Sunday, April 07, 2013
“The Lord hath need of them” (Matt. 21:3).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1–11
The last several decades have witnessed a steady succession of public demonstrations for special causes. A nonviolent demonstration in Montgomery, Alabama, in the mid-1950s began the civil rights movement and started Martin Luther King Jr., on a spectacular career as the movement’s leader. In more recent times, protests associated with the Occupy movement have sprung up in cities all across the United States to protest corporate greed and corruption. And throughout the years, protestors have held peace marches to call to end our participation in war.
Demonstrations are not a new means of expression of public opinion. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the last week of his earthly life was an emotional demonstration. Jerusalem was crowded with those who had gathered to observe the Passover, the most important feast of the year. The crowds were keyed up with national expectations that God would raise up a king to deliver them from the power of Rome. Shouts of “Hosanna!” filled the air as the crowd acclaimed Jesus as King. The King came riding, not as an earthly king on a white horse, but as the Prince of Peace on a lowly donkey.
1) We marvel at Jesus’ courage.
Jesus publicly entered the hostile city. He could have skipped this dramatic entrance and slipped into Jerusalem after dark through the back streets. But his hour of coronation had arrived, and he willingly occupied the center of the stage. Every eye was on him, including the envious and vengeful eyes of his enemies.
2) We marvel at Jesus’ open claim for himself.
Jesus allowed the multitude to recognize him as God’s Messiah. Had he been satisfied to be just another prophet, he would likely have escaped death at the hands of his adversaries. But he could not deny himself. To be Lord of all and, surely, to be the Savior of humankind, he consciously and confidently traveled a road that would lead irrevocably to the cross.
3) We marvel at Jesus’ tears.
A strong man weeping is always a moving scene. But there come times and experiences when words are powerless and when the only release from an overwhelming sorrow is the flow of tears. At such a time, tears are the good gift of God.
Jesus stood above the beloved city of Jerusalem and saw its poverty, its materialism, its empty religious forms and practices, and its unbelief. He saw the hate and bitterness of those who plotted his death. He saw the calloused rejection of his spiritual claims by the multitude. He saw the impending doom that hung over the city. He saw people, teeming multitudes of people, as sheep without a shepherd. And he wept in his overwhelming sorrow as they faced the judgment of God.
4) We marvel at Jesus’ gracious lowliness.
Jesus appeared riding on a donkey. The unsympathetic witnesses were probably amused and perplexed and scornful at this ludicrous demonstration. They were too blind to see that he was teaching them a vital lesson. His kingdom is not of this world. His victory comes not through war but through peace. Those who would follow him are not the proud but the humble, not the self-sufficient rich but the poor in spirit.
Why did Jesus choose a donkey, so awkward, so stubborn, so lowly? If he could not do any better, why didn’t he walk? (This is the only time the Bible records that Jesus rode.) He was to teach us that whatever he touched, he dignified. He was to impress upon us that no matter how despised the object, Christ had use for him.
5) God uses average, ordinary people.
There was not a highly educated man among the original disciples. Not one was a scholar. Not one had wealth or fame. Four had been fishermen. One had been a noted tax gatherer. They were men with weaknesses and flaws like the rest of us. Some had a fiery nature. They stumbled and fell. Yet Jesus took these obscure men and through them turned the world upside down.
Christ will work with anyone who will give him a consecrated heart. He is not impressed with our pious, false humility when we say, “He cannot use me because I’m not clever, I’m not talented, I’m not articulate.” He could use a lowly donkey. He can use you. Praise him as you surrender yourself to him.
6) God uses dedicated people.
Among the greatest Christian people of history, there are many who had obscure beginnings. John Bunyan was not a polished writer. He was limited in his education. Scholars sneered at his writings. But the response of the multitudes established his allegory Pilgrim’s Progress as the greatest in the English language.
When William Booth founded the Salvation Army, the press ridiculed him. The London Times always put his rank of “General” in quotes. But he led and inspired an army for Christ that has spread around the world.
Dwight L. Moody was an unlettered man. He never went to college. His manner was crude, and his grammar was atrocious. Someone said he was the only man he ever heard who could say “Mesopotamia” in one syllable. English teachers came to hear him in order to condemn his grammar. But they left praising the Christ whom Moody proclaimed. He was the greatest evangelistic influence of the nineteenth century. He gave God everything he had, and God used him far beyond other more talented but less dedicated preachers.
At Carisbrooke Castle in England, a donkey works in a little roundhouse. His job is to go around and around and around in a circle. That is all he does. There is no starting place and no stopping place. “Is there any purpose in this endless circle?” we ask. Then we observe that he is drawing water from a very deep well in the heart of the castle. He is not walking in circles for nothing. On a hot day, he can give you a cool drink. A spirited horse would not submit himself to such drudgery and monotony. But even the most obscure and humble among us can draw water from the wells of the Spirit of God and give a drink to the thirsty.
Now in Conclusion
An impressive recruiting poster during World War II pictured Uncle Sam looking straight at you, pointing his index finger in your face. Beneath his picture were the words “I NEED YOU.” The poster dramatically expressed urgency. America was fighting for its life.
Not only do we need Christ, but Christ needs us. He has no hands but our hands to do his deeds of kindness and mercy. He has no feet but our feet to do his errands of world mission. He has no tongue but our tongues to proclaim the good news of his gospel. You may feel that you do not have much to offer. All he asks is the best of what you have. He does not even require success. All he requires is faithfulness. The Lord has need of you! He wants all of you right now and forever.