A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
|John 12 (NKJV™)|
|12||The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,|
|13||took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!"|
|14||Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; 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 were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.|
|17||Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.|
|18||For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.|
|19||The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series
Practicing the Principles:
The Donkey, by G.K. Chesterton
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
Publications Referenced: London Times; Six Hours One Friday: Living in the Power of the Cross by Max Lucado; The Coming Prince , by Sir Robert Anderson; The Donkey, by G.K. Chesterton
Figures Referenced: George Washington; John Wesley; Napoleon Bonaparte; H.G. Wells; Mahatma Gandhi; Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cross References: Deuteronomy 18:15; Psalm 118:26; Daniel 9:25-26; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 15:2-3; Matthew 23; Mark 12:37; Luke 19:41-44; John 7:40; John 7:41; John 7:43; John 9:16; John 9:17; John 9:16; John 9:24; John 10:19; John 10:20; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 19:11-19
Topic: Jesus' final week
Keywords: prophecy, seventy weeks, Passover, donkey, religion
Would you turn in your bibles to John Chapter 12, the gospel of John Chapter 12. I'm glad it was a warm welcome because last weekend there is no way you could have had a warm welcome that would warm you up to any degree at all. That was like the coldest -- I read or heard somewhere that New Mexico was the coldest state in America during that cold spell we had a week and a half ago, that was crazy. I mean I love snow and stuff but I'm kind of done with it.
So today there are people sitting out side a little bit, who actually one person during first service was outside, it was like warm 27 degrees, you know I mean. So anyway let's pray together. Lord it's great to get the family together, it's wonderful to sing songs that are so meaningful they come, they arise out of hearts that are filled with worship, for the most part that is a case here. Father we do pray that the spirit of God will move this morning. He already has been we sense it. We pray more so through your word that it would be direct to us. We give ourselves Lord to this time and set aside and listen to what you might want to say to us and part of our worship is to pay close attention to what we believe the spirit of the Lord is saying through the written word. As we encounter the written word we will then also encounter the living word, Christ himself. That's our prayer this morning in Jesus name. Amen.
Sometimes it's helpful to make a comparison. We're going to do that today in the gospel of John. We're going to look at a few different comparisons. When you compare one thing with another thing it helps you realize how far you've come. For example, if you were to compare your modern cellphone, the one that you have with the first or one of the first mobile phones. This was the Motorola brick phone. And it was quite sizable but if I recall it didn't drop calls but what a difference, what a comparison between your slim cellphone that has apps on it with that thing. Or if you were to compare your laptop computer if you have on with one of the first computers, what a comparisons we laugh at that and that wasn't long ago.
By the way that brick phone, I found one at antique sale. Or if you were to compare you modern kitchen appliances with what your grandmother had her refrigerator, what a difference? When you make comparisons like that you are able to see why one is more preferable than the other and we're going to that in the gospel of John Chapter 12. There are three comparisons that we look at this morning.
Before we get to that, let me help you frame some of the material that is written by the gospel writers. We're on Chapter 12 of John, we're dealing with final week of Jesus on the earth. He lived 33 and a half years. The final week of Jesus upon the earth begins in Chapter 11, Chapter 12 really is the beginning of that last week of his life. But you'll notice that we're only in Chapter 12. So what's important is that John in terms of literary real estate devotes one-half, almost one-half of the entire book to the last week of Jesus on Earth. Matthew devotes two-fifths of his words in Chapters to the last week. Gospel of Mark three-fifths, Luke devotes one-third of all of his words to the last week. That's the focus because that's the week that redemption occurred, the death on the cross and all of those events that lead up to it are highly significant.
Here's another way to look at it, if you were to tally up Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you discovered there's only four chapters in all four gospels that cover the first 30 years of Jesus life, 85 deal with the last three and a half years and of that 85, 29 are focused upon the last week. We're now at one of the most significant events and that is the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We call it Palm Sunday that's the day we think it happened, the week before the Passover, the week before his crucifixion probably was a Sunday.
This event is one of the few events covered by all four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John covered this event. And there's only a few of Jesus events of his life that are told in all four gospels. I kind of look at it this way, anytime God repeats something four times, its pretty important. Sometimes Jesus will say thanks twice like verily, verily. The disciples knew that meant listen up. Sometimes God will introduce himself three times, "Holy, Holy, Holy" in Isaiah 6. But here in the Gospels this story, this event is mentioned four times, he wants us to really get this.
