“For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry,
Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. Come, we that love the Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:6

 

Introduction…

Today we come to the 6th mountain in our journey to the Mountains of Lent.

The Series…

We have been visiting mountains of the Holy Land each week and learning an important lesson each week as we seek to live our own lives faithfully and in keeping with God’s presence throughout our life.

  • The first week we journeyed to Mount Ararat, the mountain of Promise.
  • The second week we journeyed to Mount Sinai, the mountain of Commandment.
  • The third week we journeyed to Mount Moriah, the mountain of Providence.
  • The fourth week we journeyed to Mount Quarantania, the Mountain of Temptation.
  • The fifth week we journeyed to Mount Hermon, the Mountain of Transfiguration where Jesus was transfigured and we learned that Jesus empowers us to be his disciples and we are to empower others.

 

And so today we come to Mount Zion, the Mountain of Joy.

What better day to come to Mount Zion than today, Palm Sunday.  As we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem 2017 years ago (yes, I know it’s not exactly 2017) we remember the joy that Jesus brought into the city with him and into people’s lives and more importantly what joy he brings into our lives today.

 

Biblical Reference…

When we speak of Mount Zion we aren’t speaking of a mountain per se but of a city, the holy city of Jerusalem and we are speaking of it in a spiritual sense more than just a physical sense.  Jerusalem is the holy city, the city of God in a spiritual sense and it is to this mountain-top city that we come and experience that joy that Jesus brings into our lives.

The origin and meaning of the name “Mount Zion” are obscure.  It was originally a pre-Israelite Canaanite name of the hill upon which Jerusalem was built.  The name “Mountain of Zion” is common in biblical usage, however it more often means the city rather than the hill itself.  Zion appears in the Old Testament 152 times as a title of Jerusalem.  It appears in the Book of Isaiah 46 times and in the Psalms 38 times.  It appears 7 times in the New Testament and five times in quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament.

It usually has emotional and religious overtones.  Its importance rises from the importance of Jerusalem as the royal city and the city of the Temple.  Mount Zion is the place where the Lord dwells, the place where He is king and where he has installed his king, David and later Jesus.  It is thus the seat where the Lord reigns in history.

Today, we come to Mount Zion…the place where God reigns.

 

  1. The people who cut branches from the trees and threw them on the ground for the Lord to ride over as he came into town were confused as to what kind of King they were welcoming.

The people who took off their cloaks and threw them on the ground were confused as to what kind of king they were welcoming too.

They were welcoming and cheering for an earthly King, one who ruled with power and might and armies and wore a crown of gold on his head.

Jesus came as just the opposite, one who ruled, but in the hearts and souls of those men and women who wanted to follow Him, who had no army and who ruled with the force of love, not the force of might.

The cries of joy and happiness were from people who thought Jesus had come to be an earthly king, a king who would free them from their hated Roman conquerors but they were wrong.

The High Priests, the Sadducees and Pharisees were wrong too.  They thought Jesus had come to replace them and to call into question their authority over all things spiritual.

They thought Jesus had come to throw out the Law and establish a new Law but Jesus said, “I have not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it”.

Pilate thought Jesus had come to establish a new political kingdom and was a threat to his authority but he too misunderstood Jesus.  Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and unto God that which is God’s.”

 

 

  1. It’s still all true today too. Many people become confused and fail to understand the kind of King whom we call into our lives when we become a disciple.

When I see liberals and conservatives both claiming their position as the position of Jesus I see people becoming confused.  Jesus isn’t Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative.  It’s a shame when people claim that their particular political belief or value system is where Jesus resides.  Jesus wasn’t about political parties or political positions…he was about the Kingdom of God.

When I see football players and baseball players and basketball players making the sign of the cross as they score a touchdown or make a game winning basket or hitting a home room rounding the bases with Jesus by their side I see people who are confused.  If they think Jesus came to give them a better swing or a better shot or a better catch they better think again.  Jesus isn’t really involved in your hit, although sometimes when I hit a ball I think it must have been with His help.

When I see ministers and preachers preaching as if Jesus is only on their side, as if their message is word for word the Lord’s message and they alone speak for the Lord I see people who are confused.

When I see people on Facebook who post something about how God blessed them because they forwarded something about God along to 5 friends and now those 5 friends have to forward it on to someone else and God will bless them I see people who are confused.  God isn’t a fairy Godmother and he doesn’t need them to get his will done here on earth.

Political positions, liberal attitudes, conservative values, sports athletes, preachers with an agenda are all mistaken in welcoming the wrong kind of Jesus.

 

III.   So then today, journey with me to Mount Zion, the city of God and together let us welcome the kind of King Jesus really is, the kind of King who rules in a spiritual kingdom and who sits on the throne in the hearts of people who welcome Him, who rejoice in Him and who serve Him, not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to. 

Come, follow the King who will rule over our heart and who, if you will follow Him, will turn you inside out and upside down.

Come wave your palm fronds to welcome a King who will truly be worthy of your worship, who will change not only the way you look at the world but who will change who you are.

Come, pull off your coats and lay before the King who will give you new life, who will re-order your priorities and who will welcome you not as a servant but as one of His family.

King Jesus rides into town today and the joy and the hope and the happiness and the meaning of life for you will never again be the same.

Come to Mount Zion and experience the joy of following a King who gives you back more than you ever imagined but who will ask you to truly make Him King.

Come to Mount Zion and follow the King Jesus who will demand, absolutely demand that if you choose to welcome Him into your heart, you will give Him first place.

Jesus said “You cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

 

Come to Mount Zion and see who this King you claim to welcome is, whom you thought He would be and whom you will choose to follow as King in your life and over all.

Come, rejoice together with others who stand by the side of the road with you and who sing for joy and wave their arms in joy and who shout “Hosanna, Hosanna, Welcome the one who comes in the name of the Lord” but…

Be clear about what kind of King you welcome.

Be clear about giving this King your total love and commitment.

Be clear about what it means to follow Him, to give Him your absolute loyalty and     your total commitment.

Join in a song of sweet accord.

Lift up your voices aloud.

Shout His joys with all your heart and soul.

Come, and march with me and with others…through Emmanuel’s Ground!

 

Closing     

Many years ago I was on a bus riding into Jerusalem.  We were on a Holy Land tour and we had left Jericho earlier in the day and were making our way into Jerusalem.  It was the first time I had ever seen the Holy City and I was filled with excitement.

As we rode up the steep mountain side into Jerusalem it was late in the day and the sun was shining brightly even as the day was coming to an end.  Suddenly, someone on the bus began singing and soon all of us, pilgrims all, began singing with her.  “We’re Marching to Zion. We’re marching to Zion”.

It was a glorious and magical moment.  I will never forget it.

As we come to Mount Zion, the beautiful city of God today, in a spiritual journey that we have been taking for 6 weeks now, may we come with excitement, with anticipation, with joy, and may we welcome the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Savior to His city.

 

Come, let us sing that great old song…

We’re Marching To Zion by Isaac Watts
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne.

Refrain
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God;
But children of the heav’nly King,
But children of the heav’nly King,
May speak their joys abroad,
May speak their joys abroad.

Refrain
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
The hill of Zion yields,
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly field,
Before we reach the heav’nly field
Or walk the golden streets,
Or walk the golden streets.

Refrain
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching thro’ Immanuel’s ground,
We’re marching thro’ Immanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high,
To fairer worlds on high.

Refrain
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.