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This message details Palm Sunday, a day God's prophets accurately foretold as the day the Messiah would enter Jerusalem. This passage also encourages us to consider the sincerity of our acts of worship and the motive behind them. The question "Why are you doing this?" is one we ought to hear often and answer with integrity.
Habits and Huge Gifts: Two Things That Don't Always Please God
The Main Man, You, and the Main Thing
The Root of All Error and the Truth About Death
The Separation of Church and State
The 'Blessed Idiocy of Grace' and How We Must Respond
A Game God Won't Play
A Tree, A Temple, and A Timeless Truth: The Danger of Leaves Without Fruit
Not Your Typical Spring Cleaning - Jesus in The Temple
The Day the King Came and the Question His Followers Should Ask and be Able to Answer
Busting Out From the Crowd of Darkness: What You Want and What to Do When You Get It
What We All Want and How to Get It
Let me tell you that we obviously did that without the guy knowing what we were doing and then explained to him what it was that we were doing. We opened up the Scriptures and said, "Here's what we're doing. You've been on film. We want to use this Sunday. We're just trying to show how amazing this event was in Scripture." Too many times we just read kind of crazily.
So I had a chance to just sit with that guy and to walk him through a little bit of Mark 11 and explain to him what we're about as a church, what we're trying to do, and how we're trying to connect with folks. We want to help them understand how the God that lived back then that took care of needs in a sovereign way is still interested in taking care of needs in a sovereign way today.
We have not had a dream. He has not told us to come here and get this truck. We believe if that's what he wanted us to do, that it could happen and we would go. One of the things that you're going to hear me say a little bit later today is simply this: when God asks you to do something, you don't need to concern yourself so much with how it's going to happen as much as you understand what it is you've been asked to do and who it is that has sent you.
There are a lot of folks that have been convinced that God wanted something done for them or them to do something for God that we would probably have a bit of a contest with and argue with them. We would say, "You know what? Maybe the Lord doesn't have need of that behavior. The Lord doesn't have need of that action."
This world continues to focus on the tragedy that happened in September of this last year is partly the result of somebody who said, "God has need of this, for you to get behind a plane and to fly into these buildings around the United States." People often justify their wild behavior or their crazy request or their bold action by saying, "The Lord commanded it. The Lord has need of it."
The question is…Is it the Lord that has asked them to do it? If so, it doesn't matter what he has asked. We need to make sure that we know what it is that he has asked and if we're going to concern ourselves with doing it. Let's move back to this passage for a second. Let's put ourselves in Mark. We've been working our way through this little section of Scripture called the gospel of Mark .
If you've not been with us as a guest, we have shown how Christ Jesus…this one who the Jews would say is the Messiah…has identified himself as the long-awaited one of this people Israel, a group of folks that were no better than anybody else but God chose to reveal himself to in such a way that they would be uniquely blessed.
In the midst of that unique blessing and prosperity and protection, it would cause other nations of the world to look at them as a people and say, "What is it about you Jewish people? What is it about you followers of Jehovah? What is it about you people who have the book of the law and the promises of this covenant you speak of that bring you such abundant blessing and protection?"
The Jews were always supposed to respond as we're supposed to respond. "Listen, we're not better than anybody else. We have been recipients of a divine gift. The lives we live that are attractive to you and the community that we're a part of which brings protection and blessing are ones that come not as a birthright to us because we are of a certain blood descent, but they're a blessing that come because we are of a certain faith. It is a faith of the God who has revealed himself as the Creator. He is a God who loves you and wants you to know him. We are here as a people to introduce you to him."
We've watched how Jesus came and set this group of people who had wandered in their effectiveness as a kingdom of priests. Jesus came to try and let them know that they've got to get themselves back on the straight and narrow; walking as God told them to walk so that he could bless them as he intended to bless them so that he could declare his glory to the nations. It was never about the Jews. It was about God's kingdom program and God using a group of people to declare his glory.
It's about the Jews in this sense: God is going to do unique work through them, both historically up until this point and we think prophetically future. He wants to uniquely do with them what he said he would do with them, but they're in the midst of a time where they missed God's anointed one, God's chosen one. Their Messiah (which means anointed) would come, whom the Scriptures reveal would be Prince of Peace. He would be Mighty God, Conderful Counselor, who himself would be Eternal Father. That's who Jesus was.
All throughout his life in chapters 1 through 10 of Mark, we've found that when Christ does things, again and again people look at him and say, "Man, you're the one!" He would just say, "Shh! Keep it down! I don't want you running around telling everybody." There are a number of reasons why. It is called by people who study the Scriptures a silence motif.
There are a lot of reasons why Jesus was constantly going, "Don't go tell anybody." First, he didn't want people to make themselves out to be celebrities because something unique had happened to them. Secondly, he didn't want to be seen as the mobile miracle medical worker. Thirdly, because he didn't want certain folks to represent him because of possibly who they are in their eternal state (demons) or just because of their derelict lives.
Another reason was because he wanted the disciples to develop more before they were thrust into this controversy. Another reason was because he was slowly revealing himself, giving more and more evidences for who he said he was before he was just thrust on the scene. This guy claimed to be the Messiah.
He wanted his works to get out there as much as his words so they could see he didn't just say he was a duck, but he walked like a duck and talked like a duck. Lastly, because he did not want this conflict that would be imminent between him and the powers that be, both political and religious, to come to a head before its time.