Verse 12 we begin, "The next day a great multitude that had come to feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him and cried out 'Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.' Then Jesus when he had found a young donkey sat on it as it is written 'Fear not daughter of Zion, behold your king is coming sitting on a donkeys coat.'" His disciples did not understand these things at first but when Jesus was glorified then they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done these things to him. Therefore, the people who were with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. For this reason, the people also met him because they heard that he had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing, look the world has done after him."
So we have a day, a specific day I want to tell you about. We have a donkey, we have sitting on the donkey the deliverer for the sins of the world and we have a decision that Jesus in fact enforces people to make with this presentation. He has made many claims, he has done many signs. Now for the first and only time he presents himself as their Messiah forcing their hand to make a decision regarding it. A day, a donkey, a deliverer, a decision. Now as I look at it, this is like the worlds luckiest donkey. Of all the donkeys in the floor wherever that little town across on the Mount of Olives was, this donkey was like the luckiest donkey on his back rides the son of God fulfilling ancient prophecy.
I've always loved this story this is one of my favorite stories in all of scriptures hands down. I did a little donkey research this week, unknown donkey facts. Fact number one, did you know that donkey's average life span is between 25 to 40 years. Sometimes if you take care of your donkey they'll live 60 years of age. They have a quite hefty life span. George Washington owned the first donkeys in American and he became a donkey breeder. Your first president was into donkeys. Donkeys favorite pass time? Rolling in the dirt, they love to do that more than anything else that's why when you touch him this clouds goes poof around him of dust. And this probably explains the personality of Eyor better than any other fact. They love to roll in the dirt. Donkeys as you know have long ears for two reasons, it enables them to hear miles away and interestingly enough it keeps them cool, like a radiator it helps keep their bodies cool.
Something else, donkeys are not just used to transport people or burdens. Did you know that in some places donkeys are used as guard animals? Now I never knew this, I've never seen a sign "Beware of Donkey", I never thought of donkeys being used but apparently in certain parts of the world to guard sheep donkeys are used.
Finally fact, according to the London Times more people are killed annually by donkeys than die in airplane crashes. So if you're afraid to fly just think of riding a donkey, it might help you. Now I don't know if that's really true, that's what the London Times reported but I don't know honestly who honestly who's keeping track of annual donkey deaths around the world. Nonetheless, those are considered the facts. This event takes place on a Sunday as I mentioned Palm Sunday that's what is traditionally referred to as.
But it was a special day and you're going to notice that I hope during this little message, it was the tenth day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar. Why is that important? On the tenth day of Nisan the Jewish families that was the day they would select the lamb and bring it into the family. There would be sacrifice on the fourteenth of Nisan the day of Passover. This was the day the households picked the lamb for sacrifice. It is not insignificant the for the first and only time Jesus Christ presents himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world to the nation of Israel.
Now we're going to notice three comparisons in our text and you'll notice in your worship folder and you have an outline. And this week I cheated a little bit, I didn't give you the full sentence you have to fill in the blank. I want you to be engaged. So jot this down, here is the first comparison. Jesus is more appealing than religion. That's the first comparison. Jesus is more appealing than religion. Look at Verse 12 "The next day a great multitude..." and I'll describe that multitude in a moment "...that had come to the feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him and cried out 'Hosanna Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord the King of Israel.'"
All right these people are religious people, they have come to Jerusalem for a religious feast, the feast is Passover, and we're told back in verse 1. Passover, one of the three mandatory feasts, that is if you live within a certain range of Jerusalem it was compulsory that you went up to Jerusalem for three feast and one of them was Passover. Passover celebrated the deliverance of the children of Israel through ten plagues in the book of Exodus that's forced the children of Israel out into the wilderness and into a new land.
Passover was the focal point of their history. Their calendar revolved around their redemption. The calendar changed once Passover was instituted. But it was the same thing every year. When they went up to Jerusalem, people took the same route every year and the people frankly by and large wanted something more than their religion was giving them. More than endless rituals, more than prescribed prayers, more than the same sacraments and ceremonies, they wanted something more. Max Lucado has written many great books and one of his books he calls it the Musings of a Shepherd, one little piece. It's as if the shepherd one of them is watching what is happening at Passover during the Jerusalem. I'll read it to you.
"He fits on a slope places the blade of grass in his mouth. He looks beyond the flock down at road below. For over a week a river of pilgrims has streamed through this valley bustling down the road with animals and loaded carts. For days he has watch them from his perch. He knew where they were going and why. They were going to Jerusalem and they were going to sacrifice lambs in the temple. The celebration strikes him as ironic, streets jammed with people, market places full of sounds of the bleating of goats and the selling of bird. Endless observances, the people relish these festivities; they awaken early and retire late."
