For this morning, I want us to study together the Word of God relative to the person of Jesus Christ. The focal point of the life of a believer is Christ; not the church, but Christ. The great thrust of the prayers of every believer are that Christ might be lifted up, that Christ might be exalted, that His will might be done. It’s Christ we love, and Christ we worship, and Christ we preach, and Christ we wait to see, and Christ we will reign with forever and ever. Christianity is a personal relationship with the living Christ, and so as we focus upon Him, we are really going right to the main cornerstone of our faith.
There are so many different dimensions to the person of Christ that it’s staggering. It’s bewildering sometimes, I’m sure, to try to pull it all together, all the magnificence of His character; and we don’t want to do all of that in any one given time. But this morning, I’d like us to look at one aspect of Christ, and that is Christ as King; Christ as King. And we’ve entitled our study this morning “The King Who Came to Die.” It is clear from Scripture that Jesus was a king. There’s no question about that.
The Old Testament prophesied that He would be a king. In Psalm 2, verse 6, God the Father speaks of the Son Jesus Christ in these words: “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree the Lord hath said unto Me ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.’” God and the Son in conversation about the reign of the Son as king. He is prophesied to be a king.
In 2 Samuel, Chapter 7, it is predicted that a greater Son of David - greater than Solomon - would come and reign over an eternal kingdom. In Isaiah Chapter 9, it says, “Of the increase of His government there shall be no end. He will reign upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with judgment henceforth and from forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform it.” So, the Old Testament clearly indicates that Jesus is to be a king. And, of course, when Jesus arrived in the world, that’s the first recognition we have of Him.
In Matthew chapter 1, clearly Matthew outlines the genealogy of Jesus in order that the world may know that He is in the line of David, that He has the right to rule and to reign as King. In Matthew chapter 2 and verse 1, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews?’” It was a recognition of the prophets that a king was to be born.
And there was a recognition when He was born that, in fact, He was the King, the royal Seed of David, the one who had the right to reign, and the one who had the right to rule. The New Testament also indicates that He rules now as king over the hearts of His subjects. In Colossians chapter 1, it tells us that we have been translated, we who believe in Christ, “into the kingdom of His dear Son,” and we are now the subjects of the King.
And the New Testament also tells us that in the future, He shall return, according to Revelation 19, as “King of kings and Lord of lords,” and He will subjugate the world and the universe to His rule forever. In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:25 says, “He must reign until He has put all things under His feet.” And Hebrews 1:8 says that He is a king, and that He is a king forever. The Word there is very clear. “Unto the Son, he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” And so, it is clear from Old Testament - the past, from the birth of Christ in the New Testament, from the present reign of Christ in His church, and the future glorious return of the King, that Jesus is a king.
He is a king. Basically, there are three dimensions to His kingdom. Number one: He is king over the whole universe; He is king over the whole universe. This is outlined for us in many places in the Bible, but let me just remind you of Psalm 8; and in Psalm 8, verse 4, we have what is repeated in Hebrews and referred to the Messiah there, these words: “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that Thou visitest Him? For Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels” - referring to Christ here – “and crowned Him with glory and honor.”
Now, here it comes: “Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under His feet.” Every single thing that exists in the universe was made to be subjected to Jesus Christ. He is the king of the universe. He rules everything that exists. But taking it a step further, within the confines of that universal kingdom, Jesus also is stated in the Bible to be the king of heaven, or the king over the spiritual domain where God dwells. This clearly is where He rules.
In 1 Peter 3:22, it says that when Christ ascended into heaven and sat on the right hand of God, that angels and authorities and powers were made subject to Him. He rules the angelic host, both fallen and unfallen. He is king over the heaven, the holy heaven. He is king over all the heavens, the spiritual heavens, even where Satan dwells. He is the ultimate monarch, though He has given the right to Satan for temporary exercise of rule. In John 17:24, He prays that the church may come to heaven to be with Him, that they may behold His glory, they may see His dominion.
In Revelation 3:21, He says, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in heaven on My throne.” So, He is king in heaven, ruling the hosts of heaven. He is king in the universe, ruling those created things, those material things that are in our time-space dimension. And thirdly he is - and this relates to us so specifically - He is king of the church. He rules His church. He rules the spiritual dominion of saints who believe in Him, both the church triumphant - which has been exalted into His presence - and the church militant - still alive in the world.
