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Life Lessons from a Donkey Ride - John 12:12-19

Taught on | Topic: Palm Sunday | Keywords: Gospels, Passion Week, triumphal entry, donkey, Palm Sunday, Passover, religion, Pentecost, Tabernacles, Egypt, rituals, prayer, religious leaders, tax collectors, prostitutes, murderers, barriers, achievement, divine, relationship, opinion, Babylonian calendar, king, confidence, observation, conclusions, study

Almost half of the gospel of John is dedicated to Jesus' final week on earth. With that much Scripture dedicated to the topic, we must pay attention. In this Palm Sunday message, we look at Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and discover the difference between practicing a religion and having a relationship with Christ.

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3/20/2016
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Life Lessons from a Donkey Ride
John 12:12-19
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Almost half of the gospel of John is dedicated to Jesus' final week on earth. With that much Scripture dedicated to the topic, we must pay attention. In this Palm Sunday message, we look at Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and discover the difference between practicing a religion and having a relationship with Christ.
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Palm Sunday Messages

Palm Sunday Messages

A week before He was crucified, Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, fulfilling prophecy and presenting Himself as the true Deliverer. These messages, given a week before Easter Sunday, will help prepare your heart to celebrate Jesus' death and glorious resurrection.

Outline

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  1. Jesus Is More Appealing than Religion (vv. 12-13)

  2. Scripture Is More Reliable than Opinion (vv. 14-16)

  3. Following Is More Important than Inspection (vv. 16-19)

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: March 20, 2016
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Life Lessons from a Donkey Ride"
Text: John 12:12-19

Path

In this Palm Sunday teaching, Pastor Skip took us through Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. He reminded us that twenty-nine of the eighty-five chapters of the four Gospels are devoted to the last week of Jesus' life on earth. Because so much Scripture is dedicated to this area, we should pay attention. In this passage, we see that Jesus fulfilled biblical prophecy.
    1. Jesus Is More Appealing than Religion (vv. 12-13)
    2. Scripture Is More Reliable than Opinion (vv. 14-16)
    3. Following Is More Important than Inspection (vv. 16-19)
Points

Jesus Is More Appealing than Religion (vv. 12-13)
  • There were three mandatory feasts for all Jews. Many observed them strictly for religious purposes, but others wanted more than a ceremony.
  • What's the difference between Jesus and religion?
    • Religion emphasizes outward rituals; Jesus emphasizes inward reality.
    • Religion is about what you can't do; Jesus is about what you can do. It's prohibition versus true freedom.
    • Religion puts up barriers; Jesus pulls them down.
    • Religion says, "Work your way"; Jesus says, "I am the way."
  • Probe: If you are from a religious background, discuss what life was like before coming to Christ. If you are not from a religious background, discuss how you viewed religion before coming to Christ.
Scripture Is More Reliable than Opinion (vv. 14-16)
  • Jesus rode a donkey to fulfill biblical prophecy.
  • Five hundred years earlier, Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would come riding on a donkey (see Zechariah 9:9).
  • Daniel prophesied the exact day Jesus would come as part of the Seventy Weeks prophecy (see Daniel 9:24-27).
  • In The Coming Prince, Sir Robert Anderson calculates that day. He computed that the 483 years (equaling 173,880 days) ended on April 6, AD 32, known to the Jews as the tenth of Nisan—the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey and presented Himself as the Messiah.
  • Probe: Why is prophecy so important in Scripture? What does prophecy tell us about God and the Bible?
Following Is More Important than Inspection (vv. 16-19)
  • Verses 16-19 show four separate groups of people:
    • The disciples—the learners and followers of Christ
    • Eyewitnesses—those who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead
    • Those who heard that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead
    • The Pharisees—the religious people that watched and observed those following Christ
  • Of all four groups, only one was truly following and obeying Jesus—the disciples. 
  • Probe: Which of the other three groups did you find yourself in prior to coming to Christ? What does it mean to be a disciple—a follower of Christ? How does this differ from the other three groups?
Practice

Connect Up: Pastor Skip reminded us that the same God who engineered the donkey ride and the date of visitation is the One that saved us. Discuss the moment Jesus visited/saved you? Had you heard the gospel before? What made you respond?

Connect In: As a follower of Christ, a disciple is one who responds, obeys, and learns from Jesus. What does it mean to be a follower of Christ in the church today? How can the body of Christ demonstrate to a watching world that we are true disciples (see John 13:35)? What can you do this week to obey Jesus' command in that verse?

Connect Out: Take a moment to discuss other prophetic scriptures that were fulfilled by Christ. How can fulfilled prophecy be used to demonstrate the reliability of Scripture to others outside the faith?

