GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 38
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|It’s one thing to be in the right place, but what if you aren’t there for the right reason? How can that affect your relationship with Jesus?|
Right Place Wrong Reason
This morning we’re going back into the book of Mark. We’re in Mark 11. The title of the message this morning is this: Showing Up at the Right Place for All the Wrong Reasons. The stage is set in Mark 11 for what scholars call the triumphal entry. But as we’ll see this morning, many people show up at the right place for all the wrong reasons. As crazy as it is, there are people here this morning who have come to the right place, but you have come with the wrong motives. My goal this morning is simply this. I want to identify three characteristics of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ so that you will understand his true identity and his true mission in order to avoid the trap of self-centeredness that the Pharisees and the crowd fell into.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 11:1: “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.”‘ And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it” Just as Jesus had said.
“And some of those standing there said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’ And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”
Let me give you three progressions in the text. Write the first one down. As we come to the text, church, we need to be aware of the providence of the Messiah. We need to be aware of the providence of the Messiah. Now, it’s easy to see in the text that Jesus is in complete control of his destiny. He is in complete control of the events of his life. He is actually initiating the events that would ultimately lead to his crucifixion.
Now some liberal scholars would say that Jesus was caught up in the excitement of the moment and his followers took his mission further than he wanted to and that’s what got him killed. Others would say that Jesus was just a good teacher and that he never meant for his agenda to get blown out of proportion and that’s what caused his death. Neither of these are the case. In fact, as you’ll see, Jesus demonstrates in this passage his omniscience and his omnipotence—His power and foreknowledge—by giving the disciples a detailed plan of action to put into motion the events that would ultimately lead to his death. Jesus is in complete control of his life.
Look at what he tells his disciples, I want you to go into the next village. Basically what Jesus is saying is this: we’re in this village and across town, across the way is another village. And I want you to go into the village and you’ll find and colt tied to a door. Now, we can assume that the animal was out of sight because if Jesus could see the animal, this is what he would have said, You see that donkey over there, you see that colt? I want you guys to walk over there and untie him. But we can assume and deduce that Jesus didn’t see the colt. It was in the next town, and so Jesus said, you’re going to find this colt there tied to a door.
Matthew heightens the drama by actually including a donkey. Matthew says there’s a donkey and a colt together. It even heightens the drama because if you’ve ever tried to take a baby colt away from his mother, it’s a large task, if you will. In Matthew’s gospel, they actually bring them both back to Jesus. Now you have to admit, it’s a pretty interesting assignment, right? Pretty odd assignment if you think about it. And Jesus knew that people would ask so he tells the disciples—look at it in the text—“if anyone says to you ‘what are you doing?’ or ‘why are you doing this?’ say to them, ‘the Lord has need of it and we’ll send it back to you immediately.’ “
Go to Luke 19. Same account, different eyewitness. Luke 19:33. What’s interesting about this context of this passage, it’s found in all four of the gospels. Look what verse 33 says: “And as they were untying the colt….” Who said to them? Who is it? The owners! The owners said, What are you doing? And they said, No, the Lord has need of it. We can assume these men, these owners, were believers. But Mark tells us the colt—go back to Mark—had never been ridden before. It was a gesture of respect and honor to offer to someone an unridden colt, almost to say in essence this animal has been especially reserved for you.
So up to this point in the text we that Jesus Christ through a series of events is providentially in control of every situation that’s going on. In fact, he’s in control of his death as well. John 10:18 Jesus says, “No one takes my life from me. For I lay it down on my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again.” So Jesus is in control providentially of all the events that are happening.
Secondly, I want you to be aware of this—not only the providence of the Messiah; secondly, we must acknowledge the prophecy of the Messiah. Write it down. The prophecy concerning the Messiah. Now, why in the world is Jesus—you have to ask this—coming in town on a colt? Matthew, to give you kind of an overarching theme of Matthew, Matthew has two driving themes in his book. Here’s the first one: that the Son of Man will come to do the will of the Father. That’s the one driving theme. And the second driving theme is this: that the Son of Man has come, Jesus has come, to fulfill prophecy. So it’s interesting; and we assume is the reason that Matthew includes the Old Testament quotation talking about this predicted event. Look what Matthew says, Matthew 21:4. Turn there quickly. Matthew describing the event says, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”’”
That’s interesting. Because Mt. Zion is the city’s highest peak in Jerusalem, we can deduce that the daughter of Zion refers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Five hundred years earlier, the prophet Zechariah predicted that the Messiah would come into town as one who’s gentle, one who’s humble, one who’s riding on the back of a colt, the beast of burden, if you will. Now this is unlikely, don’t you think, for a king to come into town? You know, you’d almost think that a king would come riding on white horses with parades of people, with a chariot behind the horses, with a company of instruments signifying his arrival. That’s what you’d expect from a king coming to town.
