All right, so we’re starting over. So I asked Stephen and Cosi to share the same passage. It’s not often that we will necessarily start in the same place for Communion and offering, but like I was saying in the welcome, I wanted to start off our sermon with the beginning of Passion Week, with that anointing, because that story at Mary and Martha’s house is where Passion Week, the Holy Week, begins. And this anointing was such a profound act of worship to Jesus. And I love the idea that we even today, 2000 years later, we get to humbly participate in acts of worship every Sunday through things like our offering and our Communion, through our singing, through our fellowship.
All these things are these acts of worship and praise that we come to him with every week. It’s also significant that this act of worship wasn’t met with the praise necessary that you would have expected from the people around him. They were struggling. His disciples, his followers were struggling with how they thought maybe Jesus should have been praised.
The ones closest to them missed the point, which I don’t know about you, but when I read the stories in the Bible, in the Gospels of the disciples just not quite making the connections, I feel a little bit of solidarity with that. Go, okay. I can be a mess, too. I can be standing in the presence of Jesus and still not get what he’s saying.
John tells us that the next day after that anointing in Bethany is when Jesus enters Jerusalem for what we call the triumphal entry, where he’s going to be met with shouts of Hosanna. But it begs the question for us this morning that we are going to discuss together in the Scriptures, how does Jesus want to be worshiped? The title of our sermon this Palm Sunday that got it up is Palm Trees and Perfume. You can kind of see it in there. It’s buried in there.
It’s kind of like a word search. All right, let’s say a prayer. God, I want to thank you so much for the opportunity to be in your presence, Father. Even when things aren’t going quite right, the sound is messing up. The presentations aren’t working.
My clicker maybe stops. Your Bible is still true. We still get to be here in your presence, Father. I pray that you will move away the distractions. Help us to be present with you right now as we dig into your word together.
We love you, in your son, Jesus’s name we pray. Amen. Why don’t you turn your Bible over to Luke, chapter 19?
You’re going to need either a physical Bible or on your phone. I’m not going to give you a lot of scriptures. We’re going to be in the story here together.
When you pick up in verse 28, it says, after Jesus had said this, he went ahead going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethpage and Bethany at the Hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples saying to them, Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt there which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, why are you untying it? Today the Lord needs it. Those who were sent ahead went and found it, just as he told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, Why are you untying the colt? Fair question. If this is your donkey, right?
They brought it to Jesus. He said. They replied, The Lord needs it, and that’s enough. They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt, and put Jesus on it as he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen. Blessed is the King, who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, Teacher, rebuke your disciples. I tell you, he replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.
Let’s pause there.
So the story of the triumphal entry starts off with a detail that we’re probably all pretty familiar with. Even if you’ve not been to Church, you probably heard the story of Jesus coming riding in on a donkey. This part of the story is actually so familiar to us, we’ve succumbed a little bit to what’s known as the lullaby effect, where you hear something so much, you know, in detail that you’ve heard so much that you miss a significance. We just kind of, yeah, Jesus, donkey, whatever. Right?
First of all, let’s take note here of how incredibly subtle it is when the Bible announces the things of Jesus that are clearly of God. Right? Like, how would he know, hey, you guys go on up ahead and you’re going to see a donkey, he’s going to be up there. And when the gospels is like, it’s just kind of right there off to the side, ready to go, and somebody’s going to come up to you and talk to you. And when they ask you about it, just say, hey, the Lord needs it.
Why would Jesus know that? Unless there’s some omnipotence, there’s some God pieces tied in there, right? But again, it’s just quickly like, oh, yeah, just no big deal. Jesus was on a donkey. No, he said it was going to happen before it happened.
So we get a nice little subtle window into the power of God that Jesus has. Right? But then secondly, this is actually significant. All four Gospels make sure to say something about this donkey. They make it a point.
Now, all four gospel writers, they have very different audiences. If you’ve not been akin to kind of studying the significance of each of the Gospels, they’re writing to very different people, but all four of them, even though there are some stories that they may leave out from their audience, it’s like, no, everybody needs to know about this donkey. Okay? And all three, for some reason, Luke is the only one that doesn’t.
But all the other three Gospels want to make it very clear to us that this story, this donkey detail, is a callback to something in the Old Testament. In Zechariah nine, verse, nine to ten, it says, Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion, shout Daughter Jerusalem, see your King comes to you righteous and victorious, lowly or humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and all the war horses from Jerusalem. The battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the Earth.
