When Jesus made his entrance on that day, it was the first day of Passover Week. Great numbers of Jews had traveled from all over the Roman Empire to celebrate this annual Jewish festival. A great crowd greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem responding to him with chanting and waving of palm branches. They greeted him in a manner befitting a king, but before the week was out, the crowd would curse him as a criminal.
Did you know that your response to Jesus is the most important decision you’ll ever make? You can follow the crowd, or you can make a decision based on the witness of the Scriptures and of those who follow Jesus, or you can make decision based on what the crowd says. But be sure of this: There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to Jesus, and how you respond makes all the difference in the world, and in eternity.
In the gospel according to John, John wrote about how the people responded to Jesus as He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first day of passion week. We can rightly respond to Jesus as we consider how He fulfilled what was written about Him.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:Hey , it’s Palm Sunday. Passion Week; that’s what we’re celebrating the beginning of this week. This is the triumphal entry, right? Palm Sunday; it’s remembering the triumphal entry of Christ over 2000 years ago, which also foreshadows that He’s coming again. And so, we remember it every year. We want to look back and remember it, but also because it points to a future. When we call it Passion Week, shouldn’t it be like the week of Valentines or something? I mean, why call it Passion Week?
It’s because, in the Latin, the word is, “passio;” it means suffering. Did you know that it means deep, emotional suffering? Through the years, it came to mean something else, obviously in the English language. But, originally, it had that sense, as Jesus said, “I must suffer; the son of man must suffer many things at the hands of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the leaders.” He predicted this at the end of this particular week. We know, on Good Friday, that He, in fact, suffered. So we call it Passion Week or Holy Week. Today is the beginning of that.
I wonder if I might give you some reading assignments for this week. This week during Passion Week, every day you could perhaps get up or finish the day by reading that day’s topic. Today is Sunday; it’s the day of the triumphal entry.
What’s Monday? Monday is the clearing of the Temple. Remember, Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He says, “ You’ve turned my father’s house into a den of robbers and thieves. It was meant to be a house of prayer.”
On Tuesday, , He taught all day long in the Temple. There are many teachings that the four gospel writers record that He did on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, three of the four gospel writers are silent. Mark mentions that there was an anointing in Bethany.
On Thursday, we know that we have the Last Supper. The betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane is on Friday, Good Friday. Friday was the day of His crucifixion and His burial. On Saturday, He is in the tomb.
On Sunday, next Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection; He got up from the grave. The tomb is empty. You can go to my blog site, or you can see it on Facebook. You can also see it on a link from our website. I actually have the scriptures that you can read for each of these days. I encourage you to do that.
You probably also noticed, as you came in, that there was an invite card on your seat. This card is to invite people to come back next weekend. We’re going to have four services next weekend; two on Saturday and two on Sunday. We’re kicking off the first service Saturday with a baptism service. At last count, we had fifteen people signed up between our two campuses. We will record it and then we’ll show it at all four services. Invite some people to come out next weekend; that’s what we gave you these invite cards. We encourage you to do that. Be thinking about people, who are far from Christ, that could be brought near during a season like this; people who don’t normally go to church, but will actually go two times of the year. They’ll go at Christmas and they’ll go at Easter; take that opportunity to invite them.
Now let’s talk about you, let’s talk about us for just a second. As Jesus came into Jerusalem that day, the crowds were ecstatic. He came through the golden gate, the Eastern gate; it was one of the biggest crowds they’d ever seen. They were waving their palm branches, saying, “Hosanna,” and welcoming Him in. They were responding to Him as if He were the king, the Messiah.
I wonder, how have you responded to Jesus? How have you responded to Jesus? They responded. Some, perhaps, were responding rightly; they saw Him and they said, “He’s the King.” They saw Lazarus. They’re walking beside Him as He was riding in on the donkey. There’s Lazarus; they had heard that He’d been in the tomb for four days and that Jesus had raised Him from the grave. They were there to see Jesus and they were there to see the man that was raised from the grave. It is a great crowd. I don’t know why they were there. Maybe they were there to see Lazarus. Maybe they were there because they want to see another miracle. Maybe they were there and they were going to save us from Rome.
