The Things Jesus Knew, Part VII
Gospel of Mark February 20, 2000
Scripture: Eph. 2:1-10
As we read this passage I want you to pay particular attention to the last verse, verse 10.
Comment: We are not saved by our works. We are saved by God's works.
We are not saved by works. We are saved for works.
We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. God prepared our works before he created us.
God had a purpose for us. God has a purpose for us. God created us to fill that purpose – original and ongoing. God does everything by intent. To ignore that purpose is to ignore God. To ignore God is death. If we do not fill his purpose, at least part of it, we have no purpose. But none of us do this perfectly. To realize that purpose and fill it is life. We must be of use or we have no use. We must answer the call of God. Every life, no matter what state that life is in, is able to respond to God's purpose in some way.
This morning's message is about the fact that God knows his purpose for us and will reveal it to us in some way, and that we will act on it if we remain open and responsive to him to listen and observe what he might want of us at any particular time. We please God when we obey his purposes for us.
Jesus had just healed blind Bartimaeus, which means "son of Timaeus," as he approached Jericho about five miles away from the river on the west side of the Jordan River valley. This ancient city was about fifteen miles southeast of Jerusalem. It was the same one that God leveled when the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. Herod the Great had rebuilt a new Jericho near the one God destroyed. But this man who could now see where he was going because he had met Jesus followed him rejoicing on his way through Jericho to Jerusalem. I imagine that Zacchaeus was there too following along, (Lk. 19:1-10), since it was also in Jericho that this little man became great because he wanted to see Jesus. Even as Jesus left the city, there were two more blind men who cried out to receive their sight (Mt. 20:29-34) and followed gladly. Perhaps the formerly blind Bartemaeus had coached them along by his own rejoicing that could not be stilled. It would seem that there were still no walls in Jericho. At least there were no walls to the faith of these men.
So Jesus and his disciples led his growing band of faith filled misfits along the road to a glory they could not yet comprehend. The dusty Roman road led a steep, winding path as they made their way up the ridge toward Bethany. Jesus had been to Bethany before. You may recall that this was the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead (Jn. 11:18). Bethany was about two miles southeast of Jerusalem. He was now on his way to raise Jerusalem from the dead. They were dead in their self-righteousness and hard-hearted legalism. He had cried out to Lazarus, "Come forth!" and he came. His entry into Jerusalem would shout the same message, "Come unto me!" but few would really turn toward him in faith. There were still walls in Jerusalem. But he would go, and he would proclaim, and he would fulfill the prophecy that would be necessary for the righteousness they did not possess. This was the Triumphal Entry, the way on the road to the cross.
But in order for his righteousness to be properly understood, Jesus had to put into effect the plan of prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. While they were yet in Bethany, Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead to Bethphage. This was a little village that lay directly between Bethany and Jerusalem on the side of the Mount of Olives. On the mile long ridge called the Mount of Olives one could stand 200 feet above Mount Zion and feast on the breathtaking view of the Temple Mount across the chasm of the Kidron Valley on one side, and be amazed by the stark and spectacular view of the Desert of Judea on the other. It was to the Garden of Gethsemane on the lower slopes of this Mount of Olives that Jesus returned during the week to teach and returned for prayer during the night of his arrest. And it was at Bethphage, which means "house of figs" that Jesus cursed the fig tree that is symbolic of his ultimate reception at Jerusalem. But for now, Jesus needed the colt that he would ride into Jerusalem.
VII. Knowledge of the Spirit's Work in Believers' Hearts
A. Preparation for His Entry as Messiah and King
1. The Triumphal Entry (11:1-7)
The omniscience that Jesus has extends here into another area where he knows how the Holy Spirit will orchestrate events according to the will of God. He knows the call of the Spirit upon certain hearts and just how they will respond. He sees future events in the present. This is why, as they approach his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, that he can give such detailed instructions to his disciples to prepare for it. As they approach Bethphage, he tells the two disciples to advance into the village ahead where they will find, just after they enter it, a colt tied up that no one has ever ridden. Jesus is so confident of the situation that he told them to respond that the Lord needed it, and if anyone asked about what they were doing, and that he would return it shortly.
