“A pastor visiting the U.S. related what happened on Nov. 9, 1989 – the day the Berlin wall fell. It was not a “planned” event. There was a huge meeting taking place. It was a worship service. The order for service was scripture reading then sermon then a chance for anyone who wanted to come to the microphone and speak and then of course they closed with prayer.
“There were 2,000 people in the church, but there were another 5,000 outside, listening on speaker placed outside the building. When it was time for people to come to the microphone, a woman came into the building. She was all excited. She couldn’t get to the mike, because of all the people. So she shouted from the door that she had come in. The wall had fallen. East Germany was now free.
“There was dead silence – but only for a moment. The people started to stomp their feet. That is what they do for applause. There was joy and shouting.
“Ten minutes later – when the sound subsided – the pastors realized that the 5,000 people outside the church hadn’t heard the announcement. The woman hadn’t gotten to the mike, and wasn’t heard outside. The announcement was repeated and there was 10 more minutes of foot stomping and shouting outside.
“People were going crazy. Freedom! When they heard it on the radio, even those with doubts no longer had doubts. This was like a Palm Sunday for them.”
From a sermon by Wally Seibel, The Three Praises of Holy Week, 3/23/2010, accessed at SermonCentral.com.
Like Palm Sunday, the fall of the Berlin Wall provoked a spontaneous celebration of good news, the joy of freedom finding expression in the lives of ordinary people. Palm Sunday was also a parade given to honor Jesus as King – which He was – though not necessarily the kind of King everyone wanted. Today we observe Palm Sunday with a celebration of our own, rejoicing in this fact:
Jesus is the King of Kings: He deserves our devotion and obedience.
- The signs of His sovereignty.
Witness #1 = His lineage and His birth. The lineage of David is an aspect of the HUMAN side of His kingship. The genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 trace the ancestry of Jesus back to King David and beyond. This is important to establish Jesus as King of Israel.
The Fatherhood of God is an aspect of the DIVINE side of His kingship. The Virgin Birth establishes Joseph is Jesus’ adoptive father, not His biological father. Jesus was born King of Kings because God was His Father.
Witness #2 = Jesus’ own testimony. Jesus’ trial before Pilate is the only occasion where Jesus is asked directly if He was a king. Here, Jesus replied to Pilate’s question, “Are you a king?” in the affirmative: “Yes, it is as you say.”
Witness #3 = The testimony of friendly witnesses. We can cite three friendly witnesses; the Old Testament prophets, Jesus’ disciples, and the gospel record of His Triumphal Entry.
The Old Testament prophets predicted an eternal king in David’s lineage. In Isaiah 9:7 it is written: OF THE INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END. HE WILL REIGN ON DAVID’S THRONE AND OVER HIS KINGDOM, ESTABLISHING AND UPHOLDING IT WITH JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM THAT TIME ON AND FOREVER THE ZEAL OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS. In Jeremiah 23:5 we read, “THE DAYS ARE COMING,” DECLARES THE LORD, “WHEN I WILL RAISE UP TO DAVID A RIGHTEOUS BRANCH.” In Daniel 7:13-14 we are introduced to the “Son of Man.” “IN MY VISION AT NIGHT I LOOKED, AND THERE BEFORE ME WAS ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN, COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. HE APPROACHED THE ANCIENT OF DAYS AND WAS LEAD INTO HIS PRESENCE. HE WAS GIVEN AUTHORITY, GLORY AND SOVEREIGN POWER: ALL PEOPLE OF EVERY LANGUAGE WORSHIPED HIM. HIS DOMINION IS AN EVERLASTING DOMINION THAT WILL NOT PASS AWAY, AND HIS KINGDOM IS ONE THAT WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED.”
Jesus’ disciples declared Jesus’ kingship on at least two occasions. In John 1:49 NATHANAEL DECLARED, “RABBI, YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, THE KING OF ISRAEL.” Reading John 6:15, we see this incident; JESUS, KNOWING THEY INTENDED TO COME MAKE HIM KING BY FORCE, WITHDREW AGAIN INTO THE HILLS BY HIMSELF.
The most obvious testimony to Jesus’ kingship occurred at His Triumphal Entry. In John 12:13 we read,
THEY TOOK PALM BRANCHES AND WENT OUT TO MEET HIM, SHOUTING, “HOSANNA!” “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” “BLESSED IS THE KING OF ISRAEL.” That event fulfilled to prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, where it is written, REJOICE GREATLY, O DAUGHTER OF ZION! SEE YOUR KING COMES TO YOU, RIGHTEOUS AND HAVING SALVATION, GENTLE AND RIDING ON A DONKEY, ON A COLT, ON THE FOAL OF A DONKEY.
Witness #4 is the testimony of “hostile witnesses.”
The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus while they tortured Him and while He hung on the cross. In all four Gospels (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; Luke 23:36-37; John 19:1-5) they called Him “King of the Jews,” put a royal purple robe on Him, and jammed a crown of thorns on His head.
The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate also referred to Jesus as the King of the Jews. In Mark 15:9+12 and John 19:14-15 he introduced Jesus to the mob as the King of the Jews. Also, the sign above the cross identified Jesus as the King of the Jews. When the Jewish clergy protested and asked the sign be removed, Pilate refused.