"They find strange fulfillment in this pageantry but not him. What kind of God would be appeased by the death of any animal? Oh, the shepherds doubts are never voiced anywhere except on that hillside but on this day they shout." It isn't the slaughter of animals that disturbs him, it's the endlessness of it all. How many yeas has he seen people come and go? How many caravans? How many sacrifices? How many bloody carcasses? Lamb after lamb, Passover after Passover he turns his head, looks again at the sky and says, "Will the blood of yet another lamb really matter." And that's how a lot of people felt. They wanted something more than religion. They wanted reality and that's why so many of them, this crowd gathers around Jesus and say what they said to him. They wanted something real. John Wesley used to say "I want my religion like my tea, I want it hot."
In other words I don't want some cold perfunctory, ritualistic, dead religious thing. I want reality, I want it hot. Jesus Christ was a breath of fresh air in the melees of dead religion. There was a time Matthew 15 records that the scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem to wherever Jesus was. And it's an interesting conversation. It still puzzles me to this day. They come to Jesus and they say, "Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders; they don't wash their hands the right way before they eat." And I say I'm puzzled because evidently this group was highly motivated to take a trip all the way from Jerusalem to wherever Jesus was to tell him that, to be like tattle tale.
"Your disciples don't wash their hands right." They break the tradition of our religion. What's interesting is what Jesus said to them, he said "Why it that you by your tradition is are breaking the commandments of God." Now had I been in the crowd, I would have gone, "Yes!" Finally somebody stands up to these nitwits, who are all about their little tradition and their little religious stuff and hear Jesus saying "We need reality. We need relationship." That's why people are more attracted to Jesus, he is more appealing than religion.
I find it fascinating that Jesus often hang out with tax collectors, sinners they are called. Prostitutes, but the most scathing words that come from Jesus' lips were for religious people. Don't you find that interesting? In fact religious leaders, the religious elite, classic example is Matthew Chapter 23, 24 Verses are devoted to scathing word. I'm just going to quote a few of them to you. Here they are and I quote, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men neither do you go in nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence you make long prayers." "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye travel land and sea to make one proselyte, and when covert him, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."
Ouch? That's why you can see Jesus didn't have a whole lot of space for this dead empty religion that didn't provide anything in terms of reality for people. So you'll notice a multitude came to the feast and when he was in Galilee multitudes followed him. They were clamoring for this. They were hungry and thirsty for this. Mark puts it this way, "And the common people heard him gladly. Jesus was a breath of fresh air."
Now this a great multitude came and I'm going to give you a little hint here. Passover was a big deal, one source that we read, one source tells us that during one Passover around the time of Christ, 256,000 lambs were slain in Jerusalem for one Passover. According to ancient Jewish law, there were ten people required for every one lamb that puts the population in Jerusalem in roughly 2.7 million people plus, crowds of people. Jesus, and I'm going to put all the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John together -- Jesus gets up in the morning in Bethany walks toward the ascent of the Mount of Olives, behind him gathers a crowd of sizeable multitude. As he gets to the very top of the Mount of Olives, another crowd that has come out of this city is there to meet with him. So there are thousands of people because of what is happening with Lazarus and now Jesus presenting himself on this donkey. And the people cried out one word "Hosanna." And also some said "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." They are quoting Psalm 118, A messianic victory psalm, straight out of the scriptures.
Now the word Hosanna means simply save now or bring salvation now. It was not a praise it was a prayer, it was a desire.
They are saying "Do for us what our religion has not done for us all these years. Save us, bring salvation, deliverance and bring it now." That's what they cry out.
I still find that Jesus Christ, the most compelling figure in history. Now I've been saved since 1973 and I've read through the Bible on several, several occasions. And I still will stop often in my reading in the New Testament because I am just drawn and compelled and amazed at Jesus Christ.
He is the most significant person in all of human history and I discovered I'm not alone in that assessment. I read several different quotes I'm going to give you just a few. Napoleon Bonaparte said "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Cesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires. But Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love and to this day millions would die for him." That's one ruler looking back at that one leader, Christ.
Here is another from H.G. Wells. A historian and an author he wrote War of the Worlds and other books. "I am an historian, I am not a believer but I must confess that as a historian that this penniless creature from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of all history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history." Mahatma Gandhi said of Christ, "He is a man who is completely innocent and he offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others including his enemies and became the ransom of the world."
