1/4/12 - Mark 11 1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, `Why are you doing this?' tell him, `The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' " 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" 10 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

From December 2011 BBC3 broadcast nine episodes of "Most Annoying People" a "comic hitlist of the people that have annoyed us in 2011."

The top 10 included Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Madonna, Charlie Sheen, Pippa Middleton and some people I've never heard of.

There is also a web site with "101 Kinds of Annoying People". There are actually 129 but not one about people who cannot count or about people who make long, inane, lists.

Are there any particular things that annoy you?

Jesus annoyed the religious leaders because of his claims about himself.

Jesus was announcing who he was when he rode in on a donkey.

He had already claimed equality with God on several occasions but avoided being stoned to death for blasphemy, ( John 8.59, 10.31 ).

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey he fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. In the whole Bible the word foal only appears twice. Once in Zechariah 9.9 and once in Matthew 21.5 where Matthew quotes the fulfilment of this prophecy over 500 years later.

It was if Jesus was saying, “look at me. I am the Christ/Messiah/the King. I come in peace". Kings rode donkeys during peace time. In so doing Jesus signed his own death warrant by antagonising the authorities.

Jesus annoyed the religious leaders because He was popular

The crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem.

The next day he was teaching in the temple and the Bible tells us the whole crowd were amazed at his teaching, Mk 11.18b.

We all like to be popular. The Pharisees saw themselves as set apart from the ordinary people of the day and despised many of them. They excluded them from the religious life, yet didn't like the fact that Jesus was so popular. Perhaps, they were really jealous.

Jesus annoyed the religious leaders because of his teaching.

The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus on several occasions by asking him awkward questions. After they had questioned Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar, Mk. 12.13-17, he replied with the famous words, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Then it says that even the religious leaders, like the crowd were amazed at his teaching.

He also told parables that showed he knew what they were planning, Mk.12.1-12

Jesus annoyed the religious leaders because of his miracles

Jesus did many spectacular miracles. He went for a stroll on a lake. Turned a packed lunch into a banquet. Turned Perrier water into Chateau Lafite. Told the wind and waves to calm down.

Jesus also raised his friend Lazarus from the dead and many people trusted in him because of this. But, the Chief Priests and Pharisees didn't like this and started to plan to kill him. This was because

he threatened their position

At a meeting of the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, who was high priest, told them, " You don't realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." John 11.50

We can sometimes feel threatened when someone threatens our security and Jesus threatened the religious security of the religious leaders when he questioned their behaviour and teaching. He also threatened their political security because they worked closely with the Romans to safeguard their own position.

Jesus started the events of what we know as Holy Week by deliberately riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. He continued to deliberately pursue the road to the cross. The Roman authorities and religious leaders were not in control. They did the worst that they could do to God, and God did the best he could do for us when Jesus died and rose again for us.

This Palm Sunday let us rejoice in what Jesus has done. Not just in declaring who He is, but also because He carried out God's plan to save people through His life, death and resurrection. If we worship Him and follow Him we can be part of God's plan.

28/3/99 8 a.m. Palm Sunday : Matthew 21:1-11.

Palm Sunday. Jesus crucified five days later. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. Why ? His way of declaring who he is. The Messiah. This fulfils O.T. reading. Prophecy 560 years before of Zechariah. This book contains many predictions regarding Christ. `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'

'Your King' Today anti-authoritarian. Taught to think for ourselves. Few absolutes. Everyone entitled to own opinion. Therefore, entitled to reject others. Includes that of authority if doesn't suit. We are judge and free to judge others.

Today say King, think of a powerless head of state. Almost puppet like. Different in Jesus day. Not that every King could dictate at whim. Usually follow way of father. May outline at start of monarchy ways in which he would depart from father's ways. Involve promise of safety, food etc in return for obedience and loyalty of people, with willingness to fight.

Jesus is King. True & perfect King. Loving , caring, putting subjects first. See cross. He deserves to be served, honoured, obeyed, & worshipped. Crowds worshipped & honoured, yet didn't really know what his messianic mission was about. Called him a 'prophet from Nazareth' Matthew 21:11, actually is Messiah.

