“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you …’” (Matthew 21:5).
We’re entering into that wonderful time of the year when we approach, in our mind’s eye, not just the cross of Christ – but also His glorious empty tomb! But there are a number of important days between now and Easter morning, and we must make the most of each of them. To that end, I want to remind you why Palm Sunday matters.
In London, England, Charles Spurgeon (not Dickens) preached a sermon based on Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (the historical and Scriptural origin of Palm Sunday). Spurgeon’s message was delivered while the American Civil War was erupting here, and I share with you an excerpt from that day’s sermon: “There was an expectation upon the popular mind of the Jewish people, that Messiah was about to come. They expected him to be a temporal prince, one who would make war upon the Romans and restore to the Jews their lost nationality. There were many who, though they did not believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps he might be to them a great temporal deliverer, and we read that on one or two occasions they would have taken him and made him a king, but that he hid himself. There was an anxious desire that somebody or other should lift the standard of rebellion and lead the people against their oppressors. Seeing the mighty things which Christ did, the wish was father to the thought, and they imagined that He might probably restore to Israel the kingdom and set them free.”
Spurgeon rightly discerned in his analysis of that first Palm Sunday that – for many if not most of the participants – the main point of the moment was missed. The redemption for which the crowds of people longed was a salvation that Jesus never intended to provide – at least not in ways that aligned with most people’s expectations.
How quickly we settle for a substitute plan! A cheap gospel! A personal agenda! A works righteousness! A system of any kind that puts me back in the driver’s seat! A temporal encounter with “goosebumps” instead of a lasting encounter with the Lamb!
Beloved, such deadly detours can divert us when we misunderstand the nature of the kingdom of Christ. It can become for us all about politics, or all about moral reform, or all about social justice, or all about our private “quiet time” …
Stay tuned for this Sunday’s sermon at First Baptist Paducah, as I will attempt to answer the critical question, “What is the kingdom of God?”
Don’t miss the real Palm Sunday. The King has come. And, just as He promised, the King will come again.