I don’t know why you’re here. The Lord knows why you’re here. Some of you may be here this morning, and you would say, Lord, save me, like some in the crowd who said, Lord, save us. But then, at the end of the week, they were part of that same crowd that said, “Crucify him.” They’re kind of fickle, you know, crowds are kind of fickle. If you go with the crowd, you’d never know where you’re gonna end up because they can start out the week one way and end the week in another way.
Why would you say, Lord, save me? Maybe, you need Him to save your marriage. Lord, save me from an addiction. Lord, save me from a financial trial that I’m going through. Lord, save me from the bad news I just heard from the doctor. Lord, save me in my parenting of this teenager that I can’t figure out how to help. I don’t know. Maybe you would fill in the blank like that. Those are things that move us towards Christ but that’s not really it. There’s more than that because it would be just like the crowd saying, “Save us from Rome, save us from slavery…” That’s a good thing when Christ could do that. But what He really came to do is to save us from ourselves. Lord, save me from me because the reason I’m having marital problems, the reason I’m having parenting problems, the reason I’m having financial problems, the reason I’m having addiction problems is because I’m a sinner. My life’s out of control and I can’t manage it. I need a Savior; do you see the difference?
You’re not just asking, Lord, save me from my circumstance but save me from my sin; save me from myself. What part of the crowd would you find yourself and how would you respond? How will you respond? How have you responded to Jesus?
In the Gospel according to John, the people responded to His triumphal entry I think in a myriad of ways and I think we can respond today. We can respond rightly to Jesus.
Today, as we look at the text, I would encourage each of us, as we pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our congregation today, that we would all respond as the Lord would have us respond to the person of Jesus Christ.
So let’s look at the text. It’s a text that we know so well. The triumphal entry. We’ll be looking at the gospel according to John, chapter 12 starting at verse 12.
John 12:12-19 (ESV) 12 “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” This is God’s word.
We’re looking today for three ways that we can rightly respond to Jesus. Here is the first:
1. Cry out to Him as Savior.
Let’s look at how the crowd responded. We see them responding, first of all, by saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” That’s a Hebrew word. In fact, even in the Greek translation, they just left it in the Hebrew. They did a transliteration (hôsî-âh-nā); it literally means “Oh , save us.” It might be translated, “Oh, save us now.” Save us right now!
It’s a direct quote from the book of Psalms, chapter 1:18 which was a festival psalm. It was a psalm traditionally chanted as people would enter into Jerusalem during the Passover Festival.
Look at Psalm 118:25 (ESV) “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!” They’re quoting that which they said every year at the Festival of Passover. So this was not new. They normally said it, however, and aimed it heavenward. But on this particular day, they sent it towards Jesus. They pointed it to Jesus as He entered in on the back of a donkey. They said, “Hosanna,” and they directed their desire for salvation to Jesus. They said,be our Savior and save us now. It talks about that.
There was a great large crowd in verse 12 and there are other references to a crowd in verse 17. There’s a lot of talk about a big crowd so it must have been a big crowd. John’s trying to make a point; he refers to it that many times there’s a big crowd, a large crowd. Why is it now that he mentions the large crowd?
One of the reasons was, as I mentioned earlier, they were there because of Lazarus. They wanted to see the guy who was raised from the dead; that was in the tomb for four days. They had all heard about it. We wanted to see the man who raised him, this Jesus from Nazareth.
The other reason there was a big crowd was because it was the Passover. From all over the Roman world, the Jews had been dispersed. They’re all coming home for Passover; there’s already going to be automatically a big crowd. But now it’s doubly so because of this event that happened with Lazarus. Picture with me, if you will, that Jesus is coming with his disciples from Bethany, where He had spent the Sabbath prior to because it says in verse 12, “the next day.” The next day, after the Sabbath, where he was in Bethany, at the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary. Now, here He comes. He had sent his disciples ahead to Bethphage and told them to get Him a donkey there to ride. They said, well, where do we get it? He tells them to just go and they will see a donkey and a colt next to it and just tell the man, “ the Master needs it.” Okay, just do what Jesus says, right? Hey, the Master needs it. Okay, good.