Again and again, Jesus kept saying, "Hey, just keep it down. Go tell your village, go tell them that yes, I'm here, but let's not just run around trying to declare exactly who I am just yet. I'll do that on my own time and in my own way. I'm doing it a little bit at a time as I move around. I'm revealing myself more and more to those that walk most closely with me. There will be a day where we'll make it very clear who I am."
You need to know this. The religious leaders, by the time we get to Mark 11, were absolutely committed to ousting Jesus. They were committed to killing him. They were committed to doing away with him because he was a thorn in their side, but they knew that they shouldn't do it during what was about to be one of the largest feasts of the year. It was when Jews from all over the region in which they lived migrated to one little town. That town was Jerusalem.
Many people had seen the words and works of Christ, and they had decided that this guy was the Messiah, the long-awaited one who would deliver them to a place of blessing and prosperity, and they knew if they took him on in the midst of that crowd, that they might have a riot on their hands. They had determined not to mess with Jesus this week in the Scriptures that we're about to enter into.
God had other plans. He's about to leave the silence motif. He's about to throw himself in the ring. He's about to make a very bold and brash claim. Even though they didn't want to do with him this particular week, he was going to say, "It's not about you. It's not about your timing. It never has been. It's about God's timing, God's prophetic calendar, and God's eternal purposes.
You're going to deal with me this week. I'm going to declare right to your face and to all the people who I think I am. We're going to have to wrestle through that and see what happens after that. So whether you think you're going to pick the day and time when you mess with me or not, I'm telling you this is the week." We are at the climax of this book.
This book is just 16 chapters. We have spent almost three-plus years in the first 10 chapters. That's not teaching through it, though it might feel like that to some of you. What I mean is chronologically from Mark 1 to Mark 10:52, there are about three-plus years in the life of Christ. Mark 11 through Mark 16 is one week.
What does that tell you about the significance of this one week? It says that 25 percent of this book is dedicated to what is commonly called the passion of Christ, the suffering of Christ. This is what he came for. It says in one of the other gospels he set his face to Jerusalem.En te hodo. He was on the way. He was committed to going there. It was his time. That's why he said a little bit later, "Nobody takes my life. I lay it down."
You need to see, as we enter into a very difficult week for the disciples, who is in control and who is sovereign? Whose plan is unfolding? Is it the Enemy's? Is it the religious leaders'? Is it Rome's? Or is it the Lord's? You're going to see that this day had been anticipated for 483 years to the day. There are a couple of Scriptures that I want to look at to show it to you.
The Jews would make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year. There were three feasts, three big national celebrations where they were called to come to this city. One of them is the Passover week, the Passover Feast. As they came to the city, they would often sing a group of psalms, the Song of Ascents, psalms that they would think about on the way to the city to remind them of why they were going.
One of them has a verse in there which almost everybody in this room knows. You have probably quoted, if not been forced to sing a song about it, in some vacation Bible school somewhere along the way. Psalm 118, verse 24, "This is the day…""This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord hath made… Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Look at Psalm 118 with me. "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes." In other words, when you get the architects of the city of God, the architects of the nation of Israel, and they start building…
They reject the foundational piece that they need to use and they go, "You know what? This stone is not significant. We reject it as consistent with our plan." They kicked it out. Jesus, in Matthew 21, said, "Nope, you need to know this. The stone that they rejected is the very key cornerstone, and it is marvelous in our eyes."
It says then, "This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Watch this. Verse 25 is another little familiar section. It's where we get our "Hosanna" from, which basically is a combination of two Hebrew words that have been moved right from the Hebrew to the Greek to make one word, hosanna, which we have moved from the Greek right to the English language. When you hear people say hosanna, it means, "Lord, save us." Or, "Lord, we beseech thee." And some, "Lord, in heaven, to you we pray."
It has even been transformed into just being another way to say, "Hallelujah." You heard Paul in his prayer today simply say that at the very end. "O Father, hosanna." Because that word has been so infiltrated into the followers of Christ and into students of the Scripture, that when we say, "Hosanna," what we're saying is, "I will praise you. Hallelujah."
That's what was about to happen in Mark, chapter 11 and Psalm 118 as they move forward to this time of worship. Three times a year, every year they would go over this psalm. One of the things they would say is, "We look forward to that day. God, we beseech you." "O LORD …" **That's the hosanna."…send prosperity!"**
Then look what it says. It says, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.""We can't wait for the one who comes who is this long-expected one who will deliver us from the state that we were in." Like us, these people who were in the midst of persecution, when they thought, "It's going to be a great day when this one comes," they thought that he was going to deliver them from the state that they were in, meaning the state of oppression.
They were largely pigeons of Caesar in Rome. They weren't free to worship their God the way they wanted to. They weren't even declaring his glory the way they wanted to. They thought the Messiah would come and set Caesar straight and deal with the Herods and the individuals who were oppressing them, the Pilates of their world.
They looked for somebody who would come who would be a conquering king. What Christ has done is send his disciples ahead. He said, "You go in there, and there is going to be a donkey and her colt." Matthew says, "You go get them both and bring them to me." Then he rode this donkey. Why did Christ ride the donkey?
