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John 12:12-19 | Enter the High and Lowly King | Andrew Gutierrez

February 5, 2017 Speaker: Andrew Gutierrez Series: Jesus, Israel, and the World

Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 12:12–12:19

Please open your Bibles to John 12. The text for the morning is John 12:12-19. We’re in the series entitled “Jesus, Israel, and the World.” We have looked at the difference between a worshiper of God and a hypocrite early in chapter 12, and now we come to the passage of Scripture that is known as the triumphal entry. I thought of entitling this passage “The Triumphal Entry?” with a question mark, because some of this entry doesn’t look so triumphal. But I’ve chosen to go with the title “Enter the High and Lowly King.”

Please follow along as I read John 12:12-19:

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Enter the high and lowly King. If you were alive in the ’50s, which is some of you, you remember possibly seeing the first televised coronation of an English monarch on TV. Well, the English monarchy and the coronation of the new English king or queen has a lot of symbolism, and all of that symbolism has significance.

It’s much like this passage here. There are things happening that maybe the casual observer doesn’t fully understand, but when you look at the rest of Scripture and understand what Jesus taught at different times and different places and what the prophets had prophesied beforehand, all the symbolism starts to make sense.

If you would have seen that coronation back in the ’50s or if you see one in the future, you’ll see a few things are very symbolic. The first thing to note is that oftentimes the coronation of a new monarch will happen months after the previous monarch dies. The reason: because there’s a time for mourning, and they want the nation to be done with the mourning, and now the coronation is a time for celebration. We see celebration in John 12:12-19.

Upon entering the Westminster Abbey, the sovereign of England is surrounded by officials on the north, south, east, and west, and they all pledge their allegiance to the sovereign. What does that show? That all of us all over the place pledge our allegiance to you. Similar to what we see in John 12. The nations of the world begin to go after Jesus.

The final part of the ceremony in England, not in Jerusalem, in England, is to reflect the enthronement and homage. The sovereign gets up from the coronation chair and moves to the throne. And different groups of people come before the sovereign and pledge their homage to the sovereign.

Well, each part of this ceremony, and others in this English ceremony, points to things that are great. These symbols point to greater reality. Similar in John 12. There are things that happen here that point to greater realities and not all the people who were there on that day in Jerusalem understood the significance of all that is happening. So we’ll go and unpack all of this this morning.

This morning I want to look at three mysterious facts about Jesus’ kingship. And the reason I use the word mysterious or mystery is because a mystery, according to Scripture, is something that was not revealed in the past, or not fully known in the past, but is now fully known or fully revealed. And so we see things becoming more fully revealed here in this section that maybe people didn’t completely understand.

1.  Jesus is the Savior King who saves spiritually.

The first mysterious fact is that he, speaking of Jesus, is the Savior King who saves spiritually. He is the Savior King who saves spiritually. That’s in verses 12 through 15. Verse 12 says, “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.” The next day. The next day after what? The next day after the dinner where Mary anointed the feet of Jesus and where Judas displayed his hypocrisy. The next day after that, Jesus came in from Bethany to Jerusalem. He went on that two-mile journey from Bethany into Jerusalem.

And now we notice that there’s a group with him, the large crowd that had come to the feast—actually, this isn’t the group that’s with him. This is the large crowd that’s in Jerusalem. The large crowd that had come to the feast, the Passover feast, for that week was in Jerusalem, and they heard that he was coming. So the picture is Jesus in Bethany getting ready to come into Jerusalem to observe the Passover feast, and you’ll remember there were perhaps over a million people that had come from all different parts of the regions around Jerusalem, the outward regions of Judea, Galilee, different regions.

And they came to Jerusalem for that week-long feast, maybe over a million of them. And many of them were in Jerusalem and they heard Jesus is going to be coming into the city. So they get up to go move outward—outside of the city to meet him.

Verse 13: “So they [that group] took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” Palm branches. Palm branches. When you waved palm branches, you were happy. It was signifying national prosperity—the palm branch. And we see that all the way back in Leviticus 23:40.