  • For reference, the following link lists forty-four fulfilled prophecies: http://christianity.about.com/od/biblefactsandlists/a/Prophecies-Jesus.htm

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Comparisons
      1. Show how one thing is better than another
      2. Show how far you have come
    2. Almost half of the book of John is dedicated to the final week of Jesus' life on earth
      1. Two-fifths of the gospel of Matthew is devoted to this week
      2. Three-fifths of the gospel of Mark is devoted to this week
      3. One-third of the gospel of Luke is devoted to this week
    3. The gospel writers placed a significant amount of importance on Passion Week
      1. The Gospels have eighty-nine chapters total
        1. Four of those chapters are about the first thirty years of Jesus' life
        2. Eighty-five chapters consist of the last three and a half years of His life
        3. Twenty-nine chapters are dedicated to the final week
      2. When God repeats Himself, you know it is important
    4. All four Gospels recount Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19)
    5. This was the luckiest donkey in the world to have the Son of God ride on his back
    6. Donkeys
      1. Live between thirty and forty years of age, some as long as sixty years
      2. Favorite pastime is rolling in the dirt
      3. Have long ears that help keep them cool and allow them to hear over great distances
      4. More people are killed annually by donkeys than in plane crashes
    7. Palm Sunday
      1. Celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
      2. In the Jewish calendar, it is the tenth day of the month of Nisan
        1. The day that Jewish families would select the lamb that would be sacrificed on the fourteenth day of Nisan—Passover
        2. On this day, the Lamb of God rode into Jerusalem
        3. He presented Himself to the nation
        4. April 6, AD 32
  2. Jesus Is More Appealing than Religion (vv. 12-13)
    1. The crowd was a group of religious people in Jerusalem for the religious feast
      1. Three feasts every Jewish person was required to be in Jerusalem for
        1. Passover
        2. Pentecost
        3. Tabernacles
      2. Passover was a celebration remembering how God delivered them from Egypt (see Exodus 11-12)
    2. It was a repetitive process
      1. They traveled the same routes to get there
      2. They went through the same rituals
      3. They prayed the same prescribed prayers
    3. The people were clamoring for something more than their religion was offering
      1. They gravitated to Jesus
      2. Hósanna = save, we pray
      3. Jesus was a breath of fresh air in a stale, stagnant, religious experience (see Mark 12:37)
    4. There was a clash between the old religious system and the new principles Jesus was teaching
      1. Matthew 15:1-9
      2. Tax collectors, prostitutes, and murderers found it easy to hang out with Jesus
      3. His most scathing words were to religious leaders (see Matthew 23)
    5. The difference between Jesus and religion
      1. Religion emphasizes the outward; Jesus emphasizes the inward (see Matthew 9:4; 12:34)
      2. Religion is about what you can't do; Jesus is about what you can do
      3. Religion puts up barriers; Jesus pulls down barriers
        1. In the temple, there were walls to keep people out
        2. Religion is very good at keeping people out
        3. Matthew 11:28
      4. Religion says, "Work your way to God"; Jesus says, "I am the way"
        1. Most religions are about what you have to do to work your way to God
        2. Human achievement
        3. The gospel is the approach of divine accomplishment
    6. Jesus was the Pharisees' biggest nightmare
      1. People were more attracted to Jesus than their religious system
      2. Jesus drove people toward a personal relationship with God
  3. Scripture Is More Reliable than Opinion (vv. 14-16)
    1. Everyone has an opinion about Jesus (see Mark 8:27-28; John 9:16; 10:20)
    2. John quoted the Old Testament to explain who Jesus was
      1. Psalm 118:26
      2. Zechariah 9:9
    3. God's revelation is more reliable than people's estimation
    4. Why did Jesus ride on a donkey?
      1. Matthew 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; Luke 19:29-35
      2. They donkey showed Jesus' identity
        1. Kings rode donkeys in times of peace
        2. When a king came to wage war, he would ride a horse
    5. Luke 19:41-44
      1. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem
      2. Jesus was referring to Daniel's prediction, which gave an exact timetable for the coming of the Messiah (see Daniel 9:26-27)
        1. The Messiah would appear to the Jews 483 years after the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem
        2. Sir Robert Anderson of Scotland Yard wrote a book on this prophecy called The Coming Prince
          1. He discovered the day the Jews were given the commandment to rebuild was March 14, 445 BC
          2. Using the old Babylonian calendar, he discovered that 483 years was equal to 173,880 days
          3. He began at March 14, 445 BC and counted 173,880 days, leading him to the date April 6, AD 32
          4. This was the date Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and presented Himself as their King
    6. The disciples did not understand the significance of this until after Jesus rose from the grave
      1. They discovered how reliable the Scriptures are
      2. When your life is governed by God's Word, you will have confidence and security
  4. Following Is More Important than Inspection (vv. 16-19)
    1. John mentions four groups of people who were there that day
      1. The disciples
        1. Real followers of Jesus
        2. Learners
      2. Eyewitnesses who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (see v. 17)
      3. Those who heard from the eyewitnesses that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead
      4. The religious leaders
    2. All four groups inspected the same event
      1. The disciples were the only ones who were really following Jesus
      2. Even though they did not understand the significance at the time, they would eventually
    3. Observation is good
      1. But it must lead to conclusions
      2. Some people study extensively, but stop short at actually following the One they are studying
      3. There comes a point at which what you study must be translated into what you do
  5. Closing
    1. How will you respond in your day of visitation?
    2. The donkey was the most compliant one in this entire story
    3. The God who engineered these events with such exactness can handle and change you
    4. This God is worth following