There are several reasons why he rode a donkey on this day, this blessed day that the Lord had made when the Deliverer would come and get them out of this state of bondage that they were in. (Again, they thought it was largely political.) God will deal with the political oppression of Israel, but first he was concerned with something far greater, which was the spiritual oppression of the world that is a slave to sin.
If you're here today and you're having a hard time with all this stuff coming at you, if you go, "Wait a minute. What's this got to do with me?" I want to tell you something. This Lord wants to deliver you today from the state of oppression that you are in, the state of bondage to sin and self-destructive behavior.
Oh yeah, you have moments of morality or moments of goodness in a worldly sense, but you know that your life is ultimately headed down a road which is leading to more despair. Not a road which is leading to more prosperity, where life is blossoming around you and (most significantly, first and foremost) in your own heart.
That Lord says, "I don't care where you've been. I don't care where you're coming from, what hills, what foreign places. If you're here today, I want you to meet me. I want you to know that this is going to be a blessed day." For those of us that know him, he says, "I want this to be a day that you do more than just sing a group of songs to me but to remember that you exalt my name, not just by doing something out of religious ceremony but by responding rightly to who I am and what I've called you to do." That is what's wrapped up in this passage today.
Jesus told them to go get this little donkey, go get this little colt, this foal. He did that for several reasons. First, he says, "I want you to go get this little colt that no one has ever ridden." In Leviticus, one of the books in the Old Testament, we are told that any animal which has not been ridden is an animal which is appropriate for use in a religious service, whether that be a sacrifice or some other means.
God didn't want anything that had been used and put out, no swayback, to be sacrificed on the altar. He said, "You get one that is pure and pristine, that has never been ridden. It can be used for religious service. You go get me a colt. It's about to be used for the highest religious service that a beast of burden can be used for. It's going to carry the King in."
Secondly, in ancient Middle East civilization, whenever a king would come in a time of peace, he would ride, not a horse, but he would ride a donkey. It would be as if you would come with a white flag before you. You're not coming to do war on some steed. You're coming in a time of peace on a colt into town.
Lastly, there's a reason that he rode this thing. Matthew says, writing to the people who understood the Old Testament, "This happened that it might be fulfilled." Now check this out. I'm going to take you to two places. Just follow with me. I'm going to walk you through two little prophecies, one that's pretty self-evident and another one that's going to take me just a little bit of time, that should encourage you about the sovereignty of this God.
Zechariah, chapter 9, verse 9 is a place in the Scripture where it's been prophesied that the nation of Israel should, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!" It's just another way of saying people of Israel. "Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Then it goes on to talk about how this king will also not just come humbly, but he's going to have some work to do. He's going to "…cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."
What this is saying is this one is going to come humbly at first, but he's got some work to do and he's going to get it done. There is a gap between Zechariah, chapter 9, verse 9 and Zechariah, chapter 9, verse 10. Right now it is about 2,000 years old and is guaranteed to be at least another 7 years plus some days, unless something really miraculous happens in the next few minutes.
I'm going to explain what I mean by that. There is a book in the Old Testament that was written to a group of people who were in exile. By exile I mean that they had been run out of their land, they had been taken as captive and prisoners, and they were living basically in what is modern-day Iraq. They were living under the oppression of a guy by the name of Nebuchadnezzar and his sons.
They were in this time of discipline. God spoke to them through a man by the name of Daniel while they were in exile away from Jerusalem. One of the things that Daniel said to them was that, "God is still in control." Let me just unfold for you the rest of history. Daniel, chapter 9, verse 24. This is what it says.
"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression…" **To finish the sin, the effects of sin. Secondly,"…to make an end of sin…" Thirdly,"…to make atonement for iniquity…" Fourthly,"…to bring in everlasting righteousness…"**
Fifthly, seventy weeks, "…to seal up vision and prophecy…" In other words, to wrap it all up. All of history that has been recorded and prophesied in Scripture is going to be wrapped up, Daniel said, in seventy weeks. Lastly, it says, "…and to anoint the most holy place." There in Daniel, chapter 9, verse 24, Daniel says, "In seventy weeks, this is going to happen." The first thing you need to ask yourself is "What is seventy weeks? When does it start and when does it end?"
I want to tell you why this is significant. This is a chance to encourage you from the Scripture and let you know that God in his sovereignty is in control. I want to show you what is happening in Mark, chapter 11, verse 1. It is the fulfillment of a very specific prophesy to the day back in Daniel, chapter 9. With very little effort in studying the Scriptures, when you look at what a week is, you'll see it's not seven days or seven weeks.
In fact, when you look at our day and age and you think of people talking about ages of time, we most often talk in tens or in decades. In the Jewish world, they spoke more in heptads. Do you know what a heptad is? We know what a decade is…it's a 10…because that's what we deal in. but heptads are sevens, groups of sevens.
Daniel said there are going to be seventy weeks, seventy sevens. A week is seven days. With very little effort, almost everyone agrees that these seventy weeks are not seventy seven-day periods, nor are they seventy groups of seven-day periods. They are seventy groups of seven years. If you have seventy weeks of years, that's seventy times seven or 490 years.
