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An Easter Journey
The Jerusalem Road
We’re continuing on our journey towards Easter by looking at the roads and paths that Jesus took and that He calls for us to take. Last week we looked at the road Jesus told us to take if we want eternal life, and that is the narrow road as opposed to the wide road that leads to destruction.
Today I’d like to look with you at the road Jesus took to Jerusalem, and His entrance into the city as He readied Himself for His upcoming death.
The Oscars are when movie stars come out in all their regalia to make grand and glorious entrances. Now, they don’t come in an old VW van wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Instead they came in chauffeur driven limousines dressed to the nines.
Given an opportunity to make an entrance, most of us would choose the grandeur way over that of mediocrity or poverty. We would choose the blazing white stallion over the small grey donkey. And it was such a grand entrance the disciples of Jesus were hoping to witness as Jesus made His way towards Jerusalem.
They were hoping for some grand entrance on a blazing white stallion, sort of like the Lone Ranger, with a cloud of dust and hearty “Hi O Silver.” They were hoping Jesus would come into Jerusalem and kick the bad guys out of town.
That’s the Jesus they wanted, and that’s the type of Jesus most of us want today. But Jesus entered Jerusalem differently, and upon a road that isn’t so easily traveled. In fact, it’s a road that not many, if any, would choose for themselves. It’s a road that leads to the Father’s will and therefore to our destiny, which means it’s a road that leads to death.
Jesus knew this, and said that same to His disciples.
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 20:18-19 NIV)
Yet even knowing the pain and suffering that was waiting for Him, Jesus still went. There was a deep determination on Jesus’s part to travel on this road to Jerusalem and to His death. We see this in Luke’s account.
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51 NKJV)
In the same way we have to set our faces and determine deep within to follow this road that leads not only to our death, that is, death to our wants and desires, but also a road that will lead to our resurrections, knowing that we are now new creations in Christ Jesus, which will eventually lead to eternal life in heaven once this life is over.
As Jesus entered into Jerusalem, it was the time of Passover, one of the three feasts God commanded the Jewish people to celebrate in Jerusalem. Passover to the Jews is kind of like our feast of Thanksgiving. Passover is the Jewish celebration for thanking God for His deliverance from their bondage and captivity to the Egyptians.
By the time Jesus entered Jerusalem, everyone had heard of Him; heard of His great wisdom and how He had put to shame the religious leaders. They also heard of His healings and miracles. They heard how he had fed the five thousand with just a few fishes and a couple loaves of bread, and how He raised Lazarus from the dead. So they lined the streets crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David,” or, “Messiah, save us now.”
But what the people wanted was diametrically opposed to what the Lord was doing. Jesus didn’t enter that day to set up His kingdom; rather He took that road and entered Jerusalem to die on the cross in order to save the people, not from their Roman oppression, but to save and deliver them from their captivity and bondage to sin and death.
And so the Jerusalem road for Jesus was the beginning of the end of His earthly life. And although it led to the Cross, it was also a road that would lead eventually to heaven with Him sitting at the right hand of the Father.
And when we take this Jerusalem road, it will not only lead to our own deaths, that is, death to self, but it will also lead to our eternal destiny in heaven.
So, let’s take a look at this event.
Read Matthew 21:1-11
There are four things I see about this road that we need to understand as we take our own journey of faith, our own journey down this Jerusalem road.
The first thing we see about this road is that it is a road of humility.
1. It’s a Road of Humility
When we think of Jesus as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, we immediately think of Him coming in power and glory, in dazzling white garments and riding on a white horse. But that is not how He entered Jerusalem on that day.
Instead of the grandeur, Jesus chose the road of humility. He didn’t come riding on a great white stallion; instead He rode on the colt of a donkey, and it wasn’t even His donkey, it was borrowed.
Yet this reflects the life that Jesus led. Jesus didn’t come into this world wealthy, but in poverty. He didn’t enter in grandeur, but in meekness. And His life wasn’t one of fame and fortune; rather it was lived outside the limelight. In fact, Jesus always spoke about His kingdom being of servant hood, not rulership.