In Leviticus 23:40 we learn that when people would celebrate the Feast of Booths, not the Passover, but the Feast of Booths, people would wave palm branches because they were happy. What were they happy about when they celebrated the Feast of Booths? They were celebrating the fact that when they were in the wilderness, God provided for them food, and they were waving these palm branches, saying, God has provided for us. We are joyful. We are happy. God has saved us.

So when these people are in Jerusalem going out to the outskirts of the city to meet Jesus, they’re waving palm branches. We are rejoicing because God is saving us. That’s what they’re saying by waving the palm branches. They went out to meet him and they cried out, “hosanna!” The word “hosanna” is really a command: Save now. Save us now. So they’re joyful, waving palm branches, saying, save us now.

And they’re singing a song, a psalm, that would have been sung every year at this time. Psalm 118. I’ll ask you to turn there so that we can see what the context is for this psalm and see how rich it is when they’re singing it to Jesus. Psalm 118—this is a psalm about God saving Israel. God saving and rescuing Israel. Psalm 118, starting in verse 18. They believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of this psalm.

The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

So the picture is, God is going to save the nation, and the gates of the city, Jerusalem, are going to open up and the righteous will enter. Jesus is entering Jerusalem.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.

Now, we talk sometimes around here about coffee mug Bible verses. You know, those encouraging Bible verses that you have on your coffee mugs? Some of you might have had a drink from a coffee mug this morning that said, “This is the day the Lord has made,” and it is the day the Lord has made. Today. Sunday, February 5th, 2017 is the day the Lord has made.

In Scripture, “This is the day the Lord has made” is talking about one specific day, actually, in all of human history. The day when God’s anointed rescues Israel. So it’s not just any day. They didn’t just wake up every morning saying: This is the day the Lord has made. The next day: This is the day the Lord has made. The next day: This is the day the Lord has made. The following day: This is the day the Lord has made. They didn’t do that every day.

They were talking about one day—the day when God would save and rescue Israel. And so they sing this song, which they would have done every year at this Passover festival. They sing this song, and the high points of the psalm would be when they cry out, save us now! There would have actually been a choir singing and a crescendo. When they would have started waving the palm branches would have been when they said hosanna! Or save us now.

And so these people who have heard about these signs that Jesus has done, who many of them were from Galilee where Jesus did some of these signs, were now in Jerusalem going outside of the city to meet him, waving palm branches, saying, save us now. This is the day. They believed that now was the time for their national salvation.

Back to John, chapter 12, verse 14: “And Jesus found a young donkey [we know from the other gospel writers that he sent two disciples to go and get it for him] and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’” Now, that’s a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. It says to the people of Israel, don’t be afraid; your King is coming, and he’s on a donkey.

You’re used to seeing a head of state in an armored limousine. Imagine the inaugural parade—instead of an armored limousine, the new leader comes in on a tricycle. That’s kind of what this is like. Don’t be afraid; your King is here! He’s on a young donkey. Normally, conquerors, new leaders came in on a white horse. That’s symbolic. He rules. He reigns. Everyone else is below him.

And by the way, Jesus is coming back on a white horse—Revelation 19. And he’s coming back, actually, to make war. Now he comes in as lowly and humble. But make no mistake; he still comes in as King.

Zechariah 9 is fascinating. Zechariah 9:1-8, not verse 9, 1-8, is a prophecy given to the people of Israel saying that the King would crush their enemies, deliver them and conquer their foes, the other nations. Zechariah 9:9 says, don’t be afraid; your King is coming. And the prophet prophesied that he would come in on a young donkey. Notice the specificity of the prophecy.

This isn’t just symbolic—well, he’s going to probably come in in some lowly way. No, he actually came in on a young donkey. Jesus completely fulfilled this prophecy when he came into Jerusalem. So verse 9 of Zechariah 9: the King is righteous, he possesses salvation, and he’s humble. We know that. And when Jesus comes into Jerusalem on this day, we see the same things. He’s known to be righteous, he brings salvation, and he’s humble.