Figures referenced: Sir Robert Anderson

Hebrew words: hósanna

Cross references: Exodus 11-12; Psalm 118:26; Daniel 9:26-27; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 9:4; 11:28; 12:34; 15:1-9; 21:1-11; 23; Mark 8:27-28; 11:1-11; 12:37; Luke 19:28-44; John 9:16; 10:20; 12:12-19


Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this teaching from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. As these teachings are shared worldwide, our prayer is that God uses them to draw people to Himself. If this message resonates with you, we'd like to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.

Less than one week before He was put to death, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the sound of the people glorifying and praising His name. In the message, Life Lessons from a Donkey Ride, we learn more about the triumphal entry. We invite you to turn your Bibles to John Chapter 12 as Skip begins.

You know, sometimes it's good to compare things with other things. Does that look familiar to anybody? Have you ever seen one of these before? You have to find these now at antique stores. This is called a mobile phone from 1984. Yes, right, so that's 1984. And just compare that to today's mobile phone, and web browser, and GPS, and music stream, and the world's biggest distractor ever as you see people doing this all day long, not giving you eye contact.

But what a comparison-- the old and the new. And when you make these comparisons, you start understanding how far you've come from and which is more preferable to the other. I'm going to give you out of John Chapter 12 today three comparisons. We're going to compare three things to three other things, and see why those things are more preferable to the others. Now we're in John Chapter 12 and this is interesting. Already in John Chapter 12 we're dealing with the final week of Jesus Christ on the earth. That's Chapter 12. There are 21 chapters in John, so almost half of John is dedicated to the final week of Jesus' life on earth.

If you were to look at Matthew, two-fifths of the gospel of Matthew is devoted to that final week. Three-fifths of the gospel of Mark is devoted to that final week. In the gospel of Luke, one-third is devoted to the final week, and in John, just about one-half. that just lets you understand the kind of importance that gospel writers placed on what is called Passion Week, the week that we are entering into starting today.

So in the four gospels, there are 89 chapters all together that are written in those four gospels. Of those 89 chapters, four of the chapters cover the first 30 years of Jesus' life, while 85 chapters cover the last 3 and a half years of His life, and 29 of those 85 cover the last week. So we begin the Passion Week with an event that is mentioned in all four gospel records. We're going to begin in Chapter 12 beginning in Verse 12.

It says, "The next day a great multitude had come to the feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches or branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him and cried out Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel. Then Jesus, when he had found a young donkey, sat on it as it is written, fear not daughter of Zion behold your King is coming sitting on a donkey's colt. His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

"Therefore, the people who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. For this reason, the people also met Him because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves, you see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him."

Now can I just say for the record this is like the luckiest donkey in the world. To have on its back the Son of God fulfilling Old Testament prophecy while He is being led into Jerusalem on this beast of burden. We have a gal on staff who owns a couple of donkeys, and I med this week donkeys live between 30 to 40 years of age. Some can live up to 60 years old.

And so I did a little donkey investigation this week. And I made some interesting discoveries about these creatures. Guess what a donkey's favorite pastime is? Eating is what most people say, but it's actually rolling on the ground, rolling in the dirt. It's his favorite pastime, which helps me understand Eeyore now in Winnie the Pooh, why he's always grumpy.

Donkeys have long ears. Why do they have long ears? For two reasons. It keeps the animal cool sort of like donkey radiators, and it helps that animal hear up to miles away. And then the most bizarre fact I discovered comes from the London Times where they reported more people are killed annually by donkeys than in airplane crashes. I don't know how on earth they discovered that, or why anybody would want to investigate that but that's a fact.

So this is traditionally called Palm Sunday. It celebrates this event that we are reading, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. But in the Jewish calendar it was the 10th day of Nisan, not the car, the month. The month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar on the 10th day of the month was the day when Jewish families would select the lamb that on the 14th the day of Nisan they would sacrifice for the Passover.

Interesting that it's on this very day that the Lamb of God is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey presenting himself, as it were, to the nation. That's the 10th of Nisan. In our calendar, it would be April the 6th, 32AD. Now we're going to look again at some of these verses, and I want to give you some lessons that I've discovered, some observations and principles that come from this little donkey ride that Jesus takes. And here's the first.

Jesus is more appealing than religion. Jesus Christ, the person, is more appealing to people then religion. It was then, it's the same today. Look at Verse 12. "The next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took branches of palm trees, went out to meet Him, and cried out Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel."

Now who's this crowd? It's a crowd of religious people, therefore, here in Jerusalem for a religious festival, the festival of Passover. There were three mandatory feasts that every Jewish person was required to be in Jerusalem for if you lived in a certain distance from the city-- Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. This was their Passover. This is when they celebrated the deliverance of their forefathers from the bondage of Egypt through a succession of 10 plagues that happened in their past history.

