Excited About Jesus

March 25, 2024

Series: General

Topic: Evangelism, Joy

Book: Matthew

My entire goal this morning is to encourage all of us to invite people to church next week, for Easter.

I was talking with a few pastors this week about our churches, and we were all mostly a bit down about how churches haven’t been growing these last few years. There’s been a major shift recently in terms of how people think about church, and how much people are committed to church, even for people who are devoted Christians. So we talked about evangelistic strategies, opportunities for reaching lost people, and even just how to talk about church in the age that we’re living in today.

And although I think it was a good conversation, and I was encouraged to implement a few of those things in our church and community, it was one of the very last things that we talked about that really stuck out to me.

Being a church is really not as complicated as we often make it. Love God, and love people. And if we really do that, we’re going to share Jesus with people because that’s how we show them the love of God.

Most of you at this point know that I upload videos to YouTube as a hobby because I’ve mentioned it a few times. In fact, with some people, I’ve mentioned it more than a few times. Some of you, like my family, might be tired of hearing about it because if it comes up in conversation, it’s physically difficult for me to stop talking about it. I love it! I love editing videos for YouTube, I love seeing my channels grow, and I love thinking about all the possibilities it could open up for future ministry.

But that’s just me. What about you? What is it that gets you so excited that you want to tell others about it?

For example, if you talk to Tina very long, you’re going to hear about her nails. If you talk to Nick very long you’re going to hear about chess. If you talk to my dad for long, you’re going to hear about batteries. If you look at many friends’ facebook pages, you’ll see what they’re excited about. The newly engaged person doesn’t know how to stop talking about their future spouse. When a mom has a new baby, those pictures are going to flood her facebook. And there’s nothing wrong with this! In fact, it’s a very natural thing. When we’re excited about things, we talk about them. And that’s a very good thing.

So, think about it, what gets your really excited? What is it that you talk about with everyone, and what is it that other people know you for?

Maybe everyone knows you as the person who encourages others. So when they need encouragement, they go to you. Or maybe it’s a negative thing. Maybe people know you as the person who spreads gossip, or the person who stretches the truth, so they take what you say with a grain of salt.

What is it that you’re known for? Or, maybe a more important question is, what is it that you want to be known for?

Matthew 21:1-11.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11)

Father, help us to be excited about the things You want us to be excited about, and known for the things You want us to be known for. Help us to be excited about Jesus. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

I need a volunteer. I want you to go to the Catholic church down the street, I believe they have service right now as well, go into the sanctuary, and gather up all of the palm branches that you see, even if people are holding on to them, and if anyone asks you what you’re doing, just tell them, “Pastor Chris needs them.”

Do you think the church there would be happy about that? I don’t think they’d give up their palm branches very willingly. And if the roles were reversed, I don’t think we would, either. We’d look at them and think, “Y’all are crazy!”

At the beginning of our passage today, we read about how Jesus’s disciples were instructed to go into town and find a donkey and a colt for Jesus, and if anyone were to question them about it, they were simply to say, “The Lord needs them.”

That seems pretty bold, right? Like, what if the owner of the donkey didn’t want to just lend his donkey to Jesus?

Is there anything in your life that you’ve been reluctant to give to Jesus? Maybe it’s your time, or your money, or your willingness to serve Him in any way that He wants. If you’re anything like me, we have a tendency to selfishly hoard our stuff, rather than giving it to Jesus. But maybe God is saying to you, and has been saying to you for a while, “The Lord needs them.”

Why? Does Jesus need our stuff? Not really. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. The whole earth is the Lord’s. Jesus doesn’t need what we call our stuff, because in every sense, it’s already His.

And yet, He is the Lord. And He wants us to acknowledge Him as the Lord. Giving Jesus our stuff is all about surrendering to Him what’s rightfully His. The correct attitude that we should have is that when God tells us He has a use for the stuff we’re stewards over is to say, “Awesome! Here it is, God, I can’t wait to see how You use this gift for my good and Your glory!”

You see, the owner of the donkey in this story probably had plans for his donkey that day, but when the disciples told him, “The Lord needs them,” we don’t know what he thought, but he should have thought, “Wow! The Lord must have bigger plans for my donkey today that I could have ever considered! So I’m honored to give my donkey to the Lord.”

Because once you see that Jesus is the Lord, you begin to want to give Him your stuff. That doesn’t always happen easily, but it does happen. So what is it that you’ve been reluctant to give to Jesus?

I think the Bible teaches that the more you rest in Jesus, the more you’ll rejoice in Him by freely giving Him your time, your service, and even your finances to do whatever He wants with them. And I don’t say that because I think the church needs your money. I say it because God wants you. He wants your ambitions. He wants your commitments. He wants your head and heart, and where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So after the disciples brought the donkey and colt to Jesus, He rode them into Jerusalem. This was to fulfill Zechariah 9:9 in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, and it says:

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. (Zechariah 9:9)

Now, I don’t know why Jesus needed to ride two, except that it was in fulfillment of Scripture. Maybe one of them merely carried some of their stuff, or that Jesus rode on the colt for most of the trip, and on the donkey only as they entered Jerusalem. We don’t know. But it’s interesting that even when we don’t know why things happened a certain way, or why things were written a certain way, we do know that everything happened in fulfillment of Scripture.