Jesus’ plan—listen here—this is where the people in John 12 don’t understand the full scope of this. Jesus’ plan was always to save his people from their sins first. Right now at this time they’re thinking he’s going to save our nation from Rome. But his plan has always been to save their souls from their own sin.

We know that this is Jesus’ plan. We know that he comes to save them spiritually first before nationally, because in the gospel of Matthew (Matthew, chapter 1)—and remember, the gospel of Matthew was written to show Jesus is the Messiah. And so now in this passage in John where we notice the Messiah coming into Jerusalem to save Jerusalem, save Israel, we hear these echoes back in Matthew, the book that showed Jesus is the Messiah.

Matthew, chapter 1, starts with a genealogy, and it doesn’t go back from Adam to Jesus. It goes back from David to Jesus. Why David? David’s king. Jesus is the true fulfillment of David. He’s the coming king, the Messianic king. That’s what Matthew’s trying to get us to understand. So you see in this genealogy that we know that Matthew’s arguing that Jesus is coming in the line of David. He’s the king of Israel.

Matthew 1:21. The young man Joseph is a little concerned because the one who he’s going to marry is with child, and he’s never touched her. And so an angel comes in a dream and tells Joseph: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people [and the angel does not say from Rome; he says he will save his people] from their sins.” So Jesus is coming into Jerusalem to save his people from their sins. They think he’s coming to save them from Rome and they’re ecstatic.

Jesus is still focused on spiritual salvation today. Jesus is still focused on saving people from their sins today.

I want you to turn to Acts 1. Now this is after Jesus’ death and resurrection. After Jesus’ death and resurrection—then he’s about to ascend to heaven—the disciples ask an interesting question. Acts 1:6: “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’”

Now, pause right there. Based on what you know, just days before he entered into Jerusalem, everyone thought, now’s the time; he’s saving us. Hosanna! Save us now from Rome. Let us have our nation back, our place back, Jerusalem back, unoccupied from anybody from Rome. Save us now.

Jesus then, and we’ll see this starting next week and the week after, starts talking about the fact that he’s going to die, and people start scratching their heads. I thought you were going to save us from Rome. We’ve put all our hope in you, and now you’re saying you’re going to die. Saving conquerors can’t die.

So Jesus dies, rises again, meets with his disciples (Acts 1:6), and the disciples think, okay, we got it. You died. You’ve risen again. Is it now that you’re going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Now, you can’t see it here, but if there was a picture to go with this verse, all these disciples would have red hats that would say, “Make Israel Great Again.” Okay? Some archeologists will find that picture somewhere, sometime. But that’s what they’re thinking. Is it now?

What does Jesus say? Verse 7: “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’” So, guys, I’m not going to tell you. It’s not for you to know. And, by the way, he will rescue Israel one day. But he’s saying to the disciples, it’s not for you to know. And in the next verse he points them to what he wants them to think about. So, is it now that you’re going to get rid of Rome and make Israel great again? He’s says, it’s not for you to know.

And here’s what I want you to think about—verse 8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus—what does he do? He says, it’s not time for Israel to be saved nationally; it’s time for the world to be saved spiritually. And that’s what I want you disciples to have in your mind.

Let me say this, as a pastor to a people that we as elders love: There should not be, in your prayers or thoughts, a greater, greater priority on the health of America politically or economically than there is on the health of your own heart and the hearts of others spiritually. And I’m not saying how America’s doing politically, militarily is unimportant. Come sit with us one evening and watch us watch the news and pray and vote and hope. We care about that.

But Christ cares more about the state of our hearts than he does about the state of just the economics of the country. He is saving people spiritually. And, by the way, what do people do when they’re saved spiritually? They live for the glory of God. And guess what tends to get better? Economics. Military. Morals. Things like that. Jesus came to save us spiritually first and foremost.