And finally one of my favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian Novelist writes, "I believe there are no one deeper, lovelier, and more sympathetic and more prefect than Jesus. Not only is there no one else like him, there never could be anyone else like him."
And you see this is what angers these Pharisees. When in the last verse of our text he said, "Look, the whole world has gone after him." because they saw that within the hearts of these people grew this longing that they couldn't fulfill. They were going after Jesus. So that's the first comparison, Jesus is more appealing than religion.
Here is the second comparison, jot this down. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. Now there are a lot of people around Jesus and there must have been a lot of opinions about who he was. Just in the gospel of John, just in John alone, John records the reaction of several people and here is just the sampling. In John Chapter 7 some said, "He's a prophet." In John Chapter 9 some said, "This man is not from God, others in that Chapter said, "This man is the sinner." Also in that same Chapter again they said "He is a prophet." John Chapter 10, some were saying, "He has a demon and is crazy." Other said, "This couldn't be the Christ because he is from Galilee."
Three times in John's gospel is this phrase, "And the people were divided because of Christ..." or there was a division among the people because of him. Now question, were any of those opinions accurate? Not really, I mean the closest one is when they said he is a prophet that harkens back to Deuteronomy 18 when Moses said, "Another one will come a prophet like me, you will listen to him." That's a reference to Christ. But all of these were opinions and the point I want to make is that what scripture declares him to be is much more important and reliable than what anyone believes him to be.
Twice in our paragraph are quotes from scripture, you'll notice in verse 13 they say, "Hosanna save now, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." That's a quote right out of Psalm 118. Look at verse 15 or let's go in verse 14, "Then Jesus when he had found a young donkey sat on it as it is written, 'Fear not daughter of Zion. Behold your king is coming sitting on a donkeys coat.'" He is quoting a scripture that is probably 500 to 600 years old that Jesus on this day, the tenth of Nisan is fulfilling.
Question, why is he sitting on a donkey? Why a donkey? Do you just say, "I'm tired." Well he just got up, it was the morning. Did he say, "I've always wanted to be on a donkey, I love donkey rides." Now he is doing this John says to fulfill what the prophets said that the Messiah will come, the king will come riding on a donkey.
Now the full scripture comes to us in Zackariah 9, verse 9 and it's stated this way. "Fear not oh daughter of Zion. Rejoice oh daughter of Jerusalem for behold your king is coming to you. He is lowly and riding a donkey, he is just in having salvation on a 'the full of a donkey.'" And John lifts part of that verse or paraphrases that verse and says that Jesus fulfilled it. Why a donkey? For this reason. Whenever a kings rode in a parade fashion on donkey it was during times of peace whenever it was times of war they would ride a horse. Jesus wasn't coming as their great deliverer, victor I'm going to wipe out the Romans. He is coming as the prince of peace offering peace through the salvation by the death that he would die within a week. He came at peace, that's his first coming, he came as the prince of peace.
Now when he comes the second time, Revelation 19 says, he's going to ride a horse a white horse and that is because it says in Revelation 19, "He comes to judge and to make war." two different comings. But there's something else going on and to me this is like the one of them most favorite verses of scripture. This doesn't just show us the applicability of all testament scripture to the life of Christ but the accuracy and reliability of it.
Now I'd like you to turn, keep a marker here or finger here turn back one book, that's all one book Luke, turn to the book of Luke Chapter 19. Luke Chapter 19, "It's the same event with an added detail by Luke about this coming of Jesus into Jerusalem." Luke Chapter 19. In Verse 41 he is now descending the Mount of Olives. He's going down on this donkey, he stops and he weeps over the city. Verse 42 notice Jesus said, "If you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now with this hidden from your eyes. Then he predicts the Fall of Jerusalem." He said, "You should have known this day, this is the day you should have known about." And he predicts the Fall of Jerusalem because they didn't know the day, now look at verse 44. "They will not leave in you, that is Jerusalem one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation." What's he talking about? What day is he referring to because he's obviously holding them accountable to know this day?
And then he mentions the time of your visitation, this is what he is referring to. He is referring and I'm going to need your brains on this one. You've got to follow me on this one. You've got to really think and engage to. Jesus is referring back to a promise, a prediction made in the book of Daniel Chapter 9 that says the exact time the Messiah will come. He is holding them accountable for not knowing the day. In Daniel 9 the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel the prophet and he says this "Seventy sevens." Literally, seventy sevens or 490 years are determined for your people -- that's the Jewish people and for your holy city that's the City of Jerusalem to finish the transgression, to make and understand, to bring reconciliation for inequity, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint them most holy, 70 periods of 7, 490 years.
