What Kind of Jesus Are You Looking For?
“What Kind of Jesus Are You Looking For?”
Mark 11:1-11 Pastor Bruce Dick – BEFC
Palm Sunday April 1, 2007
Every one of us has been disappointed in our lives. In fact, it is safe to say that every one of us has been disappointed more times than we can count. But disappointment is an interesting concept. Behind the idea of disappointment is the idea that we had a high expectation of something. Behind the deep ravine of disappointment was a mountaintop of expectation or desire. Something peeked our interest to a high or even very high level, higher than we normally would have, and something blew up that dream. The result was disappointment.
I must have been in 6th or 7th grade and it was VBS time in our church. Our class had a young man by the name of Nolan Beal as our teacher that week and he promised that as a reward for our hard work that week that he and his friend Wayne would take us to Snyder’s Lake as a class. His friend Wayne had this awesome ski boat. It was small and fast and the best description I can give you is that it looked like a manta ray. It was like one giant wing. That boat was fast and he could turn it so short that it could turn on the part of the motor that stuck in the water. He also made us this promise, that if any one of us, who were about 12 years old, wanted to learn how to ski, they would teach us. Well, I was in for that!
The day came for our little outing to Snyder’s Lake and everyone else was playing on the beach or in the water. Me? I was sitting on the dock with a pair of skis on my feet. I was ready! I didn’t worry about what would go wrong; I wanted to ski behind this incredible boat. But then something happened. As they got close to the dock, which was in kind of a little corner of the lake, his motor hit a submerged rock. And when they pulled up the motor, the prop was bent too badly to continue that day. I hoped upon hoped that they could fix this thing or that there was a spare, but no such luck. The boat was done and so was I. And this little 12-year old boy saw his hopes dashed. What I had so desperately hoped for, was so excited about was gone – in an instant.
But you have been disappointed too. How many of you guys growing up would catch the eye of this pretty girl and if you convinced yourself, you are pretty sure she was looking back at you. Oh, your heart went into fibrillation! You crossed her path every time you could, in the hall, in class, on the way into or out of school. And it seemed like she really liked you. And so one day, with sweaty palms, you dialed her number; you’re going to ask her out on a date. She answers and you can barely breathe but you make small talk for all of 30 seconds and then pop the big one – “Would you like to go to the movie this Friday?” – and she says, “Oh that’s so sweet, but I planned to stay home and wash my hair this Friday. But thanks so much for asking. That’s really sweet.” And you’re devastated. (It’s all coming back to me now!)
I could go on and on with lists of disappointments – grades on a test; rejected for a job; even a pregnancy test that is negative; the doctor who, instead of telling you that you are in great health says that you have cancer. The greatest disappointments come with the highest dreams or expectations.
2000 years ago, dreams and expectations were very, very high, a fever pitch. Jesus is coming to town. Yes, this famous rabbi is finally going to do what we had always dreamed he would – he’s going to become our king. We believe he’s the Messiah; we can’t understand why he has waited this long to announce what our ancestors have been telling us was coming. And rumor has it that he will make his grand entrance this week. Oh, I don’t want to miss this.
The Jewish people had such high expectations on what we call Palm Sunday. They were looking for Messiah all right, but not a spiritual one; they wanted one like the Roman emperor who would ride in on a white stallion and save them and rescue them and tell them everything was going to be all right. So what if he’s a rabbi; why can’t a rabbi with such s’mikhah – authority – do it? No one else has been able to. But the problem with their expectations and so many of ours today is that we’re hoping for one thing and the reality is another. We have this picture in our mind and the reality is something entirely different. We imagine ourselves the president of a business or corporation all the while we’re stacking boxes as a stock boy; we imagine ourselves in a Porsche 911 and we drive a 1983 Chevy. It’s not wrong to dream; in fact I would encourage you to dream. It’s just that sometimes we construct an idea of the way things should be, the way we want them to be and that was never what God had in mind.
I think that the story of the Triumphal Entry, as we call it, is a story of misplaced and disappointed expectations. The Jews were looking for one thing and Jesus was another. They expected and wanted so badly a political rescuer and Jesus was a spiritual liberator. They expected a powerful ruler with a sword and a white horse and Jesus was a messenger of peace on a donkey. They wanted this simple but brilliant rabbi to rescue them from all their external troubles; this rabbi was there to pay for their sins and cleanse them internally.
