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Who Will Rule Your Heart?

Matthew 21:1-11

In every heart there is something or someone who rules. There is a king who dwells at the center of every person’s life. Royalty takes up residence in every one of us. In each of our lives there is something or someone who commands our time and our attention, who demands our loyalty and our allegiance. And know it or not, like it or not, before that king we bow. So the question is not: “Will there be a king of my heart and yours?” The question is: “Who will be our king? Who will rule your heart and mine?”In every heart there is something or someone who rules. There is a king who dwells at the center of every person’s life. Royalty takes up residence in every one of us. In each of our lives there is something or someone who commands our time and our attention, who demands our loyalty and our allegiance. And know it or not, like it or not, before that king we bow. So the question is not: “Will there be a king of my heart and yours?” The question is: “Who will be our king? Who will rule your heart and mine?”

Today we are going to study about some people. We do not know their names. We do not know how many there were. We do not know from whence they came. We do not know where they went when this particular day was over. But for this one day in their lives, when they saw Jesus something so stirred within them that they were moved to take palm branches and to place them on the path before Him as a royal carpet, and as He rode by they hailed Him as their King. What they did that day is an example of what I hope we do everyday—that is to deliberately, consciously, and intentionally enthrone Jesus Christ as the King of our hearts. You cannot choose the consequences of your life, but you can choose the king of your life. Who will rule your heart?

As we look at these people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem and claimed Him as their King, I have gleaned from their words and actions four areas of our lives which we need to offer to Jesus as our King.

We need to give Jesus our problems.

This is a delightful story in Matthew 21 about how Jesus came to have this donkey. When we get to heaven, you visit with Moses. You have a chat with Peter. You sit down with Paul. But I want to talk to the fellow who owned this donkey. I want to know how He knew that Jesus needed the donkey. We don’t have any idea about that. Maybe it was the supernatural power of God which put it into this man’s mind to give the donkey to the Master when the Master had need of it. Or maybe the man was an acquaintance of Jesus from Bethany and Jesus sent word to him that He was going to need to have this fellow’s donkey. We don’t know, but the point is that God is concerned about the tiniest details in life. God knew that the Scriptures had predicted that the King would come into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, so God made arrangements for Jesus to have a donkey to ride.

Now let me ask you: if God can handle a problem as small as finding a donkey, then do you not see that He can handle the smallest problem, the most insignificant hassle of your life and mine? And that’s worth remembering. You see, we tend to hold tight to our problems. We tend to rehash and rehearse our hassles. We tend to think that we’ve got to handle the little problems on our own. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God helps those who help themselves? Well, no, it doesn’t say that. That’s not in my Bible. My Bible says: “Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares about you.”

Her name was “Garbage Pail Mary.” They found her not too long ago in Delray Beach, Florida, wandering through a shopping mall, smelling of trash, and with pockets filled with stolen items. The police took her to what she called home, a rundown shanty. Neighbors said they saw her come in late at night and leave early in the morning. The place was full of trash. She told them she spent her days rummaging through garbage bins. As the officers sifted through her stuff, they discovered some interesting documents. They found eight passbook accounts packed with money. It turned out that “Garbage Pail Mary” was the daughter of an Illinois millionaire. She was heiress to a fortune. When asked, she said: “I just didn’t know.”

Well, now you know. I am telling you what is true. You don’t have to live with the garbage of life anymore. You don’t have to rely on your own feeble efforts anymore. You are the heir of God’s power! The God who solved the problem of finding a donkey for Jesus, can solve any problem or difficulty in your life, no matter how large, no matter how small. Give Him your problems.

Then we need to give Jesus our passion.

Jesus came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey on purpose. He wanted to deliver the message that He was coming not as a king draped in royal trappings and possessed of earthly power. Rather, He is a king who comes in gentleness, humility and love—a king who comes not with force but with friendship.

Maybe you’ve heard the story about the lion who walked through the forest looking to have his ego lifted. He walked up to a tiger and asked: “Who is the king of the forest?” The tiger replied: “You are, great lion”—and the lion roared. Then he approached a giraffe and asked: “Who is the king of the forest?” The giraffe replied: “Why you are, great lion”—and the lion roared. Then he encountered an elephant and asked: “Who is the king of the forest?” The elephant stretched out his trunk, wrapped it about the lion, lifted the lion up into the air, and then smashed him into the ground. The lion got up, brushed himself off, and said: “Just because you don’t know, you don’t have to get nasty about it!”

Jesus never did that. Jesus never used His power to prove His point. He only used His power to show who He was. Jesus never used His power to impress people. He only used His power to embrace people. That’s why His disciples, those who knew Him best, called Him “Friend”. He’s a king alright—the King of love.

