The Crowd (Palm Sunday 2024)

At Gateway Church in Austin, we began Passion Week with Palm Sunday and a message called “The Crown”

Too often in our faith journey, we have the right king, but the wrong kingdom in mind.

Digging Deeper:

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Discussion Questions

Message Video:

Message Audio:

Message Notes by Ricky Echeona:

I wonder how fast the people ran once the news spread? See I am convinced there was neither better time nor place in all of history than this day for a parade, especially a coronation parade. But to fully understand what’s about to take place you have to understand what’s going on nationally, politically, socially, religiously, culturally, spiritually. Everything had come together like a perfect storm this exact day this week and that’s what makes this story jump off the page. We call it Palm Sunday, whether you celebrate it or not, it’s probably written on your calendar and for a lot of us it’s just a reminder, “Oh Easter’s next week.” And to really set the scene, We know there’s chaos in the Middle East today – a heartbreaking reality and a bitter reminder that pain is not new to this place or to its peoples. Go back about 2,000 years ago and to this little city called Jerusalem their capital and what was building. This place was a powder keg about to blow and at this time it had all the ingredients necessary for this tidal wave of tension. It wasn’t just the time, place, and year it was the exact day.

It had been 1,000 years since they’ve tasted real freedom, I don’t think we can truly understand that in today’s day and age. 1,000 years they’ve been ruled over. 1,000 years since the kingdom of David and his boys gave peace to their land and their people. 1,000 years of being ruled and traded like pawns in a game amongst the vast powers of the known world, whether it was the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, now the Romans. And in the midst of this they’ve been waiting, and it’s not just waiting that one day they’ll get their nation back, it’s what they’ve been reading.

At the time of our story before Jesus steps onto the scene it’s been 300 years since they’ve had a prophet, 300 years since the Old Testament was written, 300 years as if God himself has been silent with his people. That’s a long time not to hear from God. So their writers of that time were quick to give them hope based on the Old Testament prophecies. They would tell them that one day there’s going to be a Messiah. This guy is going to have power, the whole world will know who he is, he’s going to be sent from God, they have been waiting for a hero! 

And for the last 3 years the stories have been growing. From the way he starts teaching  in the beginning to miracle after miracle, that now there are clearly 2 sides either he is the Son of God or he isn’t and he’s hated by some because he constantly says he is.

And for the last 3 years the stories have been building. People walking in with tank tops to show off their new skin with people walking up to them saying “weren’t you a leper a few months ago? Dude, what lotion are you using?” “He’s called Jesus, he touched me here and now I got this.” The guys that now have 20/20 vision that would talk about their decades of blindness, who only ever heard life go by but never saw it until he spit a loogie in the mud and rubbed it on their eyes.  By now she was going into the 7th grade but the people knew of the 12 year old girl that died until he walked in and touched her. Just a couple days prior he speaks into a tomb and a guy who’s been dead for 4 days comes walking out…looking like the Thriller video. And the amount of people that have been fed with one lunch box and the amount of teaching he shared. And for 3 years it’s been growing in the nation, “He could be the one, he could be the one!”

You take all of that and you add it to this day it is the beginning of the celebration week known as Passover. It goes back about 1,500 years ago prior to the first Palm Sunday. Almost 1,500 years ago these people were enslaved by the greatest empire in the known world at that time known as Egypt. And as slaves they cried out to God to save them, God came through and demonstrated His care and concern for enslaved people and His power over the gods of Egypt and the evil Pharaoh with all kinds of plagues. And sadly the last one, all the firstborn males died in Egyptian homes UNLESS you sacrificed a lamb and sprinkled the blood over the doorway and death that night would pass over you. And for the last 1,500 years, 1,000 of those years under the oppression of another government, they celebrated this week every year killing a lamb, remembering, “It took blood to save you.” And one day there will be a lamb that will save the world. And it’s on this day, Jesus decides today, “We roll into Jerusalem.” Maybe the most calculated and strategic move I’ve ever seen. Even though the Roman government is on standby this time of year the troops aren’t traveling in 2’s or 3’s but in 10’s and 12’s. This tiny nation in this city is fragile every time this year. And this is the day Jesus is like, it’s GO TIME. 

So today we are going to open up to the Gospel of Luke chapter 19. And we are going to unpack this and just be honest in our hearts. We’ve titled this message The Crowd. It’s so easy to look back and ask, “How can they HAIL Him one week and Nail Him to a cross 5 days later?” But until we understand that we too get caught up in the crowd so easily oftentimes with amazing intentions. But in the noise, we’ll never recognize the purpose and mission of Jesus. And oftentimes, just like the crowd, it is our expectations of what we think God should do in our lives that brings so much disillusionment. The setting was right, the time was right, the chants were right, it was the right KING. But too many in the crowd had the wrong Kingdom in mind. And honestly, too often so do WE.