So, if in the last ten prayer requests you’ve offered in a small group setting, if all ten of them are just about people and the nation getting fixed, we’re missing something. We’re missing something. He came to save people with the gospel message. Ourselves and others. That is what will make America and the world great again. People being redeemed, converted, regenerated, living to the glory of God, loving Christ, worshiping Christ. That’s what he came to major on.

I’m not saying the other things aren’t important. You don’t hear me saying that, do you? They are important. But they’re not chiefly important. He came to save his people and the world from their sins. We’ll see that more clearly in the rest of John 12 and beyond.

2. Jesus is the humble King who saves unexpectedly.

So, Jesus, he is the Savior King who saves spiritually. Secondly, he is the humble King who saves unexpectedly. He’s the humble King who saves unexpectedly. Verse 16. We’re back in Jerusalem now as Jesus is entering in. His disciples did not understand these things at first. But when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

So, the disciples, they’re seeing him come in on a donkey and thinking, oh, that’s … okay, I guess we couldn’t find a white horse, or he didn’t have a white horse; okay, donkey; all right. But then after he was resurrected, they start connecting the dots. Psalm 118. Zechariah 9. Jesus. Donkey. Jesus on the donkey. They start connecting the dots after his resurrection.

Why would this be so difficult for them? The Jews didn’t have a category for the Messiah suffering, let alone dying. That wasn’t prominent in their theology of the first three decades during Jesus’ life, during his ministry. That wasn’t prominent in their theology. Now, you notice this because we’ll see this in the next couple weeks (John 12:31-34) they’re puzzled when he starts talking about dying or suffering.

John 12:31: “’Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” So he comes in as a king. They’re saying, save now. A few moments later, he’s saying, when I die, when I’m lifted up, all people are going to come to me.

Verse 34: “So the crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’” They’re puzzled. We just said hosanna to you. You did the water to wine thing. You raised a man from the dead. Some of the people around us now told us that they were there. You’re supposed to save us nationally. How are you talking about dying? The Messiah’s supposed to live forever. They don’t get it. They don’t get it.

If they would have just read their Old Testament and believed it for what it said, without any presuppositions, they might have known that the Messiah would actually suffer. Psalm 22:14-18, a prophecy of the coming Messiah:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me [I mean, who’s this talking about? Christ, the Messiah.]; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

The prophesy is so specific, it prophesies of them gambling for his garments. This is Jesus. The Old Testament prophesied the Messiah would suffer and die. Isaiah 53:4-6 does this as well. Prominent passage of the Old Testament.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed [Messiah was crushed. They had no category for that, but they could have.] for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray [That’s what Israel should have been saying. We’ve gone astray. We need you to die for us. They didn’t understand this.]; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This is the prophecy that they didn’t understand in the moment. They understood it later on, after he rose from the dead. Why did the Messiah need to die? Why did he need to suffer and die? Well, because the wages of sin is death. If there is sin, there is going to be death. If there’s sin in your life and my life, there will be death coming. And so we need a Messiah who can rescue us from death. We sinned, but he came in to be the propitiation so that we would not die. That’s what we need.

We are in desperate need of a substitute. If there’s no substitutionary death, then we have to suffer the wrath of God. If Jesus would have come into Jerusalem, expelled Rome, saved the people nationally, they would not have been saved spiritually, because they’d still be in their sins. And so would we. We needed him to go to the cross. They needed him to go to the cross.

That’s why we sing crazy songs like, “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” That’s why that song’s called “The Wonderful Cross.” It’s wonderful because without it, we would still be in our sins. We needed someone to die for us who was perfect himself, so that we can get credit for his perfection.

The world doesn’t understand this. The world thinks of us worshiping a crucified Nazarene. They think of that as whacky, crazy. You’ll let him define everything you’re supposed to do in your life? You’ll let him tell you what to do with your money, your time, your sexuality? You’ll let him tell you that? Absolutely. Because the suffering Lamb is also the conquering King.