It had now become the focal point of Jewish history. But every year it was the same thing. Every year they took the same routes up to Jerusalem. Every year they went through the same rituals. Every year they made the same prescribed prayers. And, frankly, for a whole lot of people, it had just gotten old, and they were clamoring for something more than what their religion was offering.

They found out Jesus was in town, and they all gravitated to Him. And they spontaneously start shouting, Hosanna, save now. Deliver us now. Give us what our religion cannot give us, because Jesus is more appealing than religion. You know, Jesus was a breath of fresh air in a climate of stagnant, stale, religious experience.

One of my favorite verses of scripture is in Mark Chapter 12. It's a simple verse. It just says, "and the common people heard him gladly." The everyday folk heard him gladly. In that chapter he gives parable after parable, story after story, and then has a confrontation with the religious elite, and the common people we're hearing and seeing it all. And they listen to Him gladly. Jesus was to them much more appealing than even their hollowed religion itself.

I've always loved what General Booth of the Salvation Army used to say. He said, I want my religion. I like my religion like my tea. I want it hot. And I think if you were to ask most people, they would say if I'm going to have any spirituality at all, I want it hot. I want it real. I want it authentic. I want it vibrant. I don't want just some makeshift ceremonial stuff. I want my religion like my tea, I want it hot.

And because of that, there was a clash between the old and the new, between the old religious system and the new stuff Jesus was offering. There was a clash and it happened more than once, but a classic highlight is shown in Matthew Chapter 15. You don't have to turn there. I'll just tell you the story, and you'll recall it when I do. In that chapter Matthew 15, the religious leaders come and they find Jesus and they're miffed. They're upset.

This what they say, your disciples are transgressing the traditions of the elders. Because they don't wash their hands ceremonially before they eat bread. I love Jesus' response to them. He said, why is it that you transgress the commandment of God by your traditions? And then he said this, well did Esaias prophesy of you hypocrites, saying this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. There was this clash between Jesus as a person and the religion that people were practicing. And we see it over and over again.

And do you know, because of that, people like tax collectors, and prostitutes, and murderers, they found it easy to hang out with Jesus. They gravitated toward Jesus. And we so often find Jesus soothing, forgiving, loving words to the very lowest people in society. While our Lord Jesus most scathing words weren't to murderers, weren't to prostitutes, weren't to drunkards, but to religious people.

Matthew 23, several times in a row, whoa unto you hypocrites. And He unloads on them. And the common people heard him gladly and hear, once again at Passover, Jesus is in town let's go find Him. And they surrounded Him. Question, why the appeal? What's really the big difference between Jesus, the person, and the practice of religion? Well, there are several differences. Let me give a few to you.

Number one, religion emphasizes the outward, Jesus emphasizes what? Tell me. The inward. Isn't that right? He always emphasizes the inward. He said, why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Or from the abundance of the heart the mouth speak. Jesus was always more concerned with what was going on on the inside of a person than how a person looked on the outside. Religion is about the outward, Jesus was always about the inward.

Here's the second difference. Religion is often about what you can't do. Jesus is about what you can do. Religion is about prohibition, thou shalt not. It seems like Jesus' approach was, you know what? Just come as you are, and watch what I can do through your life. That's what we find. That's the big difference.

I know some people, their whole spiritual experience is one of negatives. Well, I don't do this, and I don't do that, and I don't do the other thing. Like the old fundamentalist poem. I don't smoke, and I don't chew, and I don't go with girls that do. And I say, what whoop-de-do. What do you do? I mean, if you're just talking about what you don't do, but there's nothing in your life that shows what you're doing, that's the big difference.

There's a third difference. Religion puts up barriers, Jesus pulls down barriers. If you and I were in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, and we went up to worship at the temple, we couldn't go anywhere we wanted to go. There were certain courts for people like us. Us non-Jewish people like me, I couldn't even get close to the temple itself. I would be confined to the outer court known as the court of the Gentiles. People that are spiritual cooties like me, that's where I hang out.

If I was a Jewish woman, I could go further. If I was a Jewish male, I could go further. If I was a Jewish priest, I could go even closer. But there were courts and there were walls that kept people out. And I've discovered that religion is really good at keeping people out. How different is Jesus who said, Come unto me all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. So willing to include people.

And fourth, religion typically says you have to work your way to God where Jesus will say I am the way to God. I have seen, I have talked to religious people, I have been a religious person long enough to know that most all world religions are all about what you have to do to work your way to God. Things you have to do, prayers you have to say, et cetera, et cetera. That is the religion of human achievement. That is not the gospel. The gospel is the approach of divine accomplishment.

Religion says you must do. God says I have done for you. It is finished. Now you've just received as a free gift what I have done, and there will be a transformation in the process. So Jesus is more appealing than religion. So they gather around Him, and they shout Hosanna. As I mentioned, the word in Hebrew, Na Hoshiah Na, Hosanna translated in English means deliver us now, save us now Lord.

