Roads Well Traveled Series
“The Road into Jerusalem”
Today we begin a four-part series entitled “Roads Well Traveled.” For the next four weeks
we will be looking at “The Road into Jerusalem,” “The Road to Gethsemane,” “The Road to
Calvary,” and “The Road of Emmaus.” Even though many Christians are familiar with these
events, I hope to use Christ’s journeys down these different roads as a reminder of what
Jesus willing experienced to secure our salvation.
Even though it will take us four weeks to cover these events, it is important to realize that
all these events took place during the last week of Jesus’ messianic ministry. The last week
of Jesus’ earthly ministry is often referred to as “Holy Week” while some traditions refer to
this week as “Passion Week.” The word “passion” comes from the Latin word meaning
“suffering” and I hope that as we journey down these roads that the Holy Spirit will impress
upon us the sufferings that Christ endured for us.
The importance of the climax of Jesus’ ministry can be seen in the amount of space the Holy
Spirit devoted to these events in the pages of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
For example, approximately forty percent of both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John
is dedicated to Jesus’ final days and about thirty percent of Matthew’s Gospel and twenty-
four percent of Luke’s Gospel. These percentages demonstrate how important these final
events of Jesus’ life truly are to the Christian faith. I believe that Passion Week is a series of
services that every Christian should make very attempt to attend. Palm Sunday, Good
Friday, and Resurrection Sunday are truly Christian holidays.
Events Prior to the Triumphal Entry
Passion Week could not have begun on a bigger note than Jesus’ triumphal entry into
Jerusalem on what we know as “Palm Sunday.” But the events leading up to that special day
really set the stage of expectation that something big was on the horizon. Several days prior
to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus received news that His good friend Lazarus had
become deathly ill. (Jn.11) But after hearing the news Jesus waited two days before
traveling to Lazarus’ hometown of Bethany.
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, He found that Lazarus had already been dead and
place in a burial tomb for four days. Upon His arrival Jesus encountered Lazarus’ sisters,
Mary and Martha, and the entire community in deep anguish over Lazarus’ death. Jesus
being deeply moved asked to be taken to Lazarus’ burial tomb. When Jesus came to the
tomb, He commanded for the stone to be removed. Reluctantly, the people complied and
once the stone was removed Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”
Lazarus who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was
wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (Jn.11.43b-44)
Raising Lazarus from the dead was Jesus’ greatest miracle. Throughout His ministry Jesus
had turned water into wine, healed the sick, recovered sight to the blind, and caused the
lame to walk. But raising Lazarus from the dead was indisputable evidence that Jesus was
the Son of God and as a result many believed that Jesus was the Christ.
On the other hand, Lazarus’ resurrection caused the chief priests and the Pharisees to
become terrified that many more people would believe in Jesus causing them to lose power
and control. So, the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council and from that day they
sought out an opportunity to kill Jesus. But Jesus knowing their plan no longer walked
publicly among the Jews and went away into the countryside.
Jesus stayed out of sight until one day prior to His triumphant entry into Jerusalem when
He returned to Bethany where Martha, one of Lazarus’ sisters, had arranged a dinner party
for Jesus and Lazarus. As they were reclining at the table Lazarus’ other sister, Mary, took
a pound of very costly perfume . . . and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her
hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Jesus told those in
attendance that Mary had anointed His body beforehand for burial. “Truly I say to you,
wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be
spoken of in memory of her.” (Mk.14.8-9)
The point I am trying to make is that the events prior to Jesus’s triumphant entry into
Jerusalem set the stage of expectation that something big was on the horizon. Raising
Lazarus from the dead demonstrated that Jesus had authority over the power of death and
Mary’s anointing confirmed that He was about to face death on our behalf.
The Festival of Passover
A great multitude had traveled to Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. The population of
Jerusalem was normally around thirty thousand but during major festivals the city would
swell to as many as two hundred thousand. This year there would be a record crowd
because everyone anticipated that Jesus would attend. Jesus would not stay in Jerusalem
during the festival. The town of Bethany would be Jesus’ home base during His final week.
(Mk.11.1, 11-12) Each evening He and His disciples would leave Jerusalem and return to
Bethany only two miles from Jerusalem.
Jesus Riding into Jerusalem
On the morning after Martha’s dinner party Jesus and His disciples left Bethany early to
make the short journey to the city of Jerusalem. As they made their way to Jerusalem Jesus
sent two of His disciples to a nearby village to retrieve a colt on which no one has ever sat.