Calls his subjects to crucify old nature and live a new way. Idea of serving, honouring and obedience goes against today's culture and our selfish nature. For many service linked to money, what we get out of it e.g. jobs. Futile. No loyalty from employers today, eg Doultons, Pits, Alsthom, GEC...

Serve, honour, worship and obey King Jesus for who he is, God and man, as well as what he has done for us. Need to make him our personal King. Show we are his subjects by what we do.

( your king ) comes to you

God has taken the initiative. King has come to his subjects. To reveal himself. Hence Palm Sunday. Jesus revealing who he is. Even though was misunderstood by the crowd. King has come in humility cf Phil.2 . Suffering people's misunderstanding, ignorance, rejection. lies, injustice. Injustice of crucifixion. Injustice of separation from God the Father as he took our punishment. As we live for Him we can expect these things ourselves. Jesus challenged the world by life & teaching. So must we. Calls us to be thankful, worship, follow. Failure to do so shows ingratitude, misunderstanding of what he has done and what he calls us to be.

gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Jesus had travelled 65 miles by foot from Galilee to Bethphage, near Jerusalem for the Passover. Now on donkey. Warlike leaders normally rode on stallions, but in peacetime a ruler would ride a donkey as a symbol of peace. Jesus followed the pattern of a king described here - often disappointing his followers, who sought a more militaristic leader. Jesus calls his followers to follow his example. The way of peace and humility, not retaliating, showing love and self-sacrifice. Qualities admired by the world, but not imitated by it.

Today live in an age that asserts peoples' rights. 'Fight for rights'. Redemptive violence.

Kosovo rights. Right of one ethnic group to murder another. Right to self-government. Right to bomb someone who is not acting peacefully enough ! Each thinks they are right!

Next time you hear of someone fighting for their rights think, 'Is this the way of Jesus ?'

Jesus way is of peace. Leading to suffering, death, apparent defeat. Yet it was in this apparent defeat that the greatest victory ever won was secured. Victory over sin and death. Not just for one person, not just for one nation at a certain time in history. A victory available for everyone throughout the last 1970 years. It is available to me, you, our friends, neighbours, families, enemies, everyone...

Even without this knowledge the disciples obeyed the Lord Jesus when he asked them to go on a donkey hunt !

Though they only had a limited understanding of who Jesus was the crowd welcomed him with joy. Spreading branches and their cloaks in front of him like a red carpet before a Royal visitor.

May this Easter time allow us to reflect again upon who Jesus is and what he has done for us. May it lead us to renewed joy, and commitment as we serve and worship the King of Kings.

8/4/01 6 p.m. Palm Sunday Luke 19-28-40, Psalm 118 :1-2,19-29.


Lord Jesus, you rode into Jerusalem in triumph, receiving the shouts and welcome of many.

Come into this church today. Receive our welcome and our acclaim.

Lord Jesus you rode into Jerusalem in triumph, and you irritated the proud and self-important.

Come into this church today. Soften our hearts and our attitudes.

Lord Jesus, you rode into Jerusalem in triumph,

And you began the events of a week that changed the world.

Come into this church today. Change our world. You are king.


When we were in Derby Princess Ann visited the city. She travelled on the Ring Road in a posh car through our former Parish to the cheers of waiting crowds on the road side. When she was welcomed into the Civic Offices she had a red carpet laid in front of her in honour of her position as a member of the Royal Family.

As he road towards Jerusalem Jesus declared who he is, King and Messiah. By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey Jesus is deliberately fulfilling Zechariah 9:9

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, daughter of Jerusalem: See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation; gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey." The Jews, coming to Jerusalem for the Passover would have been familiar with this passage which pointed to the Messiah, or anointed one whom God would send to free his people.

This is the first public disclosure by Jesus of who he is. There is a sense that it is not until Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey that he truly nails his colours to the mast.

Every part of Zechariah 9:9 is fulfilled by Jesus. This was written some 550 years before Jesus rode into Jerusalem :

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, daughter of Jerusalem" the rejoicing and shouting are fulfilled as the crowds welcome Jesus.

"See your King comes to you" : Jesus is King, ruler of the universe, not just King of the Jews.