The crowd clamors around Him so much so, did you hear what the Pharisees said in Verse 19? "You see that you're accomplishing nothing. Look the whole world has gone after Him." Jesus was their biggest nightmare, because what they have discovered is that people are more attracted to Jesus then their religious system. And now there's competition. Jesus was that tipping point that drove people to a personal relationship with God through Him rather than through that ritualistic system.

Here's the second observation, second life lesson on this donkey ride. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. So Jesus is more appealing than religion and now scripture's more reliable than opinion. Look back with me at Verse 14 if you will. "Then Jesus, when he had found a young donkey, sat on it as it is written, fear not daughter of Zion behold your King is coming sitting on a donkey's colt."

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified then they remembered that these things were written about Him, and that they had done these things to Him. Have you found that just about everybody you meet has some opinion of Jesus? Everybody has an opinion of Jesus. People had opinions of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.

Do you recall when our Lord took His disciples up to Caesarea Phillipi, and He said, who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? And immediately they spouted off all the opinions. Some say that you're John the Baptist. Some say you're Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Those are all opinions as to who Jesus Christ was. John the Apostle in this book shares a few more opinions that people had.

In John Chapter 9, for example, some were saying this man is not from God. Can you imagine saying that about God? This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath. Others had this opinion, he's a prophet. In John Chapter 10 another group said, he has a demon and is mad. Now let me ask you a question. Of all those opinions that I just rattled off to you, were any of them accurate? Not really. I mean, the closest most accurate was a group that's said He's a prophet, but He was much more than that.

So there was a myriad of opinions, but notice what John does here. He twice quotes scripture from the Old Testament. One, in Psalm 118 when the people said, Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name the Lord. That's a direct quote. And then Zechariah Chapter 9, Verse 9, where it says, "Fear not, daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming sitting on a donkey's colt."

So whatever opinions people had of Jesus, here's what the scripture says about Jesus. And here's why I'm bringing this up because what the scripture says He is more reliable than what people think He is. God's revelation is more reliable than people's estimation. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. Question. Why a donkey? What's up with the donkey?

You know, in the other gospel records, Jesus actually tells His disciples as they're on the Mount of Olives, you know, stop, go to the next town and you're going to find a donkey. Bring that donkey here. Why? Did He just like donkey rides? Why a donkey? Now listen carefully. The donkey showed His identity. Listen again, and you can read it for yourself in Verse 15 quoting Zechariah 9, "Behold your King comes to you sitting on a donkey's colt."

In other words, you have a King, He is going to come to you, and when He comes to you, He's coming to you on a donkey. So Jesus asked for a donkey, because He is presenting himself to them as their King. By the way, King's road donkeys in times of peace. When they wanted to offer terms of peace to a people group, they would mount a donkey. It was considered an animal of peace. When a King would come to wage war, he would ride a horse.

And this is why in Revelation 19 when Jesus comes again, He rides a horse. And the Bible says He comes to judge and to make war. But here He is, the Prince of Peace, and He's offering terms of peace to them. So the donkey represents the reliability of scripture 500 years before Zechariah predicted your King is coming to you on a donkey's colt.

OK, so this is John's rendition of this event. It is mentioned, as I said, four times in all four gospels. This one of the few events of Jesus' life that all four gospel writers have recorded. I want you to go back one book to the gospel of Luke. Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke Chapter 19. And that is because John records the event. Luke records what Jesus said to them during this event, and it's important that you get this at this point.

Luke Chapter 19. Are you there, Luke 19? Look at Verse 41, Luke Chapter 19 Verse 41. "Now as He drew near, He saw the city of Jerusalem, and He wept over it." You know, we were just on the Mount of Olives a couple weeks ago, some of us, and before us was the city of Jerusalem. We weren't weeping over it. We were smiling and taking pictures of it. But not Jesus. He comes and He sees it, and He starts crying.

He starts weeping out loud, saying Verse 42, "If you had known, even you, especially," watch this, "in this your day the things that make for your peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes for the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you, and close you in on every side, and level you and your children within you to the ground. And they will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation."

Jesus, get the scene, He's weeping over the city that He's seeing from the Mount of Olives. He weeps over it, and He predicts their fall, their destruction. Somebody's going to level this to the ground and destroy the city and the people in it. That happened, by the way, in 70AD. Years later it happened. The Romans surrounded Jerusalem and leveled it to the ground.

And notice what Jesus said in Verse 44, "because you did not know the time of your visitation." What on earth is He talking about? When he says, your day, , this is your day, Verse 42, this is the time of your visitation. What Jesus is referring to is a prediction made by their own prophet, the Jewish prophet, Daniel, in Daniel Chapter 9 where Daniel gives in two verses an exact precise timetable for the coming of their Messiah.

