This is a special message presented on Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014.
John Wooden, the great basketball coach said, “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” Another person made the statement, “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” (made by Norman Vincent Peale). Great comment!
Many of us won’t admit it, but we won’t try new things unless we’re pretty sure the environment, the relationships and the outcome will be good for us. In other words, we won’t try something unless we believe that we won’t fail, look like a fool, or that nobody will find out we’re not “together” as much as we want them to think (we’re a fake). We won’t venture out of our comfort zone, because of fear. We all stumble in being human! Charles Stanley said it well, “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” What kind of success are you expecting from life? We should really ask the question, “What success was Jesus expecting from life?”
When you answer that question, then you’ll know what expectation you should have from life, because He is not only the Lord, but our Model for living.
1) Jesus taught and healed all the way to the cross Luke 18-19
In Luke chapters 18-19, which record events from the last couple months of Jesus’ life, we read of His great teaching on the rich young ruler who kept the law, but held possessions as more important than God. Jesus taught the disciples about rewards and how whatever you leave behind, God will richly reward. Additionally, He announced how he was about to be mocked, scourged and killed, which the disciples did not understand. Note what Luke recorded,
32 “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 “They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” 34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken. (Luke 18:32-34 NKJ)
In these final two months, Jesus rebuked both James and John for desiring to sit at His left and right hand of honor (Jesus in His humanity could not give that, but only the Father). According to Scripture, Jesus also healed two blind men, visited with Zacchaeus and then told of His coming absence through the parable of the minas.
It wasn’t until after the resurrection that any of the disciples understood how significant each event was. What kind of success was Jesus expecting from life? Does Palm Sunday help us understand it?
2) Jesus rode into town on a colt for Scripture’s sake (not His own) Luke 19:28-44
He arrived on Friday. Luke recorded,
28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. (Luke 19:28 NKJ)
Jesus would not travel on Saturday, because that was the Sabbath, so He had to arrive on Friday before all the events of the Passover week began. Then He dealt with logistics,
29 And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 “And if anyone asks you, `Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, `Because the Lord has need of it.'” 32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” (Luke 19:29-34 NKJ)
The logistics meant He had to secure a colt. Why a colt? Because a colt was a beast of burden and symbolized servanthood. But, Jesus was a King, so why a colt? It’s true that Solomon rode on David’s mule (1 Kg. 1:33), but that showed his connection to King David and succession in the line of the throne. According to the world, this was the wrong way a king should enter His capital city. A king should ride on a stallion! Why a colt? Because Jesus came to serve, not to be served. This also fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9.
Then you had the parade forming. Luke wrote,
35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “`Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:35-38 NKJ)
This is the only time Jesus allowed a public demonstration. Why? Why did Jesus allow this public demonstration at this time? Let’s note two things:
First, it fulfilled Scripture for the people shouted and sang the hallel psalm of Psalm 118. Every year at the three feasts the Jewish pilgrims walked up to Jerusalem and they would sing the Hallel Psalms 113-118. Here, they quoted from Psalm 118,
25 Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. (Ps. 118:25-26 NKJ)
This passage was also quoted in Matthew 21, Mark 11, and John 12.
We love a hero! Jesus’ parade was like the modern day ticker tape parade! Many of you are old enough to remember General Norman “Stormin’” Schwarzkopf in New York City in 1991. He had just won Desert Storm in 96 hours and was the hero of war..
Public acclaim and praise can affect us! Now, I know some of you are beat down in life and you could use encouragement. Yet in many cases the public attention, admiration and praise can make people proud and cause them to think that they have “arrived.” Look what happens to people today in politics or Hollywood or sports or music!
The second reason Jesus allowed the public demonstration was because it forced the religious leaders to act and carry out the crucifixion. Luke wrote,
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40 NKJ)
Previously, every attempt to kill Jesus had failed, because it was not His time. God’s timing is sovereign! In the past, the religious leaders could do nothing to stop or kill Jesus. Now, He set Himself up, so they would seize the moment. They didn’t want to stop the process, because it WAS God’s timing. God the Father will use the sinful desires of men to crucify Jesus in His timing, in His way.