I don’t know why my mind does this to me sometimes, but did you hear the one about the little old lady, about 85 years old, and the preacher came to see her. She lived on a pension and she was very poor. They sat down at the kitchen table. There was a bowl of peanuts on the table. The preacher started munching on the peanuts as he talked. He kept talking and he kept popping in those peanuts. Suddenly, the bowl was empty. “Oh my goodness,” the preacher said to the lady, “I’ve eaten all your peanuts.” She said: “Yeah, I know, and that was the last food I had in the house.” He was stunned. He said: “I’m terribly sorry. You should have stopped me.” She said: “Oh, well, I was trying to be friendly, and besides, I already sucked all the chocolate off of ’em anyway!” Well, you can bet that got a reaction from that preacher!

And when Jesus comes into our world and into our lives, He gets a reaction, too. One either has to cheer or jeer, extol or ridicule, crown or crucify. There is no middle ground. One cannot be indifferent. Make no mistake about it, to put Christ on the throne of your heart does not lead to listless living and insipid service. Instead, living for Jesus Christ becomes the great consuming passion of your life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if your passion for Christ is not so pronounced that some people want to imitate you and other people want to eliminate you, then you have not yet made Jesus the king of your life. Give Him your passion.

Next we need to give Jesus our praise.

I read in the newspaper this week about a fellow who makes his living in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. How does he do that? Well, he’s a painter. And he spends every day painting pictures, putting to canvas the overwhelming beauty of that place so that other people might be moved to wonder at the sheer splendor of that canyon. The painter’s fame has spread so wide that he now commands some $7,000 a painting. Well, when I thought of that painter trying to capture the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, I thought of Jesus who came down into the canyon of our world to show us a picture of God, to let us glimpse the grandeur of the Almighty that we might give Him praise.

When Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Prize, she went up on the stage and the crowds applauded. She gave her speech and the crowds applauded again. Afterwards, a reporter asked her: “Were you embarrassed by that applause?” She looked puzzled as if such a thought had never occurred to her. Then she answered the question with a question of her own. She said: “Was the donkey embarrassed when the crowds applauded Jesus?” For Mother Teresa, you see, all praise in life is directed to Jesus Christ.

In the story of Palm Sunday, we are the donkey. Even the best and most faithful among us are nothing more than beasts of burden upon which Jesus can ride into people’s hearts and lives. That’s why I think the fellow who owned the donkey was a hero. I’d love to talk to him. You talk to Moses or Mary or Paul or Peter. I want to talk to the man who gave what he had so that Jesus could get to Jerusalem. I don’t think he thought: “If I do this then two thousand years from now in Orlando they will still be talking about me.” I don’t think he thought: “I’m going to do this so that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will tell my story.” I don’t think he did it so that he could get the praise. I think he provided that donkey so that Jesus would get the praise.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be like the fellow who owned the donkey. I’d like to be able to give what I have and what I am so that Jesus can come into other people’s hearts. Give Him your praise.

Finally, we need to give Jesus our predicament.

I don’t know for certain that the people who shouted out the word knew what it meant, but my guess is that they did. You see, originally the word “Hosanna” meant “save us!” It was more than just a cry to a king—it was a cry to a saviour. Save us! And we find embedded in those words our last challenge. We need to give Jesus our predicament. The fact is, folks, we are lost. And though we spend a lot of time talking about the here and now, we need to be concerned about the there and then. We need to be concerned about our ultimate destiny. We cannot save ourselves. Only God can bring salvation to our hearts. That’s what Jesus heard from the crowds on Palm Sunday. “Save us. We are lost and we know it. We need for you to bring the salvation we cannot win on our own.”

The Lady B. Good was an airplane used in many successful combat missions during the Second World War. But one day, the crew on board the Lady B. Good were flying above a thick cloud bank and being driven by a strong tailwind. Their instruments indicated that they were above the landing strip. The instruments said that they could descend through the clouds and land safely. But they couldn’t see and they had a feeling that it was too soon. They said: “If we come down out of the clouds now, we may be over enemy territory and be blown out of the sky.” So they chose to follow the leading of their hunches rather than the facts of their instruments. They kept flying. The plane was discovered three days later in the desert. The crew had perished.

That plane is a microcosm of our predicament in life. We can choose to follow our hunches and the prevailing opinion of others. Or we can trust the facts God has given us in Jesus Christ. There may be things in life of which we are not certain, there may be things in life which move us to tears—but we can be absolutely certain that we live in the grace of One who one day will wipe away all tears from our eyes and invite us to enter into His joy.

There was once a British admiral who on the morning of a major naval battle signalled his ships: “I have taken the depth of the water and if my ship sinks my flag will still fly.” The message of King Jesus to us declares that same confidence. He says: “In the world you have trouble and tribulation, but do not be afraid. The victory is mine. I have conquered the world.” When Thomas Carlyle read those words, he wept and called them the most gallant words ever uttered. But they are not only the most gallant, they are the most triumphant. He overcame the world and He gives us a share in His victory. So give Him your predicament, for He—and He alone—can save.

So…

We end where we began. In every life there is something or someone who commands our time and our attention, who demands our loyalty and our allegiance. Royalty takes up residence in every one of us. So the question is not: Will there be a king of your heart? The question is: Who will be your king? Who will rule your heart? Will it be Jesus?

I hope so…
Oh, I hope so…

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