The Reason for following Jesus (Luke 19:28-40)

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”  Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

(Luke 19:28-40)

The scripture we read is the scene when Jesus entered Jerusalem. The One we are following is Jesus. He came to the earth 2000 years ago, completed His work and ascended to heaven.

People may think there are many nice people in the church, but that is not always the case. The people that gather at church are sinners who have received forgiveness. Some may believe they are righteous, but at least for the people who come to church, they are the ones who admit, “I am not righteous. If there are only one of two places I have to go after death – heaven or hell – I would end in hell!” Hence, they gather at the church, receive God’s grace and live by God’s grace. They are people who are trying. That is why one needn’t be discouraged by the people they meet at church saying, “Why does he who goes to church behave that way? I don’t want to go to church!” They are all the same as you. The only difference is that they received forgiveness of sins first and gained happiness first. Though we are still lacking, this is the reason we preach to you, saying, “I want you to receive the happiness I have received!”

Atonement differs from the forgiveness of sin. The word ‘Atonement’ is not a commonly used in the world, is it? But, at church, it is used often. Atonement or redemption. They both convey the same meaning of paying a price. Hence it means to pay the price of sin. Just as we have to pay money to purchase something, a sinner may face consequences like imprisonment or becoming someone’s slave because of their sins. Therefore, atonement involves paying the price to redeem that person.

So, there is the concept of atonement and the concept of forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness, in simple terms, means to forgive. When we have come to Jesus, we are forgiven. I hope you, too, will receive forgiveness. Even if you have sinned, when God looks upon you, He desires to forgive you. That is why He has called you to come. Therefore, all you need to do is receive forgiveness. Only then, when you have been forgiven, can you stand before God. And then you can receive what He is giving.

We need to continually meet God in order to receive all the good things He is trying to give. There is nothing bad in everything that God gives to us. Life, good health, eternal blessing, and more. Therefore, we must seek to meet with Him. Yet a sinner cannot go before the holy God. They cannot look at Him face to face. That is why they need to receive forgiveness for their sins first. When do you receive forgiveness? It happens when you confess your sin and come to Him saying, “I can’t live on my own! I rely on You!” He will forgive you. However, in order for God to forgive the sinner, something crucial happened two thousand years ago – not in the present time but two thousand years ago. And that was atonement. Atonement – paying the price of sin. God sent Jesus to shed His blood and die on the cross to pay the price for our sins.

Everyone! God has already paid the price of your sins! He already paid it two thousand years ago. So now, all you need to do is receive forgiveness. Just say “Thank you!” and receive it. “Thank you for making atonement!” When you accept it, He will forgive you. Therefore, you, should first understand what God accomplished through Jesus. In other words, the reason Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago was not because He did anything wrong, or because it was the wrong time. He was cursed on your behalf, to pay the price for your sins.

Jesus is God’s Son. He is the One God loves. However, when He came to this earth, He endured a curse. Who among you would willingly accept being cursed? Yet, Jesus was cursed. God declared of His Son, “This is My Son whom I love!” However, that moment was the beginning of Jesus’ suffering. In the end, He was cursed and died. It wasn’t due to any wrongdoing on Him; rather, it was to pay the price for our sins. When we acknowledge this, we rely on His merits, which paid the price for our sins. It is when we receive the forgiveness of sin that we come to meet God.

If you are yet to meet God, you must receive the forgiveness of sin. A long time ago when I wanted to meet God, I prayed in this way: “God please meet me!” And I really did meet Him. He met with me. Later on, I was at a dinner with work colleagues when I got a job. That was the first dinner I had with work people after getting the job. They poured alcohol into everyone’s glass. I received a cup too and I had to introduce myself there at the table. So, I said, “I met God in 1992!”

And one person sitting on the other side of the table looked at me as though strange in doubt, tilting her head in doubt. The next day, that person called me to her office. I later found out that she was my manager. She called me to her office and asked, “I heard you introduce yourself yesterday and you said you met God. You even remember the exact date in 1992 when you met God. What does that mean? I never heard anyone say something like that before. I’ve been going to church as a so-called Christian from birth, following my mother. But when I ask myself ‘have I met God?’ my answer is ‘No’. I can’t say that I have. So, what do you mean when you say you met God? People usually say they believe in God not that they meet God. So, what do you mean?”

I answered her, “We actually meet God. So, I don’t say that I believe in God. I know God.” When you’re at home with your wife, dad or children, do you say to them, “I believe that you exist!”? You wouldn’t say, “I surely believe that you exist!” Why not? You already know that; it is not something you believe. That is why you might fellowship with them, share love and even have arguments at times. You know them and meet them; you don’t believe in them. You don’t need to force yourself to believe.

This is the same with God. We don’t believe in our God forcibly; we know Him. Therefore, a sermon is not something made up; I preach about the God whom I know, the God whom I met. If someone asks me to tell them about my wife for ten hours, I would be able to. I can talk about my wife for ten hours. Why? I don’t need to prepare a speech for that because I know her. If I didn’t, I won’t be able to talk like that.