And that we find in Ephesians 1:22, where it says all things are put under His feet, and He has been given the right to be Head over the church. So, He is a king on the widest possible scale of the universe. He is king over the hosts of heaven. He is king over His church. He is a king. He came to earth to announce that He was a king. In fact, He had a forerunner, and the forerunner’s name was John, and John was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and John’s message was “Repent for the kingdom is at hand” - “the King is coming.”
And he declared the coming of the King, and when Jesus came, he said the same thing, “The Kingdom is at hand.” And Matthew, the first gospel, presents Christ as king. He came to tell the world He was the king. But how was He received? As a king would be received? Was a royal robe placed upon Him? Were the trumpets blown? Was the carpet laid out? Was He given a throne? No, the very opposite. He was rejected. He was turned away. The sin of the world had blinded them to the reality of the King and His kingdom. And nowhere is that made more clear than as we see how people reacted to Him in the New Testament period.
They did not want him. In fact, the summation of it all is “we will not have this Man to reign over us.” They did not want this King. I want to show you this morning three illustrations of how the world rejected the kingship of Jesus, and I want to entitle them in three ways so you’ll remember them: the mercenary mob, the mistaken multitude, and the mocking magistrate. Let’s begin by looking at the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, John, chapter 6, and I will introduce you to the mercenary mob.
In John 6, verse 15, we begin - and I’m only going to read that one verse - “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.” Now, stop there for a moment. When Jesus realized - and He could perceive it because He was omniscient and knew their minds - that they were going to make Him a king by force, He removed Himself. You say, “But I thought you said He came to present Himself as king. Surely this would be the ultimate response of the people. Here they are ready to make Him king. It looks good.”
Let’s talk about it. I call these people the thrill seekers, or the mercenary mob. Let me explain the scene. Going back to the first verse in the sixth chapter, we find Jesus on the Sea of Galilee or the Lake of Galilee, the Sea of Chinnereth or Tiberias, that little lake in the north of Israel. And He’s there with a great multitude, verse 2 says. We’re told there were 5,000 men, and if there were 5,000 men, it’s clear there were 5,000 women.
And the gospel records tell us that those 5,000 people had been there - 5,000 men, I should say, plus 5,000 women, and I might add as well, you’d probably have at least 15,000 to 20,000 children – that’s a very conservative estimate of 25,000 to 30,000 people. They had been there all day long, because as we put the other gospel accounts together, we find that for the entire day, Jesus had been healing all their diseases, healing all their sicknesses, and teaching them God’s divine truth all day long.
My, what a marvelous way to spend the day. In spite of all of that, they had no real appreciation of His person; they had no real understanding of who He was. They had been attracted simply by idle curiosity. They were pleasure-seeking thrill seekers. Look at verse 2. A great multitude followed Him because they believed in Him - no. Because they saw His miracles which He did on those who were diseased. They were sensational things that He did, and they had the love of the sensational, the thrill seekers were all there.
But in spite of their motives, Jesus in tenderous pity, in lovingkindness and mercy, had met their physical needs, had healed them, had taught them, and when it came to the end of the day, He actually fed them their dinner. How did it affect them when He fed them dinner? Verse 14 says, “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’” This is Him. And they quote Deuteronomy 18, where Moses had predicted that a great prophet would come, and they say, “This has got to be the one.”
The miracles had overwhelmed them, particularly the last one, and you remember what happened, don’t you? They had nothing to eat, and the disciples came and said, “It’s late in the day, and there’s no provision for food, and the multitude is hungry. What do we do?” And Jesus says, “Have them sit down.” And the other gospels say that he said, “Have them sit in groups of 50 and 100, and so that we can move between them and pass the food.” The only thing was there was no food; but that didn’t bother Jesus.
One enterprising man by the name of Andrew showed up with one lunch, and said, “I found one kid with five barley crackers and two pickled fish.” The Lord says, “That’ll be fine.” And the Bible says He took the five crackers or loaves, and He gave them to the 12 disciples. Now it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that that’s a miracle. You give 5 crackers to 12 people. And if you think that’s something, then you try to give those same 5 crackers from the 12 people to the 30,000. And it says simply in verse 11 that “Jesus took the loaves, giving thanks, distributed to the disciples.”