Now watch this, I'm going to read it to you. This is Daniel 9 and I'm reading in the new century version for ease. "Learn and understand these things," the angel says to Daniel. A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem, the time from this command until the Messiah comes --or the anointed leader --will be 49 years and 434 years. Or I did the math, a total of 483 years. After this the Messiah will be killed. Okay stop, what did we learn so far? The angel says, "Daniel, from the time that a commandment comes to rebuild Jerusalem which had fall to the Babylonians and was destroyed to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah will be 483 years.
Okay. Now we have information because we know in history the exact date when the commandment was given to restore and build Jerusalem. It was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445BC it's well attested to in history. That means we should be able to count four hundred and eight three years from March 14, 445BC and come up with the coming of the Messiah.
Now there was a guy named Sir Robert Anderson who wrote a book called "The Coming Prince" where he documents all that I am saying. And I'm saying it in brief fashion, it's a whole book about it. Sir Robert Anderson was knighted for his work and he was the head of Scotland Yard at one time. So he took the calendar, the Jewish calendar based on the Babylonian calendar of 360 days, not 365 days. And he discovered that 483 years is 173,880 days precisely. He calculated it it's in his book. That means that from March 14, 445BC, if you were to count a 173,880 days you should find something significant. Well he did, he counted a 173,880 from March 14, 445BC and it happened to fall in our calendar on April 6, 32AD. You know what date that was? This day, this day the tenth of Nisan when the lambs were presented to the household when Jesus Christ for the first and only time allowed this kind of public parade of his Messiahship into Jerusalem. On this exact day Jesus came.
Now here's my question to you. How exact is God? How precise is God? Does God keep his appointments? Is God ever late? Can you trust this kind of God? That's really the bottom line issue. Now the disciples who were there seeing all this, they didn't get this at first until after Jesus ascended into heaven and was glorified look at verse 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first but when Jesus was glorified then they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done these things to him.
Now that's how it works. The longer you spend reading this book and going through it, I tell you what, every time I find fulfilled prophecy and there is some much of it here. I marvel at the accuracy of it and the reliability of it. It's absolutely astonishing to me. Hebrew says the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, it's living and powerful. So that's the great point here. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. Now forgive me but when somebody says, "Well my opinion about God and my opinion about Jesus --"stop, stop, stop. I don't care bout your opinion, until your opinion gets as accurate as this book." But when it comes to your opinion about God and for that matter, my opinion about God, it doesn't mean anything. Scripture that reveals God and reveals Jesus accurately with pinpoint accuracy is more reliable than anyone's opinion including all of theirs on that day.
Here is the question to walk away with before we get in to our next and final point. A God that is this accurate, a god that is this detailed and this caring, is he trust worthy? Is he? So say he is trust worthy, okay he is trust worthy you can relay upon him. So whatever you're dealing with and going through in your life just remember back to this, he can handle it, he sees it all in advance.
Here's the third and final comparison following is more important than observation. Following is more important than observation. Now I didn't know this until I really studied this paragraph this week. But there are four groups that are mentioned. Four separate groups that were observing this whole event. First group is the disciples, they're mentioned in verse 16. The disciples are followers of Christ. They are learners that are what disciple means. They are learning and they're following this Jesus for three, three and a half years now. That's verse 16
The second group was a group of eye witnesses who were present a few days before when Lazarus was raised from the dead.
They saw it, they were with Martha and Mary standing in front of the tomb when Jesus said, "Lazarus come forth." And they saw that dead guy walked and they told other people about it, that's verse 17. Therefore the people who were with them, when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness, they told other people.
The third group is in verse 18. They are the people who heard what the second group told. Wow, I just heard that this Lazarus guy is alive that this Jesus guy raised him from the dead. They were there, that's verse 18. For this reason the people also meet him because they heard that he had done the sign.
