The King Comes to Die
John 12:12–17

Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message, I welcome each of you gathering today by way of the internet.  Once again, it’s a blessing to be able to share from God’s Word and I praise God as we are able to share His Word all over the world.

The title of my message is “The King Comes to Die” and the scripture is found in John 12:12-17 which we’ll be reading as we go through the message, if you wish to turn there you can follow along. 

Since today we are celebrating Palm Sunday, we’re jumping ahead in the Gospel of John to the twelfth chapter; the great entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. I entitled the message, “The King Comes to Die.” 

As we come to chapter 12, it’s the day after the feast and fellowship at Bethany. The day before Christ had arrived in Bethany and had gone to the house of Simon where a feast was prepared for Him at which Mary and Martha and Lazarus were present. They prepared a wonderful feast for Him and it was at this particular feast we saw the climax of love and hate. We saw the tremendous love of Mary who just runs over and spills all this valuable spikenard all over Jesus and does it in a tremendous display of love that can’t be restrained. And then we saw the climax of hatred in the wicked plot that’s fomenting in the brain of Judas. At the same time, at the same house, at the same day and the same context we see the full bloom of love and the despicable mind of hatred. 

By the time we come to verse 12, it’s morning on the next day. During the middle of the night Judas has already plotted with the leaders of Israel to betray Jesus. It’s only now a matter of finding the right moment Judas can betray Christ into their hands so they can capture Him. But Jesus is not a hunted criminal. Jesus is neither at the mercy of Judas, nor at the mercy of the leaders who want to kill Him. Jesus is no criminal to be subjected to a plot; He is in absolute control of everything that’s going on. 

He knew the time had come, not when the world decided He would die, but when He decided it was time to die. Jesus brought about the whole thing in order that it might happen exactly on the Passover day, fitting that when all the other lambs were being sacrificed the One true Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world would be sacrificed on the very same day. So Jesus was not at the mercy of the plots of men, but rather was bringing about the forcing of the issue of His own death so that it would happen on a day when He planned it and God planned it before the world began, not when the Jewish leaders decided it would happen. 

As we’ve already seen on three or four different occasions the Jews tried to arrest and kill Jesus but couldn’t, because it wasn’t God’s prescribed time decided before the world began. Now it was the hour, it was the time. He is soon to die for the sins of the world at the hands of the world, a strange kind of paradox. He’s going to die on His own time schedule, not theirs. So He begins to move toward Jerusalem. He is going to force the issue of His death because it is time. 

He knows that the massive demonstration with all of the hosannas being thrown at Him, is going to infuriate the Jewish leaders and He knows it’s going to cause them to desire to kill Him more than ever and that’s exactly what He wants. So Jesus forces the Sanhedrin to change their timetable and execute Him on the very day of the Passover. 

By including all the details from the other three gospels, I can paint the picture for you as we arrive at verse 12. Jesus has left Bethany in the morning and He begins to approach Jerusalem; He must climb the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives and descend the western slope into the city. As He arrives He sends two of His disciples into a village and tells them they will find an ass, or a donkey, who has a colt or a foal and both of them will be tied to a post at a house on the outskirts of town. So the two disciples go to the little village and sure enough at the house at the edge of town is a post and tied to the post is the donkey and the donkey’s colt. 

As they begin to take them the people who own them say, “What’s going on?” And the answer is very simple, “The Lord needs them.” So they took the two animals to Jesus. The two disciples took off their cloaks and threw them over the backs of the animals; both of the animals, and Jesus climbed upon the colt and began moving toward Jerusalem.  

He wasn’t alone; with Him was a whole multitude of people from Bethany. With all of the people moved into the city at Passover, they overflowed the city and they stayed in other places, Bethany being one of them. In verse 9 of chapter 12 it tells us they came there to see Lazarus and also Jesus. So when Jesus leaves Bethany and starts toward Jerusalem, this mob of people come with Him and the other gospels tell us they’re throwing their robes in front of the little donkey and they’re throwing palm branches down and here comes this parade of people toward the city of Jerusalem where something interesting happens. That mob of people that’s coming from Bethany is then joined by another mob that comes surging out of the eastern gate of the city, this is the second multitude and like two great tides flowing together to make one, a mass of humanity now surrounds Jesus and all of them are waving branches and crying out and Jesus is descending the mountain into the city. As the two crowds surge together, the conversation spreads and the enthusiasm begins to mount and everybody starts hailing, “Hosanna, here’s the King of Israel who cometh in the name of the Lord.” 

