God Is Jesus

We have been taking a brief look at who God is. We have seen a couple familiar themes the last couple weeks:
God is merciful - which is good for us
God is jealous - which turns out is good for us too
But we began this series by acknowledging that God, as a spirit, is altogether other than us. The entirety of His existence is foreign to ours and His otherness comes through even when we talk about more familiar ideas like mercy.
Once we dig below the surface, we find that God’s otherness was in full display the day that Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem.

What We Know

The broad strokes taken from the four Gospels.
In a village outside Jerusalem, Jesus instructs a couple of his disciples to borrow a donkey
The disciples bring the donkey to Jesus and put their robes on it for a blanket
Jesus rides the donkey into the city of Jerusalem
As Jesus rides the disciples begin celebrating Jesus
As Jesus continues to ride people come into the streets and soon get swept up into the celebration, laying their garments in the street and then cutting palm branches and laying them in the street
As Jesus finally enters the city, a fair sized crowd has gathered: many are celebrating Him, but some are just watching the show and others are there to express their disdain
The whole city was abuzz with news of Jesus’ arrival. The fact that subsequently went into the Temple and made a mess there dampened many of their spirits a bit.
Eventually, Jesus quietly withdrew from the city for the night.

What We Think We Know

This event, celebrated on Palm Sunday, is known as Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. It starts the series of events that will lead Him, in just a few day’s time, to the cross. But here in this moment we see Jesus as the rightful king of Jerusalem entering His city as a liberator.
or do we...

What We Don’t Know

To say that there was more going on here than meets the eye is an incredible understatement. There was so much more going on just below the surface.
Matthew 21:1–5 NKJV
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
That last verse is prophecy that Jesus was about to fulfill as He entered the city. We find the origins of that prophecy in Isaiah and Zechariah.
In Zechariah 9, God declares that He will conquer those who have conquered His people and set up His kingdom
Zechariah 9:9–10 NKJV
9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
That is relatively familiar, except that what is prophesied here is Jesus setting up an earthly kingdom that is far larger than just Jerusalem or Israel.
But the Isaiah prophecies are where we want to focus for a few minutes.
In Isaiah 40, in verses made famous by Handel’s Messiah, God comforts His oppressed people by letting him know that He is coming for them.
Isaiah 40:9–10 NKJV
9 O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” 10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.
Who is coming to Jerusalem? According to verse 9, God is!
We see similar language in Isaiah 62 where God as a Bridegroom comes to claim His Bride, the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:10–11 NKJV
10 Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples! 11 Indeed the Lord has proclaimed To the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.’ ”
As Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem with great fanfare riding on a donkey, He declared in a grand and unmistakeable fashion that He was God in human flesh.
In this moment, the fanfare wasn’t just appropriate, it was absolutely necessary.
Luke 19:39–40 NKJV
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

What It Means

This declaration of divinity was just one time among many that Jesus revealed—declared, even—Himself to be God. Those who say Jesus never claimed to be God only demonstrate their own ignorance. Jesus is God and laid claim to that in many ways, including riding into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey.
God is Jesus.
On the one hand, that makes God more accessible to us; we can recognize Him as a man. But does a familiar face really make God less other than us? When I read about the ways that Jesus demonstrated His divinity in the Gospels and think about all the implications, I find that God in human flesh is even more other. He may look similar and experience similar things, but He is still quite different.
John summed up his experience this way:
John 12:14–16 NKJV
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
Once they realized who they were dealing with, these disciples carried the news of His coming to the corners of the world. What will we do once we realize it?
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