Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
October 28, 2012
 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples  and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”  And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.  And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”  And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.  And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.  And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “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!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
-- Mark 11:1-11, ESV
Have you ever had a perfect day? Maybe it was a day off, like Saturday. The weather was perfect, close friends came over for a barbeque, the Hawgs and the Dawgs both won, and you went to bed early dreaming about the long, expository sermon your pastor would preach on Sunday. What a perfect day!
Jesus walked the earth for about a thousand days during His public ministry. Every one of them was perfect, as far as the perfect Son of God is concerned. But not all of them were perfect from His followers’ point of few. Some were tense, like those days when Jesus offended the religious rulers of the day. Some might have seemed boring, when Jesus would go off alone for hours to pray. Some were exciting, when the Lord performed miraculous signs in front of everyone’s eyes. But a few, maybe just two, were just about perfect.
All four Gospels record the same two days in which the people proclaimed Jesus Christ as King. One event is called “The Feeding of the 5,000” (ref. Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6) and the other is called “The Triumphal Entry” (ref. Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, John 12). After the miraculous feeding of five thousand men (plus women and children), the people intended to make Jesus their King, forcibly if necessary. Jesus declined and thwarted their political strategy, thus putting a damper on this otherwise perfect day. Later, at the outset of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people clamored for Him to be King. This time, Jesus seemed to oblige.
This would be the perfect day! Three years of rumors could prove to be true. The messianic secret was out of the bag. The Messiah came out of the Galilean closet and on to the Judean stage. God was marching, people were singing, and Jerusalem was ripe for a long awaited revolution. This would be the perfect day! Or, would it? Read Mark 11:1-11.
The Perfect Plan of the Perfect God
God is perfect every day in every way. So, this day would be no exception. It was part of the perfect plan of the perfect God.
As the perfect ending to His perfect ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ planned to ride into Jerusalem on “Palm” Sunday as a prelude to “Good” Friday. For three years He had stirred the hearts of Galilean pilgrims while alienating the brass of the Judean theocracy. The conflict would conclude with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, leaving people to decide who He really was, is, and will be. In this careful plan it is not the devil, but the Lord God Almighty, who is in the details.
Jesus planned the exact way in which He would ride into Jerusalem. It was a perfect fulfillment of the prophecy in 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.” Furthermore, King David had riden into Jerusalem on a donkey after quelling the rebellion of Absalom and ushering in the golden age of Israel (ref. 2 Samuel 19). This fulfillment of biblical prophecy and parallel to the throne of David could have been pulled off by a shrewd imposter; or, it could have been the perfect plan of the perfect God.
Jesus chose the specific animal on which He would ride into Jerusalem. The specific donkey belonged to an unspecified resident of either Bethphage or Bethany, two tiny villages near the Mount of Olives and the eastern gate of Jerusalem. Somehow this little donkey was available in the exact spot where Jesus predicted it would be; and, for some reason the owner just let two men he did not know walk away with it and take it to Jesus. This was either some type of weird mind control, some slick way of stealing a donkey; or, it could have been the perfect plan of the perfect God.
The Perfect Praise of Imperfect People
After God initiated His perfect plan of entry, the people responded very well. Actually, it was a perfect response. They honored and praised the Lord, which is the perfect thing to do on any occasion.
They honored Jesus with cloaks and leafy branches (John identifies them as branches of palm trees, thus the enduring reference to “Palm” Sunday). Jesus was too poor to purchase His own donkey, let alone a saddle, so the people saddled up for Him by giving Him the very clothes off their back. Laying down palm branches was a sign of royalty, a means of paying homage to a king. Giving Jesus you all and acknowledging Him as King is always a perfect way to honor the Lord.
They praised Jesus with their lips, singing “Hosanna” and “Blessed.” Their praise made it perfectly clear that they were crying out to deity, to God, and foreshadowed the words of the Apostle Paul who would write, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (ref. Colossians 2:9). The person riding on that donkey was indeed God of very God, King of all kings, and Lord of every lord, and the people praised Him as such.
There was, however, one imperfect mistake in this otherwise perfect moment. “Hosanna” literally means “Save us, now!” Christ had indeed come to save, and in the number of days you can count on one hand, would do just that. But the people, imperfect as all people are, were not calling for spiritual salvation from sin and death. They wanted military deliverance. They wanted a political king. They wanted earthly freedom and political peace and material prosperity, and they wanted it right now. But, this was not God’s perfect plan. So, in spite of some pretty perfect praise, everyone would just have to be patient.
The Perfect Patience of the Prince of Peace
In a perfect Hollywood ending, verse 11 would have read something like this: “And Jesus the King took out His sword, slayed all the evil Romans, restored Jerusalem and all the land of Israel to its people, and lavished them with gold, silver, and precious stones.” Instead, Jesus took a quick peak inside the city, which was as quiet as a church on Monday, then retreated with His close friends back to the suburbs. This seems like an anticlimactic, seemingly imperfect ending to an otherwise perfect day, doesn’t it? Not if you can appreciate the perfect plan, wisdom, and patience of God.
Christians like to plan, Christians like to praise, but even Christians (at least this one) do not like to be patient. But our eternal God does not worry at all about time, except for making it perfect. The original Palm Sunday was not the perfect time to bring peace to all the earth. But be patient, that time will come. The original Palm Sunday was not the perfect time for God’s people to be exalted and His enemies destroyed. But be patient, that time will come. Jesus knew what He was about to do, then, for the spiritual salvation of His people. He also knows what He will do, two thousand years or more from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when He comes to earth again. Let God do the planning while we do the praising, and let us all wait patiently for that day to come.
Some Perfect (or at least Appropriate) Application
God has a perfect plan for your life. We say this so much that it has become a cliché, but it is gospel truth. And, God’s plan includes all the details. I’m sure that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “The hairs of your head are all numbered” (ref. Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7). If Jesus could plan to have a certain donkey in a certain place belonging to certain people at a certain time for a certain ride into Jerusalem, then He certainly can handle the details of your day to day life. God is sovereign, so He is always in control. God is provident, so there are no accidents that can mar His plan. And God is loving, gracious, merciful, and kind, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ref. Romans 8:28). Every day may not seem like a perfect day. But if you are a child of God, every day is part of the perfect plan of God for your life.
Always honor and praise the Lord, even when you have an imperfect understanding of who He is and what He is doing. For, on this side of Heaven, you will always have an imperfect understanding of who He is and what He is doing. The more you worship, the more you study the Scriptures, the more you pray, the more you will know. But at the end of even a perfect day, you never know fully what God is up to. He’s just too big and too good. So honor Him every day, and praise Him in the sunshine and the rain. Be like the perfect man, Job, who said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (ref. Job 13:15), and the great forerunner of Christ, King David, who wrote during a crisis, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (ref. Psalm 34:1).
Finally, in the words of another Psalm, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (ref. Psalm 27:14). God will come through, today, for you. And God will one day mount another animal and ride into Jerusalem. Wrongs will be made right, freedom will be fully realized, corruption and oppression will cease. Only this time, it will go something like this:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (ref. Revelation 19:11-16).
This will be the perfect day, as is every day, when Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords in your life.