Notes on Tim Keller’s Sermon “Into Jerusalem”

I like to, when I get a chance, to do outlines of some of Tim Keller’s sermons. It helps me track good illustrations, language and points that he makes.

This was preached on March 18, 2012 and can be found on the Redeemer Website. It was on the triumphal entry of Jesus.

Tim’s usual three points:

  1. Jesus is the confrontational King
  2. Jesus is the counter-intuitive King
  3. Jesus is the coming King

The Confrontational King

  • When Jesus does a healing he doesn’t want people to talk about it because he doesn’t want interference in his public ministry. On Palm Sunday he decides to reverse this to force the hand of the religious and civic leaders to stop him.
  • Two blind men announce Jesus as the “Son of David” and he heals them. Jesus accepts their addressing him as “Son of David”.
  • Jesus decides to ride in. Hosanna cry (“God save us”). Again, Jesus accepts the public declaration. He calls the temple “my house”. Jesus suddenly publicly declares himself the Messianic king where he is saying “crown me, or kill me”.
  • “I’d like you to consider what this means to you. Jesus is the only person I’ve ever know who is unbelievably humble but not modest.”
  • He’s tender, sweet, gentle with women and children, with the poor, prostitutes, people of other races and nations, but at the same time absolutely not modest at all. Look at the outrageous claims about himself.
  • People who make outrageous claims about themselves are usually not modest.
  • Reynolds Price. Essay on the Gospel of John. Just as true for Matthew. “If 2000 years of pious handling had not dimmed our understanding of the stories demand.  His gospel would still be seen as the burning outrage it continues to be. It is either a work of madness or a blinding revelation. The acts it portrays, the claims it advances, from the very paragraph demands that we make a hard choice. If we take the gospel writers seriously we must finally ask the question he thrusts so flagrantly toward us. Does he bring us a life transforming truth or is this one gifted lunatic’s tale of another lunatic wilder than he.”
  • Jesus says crown me or kill me but I will not be liked.
  • Lordship talk by a woman Bible teacher. “My name was Barbara Boyd. If you say ‘come in Barbara but stay out Boyd, that doesn’t work for me. You can’t say ‘come in Savior stay out Lord. Come in helper stay out king.”

The Counter-intuitive King

  • Stanley Hauerwas commentary on Matthew. Jesus is giving us a satire on triumphal entries. “One the one hand this looks like all other triumphal entries. Two hundred years earlier Simon Maccabeus had defeated foreign armies and kept Israel independent and he rode in to Jerusalem with people shouting cheers and waiving Palm branches because he delivered them… This triumphal entry parodies the entries of kings and armies. Victors in battle do not ride into their capital cities riding on asses but on fearsome horses, but this kind does not, and will not triumph through force of arms.”
  • Jesus chose a baby donkey, which is almost comical. It’s very deliberate and clear in fulfillment of Scripture. He’s coming into rule and he’s coming into save, but not by taking power and killing, but by losing power and dying. He’s going to triumph through weakness and so my followers can only come to salvation by repenting and admitting their needs. We’re not saved by our good works or a “strong” savior “do good works and be like me”. A lot of people aren’t strong. It’s salvation through weakness so that people can have a free grace salvation in spite of our sins. This is democratic. It means that anybody can get in.
  • What are the expectations of this crowd. When we go to God we go to God because we need something. Virtually everyone heads out towards God because they need something. 9/11 example of church attendance. The guy who calls the hospital chaplain and then tells him he doesn’t need him anymore because the guy learned he received the wrong diagnosis and he didn’t have cancer.
  • We go to God and say “you need to give me exactly what I need from you.” What did these people thing they needed from God? To bring judgment down on the people they thought were ruining the world (the Romans).  What they really needed was someone to come down to bear the judgment for them because they were ruining the world because everybody in the human race was part of that. What they really needed was pardon and reconciliation so that God can come back to earth to end evil without ending you and me.
  • Two implications: There’s never been a better example of the worthlessness of human celebrity than Palm Sunday. Some of the people shouting Hosanna would have shouted “Crucify him”. The fickleness of corporate human nature. What is the regard of the world worth? How different is God’s regard. Human celebrity is nothing.
  • Palm Sunday is an incredible parable of the life long mismatch of what we think we need and what God has provided. What we think we need is almost always shallow. What God does in the short run is very confusing. Please keep in mind that when you come to him he will give you what you really need and will in the long run will exceed them. God always gives you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he does. If you learn this you’ll live a contented, non-anxious life. If you don’t learn this you won’t. We come to God with our felt needs and he goes to the root of things.

The Coming King

  • The lectionary has readings that have to do with the second coming of Christ. The crowd thought he was coming to put everything right, but he was coming to put you right with God. Two ways it pictures the second coming.
  • The Palm Trees, they blessedness and shalom they are asking for is to put everything right. Waiving the Palm branches in Psalm 96 the trees singing. Isaiah 56 with the trees of the field clapping their hands.
  • Don Carson in his commentary on Matthew notices that Jesus is riding an unbroken animal. You can’t ride an animal before it is broken. Especially a baby donkey riding through a yelling crowd! Humanly speaking no rider could do this. “In the midst of all of this an unbroken young animal remains totally calm under the hands of the Messiah who controls nature, and stills the storm. This even points to the peace of the consummated kingdom. Jesus is the Lord of all and under his hand nothing but harmony and peace comes about. The animal knows and loves his true master for who he is. This is a foreshadowing of the healing and completion of all nature as found in Isaiah 11, the wolf shall live with the lamb…”
  • (My note, not in the sermon. It also seems to echo the scene in 1 Samuel where the cows bring the ark back to the Israelites after its capture by the Philistines.)
  • God does care about this world, not for power, but to serve and it points to the end of the age of decay (my words again) and we should bear witness to this future.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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1 Response to Notes on Tim Keller’s Sermon “Into Jerusalem”

  1. Thank you for these notes. I am teaching on Palm Sunday this weekend to a group of 1st thru 6th graders and these notes were tremendously helpful in my preparation.

    I love teaching Sunday School and talking about how to do it better. ( ) Thanks for providing much needed inspiration.

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