What you'll see in verse 25 is that Daniel breaks it up into seven sevens and 62 sevens and one final week. Let me read it to you and show you something. In verse 25, it says, "So you are to know [that all of history is going to be wrapped up into these seventy weeks…""So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…"
This is what he says: Starting with a day that a decree is made in history, still future, to go back and rebuild and restore the city that all you guys are in exile from, from the day that some Gentile king, non-Jewish king says, "You know what? We're going to go back and rebuild Jerusalem. I'm going to let you do it."
He happened to speak that to a guy named Nehemiah. Nehemiah, chapter 2, in your Bible tells you that event actually happened. It was March 5, 444 BC. The record is very clear. March 5, 444 BC, the event that he said would begin. Seventy groups of seven years would start the end of God's prophetic calendar.
Here is what he says. "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…" Artaxerxes to Nehemiah on March 5, 444 BC. "…until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…" Do you hear what he's saying?
From the moment that this decree is given, there are going to be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Here comes some math. Seven times seven? 49. Seven times 62? 434. That takes you to 483 years. So 483 years from that day that the decree is given to rebuild Jerusalem he says the Messiah, the one you're looking for, will come into Jerusalem.
The Jewish prophetic year was 360 days. You have to take 483, which is seven times seven, plus sixty-two times seven. You have to take 483 times 360 days. I'll just show you a little calendar. Here we go. The Jewish calendar is 360 days a year. The Gregorian calendar, which we live under, is 365 days a year.
What they have up there is a little math that shows you how long this should happen. Four hundred eighty-three on the left times 360 shows you how many days from Artaxerxes to Nehemiah it would be before Messiah would come into Jerusalem. In the Gregorian calendar you have over there, there are 365 days, which is 476 years in our calendar. If you go back and look when the calendar has been readjusted from prophetic year to Gregorian year, it is 476 years from 440 BC to AD 33, which is where we are in Mark 11.
On this you have to take that 476 years, 365 days, you get 173,740 days. You have to add in 116 days for leap years. Why? Because every four years you have a leap year. That's because a solar year is not 365 days. It is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45.9765 seconds. How about that? That's how long a year is. That's some useless information unless you're on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I'll never use it again.
That's why we have a leap year, to adjust our calendar every four years. You have the 116 days in leap years, plus the 24 days that are left from March 5 to March 30. We are at March 30 in 33 AD. Guess what is about to happen…to the day? You have somebody who is about to ride into Jerusalem. He is about to make a very bold claim.
You know that verse in Zechariah, chapter 9, that says the King is going to ride on the foal of a colt of a donkey into that city? Do you remember that verse back there in Daniel, chapter 9, verse 25 that says, "On this day, Messiah will enter into Jerusalem"? Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet. He is stepping into the ring.
He is saying, "The silence is over. Do you want to know who I think I am? Go get me a donkey. They might not want to fight me during this week because a bunch of y'all are here, but it isn't their calendar that we are operating on. Get the donkey." Unlike the guys who had a bad dream and sent him to get the Ford F150, they went in because the donkey's master was willing to serve his own Master, which was the Lord.
They went and got that donkey and they moved into the city. Jesus allowed the people to sing Psalm 118 to him and let them worship him and let them lay down their clothes and palm branches in the road. Why did they do that? In Isaiah, chapter 40 (you don't even need to turn there), one of the familiar places of Scripture if you ever listen to Handel's Messiah… Look at verse 3.
It says, "A voice is calling, 'Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.'" Whenever a king would come, they'd repave the road so it wouldn't be a bumpy ride into their city so he would want to come back and not have whiplash from trying to get there. They would repave roads. "The king is coming. Let's make the way clear."
What Isaiah 40 is saying, "Let's make the way right for him." These people were moved to lay down their jackets. They were moved to lay down branches. They used everything they could find to smooth out the road that he might walk softly on this donkey, this King into a city. Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet, people, in this little section.
He is saying, "Do you want to know who I think I am? I think I'm hosanna. I think I'm the one that you need to pray to, to beseech me to come save you. I am here, and I bring salvation. I am righteous and just." Do you remember what he said to the rich young ruler? "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone." That wasn't his denying that he was good.
He was just saying to that rich young ruler, "If you knew what you said about me, you would already have the answer to the question that you're seeking, which is 'How do I know that I've got eternal life?'"It's to acknowledge that you're not good, turn to the one who is, and ask for mercy and grace. Then you'll get your salvation. The one full of mercy, grace, and righteousness is riding on a donkey into that city. He is saying, "I am King." This is whose calendar we're operating on.
I want to leave all that for a second and make some observations from this text that will just drill it right home to you. It will help you and I say, "Man, God seems to be pretty specific about what he's going to do."At the end of the 62 weeks, by the way, which is 483 years, it says Messiah will be cut off. What the Old Testament writers didn't understand and we only understand because we can look back and see it, is that there is a gap between this sixty-ninth week (7 plus 62) and this seventh, or the seventieth week of Daniel.
In this fall, we're going to take a little break from Mark the week after Easter. We're going to start a four-week series on conflict resolution. Then we're going to do some different stuff throughout the summer. When we get back into Mark this fall, it's in Mark 13 where Jesus is talking about the seventieth week. We're going to do four or five weeks on the end times. We're going to unfold what theologians call eschatology.
We have two things. You want to be targeted about inviting your friends to that they're interested in? Everybody fights. We're going to tell them how to work through conflict biblically that will bless them whether they get their heart right with God or not. There will be application that will bless their life. I hope they'll see the wisdom in the Bible's conflict-resolution methods, and they'll want to know the God behind that wisdom. They will deal with their conflict between him and their Creator.
