Things Jesus had to press past at the cross (Part 1)
“So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”-Luke 19:35-40
This moment in Jesus’ life and ministry is known as the Triumphant Entry. Here Jesus enters Jerusalem to the cheers of those eager for the Messiah to come and free them from Roman oppression. The gates are open and he is led in as palm branches and garments are laid on the ground making way for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Anticipation is rising within the city as he slowly makes his way through the cobblestone streets. It is hard to believe looking at this moment that in a week’s time, many of these same people would be crying out for his death. Yet, nothing would keep Jesus from the cross.
Before the nails would pierce his hands and feet. Jesus would have to endure tremendous suffering. He would be interrogated by Pilate, mocked, spat upon, and have his beard torn out by Roman soldiers. He would endure the brutality of the whipping post that would leave Him almost unrecognizable. The things that Jesus had to physically endure to reach the cross were staggering.
However, from the moment that Jesus entered Jerusalem on that donkey, He was faced with several other obstacles. Things he had to get past before he could reach the cross. Things that could have kept Him from His mission. Things that you and I have to get past, too if we are truly going to follow Christ. To reach the cross, Jesus had to push past the praises of men. Jesus entered Jerusalem amongst shouts of praise. They were rejoicing over Him. Expectations were high that He was coming to set them free from Rome. They were heaping praise on Him. “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
It’s easy to get prideful when men are heaping praise on you. Jesus warned in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”Jesus could have stopped and allowed the crowds to exalt Him. He could have basked in their glory, but the cross was before Him. He chose to enter Jerusalem on a donkey, not simply to fulfill prophecy but to promote humility.
“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey — riding on a donkey’s colt.”-Zechariah 9:9
Pride is being full of one’s self and no one full of themselves will ever fully follow Jesus to the cross. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
Pride will keep you from the cross. If you can’t die to self, you’ll never lay down your life for others.
To reach the cross, Jesus also had to press past the criticisms of the religious crowd. “But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”-Luke 19:36
The Pharisees were critical of Jesus’ notoriety. They were misreading the moment. They did not see Jesus as the Messiah and so they were uncomfortable with the overwhelming expressions of worship that were happening around them. So they tried to shut them down. It reminds me of this passage of scripture in Luke 7:36-39.
“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”-Luke 7:36-39
Her worship did not invite praise but rather invited criticism from the religious crowd. The religious leaders wanted to focus on her past, while Jesus was looking to her future. Jesus saw a woman expressing extreme gratitude for a large debt that had been forgiven. The Pharisees, however, couldn’t get past the many mistakes she had made in life. They could not acknowledge their own sinfulness, so they had no compassion toward her. Not everyone will understand your passion for following Christ, but you cannot allow criticism to cripple you from fully following Jesus to the cross.
Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church