Who In the Crowd Are You?
Luke 13:22-19:27 (Lk. 19:28-48) March 24, 2002
Scripture Reading: Zech. 9:9-13
In any given crowd of people there is potentially and probably great variety.
Everyone has an individual story to tell. They have each gone through different life experiences, and yet, if they are in that particular crowd, there is something unique that has brought them together.
If you are downtown at the "Taste of Chicago" you will find many different twists and turns of life if you were to interview the people there, but there is one thing they have in common – they have come to the "Taste of Chicago."
If you go to the movie theater, or a sports event, or even to work, it is the same thing. The lives are as individual as the numbers there but they all add up to the event at hand: the movie, the game, or the job.
Each of you here this morning have a story to tell, and I wish we had time this morning to hear yours, but there is one thing in common – we have come here to hear his (Jesus') story.
But if the truth be known about him, his story is our story because that is why he came – he wanted to bring people together in him for the glory and worship of God.
As we open our Bibles this morning to the Gospel of Luke 19:28-40 we find what might be called the first real church service.
It is the section on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he mentions the "whole crowd of disciples who began to joyfully praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen" (19:37).
It is because, you see, there were so many different stories there in the crowd, but they all had one thing in common: they had met and been healed either physically and/or spiritually by the unforgettable and incomparable Christ.
They could do nothing less than praise him as he came into this city of his inheritance – the city of the throne room of the Messiah.
But he entered in a different kind of triumph than the world was used to or expected because he came as he ministered – humbly (19:28-36) and yet with undeniable confidence (19:41-48). (Illus.: donkey/ Presidential motorcade)
Because of who he truly was and is (God), he could not turn away their heartfelt and triumphant praise (19:37-40).
They were there for the main event of the Jewish year, the Passover, and they would discover as events unfolded that Jesus himself was to be the acceptable sacrifice for their sins, the perfect sacrificial Lamb.
As it would turn out, most in the city would not partake of his Passover (19:41-44) – the blood of the new covenant.
But for now the crowd that knew him and followed him rejoiced because each had met him uniquely – they had been brought together in him.
Let us then take a look at some of the actual and probably stories of those in the crowd.
The best place to start is back in Luke 13:22-23 where Jesus, according to Luke, begins to make his way toward Jerusalem and his triumphal entry.
Even then we see what will differentiate this crowd from the rest of the city.
They must not follow the majority of the people but the majority of the One True God.
Jesus puts it all in terms of direction and priorities (13:24-30). The way is narrow and many who are first to have opportunity to find it will not. They will be last in priority with God since he was last in priority with them. And the last who are first refers to those who will come along that narrow way while the gate is yet open.
Best of all, we see that Jesus himself sets his heart on the narrow way (13:31-33) even though most of those to whom he would come would not (13:34-35).
But let us take a look at some of those along that narrow way. (Illus.: narrow way/doors and paths)
Who could some of the people have been in the crowd that shouted praise to Jesus on the day he entered Jerusalem?
I. Luke 14:1-4
We see the man healed by Jesus in the Pharisee's house on the Sabbath from a severe medical condition called "dropsy." This is where the lymph glands quit working and the body swells up.
There may be some here today whom Jesus has healed from some severe medical condition. Imagine that you then developed faith in him, like this man probably did whom Jesus sent away.
You met the Master. You were healed by his touch when he took hold of you, and you decided to follow him the rest of your life.
You were there when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. You laid your cloak on the road for him as he passed one more time across the personal pathway of your heart. And you shouted praise; and again all the more loudly, "Hosanna."
You discovered that life is all about him. "It's all about you, Jesus." Nothing could keep you from this great cloud of witnesses to his miracles.
II. Luke 14:15
After Jesus finishes teaching on the parable of humility of place at the wedding feast and the imperative to invite the likes of the one he has just healed with the certainty of heavenly reward to follow, we see the man who exclaims, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
So Jesus teaches another parable about the many excuses people give who have been invited to that feast by God himself. His offer to come is extended even unto the poorest in the streets so that his house will be full.
Do you suppose that the one whose statement of assurance regarding the blessing of that feast was in the crowd that day praising Jesus? It could be so. That instruction sounded like it was tailored just for him.
It just could be that his heart was humbled to see that he himself was one of the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, and that he was convicted of his cock-sure prideful "amen" to what Jesus had said.
Have you ever tried to sound "Oh, so spiritual" in a religious gathering only to be all the more convicted of your spiritual poverty? If so, then Jesus healed you. A miracle was performed.
You saw your need of him and you never want to let go. You found a freedom from yourself and you were in that crowd that day, and you are here today.
III. Luke 14:25
We see the large crowds that followed Jesus even before he got to Jerusalem. He tried hard to turn away the insincere.
He talked about loving him more than your family and even more than your own life. He talked about carrying your cross and counting the cost and giving up everything you have as the price of freedom – the price of being his disciple.
No doubt some scattered, but not you. You didn't start this journey with the Messiah because the road was downhill.
For you the spiritual challenge showed forth the worthiness of the goal, the worthiness of the Master who leads you. And you will never stop praising him.
You were in the crowd then and you are still here today. After all, he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nothing less than "forever praise" will do for you.
You will finish what you start because he would and he did and he will. He hasn't given up on you and you won't give up on him.
IV. Luke 15:1-2
We see the tax collectors and the sinners. They gathered around Jesus like bees around honey. They knew pure nourishment when they saw it.