Then this fall, everybody is going to have to worry about last things. You bring them here for that. You make sure they're ready to understand what God says about this seventieth week. What is that? That is the last seven years in biblical history, prophetic history, that lead up to when Jesus himself then reigns for 1,000 years before we move into the eternal state. See you in the fall for details.
When the Messiah is cut off, there is this gap when a nation that is not a nation takes his name and becomes a kingdom of priests. Peter would tell us that is you and me. Until God moves us into that last seven years, he expects you and me to be this kingdom of priests who carry forth the declaration of who he is and say,
"That's our King. That nation might've rejected him. That civilization and generation might've rejected him, but we're not going to reject him. We're not just going to sing songs on Sunday that he is our King, Lord save us, and this is a blessed day because salvation is here. We're going to live our lives in right response to him."
When people look at our lives and cock their heads and say, "Please explain," We're going to tell them that our lives are such the way they are because the King has done a work in our hearts and he wants to do a work in yours. We're going to declare his glory to the nations, just like the Jews should've and just like the Jews will.
This little parenthetical time between the Messiah being cut off and his coming in glory is where you and I fit in the Bible. This is really not a triumphal entry. This is more of a tragic ending of the Messiah being rejected. We call this the triumphal entry, but you have to know something. This is not the triumphal entry that is expected one day that he will come…
Do you know the next time that Jesus comes into Jerusalem what he's going to be riding? A steed, a white stud. He's going to have a whole bunch of captives behind him that he has delivered and brought under his headship. They will trail with him. See also you and me delivered from sin, captives for Christ. We will return with him in glory.
When a Roman would see what Jesus would do on that day in a sense of a triumphal entry… Word got out that this guy was claiming to be a king. Caesar, Herod, and Pilate were not concerned about Jesus' saying that he was some king. If you're a Roman Caesar, if you're a stud and you've got to come back riding after your time of war on some little donkey with a bunch of vagabonds from Galilee with you, that isn't much of a procession.
A Roman triumphal procession was a huge deal. Everybody would come out. The king would lead back these captives, often with a hook through the nose, as they marched through the city. Incense would be burned. Worship would be offered to this great commander. The city would follow him to the Colosseum where he fed his enemies to the lions and wild beasts to entertain his people.
This doesn't really look like that. Why? Because he is coming during this entry to offer salvation and peace. There is going to be a time when Christ comes. We're going to follow him into a different kind of colosseum where people are fed to a different kind of beast. They're going to be fed to a fire.
This Jesus, who was humble and meek riding on the foal of a colt of a donkey, is the one you don't want to trifle with in his humility because you will trifle with him one day in his honor. Let me just give you some observations about how you and I ought to respond to this. Christ wept over the city Jerusalem. He said to them at one point, "If you had just seen the day…"
What Jesus was doing was going back to Daniel 9, Zechariah 9. "If you just knew that this was the day and I was your King, I could spare you so much grief. Since you don't know who I am, there is going to be incredible judgment which comes on you as a people. You'll be wiped out until I come in grace again to restore you, regather you, and do through you, Jews, what I said I would do with you."
All right. Close the parentheses. Back to the text. Let me give you some applications. Here is one. If you are never asked, "Why are you doing this? What are you up to? What are you about?" you're not doing everything the Lord has asked you to do. Why do I say that? When you look at what the disciples were called to do: "You go, get this little donkey, and bring it." People were like, "What are you doing, man? What are you doing untying that donkey?" They just said, "Well, we're here because the Lord commanded it."
"'If anyone says to you, "Why are you doing this?" you say, "The Lord has need of it"; and immediately he will send it back here.' They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. And some of the [folks standing there watching them do that] …" In the West, you didn't just go up and take another man's horse. You'd be hung if you did that. In the Middle East, if you took somebody else's donkey, you'd be killed if you did that.
They said, "Before you do that, think about what you're about to do. What are you doing stealing that ride? Explain yourself, because that is not normally the way that people in this civilization live. You just tell them, 'The Lord commanded it; the Lord has need of it,' and go on your way." That's what they did.
Here's my question for you. When is the last time that you have done something that people have said to you, "Wait a minute. Explain it. That is not the way people in our civilization operate"? If you have not done something that is so otherworldly lately, the problem might be is that you're not living as if you are a citizen of another world.
Every single one of us ought to regularly have people that cock their head and go, "Wait a minute. Why are you doing that? Explain…" Look what Paul says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. Paul is saying, "Look, all of us are going to have to stand before our King and give an account for how we served him." That's 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10.
In verse 11 he goes on to say, "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord…" Knowing that we will give an account for how we served him. "…we persuade men…" In other words, we're going to get as fired up as we can to encourage others to live in a way that's a right response to this King who will one day have a serious triumphal entry. Watch this.
Paul says he's not telling us these things about ourselves and how we live throughout this whole book called 2 Corinthians to commend "…ourselves to you, but we are giving you…" Meaning folks that believe that we are people who walk with God. "…an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart."