Now there's a fourth group and that's verse 19. And those are the Pharisees, the religious elite we've have studied them before. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves and they're looking at these three groups of people gathered around Jesus. And the Pharisees said, "You see you are accomplishing nothing. Look the world has gone after him." I chuckle at this because if you recall back when they had that little council meeting of Sanhedrin this was their biggest fear. They said in Chapter 11:48, "If we let them alone like this, everyone will believe in him." Now they're kind of going "Okay, we blew it, we lost it's over everybody believes in him." Look everybody is following him. Now that wasn't true, everybody was observing him, everybody was excited in the moment, and everybody was very emotional. But of all of those four groups that were watching this, it was only one group that believed in the scripture and placed their trust in Jesus and that was those disciples. That was the only group.
Here's my point. It's great to make observations, it's great to study the life of Christ and observe certain facts about Him. But observation should lead us to conclusions which should lead us to actions. What are you going to do about it, what are you going to do with Jesus Christ? There are a lot of people who study and underline and take notes and are a part sort of the function of the event of Christianity all short of applying truth to their lives and living it out in obedience to him, that's following Christ, that's being a disciple.
So today is the day of your visitation for some of you. Just as God engineered that donkey in that exact date, I believe God has engineered it for you to be here at this morning, it's no coincidence. "Oh, no, no, I was invited by a friend." Yeah that what it seems like, you were put here by God. "Oh well I really didn't want to come with my idea but I -- I got stuck in traffic so I decided I'd stay." Okay cool, you've got an appointment with God. It's the day of your visitation. This is the time perhaps that God has for you. What will you do about it? You know what's interesting about the story and I close with this.
Of all of the personalities in the story, the donkey is the most compliant one. Isn't that interesting? Because typically we associate donkeys as being really stubborn. Donkey is just like he will come along from that town to this town, Jesus will sit on him he will go down, and he's the most compliant one in the story. What a lucky donkey.
G.K Chesterton, a great author, I recommend his writings to you. G.K Chesterton wrote a little poem imagining what it was like to be this donkey. And if you don't mind I'll close with it.
"When fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon a thorn some moment when the moon was blood then surely I was born. With monstrous head and sickening cry and ears like errant wings the devil's walking parody of all four-footed things. The tattered outlaw of the earth with ancient crooked will, starve, scourge, deride me I am dumb I keep my secret still. Fools! For I also had my hour, one far fierce hour and sweet: There was a shout about my ears, and palms before my feet."
That donkey on that day carried the deliverer while people were making their decisions, what's your decision? What's your decision concerning Christ?
Let's pray. Father in heaven, we bow our heads because you're the king of the universe. We close our eyes to not have any other distraction before us or movement. And we think about what we just heard and we are amazed at not only how one scripture relates to another.
But how accurate and reliable your word is the Bible is. One of the classic truths the Bible is unlike any other book in literature. And that following Christ is the smartest move because we see even mathematically the very day described by Daniel for it was Jesus held the nation accountable. Jesus walked in or came in to Jerusalem sitting on a donkey, fulfilling Daniel's prophecy, fulfilling Zachariah's prophecy, fulfilling Psalm 118, showing us that the revelation of your word is far more important than the opinion of any man or a women or a documentary on television.
So Lord here we are confronted like they were then with a choice, will Jesus become our Lord or will we relegate him to the realms of religion and belief systems, myths that people have? If you're here today and maybe up to this point Jesus is, this has just been sort of a religious experience, you go to church. You had children so you think they need to be in a good environment. You come, you listen, you sing, you're involved to a point. But it's just like religion, there's no reality, there's nothing authentic, nothing compelling about Jesus that you follow him.
Now it's your opportunity this day of your visitation to change that and to make Jesus the center of your life and do like these disciples commit to him and follow him and believe His word and believe and trust Him. If you want to do that, if you want to see that change in your life or maybe you at one time followed Christ but you haven't been lately and you need to come back to him.
As our heads our bowed, as we're praying and we're about to close, if you want to commit your life to Christ I want to pray for you as we close. I need to know who I'm praying for so I'm going to just lift your hand up in the air, just lift it up high, just keep it up there for a moment and I'll acknowledge you. God bless you ma'am and you sir toward the front and you. And you up to the side, up to my right, yes ma'am I see your hand. In the back, couple of you in the back, couple of you right in the middle up front. In the family room, anyone else, raise it up high, move it around so I can see it, God bless you in the back. Yup a couple of you, I miss you, I'm glad you move it around.
Father, we pray for every hand because every hand is attached to a life a real life. Someone that's important, someone that you died for and you want to give new life. I pray, we pray for all of them that you strengthen them in the commitment that they are making. A commitment to come to you for the first time or to come back to you and to walk with you and to be forgiven and live in newness of life to trust this God who is so accurate. In Jesus name, Amen.