- Sermon Notes
Be Willing to Respond
April 2, 2023
Today we celebrate the day Christ rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s foal. He was being hailed as the Messiah by the crowds as they were waving palm branches in their hands. That is a sign of victory.
Jesus was hailed as the triumphant one. He had just raised Lazarus from the dead who had been in the grave four days. That miracle became instantly known throughout the region. The crowds then came to see who this man was who could raise a man from the dead.
Every person in the crowd had a choice. They could rejoice, they could just stand and observe with interest, or they could stand cynically and watch from a distance.
The Bible tells us what the appropriate response would be. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That’s a choice. We can either rejoice and be glad in it or not.
We need to understand what God is doing and will do, but we must also respond to it. The question of the day is, “Are you willing?” in this scripture, there are important insights into responding to the Lord.
I. Don’t Hesitate
- In Greek, there are two words for time. Kronos, from which we get our English word ‘chronological’, in other words, the continual progress of time. The second is kairos, which means opportune time, or right time. In a Biblical sense, it means God’s perfect timing for an event.
- Like with this triumphant entry, one needs to be watchful so as not to miss what God is doing.
Luke 9: 59-62, And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
1 Kings 18:21, Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.
- We should have hearts that are always ready for what God wants to do. If God is our God, we follow Him without hesitation.
A. It is an honor to be useful to God
- Jesus sent His disciples to go and get the donkey. Now a donkey is a lowly beast, not one fit for a king.
- What if the disciples thought they had a better plan? Jesus had a reason why He wanted to use a donkey, so they had to be obedient, even if they might not have understood it.
- It was imperative that it was a donkey because it was fulfilling a prophecy about the coming Messiah.
Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! 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.
- “The Lord has need of it,” they were to say. Does the Lord need anything?
- Couldn’t the Lord have just created whatever He wanted instantly? He chose to use the donkey.
- He has decided to use us to accomplish His purposes.
Illus – It is interesting that the donkey had never been ridden, thus never trained, but he comes willingly and is completely responsive to the Lord, though donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn and needing the help of a 2×4 to get their attention.
In the Old Testament, God even caused a donkey to speak, thus beginning a long and honored tradition of speaking through donkeys.
Illus. – Imagine if that donkey could go back to his donkey friends and told them what happened….
App – He gives us the opportunity to be blessed by being used by the Lord.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- What an honor to be used by the Lord to make a difference in someone’s life.
- Jesus gave us the example of the heart that’s humble in being used by the Lord.
John 13:14-17, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet; for I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
B. God can use someone else
- God gives us the opportunity to be used, but what if we say no?
- … He’ll give the honor and blessing to someone else.
- We are the ones who lose out if we don’t want to be used of the Lord.
Illus – Work – Do I have to, or I get to!
Illus – When Mordecai challenged Esther to be used of the Lord by appealing to the king of the Persian Empire at risk of her life, he challenged her by saying…
Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
App – Some of the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the disciples for shouting out Psalm 118, the psalm of the Messiah, “If these become silent, the stones will cry out,” Jesus replied.
- God asks us to speak to people on His behalf and we are the ones who are blessed if we say yes, but God will give the blessing to someone else if we say no.
Illus. – The great African Evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, recalls of the time when God was calling him to Africa. He responded by asking God why he would choose him for this weighty assignment. The Lord’s response to Reinhard was that he was actually not God’s first choice. He was choice number three, but the other two had declined, then asked Reinhard, “Will you do it?” Thankfully he responded positively and became a surrendered instrument in the Lord’s hand.
II. God is Expecting a Response
- This was the appointed day when Jesus was coming to Jerusalem as the long-awaited Messiah.
- But there were many different responses for many different reasons.
- Some were just curious, others were seeking evidence against Him, and others were there to honor the coming of the Messiah.
A. God stands at the door and knocks
- Jesus had come to Jerusalem at the appointed hour: God had sent His Word in advance, but where were they?
Illus – They should have known that this was the day, the prophecies of Daniel 9 were clear.
- If we are used of God to invite others to hear God’s Word, we are faithful to what God asked us to do.
- But the response is theirs to choose.
Illus. – How many people have been told of Jesus and the good news of salvation? In a crowd, one will receive with faith and gladness, but one next to him might not.
We must remember that it is not our work to save them. We do not see the bigger picture of the impact that our words might have in their future. Our work is to give the good news. God watches over His word.
- God’s Word accomplishes the purposes for which God sent it.
Isaiah 55:11, So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
- God gives the invitation, He stands at the door, but we must open the door of our hearts.
Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
B. God grieves when we don’t respond
- When Jesus crested the Mount of Olives and saw Jerusalem before Him, He began to weep.
- He knows the pain that we are bringing to ourselves, He sees it in advance, and it grieves His heart to see it. When someone rejects Jesus they continue standing under the curse of sin and death.
Matthew 23:37-38, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”
Ezekiel 33:11, Say to them, “As I live!” declares the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”
- God’s plans for us are that we should be blessed; God wants us to choose life.
Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
C. God will not force His way into your heart
- Jesus came on a foal of a donkey. A sign of peace.
- He uses love rather than power. He could use power, but chooses to use love.
Romans 2:4, Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because someone doesn’t use force that they don’t have power.
Illus – He stands at the door and knocks. He has the power to blow the door off its hinges and intimidate us into submission, but then we wouldn’t choose willingly.
- He did not overwhelm them with His majesty.
- This is why God doesn’t show up in our lives with His fullness. It will overwhelm our will. There will be a day that His full majesty will be revealed and on that day every knee SHALL bow.
- The question is this… will we come willingly? He wants us to choose Him. Seek and you shall find. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
- He wants us to come to Him because we love Him as a response to how much He has loved us.
I John 4:15-16, Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:19, We love, because He first loved us.
- There is another day yet to come, when there will be another great crowd with palm branches in their hands.
Revelation 7: 9-17, After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
- Will you respond now and not wait for that day? Will you respond in worship to the King of kings so that your whole life will be a sweet-smelling fragrance of praise? Will you be available to be used of Him?
Luke 19:28-44 NASB
28 After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the [a]mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its [b]owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37 As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God [c]joyfully with a loud voice for all the [d]miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting:
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees [e]in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you [f]when your enemies will throw up a [g]barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”