So He’s riding in and He comes to the top of the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is slightly higher than the Temple Mount. They come up over the rise there, coming from Bethany, and then they ride down as their topping the Mount of Olives. There’s already a big crowd coming with Jesus; He has His disciples and those He’s picking up along the way. They’re already waving palm branches as He comes down the Valley of Kidron. And then, He comes back up and He comes into the Eastern Gate, the Golden Gate, into the Temple Mount area. There’s a crowd waiting there who are already there for the festival. And here comes the crowd with Jesus. It’s a big crowd. There’s a great crowd. They’re putting down cloaks. You know, they’re taking off their outer garment and they’re making a carpet for Him to ride in on, and they’re waving palm branches. What a day.
I bet the disciples thought, “this is it!” This is why we’ve been following Jesus. Here it comes! Little did they know that this triumphal entry would end with a terrible exit. They had no clue. It wasn’t until later, they said that they really recognized what was written about Him and what was done to Him. Later they thought about it, and John reflected on it when he wrote the idea of palm branches. Who sent out the memo; let’s all cut palm branches. Why are they doing that?
Well, they had always done that; it had been taught to them. It’s found in the Mishnah, which is a book that the Jews comment on the Bible. It was taught to them that the typical singers and others were to come in waving palm branches.
Leviticus 23:39-40 (ESV) “… And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” They’ve been doing this every year. They were prolific; you could get these anywhere. We had to order ours; they barely got here on Friday. We won’t need them after Palm Sunday, but they came in. But, back then, they had them everywhere.
They’re waving them because that’s what they were taught to do from the law of Moses. But on this day, instead of waving them heaven word; this time, they looked at Jesus because He’s the fulfillment of over 300 Messianic prophecies. In the old testament, He has fulfilled every one. “Hosanna;” save us. They’re chanting, once again in verse 27. The Lord is there. Let’s start the celebration march, with palm branches, all the way to the altar. They had always done this, but now it meant something. The Messiah has come.
What does His name mean? What does the name, Jesus, mean? Gabriel gave Joseph instructions on what to name the child. It says in Matthew 1:21 (ESV) “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” His name, Yeshua, means “Jehovah’s salvation.” God saves. His name means salvation. He is the Savior. The Samaritans encountered Jesus, first of all, the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman at the well. She met Jesus and she says, “He’s told me everything there is to know about me.” And she went back to her town to the city of Sychar. And she said, “come see the Man; could this be the Christ? He told me everything there is to know about me.” They came to see Him; He stayed there a few days. They said this to the woman, in conclusion, it is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves. We know that this is, indeed, the Savior of the world.
You know, just believing it because I said it or because your mama said it or your grandmama said it or somebody told you isn’t enough. You must believe it for yourself that He’s the Savior of the world. “Hosanna;” save us now. Save us now.
There’s a couple of reasons that people respond wrongly to Christ as Savior:
(1) Pride keeps them from asking. They believe they’re good enough. You see, before you’ll say, “save me,” you have to realize you are in need of saving. Well, I’m good. How are you doing? I’m good. You know, we’re prideful about that.
I remember growing up. I didn’t learn how to swim until I was thirteen years old. I grew up in the hills. There weren’t a lot of bodies of water up there. My mom didn’t know how to swim, so she never taught me. My father had passed away when I was younger, so I never learned until I was thirteen. My mom saved up money and we went. I saw the ocean for the first time when I was thirteen. We had a swimming pool at the motel we were staying; it had a diving board. Back in those days, every swimming pool had a diving board. Some of you kids are going, “what’s a diving board?” They used to have these things called diving boards.
