- Sermon Notes
The Road to the Cross
The resurrection is not just the greatest day on the calendar, it’s the greatest day in all human history. Everything prior looks forward to it and everything after looks back to it.
The road to the cross began before the foundation of the world. God sent His Son to reconcile the world to Himself, and the entire plan of God rests on the cross at Calvary and the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
The road to the cross comes to Jerusalem as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on this day which begins what is famously called the “Passion Week.” He rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey; He taught in the temple, He healed the sick, and He confronted the Jewish leaders. Later that week He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, arrested and then brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who had Him beaten, scourged and crucified.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, crowds were casting palm branches on the road in front of Him, shouting from Psalm 118, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David;” declaring Him to be the long-awaited Messiah, the King of Israel and the hope of the world.
There was anticipation in the air, something big was about to happen. The crowd longed for someone who could overthrow Rome and who better than the man who raised Lazarus from the dead and who confronted and humiliated the Jewish leaders that everyone knew were corrupt.
But Jesus didn’t come to conquer Rome. Rome would fall on its own. Jesus came to conquer something much bigger than Rome, He came to conquer death; He came to become the Resurrection and the Life; to become the Way for us to be reconciled to God as our Father. He came to pay the penalty for our sin so we could be set free and have a life to live for eternity!
This is a story about God on the move. God is sending His Son. He is on the road to the cross. Some will receive Him as King; some will resist and harden their hearts. But it’s a story that is personal; how will you respond?
Did you ever step back and ask what God thinks of sinners? Did He look down on this world and say, “Wow, look at those wonderful people. They’re just so adorable I can’t help myself, I just have to have them with Me in heaven.” Like when my wife sees a puppy or like when many see a baby, they’re just so adorable you have to have one.
No, God looks at sinners and sees that they’re in trouble. God loves you and He sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost. God sent His Son because He loves sinners and wants to reconcile sinners to Himself.
The story begins with those who receive Him with joy. The crowds are shouting and celebrating; they have found their King!
But the story is also about those who refuse to receive Him, to open their hearts. There were many that resisted the Holy Spirit, kicking against the goads, stiffening their necks and hardening their hearts. Why? Because they want to be king of their own lives; master of their own destiny, captain of their own soul.
Here’s the problem, people don’t have enough power to become king of their own soul; master of their own destiny. When they stand before God on judgment day they won’t be able to say, “I don’t recognize the authority of this court.”
There is a day fixed when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
This is a story about God on the move. The road to the cross comes down the Mount of Olives with Jesus riding on the foal of a donkey with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” But the road to the cross also brings Jesus in direct confrontation.
I. God Expects a Response
- God sent His Son with the message of His love and the offer of reconciliation. When God sends a letter of invitation, when God sends an offer of reconciliation, that demands a response.
Illus – When someone sends an invitation with the letters RSVP, it’s asking for a response. The more important the one who sent it, the more important it is to respond. If you receive an invitation to hear a time-share presentation, that’s one thing, but an invitation from a king is a whole ‘nother thing.
A. Respond with a willing heart
- The donkey is an interesting part of this story. Jesus sent two of the disciples to get the donkey, saying, “If anyone says something to you, say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
Illus – Once I went to Home Depot in the church van and when I came out I got into a van that looked just like ours, but wasn’t, I got into the wrong van. As I realized it the owner came out also and said, “What are you doing in my van?”
- From the other gospels, we know the owner did say something, but when he heard it was for the Lord he sent it willingly. What an honor.
- The Lord used many things in His ministry; what an honor. He used Peter’s boat to teach from, he used five loaves and two small fish of a boy, he borrowed the upper room, He borrowed the donkeys and He was buried in a borrowed tomb, though He didn’t need it for long, He only needed it for three days.
- What an honor to be used by God. God has decided to included us in what He is doing!
Illus – Our grandson, Ethan, loves to be useful. We could be picking up leaves or raking moss out of the lawn, it doesn’t matter, he wants to be useful because he wants the relationship that comes from working together.
- It’s interesting that the donkey had never been ridden, thus never trained, but he comes willingly and is completely responsive to the Lord; which is amazing because donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn.
- In the Old Testament, God corrected a prophet by speaking through a donkey, thus beginning a long and honored tradition of God speaking through donkeys.
1 Corinthians 1:27, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong… that no man should boast before God.
B. Open the door of your heart
- God made an appointment with them exactly 483 years before this. The prophecies of Daniel 9 were clear. The exact number of years from the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem to the coming of Messiah were clearly written.
- When God His Son, that’s one thing, but when God sends His Son with a date fixed and then doing miracles along with it, that’s a whole ‘nother thing.
- Jesus made it personal in Revelation 3.
Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
- Jesus is coming as the King of glory, the long-awaited Messiah; He is knocking on the door of Jerusalem and that demands a response.
- They were told in advance; it was right before their eyes. Jesus performed all the signs that were expected of the Messiah.
- When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent messengers to ask Jesus, “Are you the One, or do we look for another?”
Luke 7:22, He said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
- In fact, just days before Jesus came into Jerusalem He raised Lazarus from the dead! Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies of scripture!
Illus – What is the probability of one man randomly fulfilling that many prophecies? Astronomical!
C. God grieves when we don’t respond
- The crowd with Jesus was rejoicing, they were celebrating; shouting the words of Psalm 118 that everyone knew were for the Messiah.
Psalm 118:23-24, This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
- Jewish music is traditionally written in minor keys which are dark and sad. Jews say this is because their Messiah has not yet come; they are still waiting.
- What’s sad is that their Messiah did come, but they did not recognize Him at His coming. In fact, this is why Jesus begins to weep as He descended from the Mount of Olives…
Matthew 23:37-38, “O 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, but you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”
- God sent His Son to give life, to seek and to save that which was lost, but He grieves when His offer of life is rejected.
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 is knocking on the door of your heart because he wants relationship; He wants you to have life and have it abundantly.
II. Your King is a Champion
- When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He immediately entered the Temple and saw that it had become a den of robbers.
- In dramatic fashion, He overturned the tables of the money changers and those selling doves.
- They were standing in the way of people wanting to worship and honor God. Have you ever wondered what makes God angry?
- When people take advantage of the poor and when they stand in the way of people coming to God.
A. Some things must be overturned
- There is great personal application for us here. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so this becomes a picture of what God would do with those things that stand against God in our lives.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body.
- Why would God overturn something in your life? Because it’s standing in the way; it’s hurting you, it’s destroying your life, and it’s keeping you from the right relationship to God.
- The best thing that could ever happen to us is that God overturns those things in our hearts before they overturn us.
Illus – One of the difficult things about being a parent, but one of the most important things, is being willing to overturn some things in our children’s lives. Our children made plans to hang out with certain friends; overturned. They got their license and thought they could drive wherever they wanted; overturned.
- Let God overturn it before it becomes disaster.
Illus – My wife and I received a letter once from one of our children thanking us for the discipline we gave.
- Are there things in your life that God needs to overturn or cast out? God wants our agreement, not our resistance.
- The very next verse says that the blind and the lame came to Him and He healed them.
- Some people need things overturned and other people need something healed. God knows exactly what you need. It’s God’s heart to bind up the brokenhearted and to strengthen the sick…
Ezekiel 34:15-16, “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God, “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick;”
- Some people have hardness and stubbornness and they need God to overturn some things; others are hurting and broken and they need God to heal.
Matthew 21:1-17 NASB
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