And then in verse - further it says, “He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were sitting,” and in verse 12, “They were filled. He said, ‘Gather up what’s left.’ And there were 12 baskets left, so the disciples could eat,” and they were filled. They were foddered up. They were hayed up like dumb animals, stuffed to the gills with this food. Plenty for everybody. Jesus created food; an astounding thing. And they said, “This is the prophet.” And you say, “Well, boy, that’s great.” And then verse 15, they tried to make Him a king.
You say, “That’s what He wanted.” Nope. You see, it was all for the wrong reasons. Now, listen: instead of falling down on their knees to worship Him as Messiah, the incarnate God; instead of taking the position of ungodly sinners, crying out for mercy, and prostrating themselves at His feet in reverent penitence; instead of owning Him as the Blessed One, worthy of their hearts’ adoration; they only wanted to use Him, that’s all. They said, “We’ve got a genie on our hands. We’ll get a hold of this guy and rub the magic lamp, and He’ll zap all kinds of things into existence. This could be an incredibly beautiful world. Free food. No more disease.”
There’s no repentance here. There’s no worship here. There’s no submission here. This is purely a mercenary mob who are in it for personal and selfish gain. There are plenty of people like that today. They see Jesus as a prophet. They see Jesus as a good teacher. And they say, “Well, you take what you can get. Some of His teachings, wonderful. He’s made a contribution to mankind,” et cetera. And they never see their need to fall before Him as the incarnate God; they never see their need to bow before Him in repentance, seeking forgiveness; they never see Him as a refuge from the wrath to come.
They are misguided. They don’t have the right view. They are like the mercenary mob. Jesus is there for whatever good He may contribute. And you know that’s wrong. You don’t come to Jesus for what you can get; you come to Jesus because of who He is. I don’t come to Jesus because of what He gives me; I come to Jesus because of what He deserves from me. Listen. If He only saved me and never gave me anything, that would be more than I ever deserved. But the people saw a welfare state. “This is incredible, socialized medicine. Nobody will ever be sick again.”
They saw free food. “This is breakfast, folks, and lunch and dinner. This is fabulous.” In fact, Jesus wouldn’t accept this kind of kingship, and so it says in verse 15 that “He departed into a mountain alone.” He sent His disciples in a boat across the sea, because He didn’t want them influenced by this mercenary mob. And later in the night, you remember, He walked across the sea, met his disciples, and they wound up at Capernaum in the morning, and no sooner had they gotten in the morning to Capernaum than you come to verse 26 in John 6, and they were there again - the whole crowd is there.
“And Jesus answered and said, ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves,’” and were literally hayed up like a dumb animal. “You’re here for the free food.” Listen: Jesus never fed them again, and Jesus moved out of their midst on that evening. Why? Because nobody uses God and nobody uses Christ like some genie. There are terms and there are conditions by which the blessing of God is activated in the life of an individual, and one of those terms is to confess Him as Lord, is to bow before Him as King, is to repent of sin.
And there was none of that here; none of it. God is no utilitarian genie. You can go back to 1 Samuel chapter 4, and read the first 11 verses, and you’ll find some interesting things. You’ll find the children of Israel got into a war with the Philistines, and they were afraid they were going to lose the war, and so they hadn’t paid attention to God for a long, long time, and somebody said, “You better get back there and get the Ark of the Covenant, which represents the presence of God, and bring God up here so we can win. We’ll get God in here, we’ll rub our magic lamp, go get them, God, and everything will be fine.”
And you remember what happened in 1 Samuel 4? They brought the Ark up, and the Philistines began to say, “Oh, we’re dead. We’re going to lose. Oh, they’ve got their God.” And the Israelites were saying, “Hallelujah, He’s here. Terrific.” And you know what happened? God reversed the whole thing, gave power to the Philistines, and they wiped out the Israelites, and then they stole the Ark. And God was saying, “I don’t work on your terms, I work on mine.” And the mercenary mob had no hope of ever knowing the kingship of Jesus; none.