Here’s what we want at the front of your minds as we enter Holy Week and we journey together- In following Jesus, we must have both the right King and the right Kingdom. It has to be both. If we have only the right King we turn into the crowd when Jesus doesn’t do His will our “way”. If we have the right kingdom but the wrong King, we become modern day Pharisees– uber religious and our faith becomes a power play of controlling society around us. And doesn’t that sound like every political party vying for your vote this November?

We almost named this message “Jesus for President” but we said, “that’s probably going to scare EVERYONE away before they even get here. So let’s at least get them here and then make them mad (kidding, relax lol.” But let’s read today’s text and then break it down.

Luke 19:28-44

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 

Stop right there! This city is packed. The city swells 40-50 times its population this time of year. There’s free residency everywhere, every inn is packed, every house has people in beds, couches, and floor space. And Jesus is outside with the boys like “Ok, now we go in. Here’s what I want you to do, you and you go this way inside the city, you’re going to see a donkey tied up. I want you to untie him and bring him to me. Anyone asks you why you’re untying it then say ‘the Lord needs it’ and throw him a peace sign.” 

The first donkey-theft-auto in history is done by Jesus lol. If it were me I would’ve come in a camel with more of a range rover type of feel, or maybe an ox more of a F-150 truck, or a Bronco kinda like a…bronco. Not Jesus he’s like, “just inside the gates you’re gonna see a moped, break the lock, kick it in first and if anyone asks tell ‘em Jesus needs it and ride off.”

This is one I can’t wait to stream in Heaven. Like what disciples, did they stand there playing rock, paper, scissors, to see who would actually do it?

35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, (and they start quoting Psalm 118) 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Do you have any of those verses that just give you goosebumps? This is one of mine. The Pharisees are like: “Jesus tell your boys to shut up! That’s blashephemy!” I love the certainty and assurance of Jesus, he knew exactly who he was. It’s as if he’s saying here, “I am God and all of creation will worship me!” And he’s basically telling this Pharisee you either accept me as the son of God or you crucify but I’m not gonna leave you with a choice. You can tell the people to be quiet but the rocks will shout. Oh this is a day for a parade!!

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Oh this is so not the story we colored in Sunday School! A parade in his honor and Jesus is sobbing intensely as if to say, “This couldn’t have gone any worse.” You’re missing God in front of you. You cannot get around the fact that he claims to be God, in his miracles, in his teachings, in his actions, and even now in his tears he is certain of who he is. See he’s not just a good teacher, he’s not just a prophet, he’s not some guy who promoted peace and love, when reading Scripture you simply cannot deny that he constantly claimed to be God.  

Has it ever dawned on you that what we call the triumphant entry ends in heartbreak and tears for Jesus? See if the birthday boy at the end of his party is crying don’t call it a good birthday.

And with all that setting the scene obviously they missed something, and maybe we’ve missed something as well.

There’s so much we can take away from this but let’s look at 3 quick things I think God wants us to zero in on, if we’re going to have the right kingdom of who God is and his role in our lives.

 In order to have the right kingdom we needthe right obedience.

 The Right Obedience

In the Scriptures the idea of “obedience” means trusting God and acting on what He says.

You don’t need me to state the obvious, but put yourself in that group of 12- Borrowing a donkey made absolutely no sense!

  • Obeying God doesn’t always make sense, have you ever noticed that?
    • “I gotta love my enemies, what? God do you know what they did to me”…
    •  “Scripture says I should wait till marriage?! Is this 2024 or 1324?”…
    •  “I’m supposed to give 10% of my income, I already wasn’t making it on 100 now I’m supposed to make it on 90%?”…

In the natural world, none of it makes sense! In the spiritual world, it absolutely does!

But I love this part of the verse, So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them

  • And for those who’ve been following Christ you can attest to this, that when he calls you to obedience it always turns out just as he said it would. And we realize when we obey, wow! He was right and He is good.
  • You may not see it right away, but in time obedience giv

And conversely when we’ve strayed and disobeyed we realize that he was right it turned out just as he said it would. When we go and use our lives, our bodies, our words, however we wanted it turned out just as his word said it would. I’ve been left empty, broken, alone, abused, used. I’ve left other people that way

Mature faith, mature perspective isn’t being able to list the books of the Bible in order. Faith isn’t about having the best church attendance, faith isn’t having 623 verses memorized. But mature faith is obeying and trusting God even when it doesn’t make sense. To be a Christian, I have to follow Christ not just be enamored with some of his teachings

Next, In order to have the right kingdom first we need: 

The Right Perspective

Verse 38: 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

They are waving palm branches, a national symbol, basically to stick it to the Romans and saying, “Uh huh y’all thought you were big and bad but our king is here now. Uh huh, get ‘em Jesus”. And they are saying “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna” which is a chant that means, Save us now, save us now, save us now!

Somewhere In the middle of the crowd they start yelling, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of David!”. In other words they are saying, “Bring power, bring freedom, “bring us a better life!”

  • And friends, oh how many times the chants rise within me, “Bring me a better life!