This story, this detail, is significant. 600 years before this, God used the Prophet Zechariah to mention that this detail, this donkey colt, was going to be God’s announcement to his people that your Messiah, your King, has come.
Jesus was fulfilling, as you see in the book of Matthew, one of the many prophecies that would unfold in this one week to prove to God’s people that he was the real deal. The book of Matthew, if you didn’t know, was written to a primarily Jewish audience. And he uses a lot of the same phrases. Something similar to this was written to fulfill this, that he wanted to make very clear to the Jews, look, this is who you’re waiting for. This is our King.
This is our Savior.
So this little note, this little donkey thing was 600 years in the making to tell us, guess what? The one we’re waiting for, it’s him. He’s going to rule. He’s going to bring peace.
So this day in Luke 19, this is the day of the big reveal. For the three years of Jesus’ministry, he’s been telling the crowds, his disciples, his Apostles, to keep it quiet who he was. It’s not time yet. When he questioned Peter, said, who do people say that I am?
Well, who do you say? He said, we believe that you are the Son of God. He said, okay, let’s keep that down for a minute, because he knew the moment that people started proclaiming that he’s this, things were going to change.
But the time is now.
And this is a contrast to the Romans. Here Pilate, when he would have come into Jerusalem, would have ridden in on a big white stallion with all the pomp and circumstance that Rome could show, to show off their force, to show off their money, to show off their power, their influence, to let the Jews know who they were. And here’s our King, the King of the Kingdom of God not coming on a white stallion, but a junior donkey humble, showing that, look what you’re looking for in a King? I’m going to be a different version of it.
This is also an announcement to his people. Guys, I’m here. It’s time to get started. The change is coming. We’re in it now.
The Kingdom of God is happening in your presence.
Like I said earlier, John actually tells us this passage that even as he’s riding in on a donkey, the audience seems to get it on some level, but it tells us that the disciples didn’t understand it. So they didn’t get it until later, until after Jesus had been resurrected. What this significance was. But I want us to picture this scene for a minute. Jesus coming strutting in on a donkey.
And this is not a mule. This is not a big horse like animal. This is something that maybe his feet were kind of dragging on the ground as this donkey came in. Maybe he’s waddling with them because he may not be strong enough yet. Who knows?
This donkey had never been ridden before. As he’s coming into town, his disciples, not the twelve, the ones that have been following him and witnessing these miracles, start shouting, wait, we know this. This is Zechariah. Guys, come on, let’s get our palm fronds. Let’s start laying our cloaks on the ground.
They’re laying the best red carpet that they can for a donkey to walk on in the dirt.
I mean, just picture that scene of Jesus coming in on a donkey as these giant palm fronds. I have some Florida palm fronds right here. Best we could do. It’s not, probably not what they’re waving, but they’re waving these palm fronds, which some scholars tell us probably a sign of victory.
That, look, it’s time the King is here. You know what? This is significant about this, too. Jesus is finally getting the praise due to him.
His disciples start a commotion, and it draws attention. John tells us that the people who heard about Lazarus’s resurrection, Lazarus was a figure at this time. They’re like, man, did you hear about the guy that Jesus raised from the dead? Let’s go. So that crowd starts showing up.
Luke tells us that people who had witnessed his miracles, maybe the healing of the blind people, what had happened just in the week before, they start showing up like, man, maybe he is it. But not just that. This is the Passover week. That means Jews are flocking in from all over the known world to celebrate this festival.
So this crowd starts growing the fever pitch. You can imagine the emotion, the excitement.
All this also draws the attentions and Pharisees as well. Why are all these people. Why are all these Jews coming over to, oh, we know what’s going on here.
John MacArthur calls this the crowd of the committed, the curious and the combatants.
Because the Pharisees get what’s happening. They get that Jesus is doing this, and some scholars even think it might have been possibly even the same day as pilots showing up to Jerusalem. So on one side of Jerusalem, Pilots coming in on a white horse. On the other side of Jerusalem, Jesus is coming in on a donkey.
So maybe the Pharisees are going, Jesus chill out. The Romans are going to chill out. But I think more significantly, the Pharisees were like, you really think you’re this?