And I’m afraid sometimes Christians are even like that. I’m afraid sometimes when we really want something out of Jesus, we kind of snuggle up, huh? We kind of get close, start getting things right, because we’re looking at Christ as the one from whom we get what we want. When we want comfort in sorrow, when we want strength in our weakness, when we want peace in the midst of turmoil, when we want health in the midst of sickness, we kind of draw close. But when He comes to us with stern demands for sacrifice, when He comes to us with challenges of great effort and hard work, when He comes and tells us about a cross and about pain, then we’re not so interested, are we?
And that’s because maybe we came in kind of like the mercenary mob, coming to Jesus for what we could get rather than what He deserved. It may be that if you examine your heart carefully, you may love Jesus like the mob did, for what you can get out of Him, and you may be flinching at His demands, and a little bit resentful. Well, Jesus knew the carnal enthusiasm of the mob, and He didn’t want it, and He still doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want people to come to Him for what they can get; He wants people to come to Him for what He deserves.
And when you come to Him on those terms, believe me, He will open the floodgates and pour out the blessing, won’t He? They wanted a king all right, but they wanted a king on their terms, and they missed the point. And Jesus said to them in verse 27, “You got it wrong.” “Labor not for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you.” “You got it backwards. You better turn in your mercenary attitude for a little spirituality. Instead of seeking what your body needs, you’d better seek what your soul needs.”
So, the mercenary mob saw Him as a king, but for the wrong reason, and He rejected it. Let me introduce you to a second group; look at the 12th chapter. I call them the mistaken multitude; the mistaken multitude. This is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday historically in the church has been a kind of a high occasion, but in my mind, Palm Sunday is one of the saddest days in the history of humanity. You know what Jesus did on Palm Sunday? He cried. He wept. His heart was broken, because all of the hullabaloo was nothing but hypocrisy and sham.
We’ll see that as we look at John 12:12 through 18. Let me read it to you. “On the next day, many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried ‘Hosanna: blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat upon it; as it is written ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.’
“These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this cause the people also met Him, for they heard that He had done this miracle.” This is Sunday. It’s Sunday in Jerusalem. It’s the day after a feast. What feast was it? Oh, it was a wonderful feast. It was a feast at the house of Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, and many guests were there.
I mean, this was a wonderful thing. Talk about a birthday. This was really a birthday. Lazarus, who was dead, had been made alive, and everybody that cared was there to celebrate. And love for Jesus reached its climax there, as Mary poured out ointment on the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the great demonstration of love, washing Jesus’ feet, not unlike what Jesus would soon do to His disciples’ feet. The climax of love occurred at that feast. I’m afraid also the climax of hate occurred around that time, because the plot of Judas was hatched.
It was morning now, after the feast at the house of Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus. Everybody knew Lazarus was alive. Everybody knew of this incredible resurrection. Everybody knew he was dead, because the whole place had been mourning in Bethany for four days. And the fever pitch of discussion about Jesus was surging through the City of Jerusalem and through the town of Bethany, that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. And Jesus got up in the morning, and He left Bethany, and it was Palm Sunday, the first Palm Sunday.
And as He approached the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, He said to His disciples, “Go into a small village, and you’ll find there tied to a post a colt, the foal of an ass, and its mother” - the donkey and the baby donkey – “bring them to Me, because I will ride the colt into the city.” That was in exact fulfillment of Zachariah 9:9, which is quoted in verse 15. “Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” Matthew tells us that the two disciples went, found the mother and the colt, brought them out, Jesus rode the colt.
The gospels also tell us that when they went in the village, the animals were right where Jesus said they’d be, tied to a post, and they brought them. And so, Jesus mounts the little colt and rides into the city. Now, riding alongside of Him is this multitude that had been at the feast at Lazarus’ house, and they’re going along, and they’re saying the “hosannas,” and “blessed be the King of Israel,” and Matthew adds they said, “The Son of David, the right to reign, who cometh in the name of the Lord.”
And they were praising Him as he was riding the little foal toward the Eastern Gate, a gate today which is sealed up, and the Bible says will never be opened again until Jesus returns. And off He went for the city. And as He got close to the city, the mass of humanity began to surge out. Verse 13: the people “went forth to meet Him, crying ‘Hosanna.’” And so, the little flock coming from Bethany is met by this mass of humanity surging out of the Eastern Gate to meet Jesus, and they’re all crying the hosannas.