But according to God’s plan, Jesus is not displaying earthly splendor or grandeur. He’s not displaying worldly wealth. What he’s actually doing is coming in poverty and he’s coming in meekness. In fact, Jesus is coming as the Prince of Peace. The prophet Isaiah, 750 years earlier said that the Son of Man will come with peace to a war-torn environment. Remember what Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6? He will be the prince of what? Peace. At the arrival of his birth, the angels sung out to those who would listen on earth peace to men to whom his favor rests. Jesus even told his disciples, “peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid. Peace be with you.” Instead of riding on a horse in town symbolizing war—don’t miss this—Jesus comes in town on a colt, in humility, symbolizing peace.
But Jesus’ whole life speaks of his character. It’s the character of humility. In fact, the great God we serve is a humble God. The Creator of the universe was not born in a palace but in a manger. Think about it. When Jesus entered in and the announcement went forth, it didn’t go to the high courts of the land. It actually went to the shepherds. Now I could camp on that all day today, but let me give you just one interesting insight. The shepherds were the despised of the town. They were the destitute. Shepherds couldn’t be trusted in court. In fact, the Mishnah says that shepherds were actually under a ban. They were regarded as thieves. The only people worse than shepherds were lepers. They were destitute. They were unreliable. Nobody wanted to be a shepherd. Why do you think David was in the field tending the sheep and all the other brothers were doing great things in the world? Because he was the low, he was the lowest, he was the least.
But when the child is born into the world, let’s take for example the British royalty. We talked about the royal wedding. When William and Charles were born, Princess Diana didn’t send messengers to the docks to greet the fishermen and the boat captains with the news that a son has been born. They didn’t send envelopes—gold foiled—to the cab drivers to let them know that Prince Charles has come into the world. What they did is they sent gold-leafed envelopes to the political leaders of the world, to the heads of state, to the foreign dignitaries, to let them know that this special man has arrived.
Isn’t interesting that at the arrival of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ—think about this—the announcement does not go forth with royal trumpets or parades or even messengers sent to the high courts of the land to tell the chief priests or the elders or the scribes. It’s not to the arrogant individuals of the world that the announcement goes. It’s not to the upper class of society. God decides to send an announcement to the shepherds. Now why would he do that? God is displaying his character. Why is it that the King of the universe, when he enters the world, he doesn’t come in a palace, he comes in a cave. Not to the courts of men, but to the fields of shepherds. Not in the royal garments, but in swaddling clothes. Not to the praises of men, but to the praises and the noises of animals. And when Jesus Christ enters as a man into Jerusalem, this same scene takes place again.
Friends, I want you to know. The high and holy King, the One who will one day come on the clouds, the One who is able to call a legion of angels from heaven is also the humble God. The One who is ultimately holy is utterly humble. Psalm 138:6. Listen to the word of the Lord, “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” The prideful he knows from a distance.
Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”
Isaiah 66:1-2, a familiar verse: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. [Here it is – don’t miss this.] But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.’”
See, the humble God is intimate with those who humble themselves. The reason you’re not seeing the Lord work mightily in your life is because you’re filled with pride. That’s what the Bible says. The High and Lifted One inhabits the praises of a contrite and broken spirit. James said it this way. Look at what James says: “God resists the proud but gives [what?] grace to the humble.” To be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is to not only understand the character of the Lord Jesus Christ as the humble God but also to align our lives with his life and ask ourselves the question are we living a life of humility. Are we living a life of meekness?
Coming on a colt, the foal of beast of burden, was not meant to degrade the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t miss this. But it was to demonstrate his humility as a servant to follow the plans and the purpose of God. The lowly, humble servant is about to bear the sins of the world. Jesus is about to go to the cross for all the sins of the world and nothing communicates that better—don’t miss this—than riding on the back of the beast of burden. The colt is showing the world I am about to bear the burden of the sins of the world. We must acknowledge the providence of the prophecy about the Messiah. We must be aware of the providence of the Messiah. We understand the prophecy, Robby, that this event was foretold hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We understand that this event was all part of the providential plan of God.
Now let’s shift into the final aspect. I believe the point of the passage is this: we must accept the true purpose of the Messiah. We must accept the true purpose of the Messiah. As Jesus rode into the city the people started to get excited and they do two things, actually three things. First of all, they spread garments on the ground for Jesus to ride on. Second Kings 9:13 says it was customary for people to spread garments on the ground when the king would come as a sign of recognition, as a sign of submission to his authority. And so they understood that. The second thing they do is they go and cut palm branches down. John tells us they cut palm branches, in John 12:13, and they spread them on the road. This was symbolic of salvation. But then they say something. They start to scream out hosanna, hosanna, the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! The Hebrew word hosanna is the English phrase save us or save me or save now.