You know what doing this is going to mean to us, right? Tell your disciples to knock it off because you’re a blasphemer if you’re saying this. But Jesus’s response to these Pharisees is powerful. I tell you that if these ones aren’t going to shout it out, the stones are going to cry out. You’re not going to stop this. Now, there’s a sermon in that statement alone.
The more that I studied this, I was like, wow, there’s so much happening here in this that’s another day. But the idea is that Jesus is not keeping quiet anymore. I don’t care if the Romans catch on. I don’t care if you or the Sadducees. I don’t care who’s catching on.
It’s time for people to know who I am.
His time had come, and guess what? He had to schedule to keep. Because he had an appointment with a cross on Friday.
You think that a worship service of this magnitude Would be just in line with what Jesus wanted, right? Jesus is like, yes, they get it. They understand that I’m the King. I’m Messiah. But let’s keep reading together.
Verse 41. As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, if even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes. 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. 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.
As I was studying this, I definitely was struck. It’s hard not to be when you read these words, thinking there are people that are shouting his praises, singing Hosanna, all the other Gospels say, and his responses, you guys just don’t get it. This is not a celebration. I’m crying over here.
He looks out at these people waving these palm fronds that R.C. Sproul says could have even been called hosannas, symbolizing victory. They’re thinking, our King is here. He’s going to rescue us from the Romans. He’s going to save us all. But this is that he weeps.
Now, in the new testament, there are three Greek words for weep, and this one here translates to wail and mourn. This is a heaving sorrow that’s that I’m going to throw up. I’m crying so hard. Jesus is on a donkey as people are praising him and he’s trying not to Puke out of his sorrow.
That begs the question for us, why would this great worship service, why would Jesus respond like this?
His response to this is, guys, if you would only know on this day what would bring you peace, but it’s hidden from you now. What Jesus is saying here is they missed the point.
They were worshiping the Messiah that they wanted, not the Messiah that Jesus was.
Their version of a King was a conquering hero, a son of David with a sling and a sword, ready to reclaim Jerusalem and drive these evil Romans back to where they came from, to end their oppression, to bring peace through war. That’s what they expected.
I mean, for three years, they weren’t listening to what Jesus was telling them.
He wasn’t going to be bringing peace with his sword, but was suffering.
He wasn’t bringing judgment on Rome, but all mankind and specifically the Jews that are there in Jerusalem. His message after he weeps is not good things are coming. He’s like, you guys don’t know the judgment that is coming to you.
He was going to be an offering of atonement.
And much of this same crowd, the ones that are waving these palm fronts and laying their cloaks down and shouting Hosanna, probably crying and weeping themselves, thinking it’s finally here would be shouting, crucify him before the week ended, because Jesus hadn’t met their expectations of Messiah.
And in the crowd, the committed, the curious and the combatants, almost all of them had their moments where they missed who Jesus was because they were too focused on what they wanted him to be.
Before we leave this passage here, we have to note how amazing that God is in this fulfillment, though. Jesus is coming in in a celebratory moment, a celebration that ended in weeping. He was coming in on the week of Passover. Why? Because he was the perfect fulfillment. He was the Passover lamb. The way that thousands of years ago at the Exodus, they had offered a sacrifice of a lamb and smeared the blood on the doorframe so that the spirit of God would pass over and save their families.
He’s coming in thousands of years later representing, saying, I am this lamb. I am coming to spare you from yourselves, to spare you from the judgment that is due you.
How perfect God’s timing is.
Bible actually tells us the very next thing Jesus did after this was he went to the temple.
Mark says that he went into the temple, but it was too late. So he went home and then came back the next day. Luke just says he went into the temple. Why? To drive out the money changers. The story we love about Jesus getting angry, right?
We can be angry. We can be angry like Jesus. We can flip some tables, right? There’s a way to do it I haven’t figured it out yet. So if you’ve figured it out, you can come find me and tell me afterwards.
But he’s there at the temple to drive out the money changers and stir up the Sadducees. And I’ve shared this before. Contrary to popular belief, the Pharisees weren’t the ones that got Jesus killed. Some scholars even think the Pharisees might have been trying to save Jesus life. It was the Sadducees, the chief priests, the ones who were in charge of the temple.