The heart of the matter was what kind of Jesus they were looking for. Their expectations were one thing; the reality was another. In fact the reality Jesus offered was superior in every way to what they were looking for; but in their disappointment, they couldn’t see that. I want you to take a look at that story with me this morning in Mark 11:1-11, as has already been read. And as we simply walk through the story, I want you do be doing one other thing; I want you to begin to think about this question: What kind of Jesus am I looking for? Am I expecting A and he offers B? Am I looking for this and he gives me that? And after we have looked at this story, we’ll come back to that question. So take a look with me again at Mark 11:1-11.
What kind of Jesus were THEY looking for? VERSE 1: You perhaps remember that Jesus has been on this 9-month, slow journey to Jerusalem. He’s working his way from north to east and now across the Jordan River, first to Jericho, where he heals a blind man, saves Zacchaeus, and now is working his way through the rough terrain up from the low wilderness up the back side of the Mount of Olives. He has many people following him in addition to the 12 disciples. And every one of them had expectations of what kind of Jesus they were looking for. Some loved his miracles and didn’t dare miss a single day for fear they’d miss seeing another. Some loved his teaching; after all he taught with such s’mikhah – authority; some loved the way he just ripped on the religious leaders; man, the way he talked to them was just fun to listen to; some followed because his life had touched theirs; there were a whole number of things that his followers were looking for as they followed him.
They get to the two towns near the top of the ridge of the Mount of Olives and Jesus, the master planner, who knew what he was doing, why he was doing it and when to do it, gives these famous instructions in verse 2.
VERSE 2-3: You’ll find the colt of a donkey (not a horse) tied up; he’s never been ridden before; that’s OK; you untie it and bring it to me. And if anyone asks, just tell them the Lord has need of it. He’ll bring it back here shortly.
VERSES 4-6: Not surprisingly – why should they have doubted Jesus? – they found things just like Jesus had said down to the detail of the guys asking what in the world they were taking that donkey for?
VERSE 7: I wonder what the disciples were thinking as they put their outer cloaks on that donkey. “Jesus has always stayed away from publicity before. This is going to make a statement that no one will miss. I wonder if this is the day he realized that he can take over and that the people are behind him?” 1000’s of questions and thoughts must have been echoing through their minds.
VERSE 8: Remember that there were tons of other folks there too. They were following Jesus, but they were also going to Jerusalem for the annual Passover, which every Jewish male and his family were to attend. This was going to be a Passover unlike any before! Jesus heads out from the place where they were staying, sitting squarely on top of that donkey, which for some reason wasn’t bucking or fussing or anything – I wonder if anyone picked up on that? So here is Jesus, gentle shepherd, riding on this donkey, fulfilling prophesies as he does. Interestingly, the donkey was the animal of choice for royalty through the time of David, who also rode on a donkey as king. But after David, it was decided that the donkey was no longer a fitting symbol for a king, so the stately horse was chosen.
Zechariah 9:9 had predicted this: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9)
But back to our story; people began to spread their outer cloaks on the road in front of this man and his donkey; it was a sign that royalty was riding and the road needed to be made smooth for him. Some ran into the nearby fields on the slopes of the ridge of hills and cut leafy branches to further soften the ride of the rabbi-king as he rode.
VERSE 9-10: This was a massive crowd; there were people in front of him and people behind, forming an antiphonal choir, singing and chanting at the top of their voices songs from the book of psalms. One would shout “Hosanna – Save us” while others shouted or sang back, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And back it would come, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” And back it would come again, “Hosanna in the highest!” The sound grew and grew in intensity. As Jesus crossed the ridge overlooking the city of Jerusalem, the breath-taking view was only enhanced by the 1000’s coming up the slopes of the Mount of Olives from the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem who came to join in this national party. The sounds echoed behind him and began to come to him from in front of him as thousands shouted their approval. Not since the time of David or Solomon had they seen something like this and certainly not in their lifetime. Some may have seen the processional of a conquering Roman leader leading his captives into the city, but this was no band of captives; this was a mass of people celebrating, behind and in front of him. The sound would have echoed along the front of the hills for a long way.
But what kind of Jesus were they looking for? What did they really expect? What kind of people were there looking, laughing, singing and cheering? Well, I think there were several kinds of people.
First, I think there were the Curious; they really didn’t know who this Jesus was; they had heard about him and his miracles and amazing teaching. And since they were in Jerusalem for Passover, why not check him out? He’s the greatest attraction to hit Jerusalem in a long time.