You have to admit, that’s a bit surprising that Jesus Christ would come in town on a colt. It would be the equivalent of a presidential candidate for the United States of America coming into town with a huge parade and the equivalent of the Rose Bowl Parade and he’s not driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the presidential candidate is coming on a scooter. It’s what he’s doing—on a scooter! This is the President of the United States of America? This is the king of the world on the back of a colt, on the back of a baby donkey? See the people, though, misunderstood it, because the people are there for the wrong reasons.
Yes, they’re at the right place, but they’re there for the wrong reasons. Now Robby, how do you know that? Let me give you three indications. The first one is the things they brought – the palm branches. See, palm branches were used to symbolize a ruling power and Jewish nationality. It would be the equivalent of you and I after 9/11 going into the streets waving the Stars and Stripes. We want revenge! We want attack! We want you to take over. We want you to restore political dominance and conquer as you’re coming into town. So they showed that. The second thing is what they said. They said Hosanna—please save us now. One commentator said they said this, Give us freedom because we’re sick of the Romans! And then the third thing they did was this—they called Jesus by a title. They said the Son of David. Now this was a common messianic title and, in fact, it affirms Jesus as Savior. It affirms Jesus as the Messiah who would one day save them, but they were quoting it with the wrong motive.
It comes out of Psalm 118, a popular psalm of deliverance. Listen to what Psalm 118:25 says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.” Don’t misunderstand what the crowd is crying out for. They’re not interested in Jesus saving them from sin. They’re interested in Jesus saving them from oppression of the Romans. They wanted a messiah who would conquer the Roman authorities and put Israel into power and free them from bondage.
Now, what is about to happen in one week? Do you remember? It’s the Passover and the Passover brought out all the zealots who were mindful of the fact that God saved Israel from the bondage of Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus plans his entry just moments before that day? But Jesus was not interested in overthrowing military power. Don’t miss this. He came to establish a heavenly kingdom by conquering sin and death. Jesus is not interested in making war with Rome. He’s interested in making peace with God. It’s what he’s doing here and the people missed it. They were at the right place but they had the wrong motives.
On the surface it’s kind of deceiving because if you take this text and read it for the first time and you don’t look at the other gospels, you start to think, Robby, why are you being so hard on the people? They’re at the right place. They did the right things. But as a Bible student, as you see the gospel, in all four Gospels, this story, you will go to the Gospel of John and you’ll see this interesting insight from John. Go to John 12:17. Notice what John says, which is a good practice for us. Those letters and those little footnotes are not there by accident. So when you come to a text in the Gospels and you see other Gospel stories having the same account, you take in the whole counsel of God.
John 12:17. Look what John says. “The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.” They’re still following him. Jesus just took Lazarus out of the tomb being dead three days. He’s now alive and they’re with him. I imagine Lazarus is there as well. “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.”
See, they outwardly had all the appearance of being believers, right? They cut the right branches. They laid down the right garments on the ground, cloaks on the ground. They said the right words from the outward appearance. They were excited and praising the Lord. But inwardly—don’t miss this—the people wanted a king on their own terms. They wanted a king to fit their own desires, their own needs. They weren’t devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Their devotion was to themselves. Jesus, what can you do for me? It was a self-centered gospel.
You know, many people today are open to the Lord Jesus Christ working in their life as long as he gives them health and wealth and prosperity and success and answers all their prayers, right? As long as Jesus can do these things that I have for him to do, this laundry list, then I’ll follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Friends, the gospel is not about personal gain or personal prosperity. The gospel is about dying to self, taking up your cross, and following Christ. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to conquer your enemies. The gospel is about allowing God to reign and rule in your life and to conquer sin in your life. And the people missed it.
We do it all the time. Imagine getting married and moving your spouse into your house, your husband or your wife. You just got married. It’s a joyous time. You let them come into your house. And you say, Listen, as you’re moving in, I want you to know there are certain rooms in the house that are off limits. You’re going to be moving into the guest room. But don’t dare go into my master bedroom. And don’t go into the kitchen or the garage. Don’t go into the office and definitely don’t go into the living room. Now, would you do that to your spouse? You wouldn’t be married very long if you did, right? But you do it to God all the time, right? God, I want you to come into my life and rule and reign in my life but don’t you dare, God, go into the living room. Don’t mess with the shows I’m watching. Don’t look at the internet sites I’m visiting.
Don’t take note of the things I’m looking at. God, don’t dare go into the garage. Don’t mess with my hobbies. Don’t touch my sports, my fishing or hunting. That’s off limits, God. Oh, you can have the rest of the stuff, just don’t go here. God, don’t go into the bedroom. I will not put you first in my marriage. I will not put you first in my family. You will not rule and reign over my kids. God, don’t touch my office. I don’t want you involved in my job. I only go to church on Sunday. Monday through Friday is my time. And definitely don’t touch my money. That’s mine, God. We do it all the time.
