Decisions Matter

1

Please stand with me – if you are able – to honor our God and the reading of His Word. Will you read responsively with me …

 John 12:9-19 (KJV) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. 12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

I’ve been prayerfully thinking a lot lately about responsibility and the decisions we make. The two things go hand in hand. In America today I see many who shirk responsibility in favor of “let’s let the government handle it”. The government can’t fix what ails us. We need to be responsible for our lives. We need to understand that every decision we make TODAY always affects our TOMORROW. Conversely the decisions we DO NOT make have an impact on our future selves. The decisions you make are very important.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem He was making a decision to be responsible. Not long before He entered Jerusalem our Lord caused Lazarus – a dear friend of His – to rise from the grave. Before Lazarus died his sisters Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. Jesus waited four days before going to the aid of His friend. He had something He wanted to show Mary and Martha, something He wanted to show us all.

Jesus Christ has power over death.

Before Jesus Rode Into Jerusalem He Walked Into Bethany

If you have your Bibles you only need look at the previous chapter – John 11 – to see this story. When Jesus went to see Lazarus He knew he was already dead (John 11:14). Jesus planned it that way. He wanted us all to see that He conquers death. When Jesus went to Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem – He was met by first Martha then Mary. Both ladies grieved the passing of their dear brother. Jesus told Martha:

John 11:25-26 (KJV) … I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  [26]  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

You cannot understand why Jesus rode into Jerusalem unless you understand what happened with Lazarus. Jesus clearly told Martha – and us – that He came to defeat death. He told her that the ones who believe in Him would never be conquered by death. The name of Lazarus is mentioned as a main subject in what we read today.

Jesus went to Lazarus tomb. He had the stone rolled away from that tomb. Then Jesus prayed:

John 11:41-42 (KJV) … Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  [42]  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

In His prayer Jesus prayed:
“Father”.

No one addressed God as “Father” but Christ. No Jew had ever dared do so. “Father” is a term of love, of family, of endearment. To Jesus the Almighty was “Father”. The term is gender specific, male, not female. “Father”.

I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me”.

Jesus is not asking the Father to hear Him, but thanking the Father that He already heard Him. When Jesus spoke the Father heard. The Father sent the Son to this earth for a reason, and Jesus lived in union with His Father. “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”. Jesus went to Bethany when He did because the Father spoke to Him, and He to the Father.

I knew that Thou hearest Me ALWAYS,
But because the people that are standing here I said this.
I wanted them to know and believe You sent Me and Me alone.”

Then Jesus did it. He stood in front of that tomb and

John 11:43 (KJV) …. cried with a LOUD voice, Lazarus, come forth.

Why did Jesus SHOUT this? Jesus was not foolish. To a dead man a whisper is as good as a shout. I have noticed when two people with different languages try to communicate both will speak LOUDER and SLOWER in their native language to try and be understood. This is foolish. If I don’t understand what “amigo” means in English shouting it will not make it more understandable. Jesus didn’t shout so that Lazarus could hear Him. HE SHOUTED SO THAT THE PEOPLE STANDING BY COULD HEAR HIM. He wanted people to hear and perhaps understand by faith that He has power over death. After Jesus shouted “Lazarus come forth” the Bible says:

John 11:44 (KJV)  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

The dead was brought back to life. Lazarus left that dark cave, and hopped out into the light. The other living gathered around Lazarus helped take off his old clothes. “Loose him and let him go”. The one who was dead is now alive because of Jesus. God intervened. This is a beautiful picture of the Church. Lazarus’ family and friends celebrated his resurrection. Everyone was happy …

. but the Priests and the Pharisees.

They had a big meeting the day that Lazarus rose from the grave. You would think that they would flock to Jesus and love Him, for He was clearly sent of God to defeat death. But they didn’t. They said:

John 11:47-48 (KJV) … What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.  [48]  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

Confronted with truth, rather than believe these men chose to plot and ponder how they could keep their power. They had a good thing going before Jesus came along. If they left Jesus alone – they said – “all men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away OUR PLACE and NATION.” They did not see Jesus as the King of Life, but to them Jesus would be the reason that they would lose their power. The Bible says:

John 1:4-5 (KJV)  In {Jesus} was life; and the life was the light of men.  [5]  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 3:19 (KJV)  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The priests and Pharisees made a decision that day. They did not want to lose their power, so they decided to kill Jesus.

John 11:53 (KJV)  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

They decided to kill Jesus. In fact, they knew that Jesus would go to Jerusalem for the Passover, so they plotted to kill Him then (John 11:56-57).

The Priests and Pharisees Made A Decision, But Their Decision Did Not Change Jesus’ Decision. Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

Jesus Rode Into Jerusalem To Lay Down His Life

Jesus knew that the Priests and Pharisees would plot His death, but He made a decision to ride into Jerusalem anyway. Why? Because Jesus our King came to conquer sin and death. He did not come to conquer the Romans, but to conquer evil and darkness.

Most of the commentaries I have read call this the “Triumphal Entry of Christ”. The entry of Christ into Jerusalem is also in Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44. By entering Jerusalem Jesus would not only make Himself vulnerable to His enemies, but He would so irritate the Pharisees and the Ruling Counsel of the Jews that they would deliver Him over to the Roman Authorities to be executed on the Cross.

But Jesus went anyway.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem He laid His life down for us all. Jesus knew what He was doing. He willingly laid His life down. Before going to Jerusalem Jesus said:

John 10:11 (KJV) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus is the Shepherd of His people. The Shepherd leads the way. The Shepherd stands between the sheep and their enemy.