The enthusiasm becomes consuming as the two crowds flow together. Jesus is being introduced as the King, as the Messiah, and He in no way ever denies their hosannas. To help you to get an idea of what was going on, on one occasion around this period, a census was taken at the Passover season to see how many lambs were slain at the Passover, and one census reported there were 256,500 lambs slain in that week. That’s a quarter of a million. Now, listen: there had to be a minimum of ten people per lamb, and on that minimum estimate, there would be something around 2,700,000 people in the city at that time of the season.
It would be literally exploding with humanity, all of the pilgrims from all over the nation having to come to worship at Passover in Jerusalem. And this mass of humanity surges out of the city, the crowd from Bethany meets them, all crying “Hosanna.” An incredible scene, and you say, “What’s the point?” The point is they’re screaming, “Hail the conquering hero. Hail the deliverer. Hail the Messiah. Hail the Son of David. Hail the King of Israel.” The crowd in Galilee had tried to make Him a king by force, and now the crowd in Jerusalem screams that He is a king by virtue of what He has done.
Now, notice that they threw in His path palm tree branches. These, according to Revelation 7:9, and I think even in Old Testament texts, are symbols of strength and salvation. They’re also sometimes used to reflect joy and beauty. If you sum up strength, and salvation, and joy, and beauty, you’ll get the proclamation that they’re making with the palm branches. They’re glorifying and exalting with joy the beauty of their strong Savior who is coming. This is their King, and it looks so good again.
And what started out to look so good in Galilee now looks so good in Jerusalem; “At last,” you might say, “they see Him as a king.” They did - all for the wrong reasons - again. You say, “What now?” Well, I’ll show you. They wanted a political king, who would overthrow the Roman government. They had been under the oppression of Rome too long. They were chafing under this. They were sick of being under the Babylonians, and the Medo-Persians, and the Greeks, and then having a little slit of light when Judas Maccabeus had given them a time of independence, closed up so fast.
And now to be under this chafing Roman domination was a terrible burden for them to bear, and they wanted out from under this, and they saw this Man as their potential revolutionary leader. Listen: just set the scene in your mind. This is Passover, and Passover commemorates the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, and this is the time when they are celebrating deliverance from a foreign power. How fitting when they see a deliverer to conclude that God has sent the Deliverer, who will do it again at this Passover.
And they knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. There had never been any charlatan pull that off. They said, “This has got - this Man has got the power.” And they cried, “Hosanna.” Do you know what that word means? The word “hosanna” means “save now.” It was a political cry. “Do it now. Deliver us now. Save us now.” It was a prayer for deliverance. They’re crying to this Man, to this Man Jesus. And Matthew adds that they said, “Son of David,” and by that they were saying, “You’re our King. We acknowledge You as the King. We make You the King. We ask You ‘Save us now.’”
And do you know that what they said there in verse 13, “Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord,” is a direct quote of Scripture? Did you know that? It’s from Psalm 118:26. It’s right out of that messianic Psalm. And let me add this: Psalm118 was the last Psalm in a group of Psalms called the “Hallel.” Have you ever heard of that? The Hallel - we get “hallelujah” from it - “Hallel” means praise to God, so when we say, “Hallelujah,” we’re praising God. The Hallel was a group of Psalms, from Psalm 113 to 118, which were pure praise to God.
They taught these to their children. The first Psalms a little boy ever learned were Psalms 113 to 118, the Praise Psalms. They were sung at great acts of God. They were sung at times of praise. They were sung at times of thanks at the temple. They were sung always at the Passover. They were very common in the life of the people. They knew them. They knew their content. They knew something of their meaning. And so, when they cry out, “Praise God” and they start singing the Hallel, they are acknowledging the ultimate praise to God as He brings His King-Deliverer.
And I’ll add another interesting footnote: Psalm 118 - which they do quote specifically - has been traditionally throughout Jewish history called “the conqueror’s Psalm.” So, they are hailing the conquering hero. In fact, they had said that same Psalm to Simon Maccabeus a hundred years before, when he had defeated the Syrians. And so now they are looking at Jesus as another conqueror. They’re singing the conqueror’s Psalm. They’re throwing the palm branches down. They see a political leader.
