A young painter once returned to his studio to find a note attached to a portrait that he was working on. As he looked at the note he could discern that it was the obvious handwriting of one of the great, master painters of the time. It seemed that the genius artist had paid him the honor of stopping by.
Unfortunately, he had called while the young man was out.
What is interesting is that the message contained only one word. It was the Latin word, “Amplius.” It is the root of our word “amplify” or amplification. We use it in reference to sound. But it simply means larger.
That word became the young man’s life inspiration. From that point on he continually thought “Larger,” and it was this mindset that enabled him to attain to a level of high honor in his work.
Looking back over our study of this gospel, we might sum up what we have witnessed with that same word: Amplius. Over the course of these pages Jesus has presented to us a large love.
Some of you may remember that the very first message that commenced this journey was entitled, “The Crazy Love of Jesus.” It was love that impelled him to set his face towards Jerusalem, the place where he knew he would die.
Then we have seen other instances of this love throughout this study. The parables of the lost coin, lost sheep, and lost son—all of these were somewhat emotional because of what they say about the love of Christ for lost sinners like us. In more recent times we heard Jesus express his love when he said that “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Indeed, every step in this journey has been taken in love. And no doubt, we end our journey today witnessing the amplification of Christ’s love. As he makes his final approach to Jerusalem we see that Jesus has a large love for his people. And this love can be seen both in the plea that he makes and the tears that he sheds.
Now, you will likely discern where he sheds the tears. That is, of course, referenced in verses 41-44. But what about the plea that he makes? That one might puzzle you. Because in verses 29-40 he barely utters a word. You might wonder where the plea is.
But what I want you to understand is that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is a non verbal plea. As he makes this final approach to the city, he makes an appeal to us spectators to trust him as our messianic savior.
I. Jesus’s love is evident in the plea he makes [29-40]
In verses 29-40 we are told about how Jesus rode into Jerusalem for what is typically called his “Triumphal Entry.” But this is more just a description of him coming into town in a grand way. The drama of this event was specifically set up in order to call the people to recognize who he was as their savior and trust in him.
What is he doing here but unabashedly proclaiming himself as their messiah, is he not?. If ever Jesus was explicit about who he was, it is here!
Some of you might remember that I preached on this passage on Palm Sunday just over 2 years ago. And in that message I said that Jesus is intentionally provoking the people. As we read the first couple of verses, what we find is that the whole event was staged.
You see that it starts off in verse 29 by telling us that Jesus had drawn near to Bethany and Bethpage. Now these cities were located just a hop, jump, and a skip away from Jerusalem.
And notice what Jesus does. He sends guys ahead to steal a donkey. Yes. You heard right. They were to basically steal it. Jesus said, “you are going to find a donkey tied up there. Go get it for me. If anyone asks you what you are doing, tell them that the Lord has need of it.”
Now, do you see what is happening? Of course someone’s going to ask, “What are you doing?” The disciples are stealing a donkey! They are not going to just sit around and watch their donkey get carted off. They’re going to say, “Hey! What are you doing with my donkey?!” When they find out that Jesus needs it, that’s going to start a little buzz through town.
You can imagine how that news just spreads like wildfire. Everybody knows Jesus by this point. He’s the miracle guy. He’s the one people are saying is the messiah. That he’s coming to Jerusalem publically (remember that last time he showed up in Jerusalem, he snuck in secretly) is a big thing.
And that he’s going to be riding on a donkey! Now, think about this. Everybody knows their OT. Everyone knows the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Everybody knows that. Jesus knows that. So this is all staged. Jesus intentionally provokes these people to be thinking, “MESSIAH! SAVIOR!”
He doesn’t even shy away from it, does he? I mean the Pharisees get a little annoyed with all the singing and the hosannas. They tell Jesus to make the people pipe down. But what does Jesus do? You know, there were times when he told people, “Be sure you do not tell anyone.” There were times when he was secretive about his identity. But not here. He says, “If they don’t say anything, these rocks will cry out.” In other words, my identity has to be known. I can’t keep it a secret any longer.