If you go to the Palatine Museum in Italy, you could see an exhibit or work called Alexamenos Graffito. Sorry, I’m not Italian. Don’t have the accent. Alexamenos Graffito. It’s from around 200 A.D. It’s a drawing. It’s a drawing of a man, a young man apparently, young Roman man, worshiping someone on a cross. And the cross contains the body of a human and the head of a donkey. And it says, Alexamenos worships his God. It’s a mockery of Christians. It’s a mockery of Christ.

The world doesn’t understand why we glory in a dead Messiah who is now alive again. They don’t get it. And the disciples didn’t get it in the moment. He was a humble King and he saved in an unexpected way. An unexpected way. We, I, must never forget that Jesus’ death was done for me, because his death was done by me. The beauty of the cross is that, in a sense, I’m the reason for it. We’re all the reason for it. He came to save us from ourselves and from the consequences of the wrath of God. And he took the penalty. He took the penalty so that he could rescue us. And we did nothing to earn it, nothing to warrant it. He did it because he’s gracious.

But if that was the end of the story, then we’d be, of all people, the most to be pitied. But we don’t serve a dead Messiah. We serve one who rose from the dead. The disciples didn’t understand all of this, but they did later. He is the humble King who would save unexpectedly.

3. Jesus is the attractive King who saves universally.

Third and finally, he is the attractive King who saves universally. He attracts, draws people from all over the world to himself.

Verse 17: “The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.” So John’s talking about two crowds. Earlier on we learned of the crowd that’s in Jerusalem. Jesus is not yet in Jerusalem. The crowd’s in Jerusalem; they hear he’s coming, so they get up and go out to meet him and wave their palm branches, saying, save us now.

Now, there’s another crowd introduced here—the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb. The eyewitnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection were with Jesus coming into the city. So the first crowd is in the city, coming out of the city to meet Jesus. The other crowd is with Jesus, going from outside in, and the two meet.

And what are the ones from outside, who are with Jesus, saying to the ones that are inside? I saw it. The ones from the inside are saying, hey, we hear he raised a man from the dead, and you can picture two men talking. One says, I hear he raised someone from the dead. The other man says, yeah, I saw it. That’s what’s happening here. The crowd coming with him continued to bear witness about what they saw.

Verse 18: “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.” So again, the crowd from the inside coming out, hearing that he had done the sign. The crowd from the outside coming in says, yeah, I saw that he did that sign.

Verse 19. The Pharisees are among the crowd. They’re seeing all this. They’re seeing eyes bright with wonder, lit up. They’re seeing people waving palm branches and adoring this one coming in on the colt, the one who they, just days earlier were saying, okay, we’ve gotta kill him. Everybody bring him to us. We’re gonna kill him. And now crowds are hailing him. And the Pharisees are like, this isn’t good. This isn’t good.

“So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.’” The Pharisees start arguing amongst themselves.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on an athletic team and there’s this huge competition, and you train for it. You’re together. You’re eating meals together. You’re training together. You’re together. And then in the second quarter, you are being annihilated. And for months you had been friends and tight and close.

Now you start arguing and bickering. It’s your fault; you’ve got 12 turnovers, and you’ve missed these shots, and that’s what’s happening here. They’re losing, so they start attacking each other, because evidently they each had different plans on how to stop this whole thing, and they’re criticizing each other’s plans. You see, you’re gaining nothing. Your plan’s not working. Look, the world is going after him.

Now, why do they say the world? Because there were people in town who weren’t just Jewish, and they are going after Jesus. And, by the way, the word going after—to go after—means to follow and to adhere to his teaching. People are following him and they should be following us. They’re leaving us to go after him. And it’s all the world, the whole world.

Next week we’ll see an example of this. Look at verses 20 and 21. “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks [not Jewish]. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’” The world’s being drawn to Jesus, and the Pharisees are like, we can’t even control Israel; now the whole world’s going after him. This is bad, and your plan isn’t working, Joe, or whoever the Pharisees were.