Jesus told them that if anyone was to ask why they were untying the colt they were to
respond, “The Lord has need of it.” They followed Jesus’ instructions and brought it to
Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. (Lk.19.30-35)
Both the Gospel of Matthew and John tell us that Jesus riding into Jerusalem riding on a colt
of a donkey was a fulfillment of the Prophet Zechariah.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech.9.9)
Up to this point Jesus had sought to keep His role as the Messiah quiet but now as He made
His way to Jerusalem, He will openly declare Himself to be the Messiah and begin the most
important week of human history. Many have said that Jesus riding a donkey into
Jerusalem was a symbol of peace, but the fact is that many distinguished people rode
donkeys. We see that Solomon rode on David’s donkey into Jerusalem centuries earlier to
claim his throne. (IKngs.1.32-48) But I want you to consider this morning is that Jesus
riding upon the foal of a donkey is an emblem, not of peace, but of humility and lowliness. It
symbolizes the essence of His Kingdom in that He did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mt.20.28) Jesus entering onto Jerusalem riding of a
donkey symbolizes that He would humble Himself by becoming obedient to the point of
death, even death on a cross. (Phil.2.8b) Riding on a donkey showed that the King of Kings is
gentle and humble in heart, and all that honor Him will find rest for their souls. (Mt.11.29)
In anticipation of His arrival the people cut palm branches to welcome Him into the city. As
Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people spread the palm branches and their garments down
before Him like a “red carpet” and praised God joyfully with a loud voice together with
their children crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk.11.9-10)
Jesus made His way through the city He arrived at the Mount of Olives which is east of the
Temple. Coming to this location was a fulfillment of the Prophet Zechariah who wrote, “On
that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east.”
(Zech.14.4a) At this venue on the Mount of Olives Jesus had a beautiful panoramic view of
the city. (Lk.19.37)
It was here as Jesus looked over the city that He began to weep saying, “If you had known in
this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But . . . you did not recognize the time of
your visitation.” (Lk.19.42-44) Jesus wept because many of those who He encountered
along the road into Jerusalem did not recognize truly recognize Him as the Messiah. Even
though they were cheering with the crowd they did not recognize that this One is our
peace. (Eph.4.14) Jesus weeping for the lost shows us the heart of our Savior that as He
gazed over the city from the Mount of Olives, He was not wishing for any to perish but for
all to come to repentance. (2Pt.3.9)
Sir, We Wish to See Jesus
As Jesus continued His procession through the streets of Jerusalem some Greeks who had
traveled to Jerusalem to worship at the feast of Passover approached Philip, one of Jesus’
disciples, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (Jn.12.20-21) These Greeks were most likely
Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. They had probably heard from the multitude in
Jerusalem about Jesus’ teachings, His miracles, and how He had raised Lazarus from the
dead. (Jn.12.17-18) They had listened to the shouts of “Hosanna” echoing through the
streets as the crowds acclaimed Jesus as the Son of David who had come to establish the
kingdom of God. Their desire was to “see” Jesus, that is, to meet Him, to learn from Him, and
get to know Him.
The Greeks approached Jesus’ disciple Philip because he was from “Bethsaida of Galilee”
which meant that he could understand Greek. Instead of taking their request directly to
Jesus Philip told another one of the disciples, Andrew, who was also from the same region
and knew the Greek language. They both agreed that they should tell Jesus but I am sure
that they did not anticipate Jesus’ response saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man
to be glorified.” (Jn.12.21-23)
The Hour Has Come
The Greeks coming to Jesus was the lynch pin, the “tipping point,” for Jesus to make full
disclosure that His was the Christ and to reveal the purpose of His earthly ministry.
Remember at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus told His mother, “My hour has not
yet come.” (Jn.2.4b) Later Jesus told His brothers, “My time is not yet at hand.” (Jn.7.6)
Throughout His ministry people had sought to seize Him but no one laid a hand on Him,
because His hour had not yet come. (Jn.7.30; 8.30) But now on this first Palm Sunday Jesus
knew that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. As I mentioned earlier
throughout His earthly ministry Jesus had sought to keep His role as the Messiah quiet but
now, when the nations of the world were coming to Him, He knew it was time to make a full
declaration of the Divine Decree.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains
alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life
in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I
am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now My
soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this
purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I
have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and
heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to
Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your
sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I,
if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to
indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. (Jn.12.24-33)
How Will the Son of God be Glorified?
Jesus responded to the Greek’s request saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be
glorified.” But how will the Son of God be glorified? As the multitudes of tens of thousands
were acclaiming Him as the Son of David and the Greeks were desiring to know more about
Him, you would think that the way Jesus would be glorified would be for Him to take the
earthly throne and begin His rule as King. But this was not the divine plan. Jesus would be
glorified by becoming a grain of wheat falling into the earth to die.
Jesus would be glorified by surrendering His life to be crucified. Jesus would be glorified by
casting out the ruler of this world. Jesus would be glorified by being lifted up from the earth
on the cross. It was for this purpose that He came to this hour. It was for this purpose that
He came at all. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to die so that we would inherit the fruit of eternal
life. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to die so that we would become His servants and follow Him.
Jesus came to this hour to die so that all people would be drawn to Him.
Jesus’ soul was troubled because He knew full well the difficult road ahead of Him. Jesus
knew that He would carry the weight of the sin of the world on His shoulders. Jesus knew
that He would be betrayed, abandoned, beaten, and crucified. Jesus would not ask the
Father to save Him from this hour. For the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the
shame, to fulfill His divine purpose as the Son of God and bring glory to the Father. Thanks
be to God!
After this He left them and went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. (Mt.21.17)
Brothers and sisters, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding of a colt of a donkey, He showed
that He is gentle and humble in heart, and all that honor Him will find rest for their souls.
(Mt.11.29) As Jesus wept on the Mount of Olives, He showed His compassion for humanity
and that He was not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2Pt.3.9) As
Jesus witnessed the Greeks coming to Him, He declared His willingness to suffer for our
sins and to die on the cross so to draw all people unto Himself. O what a Savior! Isn’t He