"righteous and having salvation" : Jesus is just or righteous. He is perfect and therefore can present himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. This is the salvation he offers. Saving us from the effects of sin. In the way that it can control our lives, and in the way that it separates us from God.

In Luke's account of Jesus approach to Jerusalem we observe three different reactions to this King. The reactions of the disciples, the crowd, and the Pharisees.

The Disciples.

They are represented by the two whom Jesus sent to get the donkey colt. Jesus instructions to them in verses 30f show that he is the one in control. He is not driven or misled by the crowd's fervour or surprised by the Pharisees surly attitude.

It was the custom of the day that a major religious or political figure could request the use of livestock. Today we have the equivalent law. A police officer can commandeer the use of a car in an emergency. The two disciples were acting as envoys for a King and his orders were obeyed by them, and the owner of the colt.

Jesus had already walked the 65 miles or so from Galilee with many thousands of fellow Jews on their way to the Passover. Despite this we have no record of the disciples questioning this unusual request for a colt. Jesus had never done this when they had visited Jerusalem for the Passover before. Why now ? What did it mean ? Whilst the disciples knew trusted and obeyed Jesus they did not fully understand what was happening.

John 12:16 refers to Zechariah 9:9 then says : " At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him."

So we have the disciples following and trusting Jesus. Doing his will yet without understanding everything just yet.

I am sure we can identify with this. We can reflect upon a time in our Christian journey when we did not fully understand a part of God's will or revelation for us. Perhaps we look back and could almost kick ourselves for not understanding something. Yet what matters is that we learn and grow, admitting our mistakes and moving on from them in penitence and faith. Sometimes we learn best from making mistakes. I remember over twenty years ago when I was learning to drive. One day I got into the car at the start of the lesson. I turned the ignition key, the engine started, and the car stalled because the instructor had parked it in gear with the wheels facing the kerb. I always depress the clutch before I start the engine now.

As disciples of Jesus we are to trust, follow, obey, and learn. Oswald Sanders said, "Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of supreme love for him."

Obedience to God costs. It cost Jesus his life. Jesus said that following him would involve us in taking up our cross on a daily basis ( Mark 8:34 ). It is not an easy or popular option.

We now think of the reaction of...

The Crowd.

In 165 B.C. the Jews had waved branches in Jerusalem in nationalistic fervour. Under their heroic leader Judas Maccabeus they threw off years of oppression by Syria and streamed into the Temple waving Palms and sang Psalm 118. A song of worship for a King. A song that celebrates God's plan for his people.

No-one has heard of Judas Maccabeus today. Despite his earthly victory.

Jesus was welcomed as Messiah by the crowd who laid the red carpet out for him. In this case their cloaks that they spread before him as a sign of submission. However, their expectations of the Messiah were different to the Messiah Jesus was. The crowd expected a victorious earthly King who would defeat the Romans and restore Israel to the position it enjoyed under King David.

But Jesus came on a donkey. A ruler would ride a donkey in a time of peace. The Prince of Peace came, not on a warhorse, but an animal of peace. Jesus shows that his kingdom does not involve violence, or pulling rank, but peace and humility.

Jesus did not win his victory on a battlefield. As we have seen from Judas Maccabeus this would have been forgotten very soon. Jesus' victory was obtained on the cross. Not by inflicting injury and suffering on others. But by bearing it himself.

Jesus didn't allow this sudden popularity with the crowd to divert him from his task. He was aware how fickle people can be.

Our security and goals should come from God, not by trying to please people. The way we should live as Christians will often be in direct opposition to the way that the world tells us we should live. But we should follow God's ways.

We now look at the final reaction from...

The Pharisees ( verses 39-40 ).

Not everyone welcomed Jesus. The Pharisees didn't like him because he was popular, and they feared that this popular support could jeopardise their cosy standing with the Roman authorities. They call the crowd "disciples" in verse 39, and told Jesus to rebuke them. To shut them up.

This adoration of Jesus and praise of God was so spontaneous and natural that Jesus would have had difficulty carrying out the Pharisees demand, even if he had wanted to !