Now, what I want you to do is think about what is going on here. Jesus is intentionally letting the cat out of the bag as to who he is. It is nothing other than full disclosure as to who he is. Jesus proclaims in the clearest terms, “I am your Messiah. I am your Savior. I am the one who brings you peace with God.” And the implied question is, “Won’t you follow me?”
I think we can liken it to how presidents in the United States act from time to time. When a president’s poll numbers drop, what does he do? Well, he’s got to get people to trust him. He’s got to win their hearts and get them to believe that he is someone they can follow. So, typically, he will present himself to the people in a more grandiose way. When he walks into a room, they’ll pull out all the stops. They’ll play “Hail to the Chief” in the background. They’ll have a little entourage that escorts him. They’ll make him out to be a real leader. It’s all a staged event to get people to think, “He’s my guy. He’s the kind of fellow I can follow.”
Or maybe we can liken it to a woman who is trying to woo her man. Maybe they’ve been having some difficulties in their marriage. She doesn’t want to give up on him because she still loves him. So what does she do? She dresses up a little. She goes out of her way to not look frumpy. She gets her hair done. She puts on a little lipstick. She even puts on a little perfume.
Why does she do all that? Why does she go to all that trouble to look just right when he gets home from work? It’s because it is a plea, isn’t it? It’s her way of saying, “I love you. Give me your heart.”
I believe that’s what Jesus is doing here. In this grand entry he’s proclaiming his love as the messianic savior. And in so doing he pleads with you, saying, “Won’t you give me your heart?”
And I want you to understand that he’s making that very same plea to you today. You could be here today and you might have been tagging along in this journey. You might be like those Jews who were intrigued by Jesus, but never really put your faith in him.
Well, Jesus is calling to you today. He’s going out of his way to tell you how much he loves you and wants to be your savior. And you have the responsibility to respond to that loving announcement by acknowledging him to be your God and Savior. You need to respond by devoting your life to him and becoming a true disciple of Christ.
This dramatic entry is his plea to you to come to him and find peace with God once and for all.
But, don’t just listen to the plea he makes. Look at the tears he sheds. For this too is a demonstration of his love us.
II. Jesus’s love is evident in the tears he sheds [41-44]
In verse 41 we find something almost ironic, do we not? Certainly it is a wide contrast to the jubilation of the crowds. Verse 41 tells us that Jesus wasn’t joining in on all the hoopla. Instead of singing and shouting and whooping it up, he’s found to be weeping.
Jesus is overcome with emotion because he knows that the songs are sung in falsetto. Jesus knows that as he makes this plea, it is not working. The hearts of the people don’t really trust in him. As a matter of fact, he goes on in verses 42-44 to prophecy the coming destruction of Jerusalem. He knows that their unbelief will result in God’s wrath being poured out upon them.
And, make sure you understand that he is torn up about that. Do you sense the emotion here? His heart is overcome as he thinks about the guilt that this city has incurred. All the mercies that were offered, all the prophets that were sent to it, the labors he had in their midst to call them to faith and repentance, the offers of grace; all the promises of salvation; all of these have been neglected and scorned; all of these things weighed heavily upon him, not to mention the horrors that would be experienced down the road as the fulfilment of this prophecy.
His heart breaks because of all this. His spirit is so overwhelmed that the tears begin to stream down his face.
There are some who like to picture God as a passion-less God. They like to think of God as kind of stoic, and without any kind of emotion. But that’s not the kind of thing you get here, is it? Jesus is full of emotion. There is grief. There is sorrow. There is distress.
And, of course, these emotions flow out of his love.
Why is it that people mourn when someone dies? Is not their sorrow evidence of their love?
I remember early on in my ministry I had to officiate a funeral. I was called in to lead the service, even though I did not know the family personally or the person who had passed away. Now, to be sure, there is nothing joyous about a funeral. But I didn’t get choked up or anything. I didn’t know the person who had died or have any kind of relationship to her.