Quickly, in 2 Corinthians, you've got a group of folks who had claimed to be folks sent by God on a mission from God. They show that they're on this mission from God by the way that they celebrated themselves with their external behaviors and robes. Paul said, "Let me just tell you something. It's not about being festive and looking pious. It's about your life and your heart, and so that you might know that we are who we said we are, which are the very apostles of the living God, we live in such a way that you might have an answer for them."
Look how Paul describes that answer. Verse 13: "For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you." What does this mean? Paul said, "If I'm crazy, if the people look at me say, 'Paul, why do you do this? Why do you suffer hardships and persecutions and homelessness and coldness and hunger? Why do you do that?'
If we're crazy, if we're living for another world, it is for God. People look at me all the time and say I'm nuts. In fact, even followers, men that I disciple. When I told them I have to go to Jerusalem, they said, 'Paul don't go there. They'll kill you. They hate you there because you're saying that this Jesus they killed is the Messiah. Don't do it.' It's not about what makes sense. I'm going to do what God has called me to do."
Paul had a very clear vision for his life, just like Christ did. Off he went to Jerusalem and people said, "Man, you are beside yourself. We have got to protect you from yourself." Those are the exact same words that people spoke to Jesus. It says that his brothers and sisters and mother came to him and said, "Man, this guy is beside himself." Meaning he is having an out-of-body experience. "He is nuts. He is schizophrenic, and we can't trust him."
Paul says, "If I'm crazy, it's for God's sake. If people say, 'Why do you give your life for others?' It's for God's sake, because I follow the example given to me by my King. If I am of sound mind…" What's that mean? He said, "If I live my life like it's informed by the Divine and if I live my life like wisdom is buried in my heart, it's for your sake." In other words, when we squabble and fight and have conflict, we are going to just as part of a family as part of a group of people.
It's part of being people who live in a sinful world who have sin still battling against our spirit. If we go through conflict in such a way that people see a deeper commitment and love and unity at the end of that conflict as opposed to dissention and faction and winning and losing, they will see the difference. If they instead see God glorified, others served, and us sharpened in our marriages, in our friendships, in our work struggles, the world is going to say, "That's a better way to do it."
It's almost as if God ordained that way to do it, instead of lawsuits and slander and misrepresentation. Paul says if we do things that make sense, it's for your sake to know that wisdom is ours. God has spoken relatively into my life and told me how love, how to seek forgiveness, how to raise a child, how to deal with a difficult child, and how to deal with a difficult friend.
Paul is saying if I do things and folks knock on my door and say, "Paul, how in the world do you always know the right word to speak in that circumstance? It's almost as if you have apples of gold and setting of silver. It's so beautiful and so draws me that I want to know where you get that."
Paul's response should be, "The Lord has commanded me to live this way. He has given me this wisdom, which he wants you know. If I am of sound mind and if it causes people to ask me, 'How do you know how to live your life that way…?'" I'm just going to tell you that when I was in college and really beginning my independent walk with Christ, there were plenty of times that I stubbed my toe, but as a general rule, as a general flavor of my life, there was a sense, this opinion that Wagner was trying to life differently than a typical 18- to 21-year-old.
There were some guys that really hated me for it. My life condemned them. They minded that I didn't do what they did because they said that by my actions (without ever speaking a word to them) I condemned them and judged them with my life. That I was judgmental, arrogant, and pious, only because… I said, "Why do you say that?"
They said, "Because you don't do what we do, and it makes us mad. It's like you're telling us you're better than us because you won't do this." It would kill me. I'm sure in my youthfulness, there were times that I did contribute to that persona, but I want to tell you something. When people bottomed out, more than one time in the darkness of night, I would get a knock on my door. I would be shocked who would be standing there who, sometimes in tears, asked if he could come in and sit with me and said, "I need some of your wisdom."
More than once, folks would say to me, "Would you please explain to me why you live your life the way that you do." Folks, if you're not having folks knock on your door or observe your life and periodically say, "Why do you do this?" something isn't right. I'll tell you what's there. It's an absence of living the way that Christ lived and that Paul lived.
Here is another way to say it, kind of stating it with a little bit of the negative. This can actually go both ways. If you can't answer, "The Lord needs it or commanded it," when they asked that question, you shouldn't be doing in that moment what you are doing. In other words, when those guys knocked on my door and said, "Hey, Wagner, tell me. Why are you living the way that you are living?" if I can't say, "Because the Lord has blessed me to understand this," then I shouldn't be doing it.
You need to know this. My wife, in the last two weeks, has asked me this question. It was not because she was overwhelmed with my kindness and love and others-centeredness. It was something like this. "Why are you talking to me that way? Why are you doing this?" Guess what I could not say? "Because the Lord has need of it, sweetie. You stupid, rebellious, slothful wife. I was told to speak judgment into your world. So against my will, that is why I do this."
I couldn't say that. In fact, without studying Mark 11, she looked at me and she said, "Why are you…why? Why are you doing this?" I had to say, "Because I had tremendous need of this, to just feed my flesh and to speak in an inappropriate tone and to try and degrade you to make myself feel better. That's why. Because of sin, that's why. I don't want to live that way. Would you forgive me? Thank you for asking me this question."
First Peter 3:15 says, "Grow up to be like Christ." In the Scripture it says, "…sanctify Christ as Lord…" If anyone asks you to give a defense, "…always be prepared to give an account for the hope that is within you…" Do that, it says, "…with gentleness and reverence…" When those guys would come knocking on my door in college and when people come knocking on my door now, friends I don't just say, "I figured you'd be here! I'm just surprised you made it this long, you pagan mug."