Of course, there were the nay-sayer Pharisees and the inevitable teaching parable points from Jesus once again.
But I imagine there were many in the triumphal entry crowd that day in Jerusalem who had found compassion in Jesus and the assurance of the forgiveness of sins.
Oh, the grievous nature of our despicable sins that weigh us down and defeat our every effort at spiritual freedom! But what a reason to praise him. Praise him!
Praise him for his mighty acts of compassion because he let us gather around him and talk with him and hear his healing wisdom and assurance of holiness in his Name.
What a blessing to be invited to repent and then counted worthy of being found, like a lost sheep or a coin or more importantly, a son, prodigal though he may be.
Oh, Jesus, what a reason to praise you. It's all about you, Jesus. You saved me to rejoice in you.
Me, a sinner - who would have thought that you wanted my praise? But you do, and I will. I was in your crowd then and I am here in your crowd today.
But what of the Pharisee, hardened with his own brand of spiritual holiness and success?
Perhaps there were some there who had sneered at Jesus for socializing with "sinners" who later responded to the point of the parables – some who had thought long and hard about whether or not it was really them he was talking about and decided they had best face the truth or perish.
Do you have a religious history that needs cleansing? Are you in his crowd today?
Talking indirectly to them as he addressed his disciples, Jesus called them "shrewd managers" who dealt dishonestly with people in their teachings about God and sin because their moral authority was compromised by their own sin and love of money.
Perhaps even some of them, like some of you, were convicted of their own sin that day and came into the fold of the crowd of witnesses who praised him unceasingly because of their newfound wealth of spiritual insight and real freedom from sin in his Name.
V. Luke 17:11-19
We see the 10 lepers who met Jesus on his way to Jerusalem who begged him to heal them.
Jesus sent them to show themselves to the priests and they were all healed on the way. But there was one who returned to Jesus in order to throw himself at his feet and give praise to God – and he was a Samaritan at that.
Now perhaps that Samaritan wasn't at Jerusalem with the Passover crowd, but he was likely with the crowd that trailed Jesus everywhere he went. And he shouted thanks from the depth of his soul to the top of his voice that day when Jesus came into his city.
He had not forgotten who he was before he met Jesus and where he came from. An irredeemable foreigner to the holiness of God, that is what some of us were before we asked Jesus to make us clean, and we will never forget what he did for us.
What a reason to shout "Hosanna in the highest!" You are in his crowd here today.
VI. Luke 18:18
We see the rich ruler who came to Jesus hoping to tell him more than he really wanted to know.
His question of "what must I do to inherit eternal life" was his way of trying to tell Jesus to give him a few positive strokes for being such a good boy who kept the commandments. But Jesus confronted his sin of dependence on the world's riches rather than his true heavenly riches.
Do you suppose that this rich man was in Jerusalem that day? Likely he thought about what Jesus said and took him up on his offer of gold that money can't buy.
What do you depend on for your future? If it is Jesus, you won't be disappointed.
Are you here in his crowd today to praise him for giving you the key to his treasury? Has he set you free from your lock box?
You never knew how to live before he unloaded your saddlebags. Now you've got room to ride. Praise him!
VII. Luke 18:35-43
We see the blind beggar who couldn't see but he could shout. This guy got an early start on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. They couldn't shut him up.
He won his audience with the Savior and received his sight because of his faith in Jesus. He kept on praising him to the point where all the people began to praise him.
It may be this very guy, on the outskirts of Jericho as Jesus made the last leg of his journey to Jerusalem, that started the whole thing in the first place. He got it going and it never let up.
Perhaps you are in this crowd here today because you have seen what you could never see before outside of faith in Jesus. God put you here to start praising him for his Son.
Perhaps you can't sing and carry a tune, but you can carry your weight in praise. Let it out. Shout it out! Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the Savior of men! God has called you to lead others in praise.
VIII. Luke 19:1-10
We see short little Zacchaeus who wasn't blind, but he had to climb a tree to see. He had to get above the crowd.
Not that he was better – from their perspective he was worse because he was a tax collector. But for better or worse, he was different – being so short.
It was rather undignified to climb a tree at his age. But he heard the praise and something was calling his name to add to it. And the One whose Spirit was calling stopped to invite him to his own place for dinner.
Now this guy was changed immediately and gave up his cheatin' treacherous ways. His repentance had found salvation. He started praising Jesus and probably followed him to Jerusalem, palm branch in hand.
Now you are here today because there is something different about you too. You're not normal.
You don't look normal, but you don't care because you are normal with Jesus. He stopped at your tree.
You don't act normal, but you don't care because you got to see Jesus. He looked you up in your tree.
You don't live normal, but you don't care because you gave it up for Jesus. He invited you to get down from your tree and get honest with him, and life hasn't been the same since.
He called you up and came on over. Life has been one party after another with Jesus around.
He tends to set people free to celebrate. "I will celebrate, sing unto the Lord, sing to the Lord a new song." Is that your praise this morning?
You've got a new song because you've got a new heart. What a reason to shout, "Hosanna!" "The Lord Saves!"
Who in the crowd are you? Who are you in the crowd this morning?
What is your story? How has Jesus touched your life with reason to praise Him?
You are one individual and important voice among many proclaiming that it is all about Him.
It is the heart of worship. It is celebrating Jesus.