But there was one young man who sat in the front row who never stopped sobbing through the whole service. There were some points during my message where his grief was so intense that he actually began to howl. He was audibly groaning to the point of being distracting.
Now, it isn’t hard to figure out who loved the deceased more. It was pretty easy to tell that this man’s attachment her was much greater than mine. The whimpers and the tears showed that his love for her was quite intense.
And the tears of Jesus evidence the same kind of passionate love.
Don’t think for a moment though that this love will overshadow his justice. No, this passage makes it clear that the Lord will not hold back in the least. Jesus describes perfectly how Jerusalem would be sacked. And when you read accounts of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, you find that this is exactly what happened. Jerusalem was torn to the ground, and all the people in it suffered horrendously.
When I was in Israel I learned a little about the events that transpired there in the fall of Jerusalem, and how literally, how they did not leave one stone upon another. I learned that when it was attacked a fire broke out in the temple, and the temperature escalated to such a high degree that the gold that lined the temple began to melt. And as it melted, it ran down into the cracks and crevices of all the rock. The soldiers then, in their greedy plunder, tore each of the rocks down in order to get at the gold.
And what was done to the buildings doesn’t even begin to describe the misery that was inflicted upon the Jewish people.
So again, don’t think for a moment that the love and tears of Jesus indicate any sort of relent on the part of God when it comes to his justice. His wrath will be swift and painful.
At the same time, do not let God’s justice overshadow his love. The tears that Christ sheds are real tears. And they should remind you how earnestly he desires you to turn to him.
We hear here an echo of Ezekiel who said that God does not take delight in the death of the wicked.
Sometimes I think that Reformed folk do.
If God does take pleasure in it, it is only because his righteousness is being upheld.
But in Ezekiel the Lord goes on to say, “Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their wicked ways and live?” Isn’t that what affords the Lord greater pleasure?
And so, as you look at verses 41-44 and as you see his tears rolling down his face, what you should hear is Christ’s desire for a sinner like you. He loves you, and he would much rather you heed his call to salvation by turning away from your sin. He’d much rather you repent of your unbelief than be condemned to hell for the rest of eternity.
The tears of Jesus are droplets of his love, and these tears call you to love him in return.
As many of you know, I had the opportunity to take a tour of Israel a number of weeks ago. One of the things that we did was walk the path which leads down the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. You want to know what is interesting though? The whole way is lined with tombs. It is basically one huge cemetery.
And one of the odd things Jews do when they visit the tomb of their ancestor is that they put rocks on the tombs. No one knows exactly why they do it. You know, when we go to the cemetery, we usually take flowers. Why do we do that? Why flowers? No one really knows. But it is a way we pay our respects. That’s what they do in Israel, except that they use rocks. This practice is said to have been in existence for thousands of years.
I wonder if it were these rocks that Jesus was talking about when he said that the stones would cry out? If there is one thing that Israel is not lacking, it is rocks. I couldn’t get over how many rocks there were in Israel. But it was these rocks that actually stuck out as distinct.
If this was the practice that Jesus was referencing, I wonder if that is a reference to the resurrection and what the Messiah Savior had come for. The rocks cry out as the tombs fling open and the bodies of the dead rise to meet their eternal dwelling. Or perhaps, the rocks will seem like they are crying out because those who are rising from the dead will be coming before the Lord to meet their eternal doom.
If that is true, you see again the love of the Savior. He has come because each of us deserves a tomb. The Messiah’s love is evident in that he has come to break the power of sin and death.
Of course, it does not matter if that allusion to rocks is true or not. Jesus has certainly made it clear that he has come for that purpose. And as we come to the end of our journey, we must remember that it ends in Jerusalem, the gravesite of Christ. In love, he has come to the city to die, so that we who trust in him might not fear death or die without hope of eternal life.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.