Daniel Chapter 9 Verse 26 and 27, a heavenly messenger tells Daniel this from the going fourth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah, the Prince, will be 483 years. Then it says, and the Messiah will be killed, will be cut off. It's a very odd but precise scripture. From the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah, the Prince, will be 483 years, and then the Messiah will be killed.

So that must mean that you would be able to count at whatever time the commandment was given to restore and build Jerusalem, you'd be able to count 483 years and you should come to some event about the Messiah after which He would be killed. It's plain. Well, several scholars have looked at this, including this brilliant criminal investigation guy, Sir Robert Anderson. He was the head of Scotland Yard's criminal investigation. And he wrote a book on that prophecy called, The Coming Prince.

So he discovered that the date in history when a commandment was given to the Jews to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, after it had fallen, was March 14, 445BC. On that date, Artaxerxes, the Persian monarch, Artaxerxes Longimanus, told the Jews, go back and rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah and his buddies did that. And then he decided, I'm going to count from March 14, 445BC 483 years and find out what date that is.

Not only that, but he did it in precise numbers in this book, The Coming Prince. He took not the Julian calendar, our calendar is 365 and a third days per year. The old Babylonian/Jewish calendar has 360 days. It's a lunar year, not a solar year. So he took years of 360 days, 483 of those years, according to the prophecy, discovered that equals to 173,880 days. Follow me so far?

So he began at March 14, 445BC and counted 173,880 days, and he decided now what day of the year was that on? It happened to be April 6, 32AD, the 10th of the Jewish calendar month of Nisan, the day when Jesus with his disciples comes to the Mount of Olives, and he goes, OK, boys, now wait a minute. Don't go yet. There's a donkey next door. Bring that donkey to me. And for the very first and only time Jesus presents himself as their King to the nation.

You see, up to this point, every time Jesus did some miracle that would have made Him famous, you know what He told people? Shh, don't tell anybody. It's not the time yet. The time hasn't come yet. It'll be revealed in the time, but not today. Don't tell anybody this. He kept telling people to keep it quiet. But now, on this day, on this day He presents himself as their King according to the prophecy of Daniel, according to the prophecy of Zechariah. He presents himself.

Now the disciples didn't get it. They didn't understand what is happening until after Jesus' Resurrection and ascension. Look at Verse 16. His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him. And that they had done these things to Him. You know what? When I read that verse, it was one of the best verses I ever read.

I read this week and for the first time I started really understanding it. I felt the sigh of relief that the disciples, Jesus' own disciples, didn't understand it at first. The reason I get encouraged, because I read the Bible a lot, and I don't always get it. It's not until the second, or third, or 52nd time I read it, I go, oh, now I get it. Now I see it, and now I see how precise and accurate it is. So the disciples weren't getting it all yet. But they will later.

And they will discover just how reliable the scripture is, especially when you compare that to people's opinions. Yeah, everybody had an opinion as to who Jesus was. But these disciples would go back and read the scriptures and see how reliable and accurate they are. I appreciate people's opinions, but I don't always have a lot of patience for it. They'll listen and go, yeah, I know, you're talking about the Bible this and the Bible that. You know but my opinion is. I don't really care what your opinion is.

When your opinion is as accurate and reliable as the scripture I'm quoting to you, then we can talk. But if you want a source of confidence in your life, and if you want real security, listen, real security comes when your life is governed by God's word, not when it's governed by man's word, not when it's governed by people's opinions. Everybody's always worried about, what will they think of me? Does this look good on me? And how-- the real freedom and security comes when you realize my life is governed by God's word.

So Jesus is more appealing than religion. Scripture is more reliable than opinion. Let me close with a third. Thank you five for appreciating that. Let me give you a third, a final observation about this little donkey ride. Following is more important than inspection. Following, following Jesus is more important than inspection or observation.

Now in this little paragraph we're considering, there are four different groups of people that John mentions here who are there that day. And he shows the response of these four groups of people. By the way, this is a peculiar hallmark of John's authorship. Often in his book we find Jesus doing something or saying something, and then John records what the different people who are seeing and hearing around, what their response was to it. He does that here for us.

The first group are the disciples. They're mentioned in Verse 16. These are the guys who've been following Jesus 3 and half years. They're really followers of His. They're learners. Verse 16, "His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered." The second group were the eyewitnesses who were there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They're mentioned in Verse 17. They saw the miracle with their own eyes.

"Therefore, the people who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness." Bore witness means they saw it. They observed it. They inspected it. They're checking this out. The third group of people are those who heard from the eyewitnesses who were there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. They weren't there themselves but they heard their testimony. That's Verse 18.

"For this reason, the people also met Him because they heard that He had done this sign." And then the fourth group that is mentioned is in Verse 19. Those are the religious folks, the Pharisees. "Therefore, they said among themselves, you see that you're accomplishing nothing. Look the world has gone after Him." So four different groups of people, all four groups were observing the same event. They were all inspecting the same event, but there was only one group that was really following Jesus.