They were the ones that got Jesus killed. And Jesus is now in their territory to cause a scene. Flipping over tables, taking away one of their ways to make money and skim a little off the top for themselves. Because the money changers is where people would come and bring their foreign currency to buy sacrifices. That the Sadducees were the ones that raised and set the prices on it to make an offering that the Sadducees had to deem is acceptable.
There’s so much in this lesson in that moment about justice. But here’s where this ties in for us today. He’s flipping over the money changers tables. He’s going in there to clear out the temple because the temple is where you go to make a sacrifice. So the first thing Jesus does in Jerusalem is I have to get my father’s house ready for my sacrifice.
I have to clear it of its corruption. I’ve got to deal with the mold, the scum, the disease that is infested my people. This place that is supposed to be a place of prayer, a place of worship, a place that honors my father. A place where the foreigners can come in and celebrate. They’ve turned it into a den of robbers.
He was ready in God’s temple for his sacrifice as the Passover lamb. We’re going to start landing the plane here. I want you to turn your Bible over to Mark 14. As we read this, I’m just going to give you a warning here. We’re going to read a story that’s going to feel a lot like deja vu today.
Okay, pick up in verse one. Now, the Passover in the festival of unleavened bread were only two days away. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. But not during the festival, they said, where the people may riot. While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume made of pure NARD.
She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor and they rebuked her harshly. Leave her alone, said Jesus. Why are you bothering her?
She’s done a beautiful thing to me. The poor. You will always have with you. And you can help them any time you want, but you will not always have me. She did what she could.
She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the Gospels preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.
Again, you may be thinking, Jake, we already read this passage twice today, right? You’re wrong. There’s actually a lot of debate around Jesus being anointed. Some scholars think it was just once. And all the Gospel writers are telling the same story, just little bit different details, but actually a significant amount of commentators and Bible theologians, especially that as I’ve dug in the last few weeks here, they actually suggest that Jesus was anointed twice in the same week.
Now, I want to encourage you to study it for yourself. I always want to encourage you guys. Man, when it comes to this stuff, it’s good to dig in the Bible yourself. Okay? I’ve done a lot of study on this.
So for our purposes today, no matter what you think, if you think we’re just telling the same story for our purposes today, we’re going to read this as a second anointing. In the book of John, it was Mary. At Mary and Martha’s house with Lazarus and the other disciples there. The Bible tells us, was six days before Passover, she wept, poured the oil on Jesus feet, wiped her tears and oil with her hair in humble gratitude. Here the Bible tells us we’re two days away from Passover and we’re at Simon the Lepers house with many of his disciples present.
And this unknown sinful woman walks in. Part of why some scholars think if it was Mary, if it was the same story, then they would have told us it was Mary.
But in a remarkably similar fashion. She pours expensive perfume, this time on Jesus head. And there’s some things to even suggest that this perfume, this NARD, was something that a woman was given as a gift from her family, that this was saved for her wedding day, a year’s wages to prepare her to become a wife one day. And she’s breaking her once in a lifetime jar of perfume on our Savior.
She doesn’t pour it on his feet, she pours it on his head.
Now, what’s striking in this story is if this happened twice, six days before Passover and two days before Passover in one week, that meant the disciples experienced the same exact thing twice.
But guess what happened? They still don’t get what’s happening. I mean, this is almost copy and paste, right? This is much like when Jesus fed the 5000 and then shortly after fed the 4000, it’s like the exact same story. And they’re like, Dude, where are we going to get food from?
Dude, weren’t you just there? We just did this.
They forgot who he was, what he was capable of, or how they were supposed to worship him on a regular basis. But we can’t miss what Jesus says here in these verses. I’m going to read it again in verse six to nine. Because the disciples rebuke this woman who’s anointing Jesus harshly. I don’t even know what that means exactly.
Leave her alone, said Jesus. Why are you bothering her? She’s done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want, but you will not always have me. She did what she could.
She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. This woman here and Mary a few days earlier, they seemed to get it.
All those people at the gates of Jerusalem offering shouts of praise because I believe what they thought Jesus was going to be doing for them as King.
But Jesus wasn’t looking for a party, from people who thought that he fit their plan.
This woman came behind closed doors in humility to give the very best that she could in honor to him.
I’m going to read it again. Jesus said, when the gospel is preached around the world, she is going to be mentioned. When you hear about me, when you hear about God, you’re going to hear about her and what she is doing right now.
