't feel like the temple of God because Jesus has not entered, or even that He has departed, then it is time to take stock of our lives.
Perhaps we have put so many other things in our temples, that there is no room for the Lord.
Perhaps we should all do some house cleaning, or temple cleaning.
The other day I saw Phil Cooper sweeping the street in front of the church, and as I was putting together this sermon for today, I reflected on what he was doing.
For it isn't sufficient for us to just clean out our churches and our lives for Jesus Christ; we also should clean the streets and pathways that lead to us, so that the Lord and all who come with Him will feel welcome.
And part of cleaning our temple is removing death and destruction from our lives, as it is in heaven.
We need to clean out our temple as Jesus did with the one in Jerusalem.
If we begin to clean up our own act, we might encourage others to clean up theirs.
And if we truly want Jesus to make a triumphal entry, then we should lay something before Him.
Perhaps we could lay down some of the spring flowers we are just beginning to see, or some of the tender new sprigs of green.
And perhaps, like the people in Jerusalem, almost 2,000 years ago, we should lay down our garments.
But if we truly want Jesus to triumphantly enter into our lives, we must lay down our garments before Him while we are still wearing them.
Your Comments are welcome
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