I say, "I'm so glad that you would count me worthy to counsel with you and to tell you. Let me just speak some grace into your life that by the kindness of God I heard many years ago and my heart responded to." With gentleness and respect for that person I lead them to the kindness of Jesus Christ, which I hope should lead them to repentance.
There are other times that the best thing that we can do for each other is say, "Why are you doing that?" If we, as followers of Christ, cannot say, "You know why? Because of this verse. Because of this principle laid out in Scripture. That's why I'm doing this," then we should think through our motivations. There are people today that sometimes have said to me, "Would you just lay off? Would you let me go? Why are you doing this? Why are you coming at me so hard?"
I have to say, "Because the Lord has commanded me to. Because you take the name of Christ and you say love him. When I see a brother in sin, I'm supposed to go to him with gentleness and humility, lest I too sin. But I've got to come." Why are you working so many hours, men? Why are you talking to your wife that way, men?
Why is your life so out of order that you don't have time to spend in the Scriptures, memorizing and meditating on them? Why is your life so busy that you cannot gather with other believers for the purpose of accountability, edification, encouragement, and discipleship? If you can't say, "Because the Lord has need of that," you probably shouldn't be doing it.
Why are you watching that movie? This is a great little section of Scripture to ask yourself and to check yourself. If at any time you can't say, "Because the Lord commanded it, the Lord has need of it," then you need to say, "Thank you and forgive me." These are some of the best words in grace a woman can speak to her husband. "Why are you doing this to our family?"
Most of us men would have to say at times, "Because I am a self-willed person and I want things to work my way on my schedule for my glory. I repent." I hope that you should also hear people say, "Why are you doing that? Why do you clothe the naked? Why do you visit those who are in prison? Why do you love your enemies? Why do you not take advantage of loopholes? Why don't you tell white lies when it can get you by?"
You can answer a different way. "Because the Lord in his grace has taught my heart kindness and love and humility. He has need of it for me to declare his glory, not mine." I'll give you two more, much quicker. Never let the crowd's praise pull you off the Lord's plan. I think part of what is going on here is the disciples had heard three times that their Master and their King was going to go and get crucified.
This confused them. They were like, "Why are you going to go? We believe that you're the Messiah. We've told you in private you're the Messiah and you said, 'Bingo. This is not you that figured it out. The Spirit of God has revealed it to you.'" They're still thinking, "Why do you have to go die, man?" I think this is one last effort.
When they went and got that colt, that donkey, they said, "Let's just do this, man. Let's get Jesus. Let's show him a taste of what it's like to be king." If you're Jesus and you know that in just a matter of days, you're about to be cut off, hung out to dry, that the praise of the crowd saying, "You're the King, man! Here are our coats. Walk on the them. We don't have much to lay down.
We're going to make this way smooth.
You're our King. Blessed are you who come in the name of God," don't you think for a second he'd go, "Maybe the cross isn't as imminent as it has to be? Maybe I could pull this sucker off right now. Maybe I could get off course and find a little comfort instead of a cross." You don't find Christ doing that. Very quickly, he declares who he is.
He says, "This is the day. You missed it. Let's get back to business." Next week you're going to find out that he just throws out, he leads in that ring with an incredible punch that is as brash as you could imagine. If you think it was awkward last week when we went to that guy at the car dealership and said, "The Lord told us to give us that car," you just wait! He wasn't about to be pulled off course.
Can I share with you a prayer that I pray as often as I can? It's a prayer that comes from a guy named A.W. Tozer who lived in this century. This is what he prayed for himself. I pray this for myself often. Here it is. "Save me from the error of judging a church by its size…" People are going to praise you in this job by getting it big, getting it influential, getting in the right magazine, speaking at the right conferences. The praise of the evangelical crowd can pull you in a direction where your whole goal is bigness and not biblicalness.
Anyway, "Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity, or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. [Never let me make my sermon schedule based on what people want to hear. Don't make me an ear-tickler.]
Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping.
Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. […] And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven."
Let not the pull of the crowd and the praise of men and the success that the world offers have me chasing after comfort, ease, and greatness. Let me be your man. Let me, as Paul said, suffer hardship (2 Timothy) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Let me not entangle myself in the affairs of everyday life so that I might serve well the one who died for me.
I don't want the crowd's pull or the fame or success that I experience in the use of my gifts to rush me toward a place of personal prosperity and peace. I don't want to be pulled off by the concern for many things, the deceitfulness of riches, the worries of this world. Amen? Amen.
Boy, it's easy. Why do you live your life as if your whole goal is to be comfortable in 10 years? Why do you take advantage of every opportunity to sleep later and to eat more? I think it's because the praise of the world influences us more than because the Lord commanded it. I think we have some work to do in our hearts.
I told my son I'd do this. We were watching Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier this week and I saw an application. The major he fought with in the Indian War came to him and said, "David, we've been watching you, son, and think you could make a good politician." Crockett goes to Washington as a Congressman, and he's a celebrity. Everybody loves him.