You’re not going to hear about the people who give a big Easter service with great music. You’re not going to hear about the palm fronds. I think this is the first time on a Sunday I think I’ve ever actually celebrated Palm Sunday. It’s kind of a weird thing to say as I’m preaching this, but I don’t know that Jesus necessarily wanted to commemorate this all that much.
So it’s not the big Easter service we’re going to have next week. It’s not the colors, the decorations. It’s not the pomp and the circumstance. Jesus said, this unknown woman that Matthew describes as a sinful woman.
She’s going to be remembered because she gets it. I don’t think Jesus was rejecting praise. I think he was looking for someone who seemed to understand self sacrifice.
He had come to be the sacrifice, and he told his disciples from the very beginning, if you’re going to come and follow me, well, guess what? You better be ready to lay it down. I don’t want churchgoers. I don’t want palm fronds. I want people that are ready to deny themselves and take up their cross because that’s where I’m going.
This woman gave the very best that she could in her act of sacrifice. Jesus called this beautiful. He called the glorious triumphal entry a reason to weep. That makes me as a Minister in this Church, as we’re getting ready for Easter next week, that stays with me.
I don’t want to miss this. We’re working on some great music and an awesome service, something we want to remember, something we want to bring our friends and family to as we celebrate the Resurrection. I don’t want to miss this. As we close, I have a question for us to wrestle with.
Are we worshiping Jesus as the Messiah or the Messiah that we want him to be?
Because Jesus is not looking for some do gooder rule followers who show up on Sundays, who read their Bible and say their bedtime prayers but forget what it means to have a relationship with God, a relationship with a purpose, with a mission. He’s also not interested in beautiful songs. In the Book of Amos, he says, Get rid of your noisy songs. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care how talented you are.
I don’t want to hear it because he’s not interested in emotional alchemy. He’s not interested in the tears in the hands if it doesn’t translate into a love for God and a love for others.
Jesus is offering us peace through a life of submission and selfsacrifice, not selfimprovement. Jesus is not here for you to be a better you. Get that out of your head. Our world preaches that. That. It’s about living your passions, chasing your dreams, having your ideal house, car, hustle investment, your ideal significant other.
Jesus said, I’m not here for that. I’m here for a life that’s going to cost you everything.
But if you’re like me, you wrestle not just with a version of Jesus, but a version of Christianity that may know this to be true. You may know that this is about selfsacrifice. You remember reading Luke Nine and Luke 14 when you were studying the Bible that I am here to give up everything for Christ.
But you still think that God owes you something.
You still think that means if I’m giving you everything God, then it means that my kids are going to make it. It means that my bank account is never going to be thin.
It means that I’m going to get the career that I’ve always wanted. I’m going to get the house that has no septic problems.
One of my mentors in the faith, John Mannel, an elder out in Kansas City, quoted something years ago that I’ve never forgotten, that whenever we struggle in life, it’s because we think we deserve a life more than what Jesus had.
If ever we’re wrestling with who Jesus is and who God is because we think we deserve more than our Savior.
Is our worship, Church, not just on Sundays? Is the worship of our lives, is it going to be a palm branch or perfume?
Jesus wept over one. He called the other beautiful. Let’s close in a word of prayer.
Father God, I am so humbled. Humbled that I even get to stand up here right now to preach these words. God so humbled for the life that we get to live. So humbled that your son has been so immensely patient with me.
God that I’ve had the attitudes of the curious I’ve had the attitudes of his committed followers who just seem to just miss the boat who thought that what you want from me is not what you actually want.
God I pray that this year this Holy Week and not because of a holiday not because of what it says on a calendar, God but because of who you are. Because of who Jesus was. Because of what we get to have in a life with you. God I pray that we will not miss the worship you desire.
I pray that what we will offer you will be like these two amazing women who understood that there’s something going on here. There’s a sacrifice involved in our lives for you, God and I pray that for those of us that have been Christians that have been disciples of Jesus followers for years, Father, we won’t forget that sacrifice we won’t dismiss our self denial and taking up our own cross for the sake of comfort and what we think we’re owed at this point of our lives. God I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the ways that I’ve done this I’m sorry for the ways I’ve led your Church to this. God forgive us. Thank you so much for your forgiveness. In your son Jesus name we pray Amen.