Jesus is presenting Himself as Messiah. This is His last great presentation and, in fact, He’s introducing them to a Messiah in a completely different way than they anticipated because they were anticipating purely a political Messiah. They were thinking, “Oh, here He comes and at last our political Messiah, He’s going to throw the yoke of Rome off of us and here we go off and running, national freedom.” Jesus even tries to show them that He’s not a political Messiah by the way He enters the city, riding on the foal of an ass, the most humble kind of animal, an animal historically that had been used as a symbol of peace. He is, in effect, saying, “I’m not your great war hero, I’m the prince of peace,” but they don’t get the message. He comes as a prince of peace, not to make war but to die. 

As we come to our text we find not only the historical narrative, but John also gives us in this text the two greatest proofs of the messiah ship of Jesus Christ woven right into the very historical account. 

Let me give you a little footnote. There are many ways to prove the Bible is the Word of God. We talk about experience. We talk about science. We talk about a lot of things, archeology, but the two greatest proofs that the Bible is the inspired Word of God are, number one, fulfilled prophecy and number two, miracles. So what we have here in the presentation of Christ is an emphasis on number one, fulfilled prophecy, and number two, miracles. By those two emphases John is declaring to the world, “This is Messiah, the Christ of God and it can be verified by His fulfilling of prophecy, and His ability to do miracles.” Just two points … the words of prophecy and the works of power together prove Jesus to be Messiah. 

First of all, the words of prophecy, prophecy is the most conclusive proof of the claim of the Word of God to be the Word of God. Prophecy is also the most conclusive proof of the claim of Christ to be who He said He was. Let’s see how He fulfilled prophecy on that day, Verse 12, “On the next day,” that is after the meal in Bethany, “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.” Here comes the mob surging out of the city to meet the one coming from Bethany that the other gospel writers tell about. “And they cried, ‘Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” 

The crowd is swept up in the emotion of the hour. There has been a command that went out in verse 57 of chapter 11 that anybody who sees Jesus Christ is supposed to report Him so that the Jewish leaders can capture Him. But they are totally captured by the emotion of this Bethany crowd and all of the hubbub is going on about His resurrection of Lazarus and so consequently they don’t go to capture Him, they go to cry “Hosanna” to Him, not hailing Him as a spiritual Messiah, they’re hailing Him as a political savior, a political deliverer, a political conqueror. 

Now the spirit of Passover was kind of the spirit of being freed from your enemies because Passover celebrated God delivering them from Egypt. And they knew that for somebody to lead them in a liberation fight against the Romans, He’s going to have to be somebody special and when they heard what Jesus had done with Lazarus and it had been verified because Lazarus was walking around to verify it, they thought this is the guy. 

So they cry “Hosanna,” it means two words in English, “Save now.” This is not a praise nearly as much as it is a prayer. They are saying to Jesus, “O great conqueror, King of Israel, save now,” and they’re not talking about spiritual salvation, they’re talking about political revolution. “Save now,” a prayer for deliverance, “Hosanna, save now.” Matthew adds that they even called Him “Son of David” so they knew He had the messianic right to be the King. They knew He came from the Lord, “He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” it looked like their Messiah had arrived politically. 

As Jesus enters the city you can’t help but think it must have hurt Him deeply, every time somebody said “Hosanna” it must have just cut Him because He knew they weren’t saying, “Save us spiritually,” they were saying, “Politically save us.” They wanted Him to become something that He could never be and would never be … a political Messiah. So Jesus rides in. 

Okay, “Where’s the prophecy bit?” Just those verses there, Jesus riding into the city and the people gathering, fulfill two prophecies to the very letter. Number one, Genesis 49:10, thousands of years before Jesus lived, Genesis 49:10, “The scepter,” now the scepter is the instrument of authority that a king wields, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah.” In other words, that scepter is going to stay there until somebody comes who is the rightful heir and picks it up and rules with it. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes.” 

