Triumph, Tragedy, and Victory: Three Scenes of the Saviour
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
Today is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, of His victory over death, of our hope of salvation.
Today is a day of celebration! But is it possible, in our celebration, to miss the hope we are celebrating for?
This morning, I’d like to walk through the last week of Jesus’ life - what is called Holy Week. We’ll take a brief look at three moments in the life of Jesus that tell the story of who He is, what He did, and how that can transform our lives.
Triumphal Entry - Acknowledge the King.
Triumphal Entry - Acknowledge the King.
What are we expecting, seeking, following? Is our purpose in life about getting as much as we can for ourselves? Or is it about honoring the King of Glory, and imitating Him as He served others?
Jesus had recently finished teaching His disciples how to be the greatest, they must serve humble. “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” And now Jesus and His disciples enter Jerusalem.
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “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!”
The people rightly acknowledged Jesus was King, but they didn’t understand what He was king of. Was He king of Jerusalem? King of The nation of Israel? Was He king of the Roman empire?
There are many symbols of Kingship in this passage. Entering the city riding on a colt or donkey was a sign of a concurring king. The processional. Laying the coats and date palm branches on the ground in front of Him. This was not only acknowledging Jesus Kingship, it was communicating rebelion to Rome.
They were pledging their allegiance to Jesus to follow Him as a king who would overthrow Rome and set up the Kingdom of the promised Messiah. But if this revolt was unsuccessful, those who participated in coronating the conquering king would be quite guilty of sedition.
As the week went on, they saw clearly Jesus’ action pointed to something other than overthrowing Rome. They had acknowledged Jesus
In what ways do I acknowledge God?
Do I put myself in God’s control or do we try and control God?
Crucifixion - Paying the price.
Crucifixion - Paying the price.
Jesus didn’t let go of His place in heaven to receive glory here. What glory can we give here that would compare to the wonder of heaven?
No, Jesus came for a purpose. That purpose was to pay a debt. That debt is our debt, not His. The debt of rebelion from God - or sin.
What do we deserve? What is the cost of our actions?
The cost of our actions is death. That’s a tragedy that is all to unavoidable. We all die. But that’s not the cost of our rebelion. The cost is a spiritual death.
If I lie to my son, I’ve done a bad thing. But what’s the consequence? At the worst, loss of trust.
If I lie to my boss, I would get fired.
If I lie to my wife regularly, she might leave.
If I lie to the police, I could get charged with obstructing justice.
If I lie to congress, the charges are worse.
Every lie is the same sin, but the consequence of the sin depends on the authority of the one we sin against.
So what if we sin against God? Should we not expect to pay a much higher price? Well, we do! It’s spiritual death. That is a state of existing outside the presence and good will of God. That’s our verdict. And the sentence is an eternal conviction. That is tragic! We are made by God for the purpose of enjoying God. We can not be happier doing anything else. And we can not be more tortured than being 100% cut off from God.
This tragedy is ours to bear, the rightful sentence for our rebelion and sin. But God chose to take our punishment on Himself. If we payed our own debt for sin, we would never fulfill what we owed. But Jesus was a perfect offering, fulfilling the demands of the law and paying our debt in full. I’ll read from John the passage of the resurrection. Hear the cost of our sin.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Rejected in every way by those He loved the most, tortured and killed for a crime He was not guilty of. And then, taking on Himself the sins of the world, to make atonement for us while we were still rebelling from Him!
Salvation is born from tragedy! The tragedy of Jesus’ innocent death is the price of forgiveness of sin. This is the gift of Good Friday. But how dreary the Christian life would be is we were saved but our God was spent? But that’s not the end of the story. Easter Sunday follows Good Friday - Hallelujah!
Resurrection - Alive in victory.
Resurrection - Alive in victory.
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
His disciples still couldn’t believe it, they didn’t understand it. Their understanding of what Jesus’ kingship was about was not complete. To be honest, it was a process of that took years for them to fully grasp the impact of Jesus to the world. But when Jesus found them struggling, He offered guidance.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The message of Jesus is anchored in His sacrifice on the cross. Defeating death and reigning victoriously over all creation. He invites us into that victory!
The message of Jesus is pointed not to the cross and a grave, but the glory of the presence of God. He promises that presence to us now in part, but fully and undiminished in heaven. There is no joy or victory or wonder here that compares to what He has prepared for us there!
I’ve had the joy of standing before my bride and promising our lives to each other. I’ve held my child for the first time. I’ve even seen my team win world championships! (Sorry Cleveland Browns fans or Denver Nuggets fans!) But none of those things are as wonderful, as fulfilling, as powerful as what standing in the presence of the God of the universe - hearing the angels proclaiming “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” and hearing that Lord welcome us to Himself.
It’s not for our good actions and right living that earns us a place in God’s presence. It is the victory of Jesus over OUR sins! And it is in Him only we can hope. This is the call for today. This is our message. Find your life and hope in Jesus! Turn from our sin and run to Jesus!
It’s easy to miss His message in our everyday lives. Do we live in our past loss and defeat? Or do we live in the life and victory Jesus offers us?
Today is a reminder to live in the victory of the cross. Today is a day to celebrate Jesus conquering an enemy we never could - our own sin. Today is the day to follow Jesus into the glory He has not only secured for Himself, but to all those who follow Him!