Those were the disciples. They didn't quite get what was happening that day. They will get it later on. They're going to have a time of their faith being tried but that doesn't matter. They're going to keep following Jesus throughout the years. Listen, it's good to observe. I commend an observer, but your observations must lead to your conclusions. And the conclusion of these disciples is that He's still worthy of following.

You know, I know some people who love to study, study, study, read, read, read. I'm one of them. I love to do it. I love to study. I love history. I love language. But a lot of us love to study, study, study short of actually following the one we're studying about. Oh, no, give me more charts, man, give me more in-time stuff. I want to know more stuff. There comes a point when what you observe and inspect must be translated into what you do. Will you follow?

So my question is how will you respond in the day of your visitation when God, through His Holy Spirit, by His word, makes this day your day? Just like Jesus said to those people, this is your day. This is the time of your visitation. So following is more important than inspection.

And then there's this donkey in the story. You know it's interesting, think about this. The donkey is the most compliant one in the entire story. The other gospel accounts show us that this is an unbroken donkey on which never a man sat. Jesus gets on this donkey, and this donkey compliantly leads Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. The donkey's the most compliant one in the story.

There's a great old poem years ago written by G. K. Chesterton. Some of you remember him. A great writer, scholar, poet. G. K. Chesterton wrote a little poem called, The Donkey. And it's about this donkey, as if-- he wrote it from the perspective as if the donkey understood what was happening. It goes like this.

When fishes flew, and forests walked, and figs grew upon a thorn, some moment when the moon was blood, then surely I was born. With monstrous head and sickening cry, and ears like errant wings, the devil's walking parity of all four-footed things. The tattered outlaw of the earth of ancient crooked will, starve, scourge, deride me, I am dumb, but I keep my secret still. Fools, for I also had my hour one far fierce hour and sweet, there was a shout about my ears and palms before my feet.

Now, I don't think this donkey in the story really got that. But can you imagine if that donkey could understand? On my back is the one fulfilling scripture. He's fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. He's the guy spoken about in Zechariah 9:9, and I'm the donkey of Zechariah 9:9.

Let me ask you this question in closing. The same God who engineered this donkey and engineered these exact dates that Jesus fulfilled, do you think He can take care of your life, your struggles, your issues, your problems? Do you think of all the people, all of the persons, all of the entities, all of the belief systems, do you think that this God it's worthy of you surrendering your life to? I dare say, yes and amen, he is.

He can handle you, and He can change you, and this is the day of your visitation. But you know what? There's no difference between us and the people of ancient Jerusalem. Some were disciples and some were not. Some just observed and listened and some did not. And so we conclude, after having made the observations, we are led to the inevitable conclusion, this God is worth following. Would you pray with me?

Father, on this welcome weekend, we can't help but think how welcoming you were and are to whosoever will let Him come. To come all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And you will find rest for your souls. Lord, with such invitations from this gracious one, we hear and some will respond. I pray there we will all, whether we have been following you for years and years, and studied, and inspected, and observed will trust more. And for those who have never really personally trusted Jesus would do so for the first time.

With our heads bowed, I now want to give those of you who have heard this an opportunity to personally come to the one that we're speaking about. The one who gave such gracious promises. Jesus said as many as received Him, He would give them the power, the authority, the right to become His children. To those who would just believe in His name, if you've come here and you come from a religious background, come from a very scholastic an observant background, from whatever background you come from, if you haven't yet personally surrendered your life to Jesus Christ I want to give you the opportunity to do so. It's very simple.

Others of you have had some experience in the past with the Lord. You've wandered away from Him for whatever reasons, but your heart is, well, it's aching. It's empty. And you've actually wondered, could this be true? Could this happen? Is this just another religious experience that preachers' tout, or is this God real, and is He alive, and can He change my life? Well you'll never know unless you come, unless you ask.

And so I want to give you the opportunity to do that. If you've never surrendered your life to Jesus personally, or if you've wandered away from whatever religious experience you have, but you want to come to Him and surrender your life to Him, I'll give you that opportunity. I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Just raise it, keep it up for just a few moments, so I can see and acknowledge you. God bless you, ma'am, right there in the middle. Anyone else raise your hand up high. You're just saying, Skip, pray for me, here's my hand. God bless you, right in the front.

Who else? Right over there to my right. It begins just with that simple acknowledgement. Anybody else? God bless you in the very back. Anyone in the family room, just raise your hand up. Or in the balcony, raise that hand up so I can see it. Right up here. Sorry I missed you. Right up here and to my left. And there in the middle and the back in the middle toward the front. In the middle again. Right on the side, right in the middle. In the back to my left. Couple of you, thank you, Lord.

It's a simple acknowledgement. I need God, I need forgiveness. I want to go to heaven. Life isn't what I thought it would be up to this point. There's got to be something more. I want to surrender my life to Him. Anyone else, raise your hand up. Anyone else? Right up here in the middle toward the front.