Shiloh means the one to whom it belongs, the scepter is going to lay there until the one to whom it belongs comes and picks it up. Who’s that? That’s Christ. Watch the next phrase, “And unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” And what is it that happened exactly when Jesus Christ entered in to the city of Jerusalem with the claim to be King? What did the people do? They gathered to Him, exactly as the Word of God had said clear back in the book of Genesis. Not only that, verse 11 even says that there’s an ass’s colt involved in the whole thing. The first book in the Bible declares He’ll come, an ass’s colt will be involved and the people will gather to Him and that is exactly what happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

That ought to give us a little idea who is running the universe. He fulfilled it to a letter. 

Second prophecy, Daniel 9:24, you’re going to have to think with me a little on this one. Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are determined upon Thy people.” “Thy people” means Israel. “Seventy weeks determined upon Israel.” Now those are weeks of years, seventy periods of seven years, seventy-times-seven is 490 years. All right, Daniel says there’s going to be 490 years of history determined on Israel. At the end of that 490 years, notice verse 24, “The finish of the transgression, the end of sins, reconciliation for iniquity, everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision of prophecy and anoint the most holy.” In other words, the great return of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom will come at the end of that 490-year period. 

If we could figure out when that started by simple addition, we could figure out when it ended. Verse 25, “Know therefore and understand, don’t be ignorant about it, know it, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.” There it is, there’s the beginning right there. Those 490 years began at the command to rebuild the temple. You say, “When did it happen?” It happened in 445 B.C. on what would be the equivalent of the fourteenth of March, 445 B.C., it was a decree of Artaxerxes who commanded that Israel restore and build Jerusalem. From that period unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks. All right, now we’ve got a week pulled out, that adds up to 69 weeks. 

Stay with me, from the decree of Artaxerxes to the coming of Messiah the Prince will be 69 times seven years, or 483 years. Now these are years with 360 days in each year because that’s the Jewish year. Daniel said, from the decree to rebuild the temple, that’s 445 B.C. to the coming of Messiah, which will be 483 years to the day and then the Messiah, the Prince shall come. 

Do you know that the day and I mean THE day, the sixth of April, 32 A.D. when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem was exactly 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes, you divide that up, that equals exactly 483 years of 360 days each, to the very day. 

So, you see, Jesus enters in at the very moment in divine history when God said at least 500 years before through the prophet Daniel that’s when He’ll come, and that’s when He came. 

At this point the Pharisees and the leaders are tearing their hair out. I mean, they love the praise of men and the whole world has gone after Jesus. So they don’t know what to do and they’re frustrated, so they say, verse 39 of Luke 19, “Master, rebuke Your disciples … stop all this nonsense, don’t let them hail You like this. Tell them to be quiet.” They don’t like it a bit. I love the answer of Jesus, “He answered and said unto them, I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Don’t you like that? I mean, this is the day to hail the King and if you shut the mouths, the rocks will shout. This is God’s day. 

So the people welcomed the conquering hero that they think is their political Messiah. In verse 41 of Luke 19, “And when He was come near He beheld the city.” You know what He did? He wept. He began to cry. He burst out into tears. 

His heart was broken and He wept. Yes, Jerusalem would be visited by a conqueror all right, but it wasn’t this Jesus. It was Titus Vespasian who came and leveled the city and murdered one-million-one-hundred-thousand Jews. And Daniel 9:26 even prophesied that. 

So the time of prophecy fulfilled had come. Jesus came fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy in Genesis and fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy in Daniel to the very day. How could any man knowing that deny Christ is the Messiah of God? Everything was on prophetic schedule and Christ fulfilled the prophecy right to the letter. 

So we come to verses 14 and 15 and we see another fascinating prophecy that He fulfilled, Verse 14, “Jesus when He had found a young ass sat upon it.” Why did He want to do that? Well, as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh sitting on an ass’s colt.” That’s a quote out of Zechariah 9:9 and it says there, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, He is just and having salvation lowly and riding upon an ass and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” Zechariah six hundred years before Jesus lived said He’d come that way and He did. 

Precise prophecy, He didn’t come as a warrior, He came as a prince of peace and He rode on an animal of peace to illustrate how He was coming. You see, when a king came riding a white charger, that meant war. When he came riding on a donkey that meant peace. Donkeys had long been the symbol of peace. 

It’s kind of interesting when you think about Revelation 19,  the next time Jesus comes, He’s riding a white horse, the symbol of war, He comes to judge and to make war. But this time He came in peace and cried over the city of Jerusalem. He really loved those people. 