To them, it’s only a matter of time, and the trumpets will blow, and the call to arms will come, and the revolution will begin, and the Jewish nation will overthrow Rome. You say, “Man, that must have been some scene.” You could never recreate it; never. There would be no hysteria, no excitement in the world, that would be equal to the Jews, after thousands of years of waiting, to the feeling that this finally was the arrival of their Messiah. This was an incredibly exciting moment. What about Jesus?
Well, quietly and silently, in the midst of all the rabble and racket, Jesus was making a statement, but nobody seemed to get the message. Jesus did not ride into the city on a white horse. Jesus did not come blasting into the city on a gold chariot pulled by four great chargers. Jesus rode on a baby donkey. There was a message there, but nobody seemed to get it. Jesus’ heart was broken. He was sick inside. He tried to show them that His Kingdom was not political. The donkey was a symbol of peace; He came as Prince of Peace.
He wasn’t thinking about conquering Rome. You say, “What was He thinking?” I’ll tell you. I can tell you exactly what Jesus was thinking, because it’s recorded in Luke 19, verse 41. This is precisely what He was thinking: “And when He was come near” - he’s riding in now to the cries of the crowd; the cries are indicated back in verse 38 of Luke 19. He hears all these things, He comes near - “He beheld the city” - and what? –“wept.” They’re all screaming in excitement, exhilaration like they can’t believe, and Jesus is crying.
The tears are on His cheeks. “Saying” - and this is pensive, almost a soliloquy - “‘if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hidden from thine eyes.’” What a heartbreak. He says, “Oh, if you only knew; If you only knew what God had planned for you in this day. If you only knew the things which belong to your peace.” But it’s too late. They’re hidden.
“‘For the day shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee around, and keep thee on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.’” Jesus is weeping, number one, because they missed the point, and number two, because they are about to be flattened; and He here is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Titus came in, entrenched the city, surrounded it, moved in, slaughtered the people, killed over a million, a hundred thousand of them. Jerusalem was flattened. And Jesus wept because He knew it was coming, and He wept because they had missed the whole point of His kingship. They wanted a political king, and He cried while they screamed, “Hosanna.” Jerusalem would be visited by a conqueror, but not Jesus; not Jesus. No Roman soldier would have ever thought that this Man riding in on a colt, the foal of an ass, was a revolutionary. No Roman soldier would ever have thought that He was coming in to drive out the Roman legions.
It should have been evident to everybody that His Kingdom was not of this world. But they were so hysterical that they never got the point of the donkey. You know, I hate to say it, but so many people through history have been just as mistaken as the mistaken multitude. Just like they thought Jesus was nothing more than a social reformer, there are people today who think the same thing. They look at Jesus as sort of a patriot, a reactionary, a revolutionary, somebody who has got a social message to proclaim, and they forget that Jesus didn’t come to remove poverty from the world.
He even said, “The poor you’ll always have with you.” Jesus didn’t come to set all the economic injustices of human society right, He didn’t come to invent a new kind of human government. Jesus came to touch the souls of men, and to change society from the inside, not the outside. If you’re looking at a Jesus that you think is a social problem solver, it’s going to be hard to convince yourself of that, because Christians have been in the world for 2,000 years, and we haven’t really done a great job on changing the world from the outside.
If you think that Jesus came into the world just to heal the social institutions, you’ve missed the point. So, the mercenary mob, they were dead wrong. All they wanted was free meals. The mistaken multitude, they were dead wrong. All they wanted was somebody to break the Roman yoke, and when the mistaken multitude didn’t get what they wanted, and Jesus didn’t fulfill their wish, they screamed for His blood, and denied that they ever wanted Him as a king, and said, “Caesar is our king. We don’t want this Man to reign over us.”
When He wasn’t the Jesus they wanted, they chucked Him. There’s one other illustration in John 18. I call this the mocking magistrate; the mocking magistrate. Pilate was the magistrate who mocked. Once the Jews had determined that Jesus was not going to start a revolution, the first time He could say anything on Palm Sunday, you know what He said? He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and” - what? – “and die, it abides alone.” He started talking about dying, and all of a sudden, He turned the whole crowd off, and they began to know this wasn’t the one.