To His disciples Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)
Not only did the disciples not understand, neither do we. None of the disciples understood Jesus’s purpose. Even on the last night He spent with them they were arguing as to who would be the greatest.
They didn’t understand this road of humility that Jesus was walking, and by all appearances, neither do we. We need to get off the white stallion of pride in our own self-achievement, and get on the small grey donkey of humility. We need to put away the thoughts of grandeur much as Jesus did.
Of Jesus the Apostle Paul says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8 NIV)
It’s this kind of humility that God not only sees, but also exalts. This is seen in Jesus’s story of the Pharisee and the Publican (Jews who collected taxes for the Roman government). They had both gone to the temple to pray. The Pharisee congratulated himself on his works and giving, in other words, in how good he was as opposed to those who were obvious sinners like the Publican.
This is how we often come to God, prideful in who we think we are, and what we’ve done.
The Publican, on the other hand, entered the temple staying far in the back. With his head lowered he beat his chest asking God to be merciful to such a great sinner as himself. It was this humble repentance that Jesus said justified him before God, and it’s with such humility that the Lord dwells.
“I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15 NLT)
The Lord is saying that not only does He dwell in the high and holy place, but He also dwells in the lowliest of places, which is in the heart of those who are humble.
And so the first thing we see about this road to Jerusalem is that it is a road of humility.
2. It’s a Road of Fulfillment
Jesus’s entrance upon the colt of a donkey didn’t happen by chance, it was the direct fulfillment of God’s divine plan. 500 plus years earlier, God not only planned this entrance, but He also chose the mode of transportation.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 NKJV)
This is just one of the many prophecies that we see in the Old Testament concerning the coming Messiah, and that are fulfilled in Jesus. There are over 300 in all, and the mathematical odds of just one person fulfilling them are mind-boggling.
Peter Stoner, a mathematician, figured out the odds that one person could fulfill just eight of these prophecies, in which this one was cited, was like filling the entire state of Texas two-feet deep in silver dollars, with only one of them marked. And the odds of one person fulfilling these eight prophecies would be like putting blindfolded man down wherever he wished and on his first try picking up that marked silver dollar.
Jesus’s life was to fulfill God’s plan of redemption, that is, to save us. Therefore, Jesus took Jerusalem’s road for our salvation, knowing full well it meant His death.
The question God would have for us is whether or not we are fulfilling His plan for our lives? Jesus traveled this road knowing full well it would lead to His death, but also that it would lead to a better life for us. Jesus died so that we could not only have eternal life, but life more abundantly, a life that fulfills His calling.
Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16 NKJV)
After telling us that we have been saved by faith through God’s wonderful grace, and not by any works we perform, the Apostle Paul said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)
Now part of God’s fulfillment in this is the giving of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead, guide, and show us how we are to walk on our own Jerusalem Road that we’re traveling. And not only will the Holy Spirit help us to fulfill God’s calling, but when disappointment and discouragement sets in, He will be our Comforter, giving aide and relief to help us in our time of need.
And so, Jerusalem’s road is a road of fulfillment that we must be willing to follow in order to fulfill God’s plan, purpose, and will for our lives.
The third thing we see about this road to Jerusalem is that it is a road of obedience.
3. It’s a Road of Obedience
Jesus’ life was one of obedience.
Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work … For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (John. 4:34; 6:38 NKJV)
This obedience is seen in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed, “Not as I will, but as You will.”
And while the disciple’s obeyed Jesus when He said to go get both a donkey and her colt, can you imagine what was going through their minds? They were asked to obey some pretty weird instructions. But God’s ways are not our own. God tells us to go do things that may not make a whole lot of sense, but in obeying we find God has had a plan all along.
I remember one time when I was the West Coast sales manager of a wire and cable firm. I had just gotten about a third of the Hughes Aircraft wire and cable bid, which would have meant several hundred thousand dollars in my pocket. I had also just lined up some really big deals with a couple of government agencies. But as I was sitting looking at some of the major commissions coming my way, the Lord said, “I got you out once the hard way.” Knowing God’s voice and what He meant, I shut it all down.
That really didn’t make a lot of sense. I was giving away over $200,000 in commissions, but several weeks later I saw that Hughes Aircraft lost several of their major government contracts where the bulk of my wire and cable would be going, and several of the other major bids got messed up, which would have ended up costing me money.
A little while later, God made a way for me to attend seminary, and then move into the ministry.
The Jerusalem Road is one of obedience, and it calls for us to not only hear, but to obey the word of the Lord.
And so the Jerusalem road is one of humility, fulfillment, obedience, and finally it is a road of destiny.
4. It’s a Road of Destiny
The people were spreading out their clothes and palm branches on the road crying out, ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Basically they were asking Jesus to save them now. These were the words of Jesus’s destiny. For Jesus was destined to die for our salvation, even from the foundation of the world (Revelation13:9).
Jesus’s destiny was to die so that God’s plan for our salvation could be fulfilled, and here’s what’s really ironic, many of those same voices that cried Hosanna were the same voices that cried crucify Him. Not even Pontius Pilate could prevent this destiny as he tried to substitute Barabbas for Jesus.
Jesus’s destiny was to bring a new destiny back to humanity, a destiny lost back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. And to do that, Jesus was not only destined to die, but He was also destined to rise from the dead, a destiny that not even Satan could stop.
What is destiny? Destiny is God’s purpose for our lives. It’s our appointed and ordained future. Destiny is what God has determined for us to be and to become.
It’s sad when I see those in the Bible who missed their destiny, like King Saul. God chose him to lead Israel. It was promised that the Spirit of the Lord would descend upon Him; that He would prophesy, that he would be turned into another man, and that God would give him another heart (1 Samuel 10:6, 9).
Saul started out right, living his destiny. But in his pride and need for self-gratification, he broke and compromised God’s Law, and in the end missed God’s destiny. We heard this in his own confession. He said, “God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams” (1 Samuel 28:15 NKJV). In serving himself, Saul ended up abandoning God.
But I must be careful not to compare our destinies with those in the Old Testament, because God in Christ has done a new thing, and at the cross He gathered up all our destinies in Jesus. Yes, we all have individual destinies given our talents, gifts, and callings; but we all have the same fixed and predetermined destiny.
The Apostle Paul said it so eloquently.
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV)
Yes our destinies have a lot to do with what God has called and allowed us to do in this life, but we really have the same destiny, and that is to get to know Jesus better, to walk blameless before Him, and to be a child of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Our destinies, however, do not end with our life here on earth; rather they see us all the way into eternity. On one person’s gravestone he had this written:
“Pause my friend, as you walk by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now so you will be
Prepare my friend, to follow me.”
One person took issue with this person’s perceived destiny and in chalk wrote:
“To follow you is not my intent
Until I know which way you went.”
The Apostle Paul said, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NLT)
We dare not separate ourselves from our destiny, which is to die to self and become like Jesus Christ. Jesus traveled the Jerusalem road. It was His destiny, and it’s also ours as well.
The Jerusalem road is a choice. Jesus could have easily chosen not to travel it, and we have the same choice, but personally, the consequences of such a choice not to travel the Jerusalem road scares me.
Today, if you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, then you have the same choice. In fact, it’s the same choice the two thieves had as they hung next to Jesus. The first thief chose to mocked and ridiculed Jesus. The second thief, however, chose to fear God and believed, and Jesus promised Him paradise.
What will be your choice? Will you continue to go the way of the world and have a different destiny than what God has planned for you, or will you choose to follow and obey, and have heaven and an eternity with God as your ultimate destiny?
Today are you traveling on your own road, or are you traveling down Jerusalem’s Road?
Today are you living God’s destiny or your own?
Wednesday Evening Bible Study