When the New Testament calls attention to the fact that Jesus fulfilled so many prophecies in the Old Testament, it’s not just throwing in interesting information for us to be amazed by. We ought to be amazed by it, but it has an ever greater purpose than our amazement. It’s to show that Jesus fulfills every prophecy and promise given to us. In other words, not only should we be in awe of the predictive element of Scripture, but we should be in awe of Jesus Himself.

Are you in awe of Jesus? And I don’t just mean you’re amazed at what He can do, like He’s some sort of magician who only exists to impress you. I mean are you in awe of Him? Are you like, totally blown away at the God who created us, who we’re supposed to worship, coming down from heaven in the form of a man, living the perfect life that we failed to live, dying on the cross for our sins, rising from the dead, and ascending to heaven where He waits until He returns to bring us to Him? I mean, that’s the greatest story ever told! Are you in awe of Him?

Because sometimes I’m not. At least that’s how I act. I often live as if life is boring, or as if I don’t even really want Jesus as my Lord. I often act like I’m my own Lord and Savior, or at least that I’m trying to be that for myself. Because if I was really in awe of Jesus, I’d be declaring His praises every moment of every day! And I wouldn’t fear sharing the gospel, but I’d point everyone to Jesus and say, “Look! Jesus is awesome! Believe in Him! He loves you, and He will save you by His power and grace.” If we were really in awe of Jesus, we would never get tired of shouting His praises.

Well, as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, we find out why today, the Sunday before Easter, has come to be called Palm Sunday. The people laid palm branches on the ground like they were rolling out the red carpet, and they waved palm branches in the air as they shouted praises to Jesus.

They shouted in verse 9, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

So grab your branch if you have one, and shout it with me!

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

From what I understand, this is the highest praise that a Jew could possibly give. To call Jesus the Son of David was to acknowledge that Jesus was their king. And not only that, but they acknowledged that Jesus came in the name of the Lord. Jesus had the authority of God Himself. And as if that wasn’t enough, they shouted, “Hosanna,” and even “Hosanna in the highest!”

The word “hosanna” in this verse isn’t actually a translation at all, but rather just a transliteration of the greek word ??????. Hosanna is an exclamation that means, “Save us!” And among the Jews, since God is the only One who can save, it also came to be an expression of praise, meaning, “We adore you.” So when they said, “Hosanna in the highest,” they were saying, “We adore you, Jesus, more than anyone or anything, and we adore you as if you are the highest of the heights. Only you can save us!”

Is that your attitude toward Jesus? Do you recognize that only Jesus can save you?

Only Jesus can turn your life around. Only Jesus can fill you with lasting hope. Only Jesus has the authority to forgive you of your sins so that you can have a restored relationship with God, your Father, in heaven.

Listen, I don’t know what it is that you need saving from right now. Maybe you’re searching for your purpose in life. Maybe you’re lonely. Maybe you’re full of fear because of the state of our world. No matter what the circumstance, Jesus can save you. Put your faith in Him, follow Him, and He will give you the strength and the peace to find healing no matter the situation.

Well, at the end of our passage this morning, as there was all this commotion with Jesus entering Jerusalem, like a huge parade, other people started coming out of their houses and places of work and asking things like, “What’s going on here? What’s so important about this man?” And they ask at the end of verse 10, “Who is this?”

And the people in the crowd responded in verse 11, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Now, I’m sure that the people didn’t yet fully understand who Jesus was and is. Some of these very people by the end of the week would shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

And yet, at least at this moment, they were excited about Jesus.

We ought to be so excited about Jesus that our whole city would ask us about Him, “Who is this?” “Who is this Jesus?” “Who is this Jesus that you would be so excited to talk about Him, and share Him, and serve Him?”

How can you, in these uncertain times, show that your hope in Jesus is far greater than any fears you have about tomorrow? Can you show that to your family? Can you show that to your neighbor? Maybe you can even show it to your enemy, or to those that might consider you to be their enemy.

I know a lot of people right now consider China to be our enemy, or at least one of our enemies.

So when I tell people that I used to teach English to children in China, I often wonder how many of them secretly think, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that. You were teaching the enemy. You were talking with the enemy, and helping the enemy” But isn’t that exactly what we should do? Shouldn’t we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Shouldn’t we seek to show them Jesus so that they would believe and be saved?

So, how can you show genuine love to the people you consider to be your enemies? Like, the Democrats? Or the Republicans? Or the blacks? Or someone who is gay? Or your neighbor? Or maybe even yourself?

Maybe the thing you need to give to Jesus right now isn’t your time, or your stuff, or your money, but you. Maybe you’ve been holding yourself back from God. But God is telling you right now, in answer to the question, “Who is this,” God says, “It’s Jesus, My one and only Son, who died for you that you might live in Me.”

Palm Sunday is all about recognizing that Jesus really is the Lord. And we owe Him all praise. And the highest praise that you can give to Him is when you recognize that only He can save you, because He alone is the Savior, so you give Him authority over your life, crowning Him as your Lord.

Are you willing to declare that, not only in your heart, but to all the world? This week, I want you to see that as being as simple as inviting someone to church next week for Easter. By inviting them to hear about Jesus, you’re letting them know how important Jesus is to you.