There is an obvious question, however. How did Jesus respond to all the attention? How would you respond to the ticker tape parade going into Jerusalem? Don’t you think Jesus would think, “This is what I’ve been waiting for! Maybe we could mount up a few divisions and assault the Romans and GET THEM OUTTA HERE!” But that is not how Jesus responded. It wasn’t about Him. He wasn’t even thinking about what would happen within a week.
How did Jesus respond? He wept over Jerusalem. Luke recorded,
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 “and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44 NKJ)
This seems unbelievable! Instead of letting the accolades affect Him, He wept over what would happen to the people. They had an opportunity for peace, if they would have humbled themselves and sought to please Him, but they were thinking only of themselves. They wanted freedom more than seeking to please the Lord. They were blinded, because they had rejected God’s prophets and Word for over 400 years. They sought peace from the world rather than from God, so the vacuum of their soul sucked in the carnal humanism of the world and their understanding became darkened. This produced an ignorance of God’s ways and separated them from His wisdom, power and intimacy, even though they were still His people. They hardened their hearts and put calluses on their souls as they continued to think on evil – their own freedom, comfort and physical peace, rather than the salvation of those around them and the Lamb who would be slain for their souls.
Jerusalem would be destroyed in 70 A.D. and every stone of the temple would be broken apart as the gold melted from the intensity of the fire and the soldiers pried the stones apart to extract the melted gold. Jesus listened to the people, but He answered to God. He was not concerned with the praise of men, He was only concerned with the praise and blessing of the Father.
Jesus wept for what would happen to Jerusalem, not what would happen to Him. He desired praise from God, rather than from man. Praise goes to many heads, but He knew His purpose was about fulfilling Scripture, not His own fame.
3) Jesus finished His Father’s business before the cross
According to Scripture, on Monday Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleansed the temple. He certainly wasn’t accommodating Himself to man in any way! On Tuesday the fig tree was withered and then the religious leaders confronted Him.
After the ticker tape parade, you’d think things would have been on easy street! Instead, the events became darker and darker as the week wore on, until in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Father, take this cup from Me, nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” What kind of success what Jesus expecting in life?
Jesus worked for one kind of success – to please The Father!
You will have success as you please the Lord!
- After your few years of love and coddling from parents, life will be full of testing and difficulty. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJ)
- Man may give you acclaim, but it may be short lived. In less than a week, instead of lifting up His name, they wanted to lift up His head. The people shouted, “Crucify Him!” Luke 23:21 Did it matter what the people said or shouted? Yes. People matter. But everything that comes out of man shows what is in his heart. I always want to listen to people, but I have to answer to God.
- Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last. (C.T. Studd) Too many people are pursuing “stuff, sweets, sex, and sports.” You will never find a satisfaction in these like you can have in pleasing Jesus Christ.Do you know today, you can have a satisfaction that is complete? Jesus came to earth to satisfy the righteous requirement of the Father, because of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament recorded animal sacrifices, because the blood of the sacrifice represented the life of the animal that was shed for the person’s sin. God is holy and just. We could never satisfy Him, but because of His love and mercy, He provided for the satisfaction of His holiness through sending Jesus to die on the cross for your sins and mine. He is our substitute and if you accept Jesus’ payment on the cross, if you trust in Him, you will become a child of God and transformed for His glory. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. When you do, you will never be satisfied with the things of this world, but only in your relationship with Jesus AND He will satisfy you as you seek Him.If you are a believer today and you are not satisfied, it’s because you are looking in all the wrong places. If you are a believer, you WILL be satisfied when Jesus is your desire, when you desire to please Him, when you realize you are complete in Him. You will have a peace that surpasses all comprehension. You will have a love that is ever flowing. You will have joy, a settled assurance that God is in control. You will have a patience with people and life that is incomprehensible. You will have a kindness that confounds the spirit of meanness that is prevalent in the world AND in the church. You will have a goodness that doesn’t have to be questioned. You’ll have faithfulness to God’s will that keeps you from immorality. You will have a gentleness that does not push your own agenda. And you’ll have self-control that remains satisfied with Jesus. Would you like that? Turn from your ways and seek Jesus with all your heart. Let’s pray for that!
What kind of success are you expecting from life? Consider the following quotes:
Quotations taken from Brainyquotes.