So I am sharing with you about God, and I do it because I genuinely like Him. I wouldn’t tell others about Him if I had a bad experience after meeting Him. However, many people who come to meet Jesus and follow Him have all different expectations. Each person has different reasons why they follow Jesus. In the scripture we read today, how is Jesus portrayed? He is viewed as a king. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” As they said this, the people spread their cloaks on the road before the feet of the colt He was riding. They rejoiced the King’s entry into the city.

But isn’t it strange? What kind of king rides on a colt? He should ride a wonderful horse. Though it seemed strange, the people thought that after Jesus’ grand entry to the city, He was going to do what? They expected Jesus overthrow the Roman empire that ruled over Jerusalem at the time. The Roman empire that governed Jerusalem was like Japan during the Japanese colonial period. So, they were anticipating a revolution. They believed that Jesus was the long awaited one who would rebuild the kingdom of Israel. Jesus was performing powers. He healed the sick, fed more than ten thousand people with five loaves of bread, walked on water, and calmed the winds. These can be considered supernatural powers. Thus, they believed they would win the war because of Him. They thought if He raises the flag, they would also join forces with Him in a revolution. That is why His disciples said, “Let us also go that we may die with Him!” The people who followed Him welcomed His entrance thinking it marked the next chapter in the history of their nation.

Furthermore, He told His disciples to untie the colt and bring it to Him. He said that if the owner asks why they are untying it, they should say, “The Lord needs it!” and then they would let them go. When the disciples went, they found it as He told them. So, the people thought, “Oh! He had it all planned! He already planned for the revolution!”

Thus, when the people shouted, “The King! The King!” the leaders, the Pharisees there said to Jesus, “Tell the people to be quiet!” Because the leaders felt uneasy when the people called Jesus king. Who would be offended if they keep shouting, “King!”? The leaders of the Romans would not like to hear that. Their plan for revolution would become known. That’s why the Pharisees wanted the people to be quiet. To start a revolution, you need to plan a good strategy. If you just shout, “The King! The King!” from the start, they would be caught out at entry. When they asked Jesus to tell the people to be quiet, Jesus answered, “If they keep silent, the stones would cry out!” This is because Jesus is the One who came as a king.

However, the common perception among people was that He came as a king of this world, a political leader. In reality, Jesus came as a true King. He is not any ordinary king but the King who created heaven, earth, and all things within. So, He has authority over heaven and earth. He came for the sake of the eternal kingdom, yet for the worldly people outside of the church, Jesus is someone who helps them in their lives.

But when you come to know Him deeper, He is not someone we have to follow just to have a better life in this world. He has His plans. He came for His own kingdom, that is, for the eternal kingdom. This kingdom is not of this world; It is not on earth; it is an everlasting kingdom. Even if this earth would all disappear if a nuclear bomb goes off, we Christians are not afraid of that. Our spirits will resurrect, enter and dwell in the eternal kingdom.

Heaven is not a destination for ghosts. Many people have a misunderstanding because we say that people go to heaven after they die. To be precise, one doesn’t have to die to go to heaven. Heaven is a place for us to go in bodily form, but not with our perishable bodies; it is the imperishable body will go to heaven. Heaven is the destination for our eternal bodies, not a place where ghostly figures without legs float around. Heaven undeniably exists.

My son loves fruits and he asked me, “Dad, will there be fruits in heaven?” Everything in this world will be heaven. Furthermore, there are things in heaven we don’t have on earth. Just as we have a body now and we shake hands and pick up things, it will be the same in heaven. An everlasting kingdom is waiting for us. It sounds unrealistic, doesn’t it? It may sound ridiculous to some. But we gain evidences of that place as we lead our church life. It is true.

For this reason, it is important to experience the fulfillment of God’s promised words in our lives right now. This is because if we only believe that these promises will be fulfilled in heaven and have no evidence of the fulfillment on earth, it will be challenging to truly have faith in their fulfillment in heaven. However, even though some things may seem impossible, we can know the fulfillment in heaven beforehand because we can fulfill seemingly impossible things on earth.

For example, when did we ever lay hands on a sick person and they became well? But after I had faith in Jesus, from the next month, when I laid my hand on the sick, they were healed. The deaf was able to hear, the blind also opened their eyes, the paralytic stood up. Such wonderful things happened but this isn’t only for me, but happens to all who believe. We have incredible experiences. Through those testimonies we can know for certain that God is truly living, that Jesus resurrected and is in heaven, and that He will return to take us. I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will all be able to follow Jesus.

We follow Jesus not as the One who will make us live well and eat well on this earth, but as the Jesus who is leading us to that eternal kingdom. I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will clearly know this secret and become those who purchase this treasure, even if you have to sacrifice and give up everything on this earth. I will pray.

God our Father, we pray that everyone here may truly understand all the works accomplished by Jesus Christ, whom You have sent, and accept His merits so that they may receive everything You are giving. May they not follow Jesus to live a better life on this earth, but rather long for the eternal kingdom that You have prepared. Inspire and move everyone here by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center