One of the thieves crucified with Him. ONE OF THE CRIMINALS WHO HUNG THERE HURLED INSULTS AT HIM: “AREN’T YOU THE CHRIST? SAVE YOURSELF AND US!” (Luke 23:39)
The Jewish clergy and other onlookers were also hostile witnesses. Their testimony may be read in Matthew 27:41-42; Mark 15:31-32: IN THE SAME WAY THE CHIEF PRIESTS, THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW AND THE ELDERS MOCKED HIM. “HE SAVED OTHERS,” THEY SAID, “BUT HE CAN’T SAVE HIMSELF! HE’S THE KING OF ISRAEL! LET HIM COME DOWN NOW FROM T CROSS, AND WE WILL BELIEVE IN HIM.”
In modern practice of law, a “hostile witness” is someone whose opinion is contrary to one’s client but whose testimony will prove the client’s point. All of these people we’ve cited did not believe Jesus was the King of the Jews, but by their referencing Jesus as the “King of the Jews” by their questions and mockery, prove the point that His kingship was the point under contention.
Witness #5 = the first generation Church. Read 1 Corinthians 15:25: FOR [CHRIST] MUST REIGN UNTIL “HE HAS PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.” This passage is a statement of the faith of the first generation Church. It is the result of eyewitness testimony and is the core of our faith. Here Paul affirmed that Jesus Christ reigns as King and will do so until all His enemies (the last of which is death; v. 26) are defeated.
In 1 Timothy 6:15 Paul wrote about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which GOD WILL BRING ABOUT IN HIS OWN TIME – GOD, THE BLESSED AND ONLY RULER, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 1:5 & 19:16 directly affirm the kingship of Jesus ON HIS ROBE AND ON THIS THIGH HE HAS THIS NAME WRITTEN: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
- The proper reaction to the King is to worship Him (Philippians 2:5-11).
This passage is a hymn of the first generation Church. As hymns do, it expresses our faith. It contrasts Jesus’ voluntary servitude with His exaltation.
It describes our worship.
– EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW in awe, wonder, admiration, and respect.
– EVERY TONGUE CONFESS the truth; which is…
– THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. He is King of all creation. He reigns even over those who refuse to believe in Him, who refuse to bow or confess the truth.
– TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER. This is the ultimate purpose of our lives and the greatest good we can do. Worship is the pinnacle experience as we are directing attention to God, who is the greatest good.
- Why do we need a King?
Our King can forgive our sins. Because He sacrificed Himself on the cross to make forgiveness possible, Jesus can exercise His divine authority to completely remove our guilt and shame.
Our King makes us rulers and priests. In Revelation 1:6 & 5:10, we are promised that God will make us a KINGDOM AND PRIESTS who are in service to God. Our King delegates His authority to us!
Our King makes laws for the citizens of His kingdom to obey. In Mark 12:20-31, Jesus set forth the two greatest commandments, both of them having to do with love.
Our King commissions us for royal service. Matthew 28:18-20 is called “The Great Commission.” It is there Jesus tells us that our main job is making disciples. Those two words take in both witnessing (making new disciple), and edifying (maturing existing disciples). He offered teaching and baptism as two means of doing these.
Jesus is the King of Kings: He deserves our devotion and obedience.
“Did you know the United States once had an emperor? Believe it or not, it’s true – at least, it was in the rather confused mind of Joshua A. Norton.
“Norton lived in San Francisco during the gold-rush days of the 1800’s. When speculation in the rice market brought him to financial ruin, something happened to Norton’s mind. He declared himself “Emperor of These United States.” It might have been a practical joke, or it might have been the result of a clouded mind. Whatever the initial reason, Norton’s pretending soon grew into a delusion. In 1859 he published a proclamation that he was emperor according to an act of the California legislature. He found a sword, stuck a plume in his hat, found a cape, and marched the streets in colorful costume.
“The citizens of San Francisco were amused by this ploy they played along. They gave him recognition with free tickets to special events. He was invited to gala opening nights. In fact, they allowed him to collect a small tax and issue his own currency. It was all done in the spirit of fun.
“When he died in 1880, more than ten thousand curious people attended Norton’s funeral service – one of the largest funerals ever to take place in California. He lived and died in his own delusion of grandeur. He didn’t hurt anyone; in fact, he brought a bit of a smile and a chuckle to people who came across his path.
“But make no mistake about it. Joshua A. Norton was never really the emperor. Had he really insisted on a confrontation with the United States government, he would have been disposed of rather quickly.
“Imagine the poor soul who enters eternity convinced that life was all about him, that she was the focus of the universe. What a shock to find that the Bible’s title for Jesus is accurate. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and no pretend emperor will ever take his place.”
(From a sermon entitled “He is King of Kings” by Andy Cook , retrieved from LifeWay.com.)
Today we declare our allegiance to our King Jesus Christ and swear to Him our love and obedience. Palm Sunday is about more than commemorating an historical event; it is about each of us picking up our palm branch and celebrating Jesus as OUR King. During this Holy Week especially, let’s make it personal, folks.