And so, they began to cry for His blood, and they needed an accusation to get Him killed, and so they dreamed up an accusation. And in Luke 23:2, they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying He is a king.” And they tried to get the Romans to think He was a political threat to the security of Roman government. Isn’t that incredible? They were accusing Him of doing the very thing they couldn’t get Him to do.
Once they tried to make Him a king, and then once they hailed Him as a king, but when He wasn’t the king they wanted, they were ready to kill Him for claiming to be a king. And so, they got Him into Pilate’s hands, and Pilate was so blackmailed by now that he had no way out. He had made so many stupid mistakes with the Jews that they had told him, “One more deal against us and we’ll tell Caesar,” and he was afraid he was going to lose his job. He was being blackmailed. And they put Jesus on his hands, and said, “We want Him dead.”
And Pilate was stuck, because he couldn’t do anything else and keep his job, he thought. So he starts to talk to Jesus in verse 33 of 18, and he says, “Are You” - and it’s the emphatic Greek pronoun - ”Are You the King of the Jews?” This can’t be. Is this a joke? You? “Are You the King of the Jews?” Pilate took one look at Jesus - humble, meek, no royal robes, no army, no following, no kingdom, no empire that he could see. He says, “Are You the King of the Jews? This is what they’re accusing You of claiming to be. Are You what all that shouting was about last Sunday?”
Now, Pilate had no concept of a spiritual kingdom; He had no concept of a spiritual king. The humbly clad, meek Jesus in his mind was no king at all. Jesus answered him in verse 34, and said, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?” And Jesus insightfully puts the finger right on Pilate’s problem. “Pilate, you’re just mouthing this accusation. That’s all. Is this your idea? Is this a Roman accusation? Are the Romans saying I am a revolutionary? Is this your own thing?” And there was the indictment of the blackmailed Pilate.
Pilate says, “Am I a Jew?” - are You kidding me? – “Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me.” And I love this; he says, “What have You done?” He didn’t even know. Why did they turn against You like this? This isn’t Rome. This is Your own people. What did You do? What did You do to deserve this? We’re not accusing You. We would never choose You for a king. You don’t look like any threat to us. Your own chief priests have done this. The whole thing is Jewish. The whole thing is religious. It isn’t Roman. It isn’t political.
“What have You done?” Jesus said, “Well” - verse 36 - ”My kingdom is not of this world. You see, if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, in order that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now, My kingdom is not from here.” Boy, that is an absolutely fantastic statement. Listen: He says, “Pilate, if My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.” According to history, do you know how many troops Pilate had available at that time? Three thousand. Do you know how many troops Jesus had available at that time? Just under 3 million. If He had decided to be a political leader, you know who would have won?
Jesus said, “If My kingdom was of this world” - notice He doesn’t deny that He’s the king. He doesn’t say, “I’m not a king.” He just says, “My kingdom is not this kind of kingdom that you think. If it were, you’d have been long gone, and I’d be sitting in the seat here.” And Pilate says, “Well, if Your kingdom isn’t the kind of kingdom that’s of the world” - in verse 37 – “are You a king?” What kind of king is that kind of king? What kind of king are You? And, of course, the answer to that is that Jesus is the king over a spiritual kingdom, isn’t He?
Colossians 1, “We’ve been translated from darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son.” His kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, His kingdom is not a kingdom of physical power, His kingdom is a kingdom of spiritual reality; He rules the hearts of men. Pilate was right when he saw nothing in Jesus resembling a king, but he was wrong when he concluded that Jesus was therefore not a king. He was a king - a king in a way that Pilate never could understand. “Are You then a king?” Watch Jesus’ answer: “You said it.”
In the vernacular, “right on.” “You said it that I’m a king. You better believe it, brother.” That’s the Greek idiom there. It is emphatic. He’s not saying, “Well, you said I was a king. I guess I am.” No. “You said it, fellow.” “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” “When I got here, they said the angels sang that ‘He is born who is king.’ The wise men said, ‘Where is He that is king?’ I came to be a king. I am a king, and mine is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men and women who believe.”