There was this beautiful girl doing these beautiful dives off the diving board. There’s nothing like a scene like that to motivate a man to get out of the kiddie pool. I was in the kiddie pool. I had those rubber things pinching my nose, and my mom had put zinc oxide on my nose and my face. I was looking good. I was looking sharp. I saw this beautiful girl and I thought, to get her, I’m going to have to jump off the diving board. I don’t know how to swim, but I’m going to jump off the diving board. That’s the way I thought. It’s amazing how things will motivate a young man. So I did it. I went and jumped off the diving board. I didn’t know how to swim, but I had a system I developed on the fly. I bounced off the bottom and kept jumping up and down until you got to the side. I was close to drowning the whole way.
The girl looks at me and she asks me if I am ok. I said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” She almost jumped in. That might have been a better strategy, looking back on it now, to let her save me, but I had too much pride. I’d rather drown. Some of you would rather drown than ask for help. You’d rather drown than admit, “I’m drowning;” to admit, “I need a Savior to heal me. I need the lifeguard to jump in. I need Jesus.” That same pride keeps a lot of people from crying out. Pride keeps some of you thinking you’re good enough and asking for a Savior is an admission of I’m a sinner. I’m in trouble. My life’s out of control. I need someone. I’m drowning here. I hope some of you will do that this morning; that you’ll finally admit you need a Savior.
(2) Others are here and it’s not the pride thing so much as it is the immediate circumstance that’s got you motivated to even talk about Jesus. You’re thinking, maybe, if I ask Him to save my marriage, (you’re bargaining with Him) if You’ll save my marriage, then I will follow You. If you will get me out of this situation, then I’ll follow You.
Remember the two thieves on the cross. One of them’s crying out, “if you’re really the Christ, save Yourself and save us too.” That’s just some of us. I’m not sure You’re really Jesus, but if you save my marriage…. That’s not saving faith; that’s, “Lord, get me out of this. Get me down from this!” I’ve seen this over and over again. If you think about it , people say they want to follow Jesus, but then the minute things get better, they’re out of here. It was all about You saved me from my situation; You didn’t save me from myself.
There was a thief on the other side of the cross. He said, “Why are you talking to Him like this? Don’t you recognize this man’s innocent? We are criminals. He’s innocent.” Then he says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom. He recognized Jesus as King. He recognized Him; he recognized Him rightly. Jesus turned and looked at him. He didn’t say anything to the one who mocked him, but he turned to the other criminal and said, “I tell you the truth; this day, you’ll be with Me in paradise.”
There’s a right way to respond to Jesus. Admit you are a criminal; admit you are lost. You are drowning. Cry out, “Hosanna;” save me. Save me now.
Here’s the second way that we can rightly respond to Jesus:
2. Trust Him as Mediator.
Mediator means to go between the one who represents. We’re still working out the shouting, the chanting, that they were saying. They said “Hosanna,” in verse 13. Then they said, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. In other words, they’re looking at Jesus and they’re saying, You bear the name. You’re God’s representative. We recognize You as the One who represents Yahweh, Jehovah God. That’s what they’re saying. They’re looking right at Him. They’re putting their cloaks down on the ground as He comes in. You’re the mediator.
Do you know what the book of Psalm is? It’s 150 of them; it’s their songs. They put them to music. They had lyrics. The lyrics were here. They would sing these psalms.
It’s like how we sang when we first got here. For them, okay, Jesus is coming into Jerusalem on the first day of the festival, so turn to hymn number 118 and sing it. They knew this stuff cold, man. They knew it. So, here they are, Psalm 118:26 (ESV) “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.” They’re saying what they’ve always said. But, what’s different? They’re not addressing it directing heavenward. They’re directing it to Jesus. You’re the One that He sent in His name to represent Him to us. You’re the mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The man, Christ Jesus; He’s it. He’s the bridge. He’s the go between. There is no other way. Jesus himself speaks in the gospel of John. He says, in John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There’s not another way, He says. I am the way, the truth and the life. There’s no other way.