So Jesus replies in verse 40, "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." . Jesus is saying that it is so natural to respond to his Kingship in this way that an inanimate object, a stone, would do it if no-one else would. He is pointing to the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees that is blocking them from knowing God's way. The Pharisees represents the hostility that there was, and is, to Jesus. Jerusalem was divided in it's response to King Jesus. Those who opposed Jesus had him crucified five days later.

We saw earlier how Jesus was in control of the situation. He knew what was going to happen. He knew he would be crucified by the religious leaders.

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

Jesus came to offer life to the Jews, but they chose death. He offered them peace with God, they chose violence. This grieved him. Because he cared and wanted the best for them. And because he knew this would result in judgment.

His words in verses 43 & 44 warned about events in AD 70. Jerusalem was stormed after a siege by the Romans. It was raised to the ground, it's inhabitants killed. But there were no Christians there. They knew of, and acted upon these words of Jesus and escaped.

This Palm Sunday we should remember that the way of Jesus is not a popular, painless way. There will be different reactions to him. We should follow the way of disciples. Obeying and growing in our love and knowledge of Jesus.

And, as those who have a fuller understanding of the events of that first Palm Sunday, we can rejoice in such an exuberant way that will make that first Palm Sunday pale into insignificance. Because we have so much more to celebrate. Jesus has died for us, is risen, and lives within us by his Spirit. Let us praise God in the joyful knowledge that this brings.

5/4/97 10.45 a.m. John 12:12-36 Zechariah 9:9-17

Since the wheel was invented people's mode of transport has reflected something about the person being transported. A few months back there was a television series about people who pretended that they were something that they were not. One of these featured a man who wore expensive clothing and drove an old Rolls Royce. But he was a plumber and lived in a council house!

Jesus is travelling the last few miles into Jerusalem. He had walked with thousands of fellow Jews the 65 miles or so from Galilee. As he nears Bethphage he decides to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Unlike the plumber he was not trying to fool anyone. But he was telling the crowds something about who he is. The Messiah, the anointed one sent by God.

Zechariah 9:9 foretells the coming of the Messiah :

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, daughter of Jerusalem: See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation; gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey." John who was writing for Jews who were brought up knowing the O.T. quotes some of this verse. cf verse 15.

This is the first public disclosure by Jesus of who he is. The Jewish leaders could not cope with this, and had him crucified five days later. They were jealous of the attention that he was getting, as we read in verse 16. This popularity would have been fuelled by the raising from the dead of Lazarus, recorded by John in Chapter 11. They were also concerned that the popular support for Jesus would jeopardise their position under the Romans. We read of this in Chapter 11:45ff which shows that the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus.

There is a sense that it is not until Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey that he nails his colours to the mast.

Every part of Zachariah 9:9 is fulfilled by Jesus. This was written some 550 years before Jesus rode into Jerusalem :

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, daughter of Jerusalem" the rejoicing and shouting are fulfilled as the crowds welcome Jesus.

"See your King comes to you" : Jesus is King, ruler of the universe, not just King of the Jews.

"righteous and having salvation" : Jesus is just or righteous. He is perfect and therefore can present himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. This is the salvation he offers. Saving us from the effects of sin. In the way that it can control our lives, and in the way that it separates us from God. We celebrate and proclaim that salvation as we receive the bread and wine.

"gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey." Jesus was humble. In leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth. In coming from Nazareth in Galilee, a place despised by the Jews. Remember Nathaniel saying, "Nazareth, can anything good come from there ?" ( Jn. 1:46 ) . In going obediently to death on a cross. A place of pain and humiliation.

The crowd did not understand that Jesus was not going to fulfill their expectations. They thought that as the Messiah he was going to come on a war horse, defeat the Romans in battle, and establish an everlasting, prosperous, earthly kingdom of the type that King David had ruled over. READ verse 34.

But Jesus came in peace. A donkey colt was ridden by Kings at a time of peace. Jesus brings peace. Peace between people and God. Peace between individuals.

Jesus doesn't answer their question directly. He compares himself to a light which is to be extinguished soon. They had little time to work out their response to him in order that they might know where they were going. Light enables us to see where we are going and feel secure. Those who are in the dark don't know where they are going. Stumble around confused and uncertain. Sadly we read in verse 27 that the crowd, the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem would not trust in him. These people had seen Jesus' miracles and heard his teaching, yet they still did not trust in him.