Our enemy is sin and death. The Bible declares:

Romans 6:23 (KJV)  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

On the one hand is sin which leads to death. If you decide to follow sin you will be paid off in death. BUT if you choose to follow Christ the pay off is LIFE. A better life NOW, and eternal life THEN. Jesus chose to lay His life down for us. He declared:

John 10:17-18 (KJV) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Jesus laid down His life. Her chose the nails. He chose the whip, the scourge. He chose to stand in the place of judgment for us.

1 John 3:16 (KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US: …

Jesus made a decision. The decision He made effected His tomorrow, and effected our today. Look how Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The Bible says that:

John 12:14-15 (KJV) … Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

The prophet Zechariah foretold that when the Messiah came into Jerusalem He would come sitting on a donkey:

Zechariah 9:9 (KJV) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and UPON A COLT THE FOAL OF AN ASS.

When a conquering King entered into a city He rode on a white stallion, perhaps pulled by a Chariot. In the Old Testament when God wanted to overthrow the evil King Ahab and his queen Jezebel He had Jehu anointed King (see 2 Kings 9). When Jehu rode into Jerusalem he rode in a chariot pulled by a white stallion. He came to conquer by killing the evil King and Queen. But when a King came on a mission of peace he always rode on a donkey, a beautiful beast. Jehu rode into Jerusalem to kill. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to be killed, to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem there were TWO GROUPS of people waiting for Him. We read:

John 12:9-11 (KJV) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Illustrate One group wanted to see both Jesus AND LAZARUS. Lazarus rose from the grave. He was a side show, a carnival attraction. He is much like the scientists who developed three green glow in the dark pigs. They injected fluorescent green protein into embryonic pigs, and these pigs grow up green and glow in the dark. Why? Who knows? Man does silly things in the name of science. Lazarus was a curiosity, but to the Priests and Pharisees Lazarus was a threat. Their eyes were on Lazarus. Some believed on Jesus, but did not understand WHY He came.

They thought Jesus was the King Who would conquer Rome.

John 12:12-13 (KJV) when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

As Jesus rode through the city He was received as if He were a conquering King. The people tossed palm leaves and outer clothing before Him, cheering Him. Jesus will come and overthrow the evil Romans – or so many thought. They wanted a temporary fix to their problems.

A temporary fix does not last.

Israel was in bondage to Rome THEN because of a sin problem.
America is in a mess TODAY because of a sin problem.
If we come to Christ and follow Him there is blessing.
But if we reject Christ and follow sin there is cursing.

God called His people to follow Him. He gave His people a law by which to live. He asked His people to love Him, to abstain from idolatry, to care for Him as He cared for them. But the people made a decision to do as they wanted to do. Instead of following God and loving God they followed their own hearts and their own sin nature. God was the least in their lives. And as the nation and its leaders drew away from God, the decisions they made led God to turn away. God will not condone sin. God will not wink at sin. God despises sin and wickedness and lovelessness. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:4-10 (KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,

God loved Israel, and loved them still. When Jesus entered Jerusalem He saw the people laying down palm leaves and outer clothing before Him and His donkey. He heard the people shout:

Luke 19:37-38 (KJV) And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

As they shouted they quoted Psalm 118 from the Hebrew hymnbook, singing and praising God. The Pharisees made a decision to harden their hearts to this. They said “Master, REBUKE Your disciples!”. The Pharisees knew that Jesus caused Lazarus to rise from the dead. They knew it so much that they plotted to kill Lazarus again, for this was a miracle they could not explain away. They hardened their hearts. They would not praise God for Jesus, nor could they tolerate it when others did. Make them be quiet. But Jesus said …

Luke 19:40 (KJV) …. I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

John 12:19 (KJV) The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

They felt as if they couldn’t stop Christ. He threatened their franchise over religion, and their power over the people. They refused to hear Jesus, rejecting Him as Messiah. They plotted to kill Him.

Jesus Wept Over Lazarus And Wept Over Jerusalem

Luke 19:41-44 (KJV)41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

When Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb He wept. I don’t believe He wept because His friend had died. Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the grave. Weeping over something that He was going to fix makes no sense. I believe Jesus wept over not Lazarus, but over the lost who would not hear. The Pharisees who – seeing the reversal of death – plot to kill Jesus so they can retain power. I believe Jesus wept because He looked around and saw people that He would lay His life down for, but these people would not repent nor come to Him. They would rather stay in the darkness of the tomb, rather than come to the light that is Christ.

I believe Jesus wept over Jerusalem and weeps over America today. I believe He weeps over the hard hearted who turn from Him and remain in their sin. In just a few days from now Jesus will be executed as a criminal of the state. He will be beaten, betrayed, bruised, and bound to a Cross. He will die on a hill called Calvary.

But like Lazarus, He will rise again. And unlike Lazarus, He will rise again to never die. Jesus will do this to show you and I that He is the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only Life. That no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Jesus decided to give Himself for you. His decision changes your tomorrow.
Jesus calls you to walk with Him, to lay your life down in Him.
He wants more than your palm leaves.
He wants YOU.
What will you decide.
Will you stand with the Pharisees and Priests, rejecting Him to stay in darkness?
Or will you choose to walk with Him?
The decision you make today will affect your tomorrow.
Choose wisely.
Choose Christ!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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