Either this is true or it’s the most egotistical claim that anyone has ever made. But if it’s true, it’s life, and I believe it’s true. Do you believe? Do you believe He’s the only way?
When I was in college, in my freshman year, I was supposed to have my best friend from high school rooming with me. He and I were going to go to college together. We picked out the college together. We chose the school and we applied. We were accepted, we were going to be roommates. And then, a few weeks before that, he got nervous about leaving this girl he was dating. So, he stayed home and went to community college so he could stay with his girlfriend. I went on to college with potluck for a roommate. The first roommate I got didn’t last long. We didn’t get along that well. I guess he didn’t like me; he found a place to stay very quickly. For a few months, I had the room to myself, which was cool. I liked that all right.
Then, one day, there was a knock at my door. I had already heard I was getting a new roommate, but I hadn’ met him yet. There was a knock at my door. I opened the door, and I looked down at this short little guy that was almost as round as he was tall. He says, “Hello,” and bumps his belly up against me. “Hello, my name is Merigan Lotfi; I’m your new roommate.” He bumped me all across the room; he was from Iran. You know, in America, American men, (I don’t know if you ladies know this, but we men know it) we’ve got a bubble around us. It’s about two feet. Here’s this guy bumping these guys’ faces, you know, coming up to me. It was new; I told you I was from the hills, right? I’ve never even met someone that was International.
So the next morning, at 5 a.m., I hear a sound. He’s sitting on the floor, in the lotus position on a Persian rug, chanting from a little book. I asked him, “what are you doing, man?” He replied that he was doing his morning prayers. So you do this every morning? Oh, yes, he said. All right, good; 5 a.m. every morning. So, what’s your religion? My religion is Baha’i.; have you ever heard of that? It was started some 200 years ago in Iran in the Persian Kingdom and started by someone called Baha’u’llah. He’s telling me about it. I’ve never heard of it. He was teaching me about it.
Then, he asks, “What do you believe?” And I said, “I’m a Christian.” I started having to get up early and pray too; I didn’t want to lose the competition. He fasted for Ramadan, which turned out to be the best eating because he fasted all day but then had pizza all night. So he would eat pizza at night because you can eat after sundown.
He said, “look, we believe in your Jesus. He is one of many paths to God.” I’ve never heard anybody say that before. I’m a freshman. I don’t know much, but I knew that wasn’t right. I knew that verse about Jesus saying, “I’m the only way.” I read to him what the Bible says, and he tells me, “No, you misunderstand what Jesus means here. Yes, he is one of the many ways.” Moses was a prophet. Buddha was a prophet. Mohammed was a prophet. Jesus was a prophet. But now, the most recent revelation of God was Baha’u’llah; this is his book.” He shows it to me. I said to him, “I don’t see how you can put those together.” He replied, “Yes, we believe in your Jesus. He is one of many ways.”
We spent the rest of the year talking about that. I grew to love Merigan and he grew to love me. He had two buddies; Fashad, who was a Muslim, and his brother Mehran. Mehran went to another college. Fashad and Mehran came over regularly. Their favorite thing to do was to sit on my bed, all four of us would sit on my bed, and watch their favorite show, “Gunsmoke.” Can you see all four of us sitting together, eating pizza and watching “Gunsmoke” on a 13 inch black and white TV with rabbit ears?
I tried to find Merigan last week because I knew I was gonna tell you this story. I’m still praying that he recognizes that Jesus is the only way to God. If there were another way and God still sent Him to die on a cross for us, that would make God a terrible father. Look, it’s the only way. There is no other way. The culture wants to tell you, people want to tell you there are many paths and there many ways, but don’t be moved. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I’m it. I’m the only way.
They said, “ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and they pointed to Jesus, because He’s the only way. He’s the only way. There is no other.