But Pilate didn’t understand it, and so in verse 1 of 19, Pilate took Jesus and scourged him, beat him. And the soldiers, who played a game on the floor of Fort Antonias - you can still today see the stones on that floor. They’re still there with the markings that show you the game they played, and they used to take their prisoners and make them kings - it was a common game - and then mock them. And they played the game with Jesus, and they pushed a crown of thorns on His head, and they put a robe on Him made of purple, and they said, “Hail, King of the Jews,” and they smashed Him.
And it’s literally saying in the Greek “and they kept saying, and they kept giving Him blows with their hands.” They mocked Him as a king. And then in verse 19 of Chapter 19, Pilate wrote a title, and mockingly put it on the cross, and the writing was “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” And it was a laugh, it was a joke, it was a mock; and it was done in order to incite the Jews, in order to infuriate them by saying, “Here’s your king. How do you like it?” And they came running to Pilate and said, “Change that to ‘He said he is king.’ And Pilate said, “No way. What I have written, I have written.”
And that was his final way to sort of blast them, by making them face the fact that he’d just put up there “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” That’s your king. And he mocked; the mocking magistrate. He missed the point, didn’t he? He was a king. The mistaken multitude missed the point. He was a king. The mercenary mob missed the point. He was a king. You say, “But, John, it’s so sad that He died, that it all had to end up in death.” No, it isn’t sad, because that was the plan; did you know that? He was the king who came to what? To die.
So, you see, the world thought that they had pulled their thing, when really they had done God’s thing. In Acts 2:22 and 23, it says that “By God’s foreknowledge and God’s determinated counsel, you have slain Him.” Listen. This is the plan. The king had to die. Listen to me: I’m going to close with this, and I want you to get it. This is the key to everything. We cannot have Jesus as king without having Him as Lamb, right? The Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world.
There’s a great future day coming, and Jesus will return; isn’t that right? And in Revelation 11 and 19, it describes how He will take over the world, and He will set up His Kingdom, and He will be King of kings, and He will be Lord of lords. But did you ever notice something? That the descriptions of Jesus as king in the book of Revelation are so frequently as a Lamb King? Did you ever notice that? For example, when you see Him sitting on His throne in chapter 5, He is the Lamb sitting on His throne.
It is as a Lamb that He fights the kings of the earth and subdues them in Chapter 17. It is as a Lamb that He defeats Satan in Chapter 12. It is as a Lamb that He weds His church in Chapter 19. It is as a Lamb that He alights the eternal city in Chapter 21. It is as a Lamb in Chapter 22 that He sits on the throne, and from Him flows the Water of Life that refreshes the eternal city. He is the Lamb King, and while men throughout the ages have hailed their kings with “Long live the king,” we praise God that the king came to die, because He becomes the Lamb-King, who takes away the sins of the world.
And what is to be our response? Not that of the mercenary mob, or the mistaken multitude, or the mocking magistrate. Our response is to be exactly what I read you when we began this morning, these words: “Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What is your part? To confess Jesus as Lord, and to fall into His submissive Kingdom, where all His subjects bow to His rule. Let’s pray. Father, we thank You for the Lamb who was slain that He might reign in our hearts, and someday return and reign on the earth. We pray that no one here would miss being a part of this kingdom. The songwriter put it this way: “King of my life, I crown Thee now/Thine shall the glory be.” I hope that’s true in your life; I hope you can say that. If you haven’t said it before, why don’t you say it right now?
Why don’t you commit your life to the kingship of Jesus Christ? Maybe you’ve never received Him as Savior. Maybe you’re a Christian, but you haven’t been obedient to the Lord; you haven’t followed the rules, and the commands, and the direction of the King. You’d like to, beginning today, and take your “hosannas” out of the category of hypocrisy, and put them into the category of truth. Make your “hallelujahs” be meaningful and honest. Don’t hail Him as king if you don’t worship Him as king or obey Him. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me Master and Lord, and do not the things I say?”
Come and bow before Him, and accept His forgiveness, His salvation, and the home He prepares for you in His Kingdom. Thank you, Father, for our fellowship this morning. Do Your perfect work in all of our hearts, in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen.