United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

Date: April 10, 2022

Sermon Title: “The King is Here?”

By Minister Kim Braxton

Scripture: Luke 19 / Isaiah 50


“The King is Here?”


As our period of Lent begins to wind down and come to an end I pray that everyone has experienced the opportunity to draw closer to God. The Lenten prayer series that we began for this season has reminded me of the power of prayer and the privilege we have as children of God to seek the face of God and make our needs known. It is a perspective altering experience when you realize that prayer is not your last resort. Prayer is not the thing that you fall to after you’ve exhausted all other venues, options, plans and plots. Prayer is where we go first! In the time of need for direction, for guidance, for insight, for fellowship, for comfort. I can go on and on about the wonders of prayer and its perspective shifting attributes but I will stop with this. If there was ever a time for prayer to become a foundational feature in a believer’s life it is now - - a global pandemic, war, inflation, global warming, the rising tide of hate and the treatment and neglect of the poor. Yes, now is the time to seek the face of God in prayer and dare I say it fasting.


But that is a message for another day. On this day we are commemorating what scholars describe as Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Now up to this point in Jesus’ ministry He has been run out of towns, people have tried to kill him, crowds have pressed in on him, random people just reaching out and touching him, He’s been in conflict with the Pharisees, and although He gained followers He also picked up a few enemies.


So as Jesus prepares to face the cross and bare all of its shame there is a moment where He is greeted with people joyfully praising God for all the miracles they had seen. Verse 38, “ Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest.”


Can you just imagine what that felt like? Jesus went from being the one they wanted to kill to being accepted and lauded. People just cheering, joyfully praising God. But there is something that fascinates me about this passage of scripture. It’s Jesus’ response. Or more appropriately His lack of response. I don’t know about you but if I had been rejected for so long for doing what I was called to do, what I was created to do. If it was me and I had faced so much opposition when I arrived to Jerusalem during the last week of my life I would have been in a completely different headspace during the welcoming. I would have been smiling, most likely mumbling under my breathe, ‘how you like me now.” Maybe even a bit relieved… “Oh thank God these people aren’t gonna through me out. They actually like me.” I would have waved to the crowd and smiled. Maybe even kissed a few babies. To feel that feeling oa acceptance and affirmation can be intoxicating.


However this brings is to a powerful lesson from the text this morning. Don’t let the affirmation and acceptance of people pull you away from the purpose that God created you for. Let’s look at the text.  The people that were in the city praising Jesus loudly in Luke’s account they are saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” However in Matthew, Mark and John those authors record the people crying out Hosana which means “Save us.” The people weren’t crying out to Jesus because they believed He was the Messiah that was sent as a fulfillment of the scriptures to save the people from their sins.

They believed He was sent to become an earthly king that would deliver them, liberate them from the oppression of Rome. They saw in Jesus an opportunity to be free from their Roman oppressors and be returned to a time of greatness. And had Jesus not known what His mission was and if Jesus was seduced by the praise and acceptance He was experiencing he could have been lured from the purposes of God to pursue a course of action that was not his to take. These people had heard about the miracles that Jesus had performed and they thought they knew what they were cheering for. They thought they finally had their king, lowercase k, that would liberate them from Roman bondage and oppression. They didn’t know the scope of Jesus’ assignment was to offer them access to an eternal spiritual kingdom and to overthrow sin’s power in their lives. His purpose was to redeem humanity, not kick the Romans out of Jerusalem.


Acceptance and affirmation are powerful manipulators. Don’t believe me, look at social media for about 5 minutes. There are people that will do anything to gain a follower or become a viral sensation. It goes a little deeper. Think about it. It’s so much easier to go with the flow than go against the grain. Politicians do it all the time. Why stand up and speak truth to power? You’ll make yourself a target. Just seek to satisfy the needs of the people that paid for you to be in power; earn their affirmation and acceptance and your job is secure.


But how did Jesus avoid falling into this trap. Besides being the son of God; He didn’t fall for this trap because He knew his purpose and He was unwilling to compromise in order to be accepted and affirmed by a crowd that would be calling for his death in about five days. Jesus did not allow the praise and affirmation of the crowd sway him. I love the translation of the New Living translation of John 5:41, “Your approval means nothing to me.”

Jesus had spent so much time alone with God in prayer that He would not lose focus and become distracted just as He’s about to fulfill his destiny. Jesus kept His eyes fixed on the eternal purposes of God so He was able to tune out these distractions.


The second insight I wanted to point out from Luke is “Don’t assume that you know how God is going to move”. The people had been waiting for a king to save them. And when they finally received the Messiah, the King of kings to deliver them from Sin once and for all. And their response from their hard hearts rejected the King of kings; the savior of humanity because He wasn’t there to save them from Roman oppression.


Speaking personally there were times that I prayed extremely specific prayers for concerns I had at the time. And sometimes I even provided God with helpful instructions on how to answer said petitions. You know we do what we can to help Him save time and prioritize. So Lord when I ask you to provide me with a particular sum of money the only thing you need to be concerned with is making sure I get access to the money by a particular date. I’ll allow you the freedom to chose the denominations that the cash can come through as. I am a submitted believer after all. We are quick to put boundaries around God in an attempt to have control; however, when we do that we place limits on how we are able to see God move in our lives. The jews put limits on how they expected their deliverance to come and in doing so they created a blind spot in their faith vision. They couldn’t recognize the king that was in their presence even though they greeted him with a parade and cheering.