13.4.14 – Four Responses To Jesus – Peter Cheyne

Read Luke 19:28-44

Just a few verses earlier in Luke 19, Jesus had stated what His mission was. Luke 19 starts with the story of Zacchaeus. Having spent time with Zacchaeus and having seen Zacchaeus repent and declare that he would pay back four times over what he had stolen, Jesus said, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham”. And then came Jesus’ mission statement: “For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Jesus’ mission was to look for and save lost people. Zacchaeus was a lost person who came to faith in Jesus. There would have been rejoicing in heaven that day over one sinner who had repented. Jesus must have been rejoicing.

He then told a parable about a nobleman who went away, leaving his servants in charge of his business. Two servants doubled the master’s money while he was away. A third kept it safe but didn’t grow it at all. The master returned and commended the first two. “Well done good and faithful servant. Because you have been trustworthy in this small matter, take charge of ten cities.”

But with the third servant who had done nothing he was furious. Those who had refused to do what the king wanted were killed. It is dramatic and scary language.

What is that story about? Who is the parable referring to? Who is the King who has gone away leaving the His business in the hands of His servants? Isn’t that Jesus? The King is going to return one day and ask to see how we have grown His business? And what is the King’s business? Seeking and saving the lost? One day we are going to be asked to give account for what we have done to seek and save the lost.

Then, in Luke19, that leads straight into the Palm Sunday account. Jesus’ mission was about to end. This was it. His mission would reach its climax. Only by dying could He save the world. That was still ahead but, as he rode into Jerusalem, how successful had He been in seeking and saving the lost? Would Jesus have felt satisfied with what He had accomplished? Had He failed?

Let’s look at people’s reactions to Him. Reaction #1: crowds welcomed Him with wild enthusiasm. They rejoiced. They praised God for all the miracles they had seen. They worshipped Jesus as the King who had come in the name of the Lord.

It is interesting that in vv. 37 and 39 the people in the crowd are called “disciples”. There are disciples and disciples but that suggests there were those who had put their faith in Him and had become followers.

Or had they? Did these people really believe in Jesus? Was it this same crowd that, a few days later, was calling for His death? Were there two types of disciples in this crowd – those who were faithful and those who were fickle; those who would die for Jesus and those who had no deep roots? Maybe we need two reactions here. Reaction 1.a was faith. Reaction 1.b was superficial enthusiasm. Note that they were excited about the miracles they had seen. They were excited about the spectacle and the possibility of benefitting, but when it got a little tougher they changed.

What would be Jesus’ response to each? Maybe gratitude for those who trusted Him and maybe a little scepticism about the superficial self-interested. Do you think?

Reaction #2 was the opposition of the Pharisees. Only two verses are given to them. They demanded that Jesus silence His followers. Jesus simply said, “If they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.”

There will always be opponents. I guess Jesus was disappointed but He was also undeterred. He refused to do as they demanded and He told them that they were wasting their time. God will receive glory. That is inevitable. They cannot stop it. God will receive glory. If people won’t give it, the stones will.

Jesus didn’t beat Himself up for His failure to reach them. There will always be opposition. That is their choice. Jesus just moves on. Don’t cast pearls before swine. If the message is not received, move on.

But then Jesus wept over Jerusalem. If only they had recognised what was going on in their very midst – what God was doing. If only they had recognised what could have brought them peace. But they hadn’t. They had been blind. They had been asleep. The opportunity was there and it had now passed. They did not recognise the time of God’s coming to them and, as a consequence, they would be surrounded by their enemies and brutally killed. Maybe Jesus has in view not only the indifferent but also the superficial and the opposed. All of them had failed to recognise the time of God’s coming to them.

Jesus’ response was grief. Jesus was grieved because of those who could have been saved but weren’t. Jesus weeps because of lostness.

The first question for us is: Which category of people are we in? Are you a person of faith? Is your love for Jesus superficial? You probably wouldn’t be here if you were opposed although we can openly comply and inwardly oppose. Are you indifferent – missing what God is doing?

Let us also consider it from the perspective of our involvement in Jesus’ mission of seeking and saving the lost. We are the servants left in charge of the Master’s business. How do we respond when people are simply indifferent; disinterested? The gospel makes no impression. It is like water off a ducks back. How do we respond when people are opposed? Are we undeterred? Do we keep going anyway knowing that God’s Kingdom will come? Some will respond superficially – perhaps only because they hope to get something out of it, not because they are willing to serve Jesus. Even in the face of disappointment, are we strengthened by the knowledge that God will receive glory? His will will be done. His Kingdom will come. Do we press on because we simply want to serve Jesus?

But at the same time, are we grieved by people’s lostness – by their failure to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Do we weep like Jesus over the hardness of people’s hearts?

But wait! There is also the last category. Some people will respond with real faith. Some people will worship Jesus genuinely and whole-heartedly. Some will serve Jesus and will take the gospel to yet another generation. Even in our society, some people are open. Some people are hungry for Jesus.

What is the Master’s business? Seeking and saving the lost. When He returns, will we be able to show Him that we have been faithful in making disciples of Jesus Christ?

For reflection

The reactions might be summarised as:

The people Jesus
Faith Gratitude
Superficial self-interested enthusiasm Scepticism
Opposition Undeterred
Indifference Grief
  1. Do you think Jesus did respond as suggested here?
  2. Which category are you in?
  3. Is God calling you to something more?
  4. Do you identify with the suggestion that we are the servants left in charge of the Master’s business?
  5. Do you expect to be accountable for how you have grown His business, when He returns?
  6. Which of Jesus’ reactions do you identify with?
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