But God’s plan was always to rescue the world through a deliverer. Back in Genesis 3, the very first account of the one who would crush the serpent’s head, that one would come from the seed of a woman. Genesis 12: God tells Abram that he’s going to make a great nation from him—Israel. And from him all the families of the earth will be blessed. This has always been God’s plan.

So the Pharisees, bless their heart, they can’t stop it no matter how hard they try. What’s the contemporary significance of this? Our world loves winners. Our world loves winners. We look at the strong and the mighty and the powerful, and they’re the ones on the news. The poor and weak and lowly aren’t. They’re the ones that are lauded. We often reward the brash and obnoxious and the people who would trample others in order to reach the top.

I recently saw a video of an older man who was a coach of a young baseball team. Kids, who in the background, as they were talking, kind of sounded about the age of my oldest son. And this coach is leaning down like this, talking to them. Here’s what he said.

“You guys disgrace the pitcher’s family. Make the other families of the other players cry when you stomp their butts in the ground. There are only two types of people in this world.” This guy’s talking to 7, 8, 9-year-olds. “There are only two types of people in this world. There are winners,” and you hear the kids, “and losers.” There’s winners and losers. “Every time we step on this field our goal is to be winners.” Then he says this to the kids: “If your dad has said it doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you have fun, then I hate to say it: your dad’s a loser.”

And society typically groans at that type of thing when other people do it, but responds that way in a lot of settings themselves. We’ll betray a fellow employee to get to the top. We’ll try to overpower people in arguments. We’ll try to shut people up in order to make a loud and strong point. We’re used to that. Power works and that’s what we see as noble in our culture.

Jesus is different. The King of the world was viewed, and still is by most people, as a loser. He rode in on a donkey to save Israel. But today I’ve got friends—my family has friends, Matt and Rachel Floreen—and today they’re worshiping Jesus Christ in the capital of Malawi with other Malawians. Go figure. A Nazarene who road in on a donkey 2,000 years ago is now being worshiped by people in Africa. Maybe this humility works.

Today my friend Mossimo Mollica will worship Jesus Christ next to Italians in Genoa, Italy. Today two of my friends, who cannot be named for security reasons, will worship in an Asian nation with people who have given their allegiance, not to the state, but to a Jewish man from 2,000 years ago who died after he rode into town on a donkey and now lives again.

The world has gone after him. The world has gone after him. Make no mistake, the humble King is the King of the world now. And the world doesn’t understand it.

About 900 years before Christ was born into the world, Assyria was the world super power. In early 900s B.C., Assyria became the world super power. Their first king, as they are the world super power—their first king, their most powerful king at the beginning—Padded Nirari II. This man conquered regions all around him. Made Assyria great. And he knew he was great. This quote is attributed to him:

I am royal. I am lordly. I am mighty. I am honored. I am exalted. I am glorified. I am powerful. I am all powerful. I am brilliant. I am lion-brave. I am manly. I am supreme. I am noble.

Contrast that with what Paul says in Philippians 2. Jesus emptied himself. You can translate that, he made himself nothing. “[B]y taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

In a sense, you could say that Jesus is the humiliated King. The humiliated King. But then verse 9 of Philippians 2: “Therefore,” because he was humiliated, because he humiliated himself, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Padded Nirari II is dead today and rules over nobody. Jesus Christ is alive today and rules over the world. The question is, are we in submission and in adoration to him? Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are truly amazing and different than anyone we’ve ever known. You’re the humble, low King who left the glory of heaven to come and take the form of a servant, all because of your love and mercy toward us. And Lord, now we don’t recognize you as simply the humble and lowly; we recognize you as the risen and conquering King. And Jesus Christ, if there’s any area of our lives where we are seeking to remove ourselves from your kingly reign or we’re not walking in your ways, would you show us that? Would you remind us of that? Would you allow us all to bow the knee with 100% commitment to your lordship, to your reign? We love you, our King of kings. Amen.

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