The disciples did indeed find the colt tied up in a doorway along the street, and they were challenged by those standing there. You would challenge them too if someone came along and just got in your brand new Kia parked along the street in front of your house to drive it away as you stand there watching in amazement. Your car was just delivered and you've never even driven it yet. Granted, it is not a Cadillac, but it is new. The response of the disciples that they were told to do this by Lord Jesus was all the answer the people needed. These people knew the Lord. Anything he wanted was alright with them. If Jesus wanted your new Kia to ride as the guest of honor in an Easter Parade through the Loop, what would you say? And if you say yes, would it be because the Spirit prepared you beforehand because you know Jesus.
Then the disciples brought the colt to Jesus and he sat on it in order to make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And this particular triumphal entry was far different than anything the world had ever seen before because of its simple and sincere grandeur and humility. You see, this was the colt of a donkey and not a war-horse. This was a Kia and not a Cadillac here. And the purity of the colt that had never been ridden testifies to the purity of the victory that Jesus was proclaiming - not through the cost of what would be the blood of others, but of his own.
There are several things that tell us this situation was not set up in advance. They were on their way to the village without having been there recently before. Jesus knew the exact details of the scene. Those standing there did not know the disciples, but they did know the name of the Lord. It would certainly seem that Jesus knew how they would respond to the Spirit's call that he placed upon them. They were prepared in advance. They believed the Lord's need and were happy to meet it.
How well does Jesus know your heart? Is he working on it? Can he count on you? When the Spirit prompts, will you respond? Your response may well be the means he desires to make a triumphal entry into someone else's heart. And by the way, he doesn't want your hand-me-downs, he wants your best and finest, unworn and unridden. And you can count on their return - having been touched by Jesus. And you can sit where Jesus sat.
B. Preparation for His Departure as Savior and Lord
1. The Lord's Supper (14:12-16)
The other instance in Mark's gospel that portrays Jesus' knowledge of how people would respond to the Spirit's call upon their hearts is in the preparations to be made for a place to hold the Passover meal during his Passion Week. The disciples come to Jesus and ask him where he wants them to make preparations to eat the Passover. They had been staying outside the city at night and at this time they were back in Bethany. So once again, Jesus sends two of his disciples on ahead to make preparations – this time to Jerusalem. And once again, they are given detailed instructions about what they would find. And they did find it just as Jesus had said.
He told them that, going into the city, they would find a man carrying a water jar, an unusual sight since only women did such work. They were not to question him, but only to follow him into the house he would enter. This, of course, fits the clandestine need of the moment as it was not quite yet time for his betrayal. It was the owner of the house they were to talk to. They were to ask confidently in Jesus' name for his guestroom where he might eat the Passover with his disciples. They would be shown the room completely furnished and prepared. Once again, the name of Jesus carries authority and reveals the advance preparation of the Spirit.
Now, how can we know that this was advance knowledge of Jesus since they had been in the city during the week, and advance preparations could have been directed? First, we have the example of the previous account which lends credibility to this instance. Also, the disciples knew nothing about it, and you would think that Jesus would have used them to arrange any advance preparation. The household into which the disciples went must surely have been "Christian" since a man was carrying the water jar. The teaching and example of Jesus would have shown the servanthood of all believers where no task is beneath one's pride. The Spirit could certainly make such advance arrangements through the hearts of such people. And because of Judas, the betrayer, who was already in process, such Spirit led preparation was most expedient.
This begs the question of whether we have any room for Jesus? And have we prepared that room and furnished it according to his desire? Note that Jesus assumes ownership of the room. He asks for "my" room. But he always comes as a guest without force. He knows where he is welcome. Do you have any rooms you would not desire him to see? He sees anyway.
Does Jesus own your car? Is it gassed up and ready to go at his beck and call? Does Jesus own your house? Is it furnished and cleaned and ready for his occupancy? But these things are only indicators. Does Jesus own you? Have you ever sensed the Spirit's call to serve him in some way – any way? And did you respond? We cannot serve Jesus directly, but he has said in Matthew 25:40, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." We have all had failures in our service. I can tell you some of mine. But what we need to take home with us today is that we need to be responsive to his promptings about service. In whatever we do to serve others, we do to serve him. He knows those who will respond. He knows those who are his. If we fail to respond often enough, he will use others and we will miss the blessing of serving him. (What is your response when someone asks your for your cloak?) All I have is his. Are you ready to serve him? He will tell you when and where and what if you listen. And you too can make gospel history. We saw last week that the message lives through us. We see this week that we must respond to it.
How to Meet a Christian
Living Between the Steps
Rose – kids at McDonald's booth
Patricia – Carmen and Junior
NIV For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
YLT for of Him we are workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God did before prepare, that in them we may walk.
NAS 95 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
NKV For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.