They had the right Bible, they had the right promises, they had the right words, they understood Zechariah when he prophesied “your king will come riding humbly on a donkey” And how many times as Christians do realize we have the right words, the right promises, the right praise, the right songs, but the wrong perspective.

And we begin to get this genie-esque view of God. “God you gotta change the mess I’m in, you gotta bring me a better life!” 

  • “Help my boss realize I need a raise and a promotion”
  • “God fix these grades, cause all these Ds makes it look like my report card is stuttering”
  • “God my DMs are dry and I need like 1,000 more followers”
  • “Jesus fix my family drama”

And I think sometimes we get this idea that Jesus somehow works for us. And Jesus wept then and I think at times he looks at us now and says, you got it all wrong…wrong kingdom.

I can see Jesus saying:

  • “I didn’t come to nationally fix your country”
  • “I do not clap and smile when your candidate gets elected. I do not care who has control of the House. I wanna be Lord of YOUR HOUSE.”
  • “I am not concerned in socially making you a better influencer and showing up on everyone’s For You Page.”
  • “I didn’t come to be a genie to fix every mess you’re in…I CAME TO SAVE YOU! I DIED TO HEAL YOU”

See JESUS WILL HEAR OUR EXPECTATIONS, as he did with the crowd but giving into them is a whole other ball game. Having the wrong kingdom will just lead to frustration. And just a few days later their expectations of a earthly kingdom will come crashing down. And there “Hosanna!” will turn into “Crucify him, he’s not who we wanted him to be!”

And oh how our lives resemble this at times.

  • “Jesus you have to fix my bank account, you have to make me prosperous”
  • “you have to bless me so I never have any health problems at all”
  • “you gotta fix my relationship or for some, give me a relationship.”

So often we believe Jesus works for me. “I mean look at all I’ve done for him, look at all I’ve given up for him.” Ooh but we’d never say that out loud, especially not in church. But I think our prayers reflect it. 

And so many people have given up on God because He didn’t do what we expected, when we expected it, and how we expected it. Friends, we need to have the right perspective to have the right kingdom. Remember in the Lord’s prayer, He taught his disciples this- Matthew 6:10:

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Gateway, it was, is, and always will be HIS kingdom. It’s not mine, it’s not yours.

Lastly, in order to have the right kingdom first we need:

 The Right Motivation 

At the end of the parade we find Jesus crying. The word “wept” connotes an intense grief over what’s happening, and he’s saying, “they don’t get it.”

And Jesus at this time was prophesying of what was going to happen about 35 years later, when God would give the people what they wanted. They rejected going God’s way which was the path to their protection. Instead, Jesus knew that the time would come when Rome would have enough of this city and they would build walls around them and slaughter their people and the death toll would  rise to the thousands.

And Jesus cries! Because his will is that none should perish without him. And he cries because they only loved the miracle worker but rejected him as their messiah, their spiritual savior. And he’s saying, “they don’t get it”

The heart of God longs for His people to KNOW Him and make Him KNOWN. What we do here as a church is not a Holy huddle that makes Christians feel good. This is not a gathering place to hear a message and pat ourselves on the back or walk out with our heads down. This is a place where we welcome all to worship the KING and become equipped to build his KINGDOM everywhere we go.

As controversial as some of you might think it sounds, when was the last time we looked at the people around us and wept at the brokenness like Jesus did, and just thought “They don’t get it… I want them to get it. Someone has to tell them there’s a God who loves them! God help ME be that person!”??

  • For those in the room who are Christ followers– When’s the last time that we prayed over our schools, neighborhoods, families, friends to know Jesus and wept because we know without God they are LOST without God’s love and guidance and presence in their lives?
  • For those in the room who are still searching– don’t let unmet expectations Or even the flawed misrepresentations of people claiming to follow Jesus cause you to give up on a perfect and loving God. And realize that the longing your soul craves is only found in Jesus.

Man how God convicts me of this so often…

You get to be a part of this with us. Take one of these cards and invite someone to Good Friday and Easter [campus service times graphic]. And you might say “well I’m not a Christian, I don’t know enough” and I just want to free you from that pressure, you don’t need to know a thing to invite people. In fact if you don’t call yourself a Christ-follower you can say something like “Hey come with me and make sure this isn’t a cult (lol).”

This is NOT about converting people. This is not about Bible thumping. Coerced conversions is how we got the Dark Ages. This is not about Christianizing American government (or any government for that matter) or schools, or culture. This is about changing the world one person at a time. One heart at a time. That’s what we mean when you hear us say- Love Everyone, Life by Life. That’s our motivation!

  • When God saved you and me, the only reason he left us here, is to say, bring more of heaven to earth – to bring kindness, justice, goodness, love, peace, and joy everywhere we go! To bring hope to others who are hurting and to bring some people along with us! . Does your heart break for the people around you?
  • You’re not just here to take up space, but your purpose is to love and serve God and love and serve others, so that more can hear and know of this king.

In following Jesus, we must have both the right King and the right Kingdom.

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