But, Robby, what does this passage have to do with that? Friends, listen to me. The people were willing to recognize Jesus as Savior but they weren’t willing to follow him unless he fulfilled their own agenda. If you did what I wanted you to do, Jesus, I’m fine with that. These same people, as John MacArthur said, will be the ones in the crowd to crucify him, yelling and screaming against him. If you’re trusting in that gospel this morning, that gospel will not save you. In fact, that’s not a gospel at all. It’s a false sense of security because you’re salvation is not in Jesus. It’s in yourself. If you trust in yourself to save you from your sins, you die in your sin. And if you die in your sin, you pay the price for your sins and if you pay the price for your sins the Bible says the wages of sin is what? Death or hell or separation from God in a Christless eternity.
Jesus is not interested—don’t miss this—in making you happy. Jesus is interested in making you holy. Jesus is not interested only in freeing you from pain and persecution. Jesus is interested in freeing you from the power and the presence of sin. Friends, if you’re following a man-centered, selfish gospel not only will it shipwreck your faith, it will plague our church. Friends, we come here to worship the One who is worthy to be worshipped. You can come to the right place and you can have all the wrong motives. You can be here for all the wrong reasons.
But don’t miss this. Although Jesus was coroneted as a humble king riding on a lowly colt, He won’t remain that way. In fact, he’ll come back as the crowned king, the rejection will be gone, the dissention will be eliminated, the hurls of mocking will be gone, taking his name in vain will be a thing of the past because the Bible says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Amen. See, we saw him the first time as Savior. We will see him the second time as judge.
But as I looked at the crowd today, I realized there were two types of people in the crowd. There were those who were believers and those who were unbelievers. In the crowd that day, if you would have been there and I would have been there, there were those who were in the kingdom and those who were out of the kingdom. There were those who were living in a manner worthy of the Lord, putting their agenda aside and saying, God, your will not my will. And there were who were self-centered and prideful worrying about themselves.
If we probe into the crowd a little deeper, we’ll meet those in the crowd looking for a sign. They’ve heard about this man who had raised the dead and made the lame to walk and caused the deaf to hear and the blind to see. They’d heard about this man who took a few fish and a few loaves of bread and multiplied them to feed 5,000 and 4,000. They heard about a man who could turn water into wine. And they said that’s the kind of man I want to follow but they misunderstood his ministry. See, the reason—don’t miss this—that Jesus performed miracles was to validate the message of the gospel, which is repent and believe. Don’t miss this. The reason the apostles in the book of Acts were able to do miracles was to validate the message of the gospel of the kingdom to repent and to believe.
Maybe you’re like the crowd. You’re here for a show. You’re here for entertainment. Maybe this is the hip church of town and hey, things are happening there. We want to go. But friends, we’re not going to entertain you here at Brainerd Baptist Church. We’re going to preach the Word to you here.
You know, a lot of pastors get caught up in the felt/needs movement or the seeker sensitive movement. You’ve heard of that before where pastors sit in their study and they try to find ways to entice lost people to come to church or seekers to come to church by doing everything visual, animated event that they can do and all the lights and cameras and action and tanks on stage and cars on stage to get seekers to come to church. But my friends, if those pastors would read the Bible, they would realize that seekers don’t come to church. Paul says in Romans 3 no one seeks after God. They’ve all turned away.
Listen, we don’t have to make the Word attractive at Brainerd Baptist. The Word of God is attractive. I don’t have to make Christ attractive to you. Jesus Christ is attractive. But maybe you’re here like the Pharisees, because if we probe a little further, we meet the Pharisees. And these guys on the outside look the part. They dress the part. They adorn these long robes with phylacteries and pranced around as they walked. And you would’ve said, wow, look how holy this man is. And if we didn’t know any better, we’d be mistaken that they were actually following the Lord, true believers of the Lord.
But then you hear one of them yell, as we see in the text, Jesus, tell your disciples to be quiet! Rebuke them! And Jesus turns and says if they don’t cry out, even the rocks will cry out and praise Me. See, while the Pharisees were curious about what Jesus was doing, they were only there to criticize and condemn. They were only there to promote their own agenda, always judging every move of Jesus. They were only worried about their own glory. And if Jesus was going to take their glory away from them, they were going to do something about.
But let me ask you. How about you? Can you identify with one of those two groups? Maybe you are a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ following God. You believe in the true gospel—take up your cross, die, follow Jesus, repenting and believing. Or maybe you’re like the crowd and you need to repent and believe this morning in the true gospel of Christ. Maybe you’re trusting in a self-centered works-based gospel which is no gospel at all and it will not save you on the last day. So, my friends, the choice is yours.