Even the disciples did not appreciate the significance of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem until later, as we read in verse 16.

As they celebrated that first Palm Sunday the disciples and the crowd did not fully understand who they were welcoming, and what he had come to do. As we come to worship and celebrate the Lord Jesus today we can do this with the excitement and joy of that first Palm Sunday, but with the full knowledge of who Jesus is, and what he has done for us in his death and resurrection.

I once had a conversation with someone who knew a Christian who had died a slow, painful death. This person asked why God could allow such a thing to happen to someone who was a Christian? I said that Christianity is not like a good luck charm that wards off everything that is difficult. Otherwise it would not involve faith and everyone would be a Christian for their own selfish motives. But I pointed out God had helped that person and given them strength and comfort in their pain.

As God made man Jesus was entitled to receive all glory and honour, but first he came in humility, in weakness, in peace, and endured injustice, suffering and death.

This week the media has been full of a story of injustice and suffering. Deidre of Coronation Street has been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. There has even been talk of the Prime Minister lobbying for her release ! Our wayside pulpit features Deidre's imprisonment. The greatest injustice ever was that Jesus was crucified. But in going to the cross voluntarily to take the punishment for the sin of everyone, Jesus accomplished the greatest act of justice that the world has known. Justice and love meet in the cross of Jesus.

Jesus was not looking forward to the cross. But he was determined to follow God the father's way for him, which was to lead him there. We see this from verse 27 - READ.

These comments of Jesus came after his disciples had been asked by some Greeks, "We would like to see Jesus", verse 21. It is as if Jesus is saying, "If you want to see me and know what I am really like, then see me on the cross." This shows us the glory of God. The glory, or self-disclosure of God through Jesus came not in bright lights and golden splendour, but in the pain and humiliation of the cross.

As well as looking to the cross, Jesus looks beyond the cross to the blessings that it will bring to many. READ verse 24. Jesus is the seed that dies having been sown in the cold ground. It then sprouts to produce a large crop. His death has brought about and will bring salvation for millions of people throughout human history.

READ verse 25f. Jesus challenges people to make a choice. To put themselves first, or God... It is about accepting Jesus and serving him. We recognise a servant because he or she serves. We recognise a follower of Jesus because he or she does God's will. The acceptance of him as personal Lord and Saviour is essential for someone's salvation. It is no use saying that you believe that Jesus existed, saying that he is the Son of God unless it intrudes upon your life. It affects the way you live. Not just on a Sunday but all of the week. Not just in a Church Building, but everywhere.

Judy Simpson a former Olympic heptathlete, also known as 'Nightshade' on 'The Gadiators' T.V. programme is a Christian. She said, "I am a Christian because I don't believe I could be the best I can be without Jesus. If you say to yourself, 'I want to be the best ever person and want to earn loads of money', that's fine ! But I don't believe that actually makes you a very good and whole person. I have found that because I believe Jesus claims and everything I do is to give him glory, I actually perform better trying to do the other things. And even if the things don't happen, I can cope with those disappointments better. I don't think I could do half the things with the confidence I do if I wasn't a Christian.'

So being a Christian has given Judy a reason to live, bringing glory to God. A better life with God's help and security.

As followers of Jesus we have to come in humility, obedience and peace and endure rejection, injustice and pain before the glory that awaits us. A glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns. When Jesus does return it will not be on a donkey entering an earthy city but coming on the clouds with power and glory for everyone to see. Then Jesus will gather up all who follow him.

What can we take from this passage today, Palm Sunday 1998 ?

2 ch's.

A chance to celebrate. In the full knowledge of who Jesus is, and what he has done for us.

A choice to make. Are we to wholeheartedly follow this Jesus ? To walk in his light. Obeying his teaching and living for him. This will lead to suffering and rejection. But it will also lead to the glory of being with God and with fellow believers in eternity.

Prayer of Francis of Assisi :

Most high, glorious Jesus,

enlighten the darkness of my heart.

Give me, my King,

a correct faith, a sure hope, and a perfect love.

And so may I carry out your holy and true commands. Amen.