March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday-Jesus the G.O.A.T.

It just doesn’t get any better than this!

 Cyrus the great, the Persian who overthrew the Babylonians; who you’ll remember; took the Israelites into captivity, and this Cyrus has begun the repatriation of the Jews to their homeland!

 And to the Jews of Zechariah’s day, anyone who paid attention to their priests growing up; knew exactly why this was happening.

 Isaiah prophesied concerning God, “…who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” (Isaiah 44:28)

 So freedom from captivity was not granted by Cyrus the Great, rather it was ordained through Yahweh’s Shepherd Cyrus, giving this prophecy to Isaiah before Cyrus was ever born.

 So the Judeans returning home immediately set about in chapter 6 to commission Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah to rebuild the temple, so they could properly worship the one true God who brought them home.

 Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, recently arriving from Babylon…

…had the silver and gold and undoubtedly supported rebuilding the temple.

 So under the supervision of Zerubbabel, the civil governor of Judah under the Persian King (Ezra 2:2, Hg 1:1), the temporary temple would be built, we learn from Zechariah 4.

 But Zechariah 6 talks of another temple, the root of the branch of the tree of The Messiah that would make an eternal temple.

 Luther says,

“Root means a plant or a twig which grows to be a large tree.  For Christ at First was a small shrub, or plant, in the Jewish land, but then He grew until He has become a tree which fills all the world with its branches, its top reaching to heaven and its roots reaching to the abyss of hell.” (AE 20:255)

 This all sounds great until we remember the Suzerain-Vassal Covenant from last week.

This is the covenant where a greater king established his authority over the lesser kings and there by subjected their kingdoms under his absolute authority.

 Cyrus the great passed away in 530 BC so his son Kambisha the 2nd took the throne, dying himself in 522 along with his rival brother Bardiya…who rumor has it was actually murdered by Kamibisha.

 What can only be described as political maneuvering of epic proportions on behalf of the royal family, King Darius the great rose to the throne and presided over Persia at the very height of its power.

 Undeniably distracted by the rebellious Greeks in the West, Zechariah’s prophecy of a new king may have gone completely unnoticed.

 And even if Darius was aware, this would simply be a new king to become Vassal of his Suzerains Supremacy.  After all, what problem could the Jews possibly pose to the might of Persia? 

 Nehemiah had not even begun the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s defensive walls and much of Israel still dwelt in the rubble created by the Babylonian Armies.

 Needless to say the cultural, political and geographic essence of the entire world was changing while this humble Judean Prophesied his metaphorical message. 

But when the world thinks their focused on what matters to them; almighty Yahweh is preparing what actually matters the most.

 He tells his children coming back to their homes, city walls and former temple left in piles of rubble, “Rejoice abundantly, for He is redeemed righteous and bring you your redemption!”

 Interestingly enough the sign, Yahweh gives them, that their king has arrived; would be the lowly donkey he will ride upon.

 This was an incredible sign to the people at the time. 

 First of all, He will clearly not be another king just coming to conquer on a war horse!

 The riding of a king on a donkey was a special sign to the people that the king came in peace, to make a peaceful resolution in order to end the war of attrition. 

 Secondly this would not be another Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian or Persian King coming to make them their vassal again. 

 The donkey was the unique mode of transportation for the Judeans; this Messiah would be one of them!

 He is indeed intentionally diminutive for He is coming not to destroy them but to redeem them, and nothing will be able to bear his ability to make peace.

 The chariots were the main battle tanks of Zechariah’s Day, and even they would not be able to resist even the breath that comes from this Messiah’s Mouth.

 For He will speak peace that cannot be resisted at all; Reed Lessing said it best, “You are never in a place where God’s peace cannot find you.”

 And His peace will rule as far as the land is occupied by His people, surely they will have eternal peace forever.

 But this peace comes with a price…a blood price. Hebrews 9:12 says,

“He (Jesus) entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.”

 The Lord will set Zion’s Prisoners free because of His covenant with them; sealed with blood…we have eternal redemption by Christ’s blood.

And Jesus bought us with that Blood to do His bidding!

 When Ramses, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius the Great conquered they paid a price to bring people into subjugation.

 They paid in Gold to finance their military campaigns, they paid in the lives the young men lost in battle, and most of them paid physically because of the stress of running and empire and often even being assassinated for growing to powerful.

 But even sometimes paying the ultimate price, they were usually glorified, and history would describe many of them as the Greatest of all time up to that point. 

 G.O.A.T. is the modern anacronym we commonly use in sports today to describe who the truly greatest athletes of all time.

 Whether it’s Tom Brady for Football, or Michal Jordan for Basketball or Babe Ruth for Baseball, we have our favorites and up to this point most agree they are the greatest of all time.

 Plus there are legendary historical, cultural and political figures that have made their eternal impression.

  Whether it is Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King for Civil Rights, or Abraham Lincoln for Politics, or Martin Luther for Religion, they are all widely accepted as the greatest achievers of their time. 

 But not one of them compares to Zechariah’s Prophecy today, no matter what they accomplished, for His seedling has become the universal tree that represents a kingdom beyond all compare.

 As Zechariah 6:12-13 reminds us,

“Behold, the man whose name is the branch: For he shall branch out from his place and he shall build the temple of the Lord.  It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear a royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne.  And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

 And Revelation 22:1-4 fulfills that prophecy completely saying,

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

 This is the eternal Suzerain and Ramses, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, Alexander the great and even Caesar Augustus were all His Vassal!

 No one compares to the eternal price Christ paid with His blood to purchase us back from the Devil so we could live in his eternal stronghold forever with him.

 So brothers and sisters return to your stronghold in Christ Jesus where double will be returned for anything you ever lost for Him.  He is the greatest of all time for everything.  AMEN.