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Sermon - March 29, 2015

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                                           Sermon # 1204

March 29, 2015                                                                                              Luke 19:28-40

Dr. Ed Pettus

 

“Mighty Works”

 

            Palm Sunday is a time of rejoicing, kind of a last celebration before the suffering of the week to come.  In fact, on the very same day of Jesus’ triumphal entry, as soon as Jesus could see Jerusalem, he weeps over the city (Lk. 19:41).  Jerusalem is unaware that the Savior comes and their lack of understanding brings tears to the One who will die on their behalf.  Yes, today is a triumphant entry, rejoicing is the order of the day, but the week to follow is filled with suffering and pain. 

 

1.Triumphant Entrance – Mighty Works

 

            I want to focus our attention on verse 37, “As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.”  Too much attention is given to the animal Jesus rides, whether it was a donkey, colt, one animal, two animals, I really just don’t think that is quite as important as the significance of his entry or the purpose of the joy and praise of his followers.  But this happens many times when we read scripture – we get distracted by concerns that cause us to miss the message, kind of like the old saying, missing the forest for the trees.  Not that we do not pay attention to the details of the Bible, because we really need to!  The details are important, but donkeys don’t really help us to live faithfully as much as the mighty works of God.  Yes, I know that the donkey helps us to see that Jesus’ entry was a humble one.  Now you know that I know! Today, we will think about all the mighty works they had seen.

 

2.Old Testament Mighty Works and Testimony

 

            Before we do that I want to draw your attention to a passage in Judges 5:10-11. 

 

“Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
    you who sit on rich carpets
    and you who walk by the way.
11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
    there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord,
    the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

 

The scene is a local watering hole, the place where everybody gathers at some time during the day to gather water for the day.  When people gather, they talk. They talk about events of the day or week, they talk about their lives, but in this instance they talk about the righteous triumphs of the Lord.  Those triumphs are displayed in the righteous triumphs of his villagers, his people.  If this were a modern scene, they might be gathered in places where we talk, a local restaurant, a grocery store, or even the office watering place, the water cooler.  People talk in all kinds of places and yet we seldom talk about the triumphs of the Lord, the righteous deeds of God in our midst or in the story of God with His people. 

            I raise this passage because the triumphal entries and the triumphal works of God are numerous and from of old.  God has been working His work from the first words of “let there be light”.  The Bible speaks of those works over and over, again and again.  What Judges shows is that people talked about God’s triumphs, God’s victories, God’s life among them. 

 

Now turn to Psalm 73,

 

Psalm 73, 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

 

The Psalmist proclaims that his desire is to tell of God’s works.  He is near to God and God is his refuge, his sanctuary, his safe place.  This compels a testimony of all of God’s mighty works.

 

Ps 78, Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

 

The goal is to tell of the mighty works, not to hide them away so that the children have to guess or find them out themselves.  It is our joy to tell others what God has done.

 

Ps 104:24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

 

Psalm 104 sings the praises of God as Creator.  The doxology comes in this verse 24 where the Lord is praised for his many works.

 

Ps 105 
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

 

Part of our praise includes making known God’s works.  We glorify God in proclaiming what he has done. 

 

What these Psalms articulate is a constant practice of God’s people singing God’s praises in expressing what God has done.  It demonstrates that God has been at work from the beginning of creation in all kinds of ways. 

 

 

3.Luke’s Account of Mighty Works

 

a.Birth  Luke 2

b.Beginning of Ministry Luke 4:14-15

c.Healings Luke 4:31-37

d.Power Luke 6:17-19

e.Teaching Luke 8:4-8

 

            If we trace some of those works through Luke’s account, we can see anew how God has continued his work through his Son.  It might seem like a strange place to start but we consider first the birth narrative.  We may not think of praising someone to the extent they do here because of a birthday, but some people do with the amount of attention they give to birthdays.  His birth was probably not on anyone’s mind as he rode through Bethany, but it is upon ours at least once a year and we marvel at all the events and circumstances surrounding this miraculous birth of our Savior.  It certainly ranks upon the mighty works of God. 

 

Luke in Luke 4:14, there is no specific work, but references to many works.

            Luke 4:14-15

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

 

Jesus is praised for the mighty works he performed.  Deeds of power were seen and heard and experienced.  Testimonies were given by those Jesus had touched and healed and forgiven.  His reputation had grown to such extent that at the beginning of Luke 19, the tax collector, despised by his own people, Zacchaeus, runs to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus.  People were talking about Jesus and telling stories about his mighty deeds.  We might ask how the people glorified Jesus.  They told of his works.  They did just as the Psalms do. 

 

A little bit further in Luke, verse 31, we find a specific story.  There are many such stories in the gospels.

Luke 4:31-37

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

 

The last verse speaks to the people telling of his mighty works.  Everybody was talking about Jesus!

 

 

Luke 6:17-19

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

 

It might be hard for us to imagine the buzz of excitement among the people.  It does not seem to happen among us anymore that one thing is on everyone’s thoughts.  If it is, it is usually something tragic like a terrorist attack, but “everyone” is not talking about the mighty works of Jesus Christ.  Who is going to talk about Jesus?  Who in our culture is going to speak a positive word highlighting the works of Christ?  You know who.

 

There are many stories and we can only look at a few in this short time.  Luke 8 is the last one…

Luke 8:4-8

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

Jesus taught in such a way that people were utterly amazed.  It does not say it in this particular account, but we read about how people were astounded at Jesus’ teaching.  He spoke with an authority like no other.  It is the same authority we speak of when we talk about the authority of God’s word.  These teachings are among the mighty works of God. 

 

4.Two Primary Works of God

 

 

Before we finish up today I want to mention what we might consider the two primary works of God: The Exodus and Christ’s Resurrection.  These are the defining works of God’s for His people.  For the Jews the story of the Exodus claims them as God’s own as the story of the resurrection claims Christians as God’s own.  The stories are similar in flow, Israel was in bondage to Pharaoh, we were in bondage to sin.  Israel cried out to the Lord, we cry out to Jesus.  God sends Moses for Israel, God sends Jesus for us.  Israel faces the oppressor in Pharaoh, we face the oppressors of sin, Satan, and death.  God delivers Israel and sets them free, God delivers us in Jesus Christ and sets us free. 

When we consider sharing the gospel with someone, we know that it ends in the resurrection.  We tell of His suffering and death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, but we end on the mighty work of resurrection.  This is the news that we talk about at the “watering hole”.  Or it certainly needs to be more talked about than we probably do. 

 

There are more mighty works through the Bible than we could possibly lift up this morning and even more when we start talking about what God has done for us.  The Bible also responds to God’s works in a variety of ways.  I called this last section “Our Faithful Response” but as I thought more about that I should have called it the biblical response which hopefully is our response as well.

 

5.Our Faithful Response

 

What is the biblical response to God’s mighty works? 

 

The first I would mention is thanksgiving.  One of the most obvious is from Psalm 107 with a refrain that says, “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” (107:8,15,21,31) 

 

The next two come from our text for the day in Luke 19:37, “the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.”  Joy and praise.  God’s works bring rejoicing and praise and thanksgiving.  This is why the life of a Christian can be such a great life, because God has done, is doing, and will do mighty works.  It is why the triumphal entry was a celebration and why we celebrate today this event in the gospel story.  Jesus rides in with multitudes of people giving thanks, rejoicing with loud shouts, and singing his praises.  Let us do the same today, give thanks, rejoice, and praise.  All to the glory of God who continues to do mighty works.  Amen.