Verse 16 John says, “These things understood not His disciples at the first.” We didn’t know what was going on. They were probably thinking … what’s all this? They’re all running after Him, one minute they’re trying to kill Him, now they’re all yelling hosanna and He’s crying, and what’s He doing on this donkey? And they didn’t know what was going on.

Did the disciples ever get the message?” Yeah they did. Look at verse 16. “But when Jesus was glorified,” that’s His ascension. He was humbled when He came, but Philippians 2, “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him.” He went back and He was glorified. Remember in the garden in John 17 He said, “O Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory I had with You before the world began.” And after Jesus died, rose again, stayed for 40 days, He ascended unto heaven, after that glorification then it says, “Remembered they that these things were written of Him.” They said those were prophecies in the Old Testament that He’d ride like that and then He’d come on that day and the people would gather. Now we see it. 

How did they get to be such great scholars after that? Christ ascended, who did He send back, the Holy Spirit. John 14:26, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will lead you into all truth. They knew because they had the indwelling Spirit and 1 John 2:27 says, “You have no need that man teach you, you have an anointing from above and He teaches you all things.” 

Listen, the only reason anybody knows anything about God in fact and truth is by the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Can’t you imagine what a joy it must have been for those disciples to have the indwelling Spirit and all of a sudden wake up to everything in retrospect that they had seen going on in the life of Jesus? I’ll bet those guys tore through that Old Testament like wildfire. Oh that one applies, look at that one, that’s what He did, you know, all the way through. The whole Old Testament came alive. 

The second thing that shows us He was the Messiah was the works … the works of power that He did. Verse 17, He had done some powerful things in His life but nothing more powerful than resurrecting Lazarus who was dead four days. 

Miracles are such a great proof of deity! The only person who has a problem with miracles is what you call an atheistic humanist, that’s a guy who believes there is no supernatural, nothing. We are here by some strange accident, there’s no God, there’s no nothing but us and that’s it. Anybody else who believes in any kind of a supernatural has no problem with miracles. 

So when I see Christ who lives a life of miracles I say, “Aha, He must have come from God,” and I don’t stand alone, Nicodemus knew it, he said, “Listen, Rabbi, we know that no man can do the things Thou doest except God be with Him.” And then the blind beggar said to the leaders, “I don’t know who He is or where He came from, and yet He opened my eyes. What’s the matter with your theology? You know where miracles come from.” 

So, you see next to prophecy, the greatest proof of the validity of Scripture are the miracles. They just prove that God’s there. When you see what miracles are, they’re nothing but God, the supernatural, sticking His fingers into the natural. It’s no big thing. He can do it any time He wants, this is naturally supernatural. 

Now if you want to know the true Messiah, if you want to know who really came from God, then you go find the Messiah that did the miracles. If you find the Messiah who does the miracles, you’ve found the one who came from God because it’s the nature of God to invade the natural with His own power and presence and that’s all a miracle is. 

Look how they affected the people in verse 17, they were convinced. “The people therefore that were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave and raised him from the dead did bore record, bore testimony, bore witness.” They didn’t have any doubts. If you had been standing there at that grave when Jesus said, “Lazarus, come out!” and he had come out, it would be a little hard not to believe that Christ had supernatural power. Miracles are a powerful witness and everywhere Jesus went He did miracles. And the people were convinced who saw it. 

There you have the two greatest proofs of divine revelation and of the right of Jesus to receive the homage as Messiah … prophecy and miracles. 

He is Messiah, He is the Christ of God, He is the Savior of the world; prophecy and miracles finish off the case. The only thing that remains is what you do with Jesus Christ. The statement of Pilate comes to my mind. “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” That’s the only thing left to the discussion. The case is closed on who He is; it’s still maybe open on what He is in your life. 

Let’s pray. 

Father, we thank you, this morning, for the case being closed. The evidence is in, substantial, conclusive; Jesus is God, the Savior of the world. But, Lord, we know in the hearts of a lot of men and women the ballots are still out, they haven’t decided, they haven’t received Jesus Christ as Savior. Father, I pray this morning that Your Holy Spirit will do His perfect work that no one will leave this place this morning who has not given their heart and life totally and unconditionally into the hands of Jesus Christ. I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen!


When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Neither Do I Condemn Thee."