Second, I think there were the Confused. They thought of Jesus as this quiet rabbi who did good things and taught wonderful things, but what was this? He had shied away from publicity like this for 3 years; what in the world was he doing? Had he finally lost it?
Third, I think there were the Critical. Oh, they hated him. He got the attention they deserved. They were the religious leaders that Jesus frequently left in the dust. They’d see this fake rabbi with his fake s’mikhah dead if it was the last thing they did.
Fourth, I think there was the “Couldn’t Care Less” crowd. Bah humbug on it all. Who cares? I’ve got better things to do than waste my time with this Galilean; besides, nothing good ever came from Nazareth; why should things be different with this Jesus?
Finally, there were the Committed. They would follow Jesus to the ends of the earth; guys like Peter and John and James. There were women in Jesus’ entourage who supported him financially and appreciated that he actually showed respect to women, children, the widows, the poor and prisoners. This group didn’t really understand everything Jesus was about, but they would do anything for him.
Now, if you could choose one group to represent what kind of Jesus you were looking for, which group would you be in? Are you curious or confused? Are you the critical or couldn’t-care-less? Are you in the committed – whatever you ask I’ll do?
You see, there were all these expectations. Each one of them viewed Jesus through their own grid of hope and understanding, just as everyone does today.
VERSE 11: Mark concludes his version of the story simply in verse 11. The crowds finally calm down, Jesus gets off his donkey, enters the courtyard of the temple, does a survey and with the sun going down, simply invites his disciples to walk back up the hills they have just come down, with donkey in tow to be returned, and retire for the evening. What? No coronation? No party in the streets? Everyone went back to their plans, parties and families? What’s this?
If you recall that our title of this series is, “Who is this Jesus and why does it matter? That is exactly the issue on this Palm Sunday. Everyone had a different opinion that day, just as so many different opinions exist today on what kind of Jesus this is?
There probably is no more important question than this one and the specific one we ask today: “What kind of Jesus are you looking for? I think the only ones who WERE NOT disappointed in their view of Jesus were those who understood that he came for one reason and one only – to pay for sins once and for all. I think that everyone else was disappointed. And I think that is why so many today are so disappointed; the kind of Jesus they are looking for is not the one that is presented in the Bible.
What kind of Jesus are you looking for? Some of us here today are looking for a father figure we never had. Jesus sounds so peaceful and warm and caring; who wouldn’t want a father like that? He’d listen to every word and actually talk back in meaningful ways. Some of you here had a father or mother who were nothing like Jesus. They didn’t seem to care and for a few of you, they inflicted physical or mental pain that you still live under. The Jesus you want is a tender, caring, listening father or mother-figure. That’s not bad, it’s just shortsighted.
Some of us are looking for a friend. You might be 8 or you might be 88 and you just wish you had one close friend like Jesus. “What a friend we have in Jesus” is your theme song. No one else cares like Jesus but you just wish you could have one friend that you could see or touch or be with. It’s a good desire, but a short-sighted one.
Some of us here are looking for a counselor, someone who can dive deep into the complexities of our lives, understand us and give us three easy steps to recovery. You haven’t found this person in your pastor or your psychologist; no one seems to understand. You have deep secrets buried deeply under layers of defense mechanisms that even you have forgotten the combination to, but somehow Jesus, the counselor could open that door and rescue your heart. It’s good, just not really enough.
Some of us are looking for a national leader. We’re so sick of politics and politicians. We see the nation going to hell in a hand basket, as the expression goes and if only the nation would go back to the Bible. If only our country would go back to the faith of the founding fathers, we’d be so much better off. Republican or Democrat; we dislike them both; but if Jesus could be in charge, he’d toss both parties out on their ears and this nation could be a Christian nation again. Again, it would be nice, but that’s not the Jesus that came to this world.
So what kind of Jesus are you looking for? Perhaps I hit it and perhaps I didn’t. Somewhere deep inside your heart there is a longing, a desire that God put in there, that only he can meet. It’s a longing to be loved and valued; it’s a longing for joy and peace. There’s a longing for hope and a future. God put those there. And only Jesus Christ can satisfy those. But the kinds of Jesus we just described won’t meet that need; not Jesus the father, the friend, the counselor, the national leader.
I submit to you that the at the deepest level of our hearts, which many of us have buried deeply, the Jesus we are looking for is a Savior who can free us from our sin and the guilt that goes along with it. If you strip everything else away, the Jesus we really crave is one who can lift the burden of sin that we were both born into and live under daily and nail it to the cross.
