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We Have No King But Jesus

We apologize that there is no audio for this sermon.

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday; the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem to great messianic celebration, only to be crucified a week later.  So turn with me to Matthew 21:1-9 as we talk about that day.

First, I titled this message, “We Have No King But Jesus,” because people who live in the United States of America have a heritage of seeing Jesus as their king.  Leading up to the Revolutionary War this statement became a rising theme among the colonies.  It is even stated that the response of the Lexington militia to British Major Pitcairn’s command to lay down arms and disperse in the name of King George was, “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.”  It is important to understand that, in the minds of our forefathers, this was not a statement of anarchy and rebelliousness.  But rather, it was a stand against a king who ruled with a chaotic tyranny in the name of God.  They knew that Jesus was no tyrant and that any tyrannical ruler who tries to substantiate themselves by pointing to Jesus was both wrong and not a true follower of Jesus.  Thus they set up a system of government that could keep our sinful nature in check and yet also keep the leaders in check.

A Different Kind Of King

Matthew opens up this chapter by giving us the setting of the triumphal entry of Jesus.  He ends by quoting a prophecy from the Old Testament that points Israel to how their king would come to them.  Now in his birth and life, Jesus did not look much like the kings of this world.  Though it is true that Jesus was to be king, he was a very different sort of person.  Thus the prophecy says that he will come lowly and humble.  Most people of great station and position are full of themselves and the power that they have.  Or, they pretend humility for the purposes of manipulating others.  However, in the end they will always prove to be for themselves as they advance and others are left behind, used up.  Yet, Jesus was quite the opposite.  In fact, he spent himself completely and left his disciples behind to be raised up in his place, full of the same Spirit he was, and in order to carry on the work he had started.  Yes, Jesus did great miracles and made amazing statements, but humility was the hallmark of his character.

Part of his lowliness is found in that Jesus was determined to serve Israel and the rest of the world, rather than to rule.  He shows us the real reason for leaders.  They are supposed to serve the people they are over.  Ruling should equal serving.  Yet, in this life that hardly happens.  Even when people start out correctly and with the right purposes, it quickly degenerates into a system of people using their rule in order to serve themselves, not the people.

Truly a Savior King

In this world people often look to leaders to fix the problems and save the nation.  Israel was no different upon this occasion.  Generally this is a mixed bag.  Some are far worse than others, and some are better than others.  Israel had seen a lot of leaders, both political and religious, over the years.  On this day we find the crowds crying out the word, “Hosanna!”  This word is actually a cry for help that could be translated as “Save us!”  They recognized Jesus as the Anointed King (Messiah) promised by God.  So they cry out for Jesus to fix everything.  Now it is easy to cry out for salvation.  But, no one says such things without having expectations of what that might entail.  Jesus was coming to save them, but not to satisfy all their expectations of what that would look like.  In this case the leader truly does know better than the masses what their greatest needs really are.

Thus the question is, “save us from what?”  Their expectations included removing the Romans, oppressive taxes, corrupt leaders on the throne and corrupt leaders within the priests.  Yes, they did need saved, and they were saying the right things.  But they had no clue what Jesus had come to save them from.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 it says, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  Now Israel understood that the wrath of God was going to be poured out on the nations of the world because of their sin and rejection of him.  However, they did not realize that they too were in danger of that same wrath.  In fact, if Jesus did not come the world would have come to an end in those very same days.  Our sin and our bondage to it had placed us guilty before the God of heaven.  If He truly is righteous then He surely must bring judgment upon us.  Jesus was coming to save them, but he was coming to save them from their sins: the hold they had on them, the path they were dragging them down, and the destruction that waited at the end of it.  God has set a day of Judgment, a judgment upon the whole world.  It will be a time of wrath upon those who have chose wickedness and sin over the top of him and his salvation.

This King Is Coming Again

In Revelation 19:11-16, we see a radically different picture of King Jesus.  In the first century he came from among the people, lowly, and for the purpose of dying on their behalf.  But in the future, he will come from above in great power and for the purpose of removing the wicked leadership of the earth, and taking up the reins of power.

Of course, the wicked leaders will not like that and thus the passage reveals that the kings of the earth will turn their military power upon Christ and his army.  But they will be no match as the wrath of God is poured out upon this earth.

Yet, he does not come to destroy the earth, but to remove the wicked.  Thus Jesus will set up a righteous and true administration.  He will not judge the way that we judge.  On one hand is wants to give mercy and yet on the other he will execute justice.  Can you imagine what it would be like to take our problems, whether as individuals or as nations before one who is omniscient, and most wise?  First of all, he would see through much of the lies that we spread in order to make our case better.  And, second of all his judgments will actually set things right instead of only making them go underground so that they can come back again only worse.

Is Jesus Christ your king today?  He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.  Someday soon that will be revealed to the whole world.  Make sure that you are ready for that day by turning in faith to Jesus and allowing him to save you from the wrath that is to come.