Palm Sunday Sermon, The Triumphal Entry, Luke 19:28-40

“The Triumphal Entry,” Luke 19:28-40

Only those who have known the love of Jesus would ever call His entry into Jerusalem that Sunday triumphant. He entered on a young Donkey to fulfill kingly prophecy from Zechariah, yet it wasn’t a throne that He was to ascend. They hailed Him as the one who came in the name of the Lord but this was the same crowd who, by the end of the same week, cried “Crucify Him!” There wasn’t anything triumphant about this King’s entry unless you know that this King isn’t like any other king in history. Earthly Kings are served by their subjects. Jesus served up His life as a ransom for the sins of His subjects.

CIS: Jesus conquers through sacrifice. He calls us to do the same…

He conquered sin through laying down His life. His is an upside-down Kingdom... Nothing in how Jesus saves is consistent with how the world conquers. We are a part of an upside-down kingdom. Live like it! Love like it!

It was Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem and it began the last week of His life. It is what we call Holy Week or Palm Sunday. Jesus was unquestionably claiming to be King, but He was claiming to be a different kind of King. He was claiming to be the King of Peace, the only King whose kingdom is truly not of this earth.

  •     Jesus was deliberate in going to Jerusalem to suffer and die (v.28).
  •     Jesus claim to kingship was deliberate (v.29-35).
  •     Jesus was hailed as King by the people (v.36-38).
  •    Jesus insisted it was right that He should be hailed as King (v.39-40). [1] 

Nothing about Jesus death was accidental. Jesus was always headed to Jerusalem to the Cross. Only on a Cross that the savior of the world could die with His arms outstretched to receive us. It was only on a Cross that our savior could die a death truly accursed to show how much we are truly loved.

But it is not the believing in the purpose of or even the fact of the intentional justifying atoning death of Christ at the Cross that saves sinners. No. Belief in the fact of the Cross is often sold as an end all for salvation. Repeat a prayer and confess the historic tenants of Christianity and you’ll be saved. Get baptized and confirmed. Take first communion. Tithe. Prove your faith! That legal transaction understanding of justification will get you on the road to Heaven, but it’ll never have Heaven erupting in you…

Horace Bushnell, Minister at North Congregational Church in Hartford Connecticut nearly two centuries ago, said it this way: [2] 

Christ has proven Himself faithful and that is the proof that compels our hearts to have faith in Him! He wraps us in love that draws faith and love and adoration out, like a spring poured into us that erupts back out in praise! 

Jesus was driven to die for man but it is important that we don’t think of this only as a legal transaction. It’s a love transaction. If a man kisses his wife only because he thinks he’s legally obligated on the basis of a contract, well, that’ll be a passionless marriage, if not a loveless marriage. It’s that way with God.

And it’s far more than that. To think of justification and salvation only as a legal transaction, which the Church has often done throughout the ages, is to satisfy the mind with doctrine but miss the heart with the spirit and love.

That’s the classic view of the atonement; the purpose of the passion and the Cross. That is wondrous but it alone isn’t enough to change our hearts and to draw us into knowledge, real existential experiential, knowledge of God. Bushnell, in my estimation, articulated in his day an idea inherent in the work of the Cross that had perhaps just not previously as clearly spelled out.

He called it the “Moral View” of the atonement. He said that at the Cross God is calling on us to accept His love and His love known, experienced, alone can save a soul and draw a man or woman into deep relationship with God. He said you could describe it in sermon and song, point to it in doctrine and creeds, but only the heart that stop climbing up to God and properly considered the Cross could ever truly understand with heart and soul…

The best of all religion and moralizing can do is build structures in attempts to climb up to God. Anything other than the purest expression of salvation in Christ alone can never connect us to Christ at all – not in the deepest parts of our being. Any religion that starts with man’s effort, even if unwittingly, will start with hunger for God and end in starvation of the soul. Even if that soul is justified by faith in Christ, it will never know the joy of that salvation!

This is Martin Luther learned. The great reformer was troubled in his soul.
He went time and again to the confessional troubled his poor confessor, sometimes for as much as 6 hours at a time as labored to recall and recall every sin he had committed. He was climbing up to God, rather than resting in the immensity and enormity of God’s love for Him in Christ! For him, the triumphant entry still wasn’t triumphant! [Staupitz had him teach Romans]

Romans 3:22 tells gives us an important and easily overlooked component to how the grace of God is applied to us. It is placed “upon” us. The Greek word “epi” (Strong’s Number: G1909) is here translated upon. It speaks of “superimposition as a relation of distribution towards or upon…

Illustration: Little Girl climbing down trusting me / the other girls climbing up on their own.] Bushnell says, “If anything defines a Christian, it is one who seeks and finds his righteousness in God.” Ours is a known righteousness. It isn’t an idea. It’s not a doctrine alone. He is our savior. He is to be experienced and known. I’m praying for you today to stop climbing. Look up… Amen. 

[1] 4 Points from The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Luke.
[2] Horace Bushnell, “The Vicarious Sacrifice,” Scribner’s 1886, (accessed via, p. 434.


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