Thank you, Father, for a number of lives that have made this indication. Lord, we pray for them. We're so thankful for them. We want to celebrate this, because this decision is more than just any choice. It is the choice. And You have given us opportunity just like You gave people back then opportunity. Lord, I pray for a peace, a joy that transcends even human experience, something that is felt in the very depths of their being, their soul where there's a freedom as the burden, the guilt is alleviated because of what Jesus has done for them. Now do through them great things, we ask in His name, Amen.

Would you stand up, please, to your feet? We're going to sing a song, close with a song. If you raised your hand, and I saw a number of hands around this auditorium. You know, when Jesus called people, He often called them publicly. And we believe it's going to do you a world of good when you have us cheering for you as you make this decision. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. As we sing this song, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand to come right up to the front. Stand right up here.

I'm going to lead you in a simple prayer to receive Jesus, and then you can go back with your friends and family as we close. But just come right up here as we sing. Right up to the front. Maybe a counselor could show us how it's supposed to get done. Just come and stand right up here.

[SINGING]

That's right.

[SINGING]

If you're in the family room, there's a door right up to the front on your right. If you raise your hand-- you know what? Even if you didn't raise your hand, but you know, I need to be up here. I need a new start. I need to know that when I die I'm going to heaven. I need to know that. Whether you're in the family room, or balcony, or in the main house, or outside, or in the overflow, a pastor will walk you over. You come and stand right up here.

Listen, listen, let go of this. Let go of this. These days are over. There's a whole new way of living here. So let go of the old and let God give you a brand new life. Anybody else? Don't just observe today, come and follow Jesus. Come and follow Him. Be a follower, be a disciple, stand up and be counted for Jesus Christ. We'll sing it through one more time, give you that opportunity to come.

[SINGING]

I want to thank all of you who have brought friends, and families, neighbors to this welcome weekend. We've seen people make this decision at all of our services. We are so grateful for your participation in that. Those of you who have come forward, I can't tell you how happy I am that you're up here, each and every one of you. Because I know that this is a brand new start for you. This is a do-over. This is the day when you walk into the store and say I'm done with this. Yeah, I want the new model. I want the one that has everything in it. And it's the life you're walking into, it's much better than any smartphone. And I'll just say it's dumb not to.

So we're glad for the smartest decision you could ever make and that's the decision you're making right now. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to pray this prayer out loud. I'm going to ask you to pray it out loud after me. You say, why out loud? Why are you doing this publicly? You know, when a couple gets married, we bring them on a platform like this and they say vows to each other out loud. And people witness that.

And we're all witnessing you making the most important transaction of your life. And that is giving your life to Jesus and letting Him give you eternal life. So I'm going to pray out loud, you pray after me. Let's pray. Say, Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I trust in Jesus Christ. I believe that He came from heaven, that He died on a cross, that He shed his blood for me, and that He rose from the grave. I turn from my sin, I leave the old life behind me. I turn my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Jesus did not come as an earthly King as many people thought He would. Instead, he came as our eternal King to ensure that we could be with Him forever. How will you share the truths about what you've learned from this message. Let us know. Email mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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3/26/1988
completed
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God...on a Donkey!?
Luke 19:28-44
Skip Heitzig
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God...on a Donkey!? - Luke 19:28-44 from our study Palm Sunday Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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4/11/2001
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Holy Week Narration
Skip Heitzig
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Holy Week Narration from our series Palm Sunday Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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4/12/2003
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A Day, A Deliverer, and the World's Happiest Donkey
Luke 19:28-44
Skip Heitzig
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A Day, A Deliverer, and the World's Happiest Donkey - Luke 19:28-44 from our study Palm Sunday Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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3/20/2005
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A Day, A Deliverer, and the World's Happiest Donkey
Luke 19:28-44
Skip Heitzig
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A Day, A Deliverer, and the World's Happiest Donkey - Luke 19:28-44 from our study Palm Sunday Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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4/1/2007
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A Donkey's Day in the Sun
Luke 19:28-44
Skip Heitzig
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Two thousand years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus' earthly life, before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing: He asked for a donkey, never before ridden, to be brought to Him. That simple animal carried Jesus into the city of Jerusalem in parade-like fashion, presenting Jesus - Israel's Messiah and Deliverer. What was the significance of this act performed on this particular day?
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4/5/2009
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Consider the Cross
Revelation 13:8
Skip Heitzig
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Christians for the last 2000 years have referred to the final week before Easter as Holy Week. Typically, it is the time where the focus shifts to consider the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for our sins. So today we will contemplate the greatest act of love ever demonstrated--the Cross of Christ. And one of the most striking things of all is that the Cross was always God's plan--from the beginning. Today we marvel at His suffering so that on Easter we may rejoice in His resurrection!

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4/13/2014
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Nailed to the Cross
Colossians 2:11-14
Skip Heitzig
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The crucifixion was a visual and aural experience; to realize that we are responsible for it helps us grasp the impact of Christ's sacrifice for us. As we look ahead to Good Friday, we learn about the significance of Jesus' crucifixion and are encouraged to leave all of our sins and burdens at the cross.
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There are 7 additional messages in this series.