If you were here last week you may remember that I said that Jesus had only two demands in his preaching. Do you remember what they were? They were to Repent and to Believe. Repent and Believe. And I suggested that while the vast majority of us, and frankly about 85% of Americans, BELIEVE, much fewer repent. They are two necessary sides of the same coin; you cannot have one without the other. To try to have only belief was like floating in the ocean, clinging with one arm to your driftwood from your sunken sailboat and the rescue ring from the Coast Guard cutter with the other arm, but never letting go of either one. And so we drift along like millions of others just like us because the Jesus we want is not the Jesus that came.
Someone recently wrote that there is never a bad time to do the right thing and sooner is always, always better than later. To repent and do a one-eighty may seem like the ugliest, impossible, devastating and hard thing in the world to do but that’s the lie Satan wants us all to believe. The beautiful fruit that comes from doing that one-eighty will not only be a huge tree of life for you but a flow of blessing to many others. The Jesus that came with one mission – to reconcile a world ripped apart from God the father by sin and reunite them. So he paid the ultimate price; a perfect man who was also God stood before a righteous, wrathful but loving God and took the most difficult penalty ever paid in the history of the universe. He paid for our sins so that by grace we might be saved.
And only when we look for a Jesus like that will we find the other things that we thought were most important like a father, a friend, a counselor, a national leader or whatever you were looking for.
I love telling the story about my brother-in-law Jeff. When he started dating my younger sister Karla, he was not a Christian and he would admit that. But he was a very nice guy, the nicest guy my sister had ever dated. I don’t know what kind of Jesus he was looking for; probably didn’t see the need for one; he had his church thing from a child, but what difference did it make? He turned out fine anyway. Yes, his parents had divorced, but he survived that just fine too. He began a dialogue with my other brother-in-law Robb. They started asking each other questions; Robb would fire one and Jeff one back. Jeff thought he needed all the answers to all his questions before he could take the plunge into this Christianity stuff. One day Jeff decided that he didn’t have all the answers but he had enough of them. Jeff and Karla called Trudy and I that night to say that he had decided to trust in the Jesus who came to save him, not the father Jesus, the friend Jesus, the counselor Jesus or the national leader Jesus, but the Savior Jesus. And to have heard his voice, your heart would have melted like ours did. He made this comment that has stuck with me to this day and which I will never forget; this is what he said: “I can’t believe how different things look once I made this decision. All those questions I thought I needed answers for and insisted I have make sense now. I can’t believe how it makes sense now.”
Friends, can you imagine a church united behind a Savior like Jesus? Can you imagine a message so consistent that everyone is like singing from the same songbook? Friends, next Sunday is Easter and you’re going to enjoy a celebration service of life and hope that will be incredible. But you don’t have to wait until Easter to know the Jesus who is your savior. You can know him today. Simply lift your hands upward and gaze up and say, “Help me dear savior. I thought I knew what I was looking for but now I see I need something deeper than that. I need to be set free from the burden of my sin. I know what I want, but now I know what I need and I repent and believe that you can meet that deepest need.” If that’s your prayer here today, then Easter is going to be the greatest celebration you’ll have ever seen.
And here’s the neat thing; this morning we celebrate communion, the Lord’s Table. We declare that Jesus’ body was broken and his blood shed to become our savior. We declare as a memorial, using these wafers and juice, how desperately we needed him to be our savior, our rescuer and how his covenant has saved us and brought us into fellowship with his Father. What a privilege. What kind of Jesus are you looking for? If you realize you need a savior, then why not trust him to save you and become your savior today? Let’s pray.
“What Kind of Jesus Are You Looking For?”
Mark 11:1-11 Pastor Bruce Dick – BEFC
Palm Sunday April 1, 2007
Ø What is disappointment really all about?
Ø What kind of Jesus were the people of Jesus’ day looking for? (Mark 11:1-11)
o The story itself…
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king id coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
o Who they were…
§ The C_______________
§ The C_______________
§ The C_______________
§ The C_______________________
§ The C_______________
Ø What kind of Jesus am I looking for?
o A F_____________________?
o A F_________ F____________?
o A C_____________________?
o A N__________ L___________?
o A S_________________.
There is never a bad time to do the right thing
and sooner is always, always better than later. (Pam Thum)
Ø Which Jesus do I Need and which will I Choose?