If you think I can save you , I’ll disappoint you. Maybe you think, if I could just get a date with that person, I feel like it would save me. If I could get this man to love me because I have no one’s ever loved me; he would disappoint you. Jesus will not disappoint you. He’s the only way to God. He’s the only way. Have you recognized him as mediator? Entrusted him as the only way?
Here’s number three to how we can rightly respond to Jesus:
3. Recognize Him as Lord.
Look at verse 13 again, “…even the King of Israel…” That’s a Messianic title they’re using. Here they are, under Roman rule, and they’re declaring that Jesus is King. 14 “And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written.” Here is John. He’s reflecting on this later, as we’ve said before.
Later, after Jesus was glorified, after He was risen from the grave and He ascended in His glory, John reflected back on it. Now, wait a minute. That whole thing with the donkey and everything was back there in Zechariah 9:9 every detail predicted. Look at what it says, Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) “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.”
Every detail and fact; over 300 Messianic predictions prophecies in the Old Testament, Jesus fulfilled everyone. Now, we’re going to spend the next few moments going through all 300. Are you ready? We don’t have time, but you’re on board. We’ll do it later on. There’s over 300 of them. We’ve already mentioned that Psalm 18 is filled with Messianic promise and that they’ve been chanting this for centuries.
But now, the King has come, and now John looks back on it. Even the fact that He’s riding on a donkey is a fulfillment of Zachariah.
Now, the Pharisees responded differently. Do you see that in verse 19? (19) So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” Every strategy we’ve used, we can’t stop this Jesus. The whole world’s coming after him, referring to the great crowd. The Pharisees are ticked off. They know the prophecies; they know them better than anybody. They’re students of the book, but they’ve rejected Him as Messiah. They rejected Him as Lord.
Look at what Luke says in his gospel, as he talks about the triumphal entry. He says in Luke 19:36-40 (ESV) “And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The Pharisees said “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Those Pharisees are not saying this stuff to Him like they’re supposed to. In Psalm 118 they’re supposed to sing. They are saying to rebuke them. He says. If I rebuke them, the stones… I would like to see that. Here’s what He’s saying: I’m the creator. I’m the Lord. I made the creature and the creation. If the creature doesn’t cry out, the stones will because I am the fulfillment of what the prophets have foretold. Yet, they rejected Him. Even that was foretold.
Did you know that Jesus told his disciples, on many occasions, that the chief priests and the Pharisees would reject Him and that they would have Him executed but on the third day, He would get up. He had already told them this was coming. Even Psalm 118 predicted that this was the case, Psalm 118:22-27 (NIV) “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”
There it is; it was predicted. Even the rejection of those that would be called the builders; those that were in charge. When his disciples saw Jesus in the book of Matthew, Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the son of the living God.” Thomas had doubts because he hadn’t seen Him when Jesus was resurrected, he wasn’t in the room that day, that evening of the resurrection. And so he said , “unless I touch him, I won’t believe.” Jesus appears eight days later, and when he appears, He says to come and touch and believe. Thomas says, I don’t need to touch. “My Lord and my God,” and he believed. What’s it going to take for you to call on the Lord? Matthew warns this. This is Jesus speaking, he says, Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,… And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Here’s the thing; it’s not enough to pay “lip service” and just say, “Lord, Lord.” It’s not enough.
I was meditating on this this morning, as I was reading through the one your Bible reading for today. When Jesus is saying that a lot of you are calling me, Lord, Lord, but why don’t you do what I say? And then, He says, “You’re like a builder who built the house on the sand and the first storm came along it swept you away and ruined your house.” To say, Lord, Lord, yet not do what I say.
Look around you. What’s different about you and the people who live in the world? What is different about you, other than the fact that you show up here on Sundays and you say, “Jesus is Lord.” Are you living any differently? Are you like the one who, when the first storm comes along, you’re swept away? Are you like the one who actually changes and says, Lord, help me to bring every arena of my life into alignment with your Lordship.