They wanted Stonewall Jackson, "Old Hickory," to be a more popular president whose successes could unfold into political agendas that the people that supported to get him there wanted. They sent old Crockett out and said, "You need to go on a speaking tour, Davy. We really think that you're key to Old Hickory, to old Stonewall Jackson. We're going to send you up around New York and Philadelphia and have you go out now and talk."
The praise and the pull of people got Crockett off what he went to Washington to do, which is to represent his homeland of Tennessee and to be faithful to the integrity that made him up as a man. Crockett left Washington and went on a speaking tour. His old buddy, Georgie Russell, came and got him when he was in Philadelphia.
He just gave him his rifle and said, "Come here, Davy. They've got you out here not because they want you to be popular for the president. They've got you out here because they're trying to pass a bill while you're gone that's going to go back on your word to come and fight for what is right." He hightailed it back to Washington. He stormed into the chambers and talked about the Indian bill.
He said, "I've made a terrible mistake. The praise and pull of the people has gotten me off course. That's why I'm here. It's the same with most of you. There are all kinds of scallywags that are trying to go back on the treaty that our government made and land-grabbers that want to get us out there to make more money and to hurt the man that we gave our word to that we wouldn't do this.
Don't be surprised of scallywags. That's a natural course of men. They're just as normal as flies around a molasses barrel. What we've got to do is be the men that we're supposed to be, and not get pulled away like I just was to hear the crowds praise me. But to stay on course. Men, stay on course and defeat the Indian bill."
I don't know what the Indian bill is in our lives, but I know a lot of us want to go and have the crowds applaud us. Sometimes you can't stand against the president and his front men and commit political suicide to be the right individual. I'm going to say abortion is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Divorce is wrong. Gossip is wrong. Overworking is wrong. Overeating is wrong.
We don't do it because the Lord has need of it. We do it because it's convenient and indulges our passions and our flesh. It might be political suicide, but I'm not here to be a politician. I don't want to ever be pulled off my course to be a faithful prophet with gentleness and reverence. If I'm beside myself, it's for God's sake. If I'm in my sound mind, it's for you, that wisdom would mark my life and yours.
We all sang, "Hosanna" earlier. Here's the point. I'm going to read it and we're going to close. It simply says this: never let your being part of the praising crowd convince you that you are part of the Lord's clan. Those same people that said, "Hosanna! Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord," are many of the same ones that several days later said, "Crucify him!"
Just being here this morning singing, "Hosanna" with us, singing, "There is a fountain, who is a King," and singing, "I will exalt you," does not mean that your life stands in awe of him. It means that for this moment, you were caught up in a crowd that was throwing down coats and branches and singing songs. That's all it means.
We have got a problem in this church. As elders, this last Tuesday night, we spent some time on our knees and hours discussing what we're going to do with the leaders in our church, the men who, most of them, are better at moving their lips than they are at moving their donkeys. We discussed what we can do to spur them on to love and good deeds.
The first thing we need to do is make sure that we ourselves are about that. Spurgeon says it this way, speaking in the King's English. You ready? He said many men are willing to go and call other men asses, but few are willing to lay their coats on that same donkey. In the religious world, people are scoffed at and scorned because they see the pastor up there and they call for other man's assets and say, "Give, give, give!" but they don't see that pastor give, give, give with his life.
Just because we sit in here and because we're a part of a cultural community that largely in the South gravitates to someplace of worship on Sunday, doesn't mean you're part of the Lord's clan. All I want to say today is let's make our lives line up with our lips. We should sing "Hosanna," but God is not impressed with words. He wants hearts that birth those words, not lips that conform to the expectation.
If you have never done business with this one who came riding on the foal of a colt, colt of a donkey to offer you salvation, can I just encourage you today to do that? Check right there on that little sheet we gave you, "I want to talk to somebody about dealing with my heart. I sang today, but I want to exalt him with my life." Let's pray.
Lord, there is nobody in this room who needed this message more than me today. Nobody. By your grace, I am one who has been taught that you are the King and that your Word just lasered in to that day, and that your Word lasered into your sacrifice, and your Word lasered into my need as a sinner and how Christ met that need and delivered me from bondage.
There is much in my life, and I'm sure I have brothers and sisters who can deal with this and relate to this out there who would say, "You know what? It's not often enough that I can respond to, 'Why are you doing this?' by saying, 'The Lord commanded it. The Lord has need of it. The Scriptures say it reflects the glory of my master,'" and we repent.
We want to do more than just move our mouths. We want to do more than just stand in awe of you. We want to live as worshippers 24/7. God, thank you for your grace. This is not a holiness movement. We know that sin will be our greatest enemy and that we will stumble all the days of our lives. Father, may we do it with less frequency and may we fall with less horror.
Whenever we do, may we be surrounded by brothers and sisters who say, "Why?" and "Let me help." Thank you for your Word that tells us, Father, that a righteous man will stumble seven times, but never fall. May we order our lives in such a way that we are seen to be worshippers. Might we find time for your Word and to meditate on it. Might we find time for community. Might we find time for family.
Might we find time, Lord, to be worshippers and to not just be hasty in deed or impulsive in thought in bringing up a matter in the presence of the Lord. May we let our words be few and let our lives be loud. For your glory, may others look at us and say, "Why do you do this?" May you allow us to say this week by grace, "Because the Lord commanded it." Amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. <strong></strong> This volume covers Mark 10:35 through Mark 12:44.