You look at your parenting, you look at your finances. If you’re a single person, you look at who you date. You look at every part of your life. The words that come out of your mouth, you ask, “Is this in alignment, Jesus Lord? If it’s not, then I have to make a decision. Will I follow Jesus or will I desire the appetite of man.”
To say “He is Lord,” let’s be clear. You’re saying He’s boss; He’s in control. Otherwise it’s just talk. You’re just going with the crowd of Christians that you’re with today but tomorrow you’ll be with a different crowd. On Monday, you go with that crowd; you are “wishy washy.” You are lukewarm.
You know, we live in the “Bible Belt,” whatever that means, right? We’re probably like, right on the “buckle.” But you know, that could be a bad thing. The Jews were for the book and doing the right thing. They’re gathering for the Passover Festival. They are in the crowd; they are saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna” to Jesus, but their understanding of that is pretty fickle. They’re so aware of these things. Besides, you know, don’t we like people who don’t even normally go to church? They go; it’s Christmas and Easter because it’s the festival time.
To live in the Bible Belt means that we are in a weakened strain of Christianity, called “Churchianity” and it’s made you immune to the real thing. Growing up in the Bible Belt can actually be a problem. It means that we’re caught up in the tradition or singing the songs or hearing certain things. Maybe, it’s a certain building that looks a certain way, instead of thinking, Jesus is the Lord of my life and he has changed me at the heart level so that I have a new heart, a new desire and a new want to.
Would you call Jesus Lord of your life? Would I be able to tell, with your family members, that He’s Lord of your life; that He is Savior and Mediator? Lord, let’s come out of the crowd today. Let’s step out of the crowd and walk up to Jesus.
As we close, this just being reminded of what James said that right doctrine doesn’t equal right relationship. Here’s how James said it, in James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Even the demons believe that there’s a God and shudder. I mean, even demons have the right doctrine; even demons go to church, but do you believe that He is the Savior and you need saving? Have you cried out to Him, saying, “Save me from myself?” I want to repent of my sin. I need saving. You’re the only way to God. And I’m making you, Lord, You are the Lord. I’m surrendering; I’m bowing down to You today. I’m saying You’re my lord. I will do whatever you say. My “yes” is on the table. You tell me; I will do it.
The triumphal entry ended up being with a terrible exit, but the next Sunday, we’ll talk about how He changed it all by defeating death, sin and the grave and He’s coming again. He’ll be making another triumphal entry soon.
The scripture predicts that He’ll go through the same gate, the Golden Gate, the Eastern gate into Jerusalem. It’s all bricked up now. I’ve seen it. I’ve walked up and touched it. I don’t think those bricks are going to give Him any trouble. He’s coming again. Nothing can stop Him.
Are you ready? Let’s pray. Lord, thank You that You came, you suffered, you died and you rose again for us. We remember that today as we tell the story again; as we, by faith, make decisions based on the gospel today. I pray that there are those, right now in my hearing, that came in far from God, but they leave as Children of God today. Is it you, my friend? I pray for you right now. That’s the Holy Spirit stirring in your heart. Would you cry out to him, right now in prayer, believing, pray with me. Pray with me right where you are. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’m the problem, but I believe You died on the cross and that You rose from the grave and that You live today. Would you forgive me of my sin and save me and make me the person You want me to be? I want you to be Saviour and Lord and Mediator of my life. Make me what you’d have me be. I want to be a child of God. If you prayed that, believing in your heart, He’ll save you. He’ll be your Savior. He’ll be your Lord. Others are here today and you believe. You’ve received Him; He is your Savior, but there’s stuff out of alignment right now. The Holy Spirit is telling you what it is. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s inappropriate. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s an anger problem. Maybe it’s something that’s come into your mind right now. I am praying that the Holy Spirit is showing you that it’s a relationship that is at fault right now. Would you repent? Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for showing me that I want to repent, which means I want to turn away from that and turn towards You. Would You give me the strength now to live in obedience to you? Forgive me again afresh. Help me experience that forgiveness afresh. We lift all this up to you now, in Jesus’ name. Amen.