Bad weather nor a busted plow can keep us from worshipping the Lord and spending time in the Word of God. While we may not be able to corporately worship today we can still hear (read) the message God has given me in the absence of our pastor.
Thank you Lord Jesus, for this message and all the blessings you bestow upon us. You are the great and merciful God who loves His children so much that you sent Your only Son to be the greatest sacrifice so that all who believe in the name of Jesus will be reconciled unto You. We ask that you be with us today, that the words written here will be Your words, and that you keep Pastor Cathy and her family safe while they are traveling and that their time together be blessed. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Today is the first day of Holy Week! What a great opportunity for us, and all Christians to reflect on Jesus’ journey to the Cross, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday…today) through His final teachings, betrayal, and lonely trek from the Upper Room through Gethsemane and ultimately to Calvary and the empty tomb. There is no way I can cover this in one message. Every day for the next week I will share a message each day showing us where Jesus was that particular day, what He did, what He taught, and what was going on around Him.
Let us start with a video that so powerfully and wonderfully depicts the eight days that changed the world forever.
I almost do not think anything else needs to be said…almost (hehe).
At the beginning of the story, we see Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, which fulfills yet another prophecy concerning the Messiah found in Zechariah 9.9.
Mark 11:1-1 (NKJ):
11 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage[a] and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; 2 and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”
4 So they went their way, and found the[b] colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. 5 But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”
6 And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
It is Palm Sunday and there’s a crowd of people out there lining the street to welcome; Jesus comes riding in on some young donkey like the old kings of Israel centuries before had done as they entered the Holy City. Jesus is coming down the road to Jerusalem; the king is coming!
People were waving palm branches and shouting:
Hosanna!! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
I used to think that ‘hosanna’ was just a nice means of praise; however, in long ago past actually meant ‘O, save me’. People were excited and hopeful that Jesus was going to save them from Roman occupation, poverty, humiliation – from unjust laws and treatment.
Those in attendance had a decision to make – were they going to believe in Him or not.
Within the crowd along the road, there were a number of people with different views and reactions as to what was taking place.
Some were merely casual observers. They were in Jerusalem for Passover. They were content to stand on the sidelines and not get involved.
Then, there were the religious leaders and plotting authorities, watching Jesus’ every move. They were afraid of Him; afraid of the power He seemed to have. He was upsetting the norm. They had been trying for three years to prevent Jesus’ from gathering a large following. They went so far to work with the Roman authorities to do so.
Some people in the crowd were praising Jesus, believing He was the Messiah, but only there for what Jesus could do for them…save them from Roman oppression….perform miracles. They were sure that He would come as a mighty king and overthrow the Roman Empire… and they were disappointed and discouraged. They soon lost their belief in who and what Jesus was. Later , some of these ‘believers’ were members of the crowd who cried
“Crucify Him.” (Luke 23:21)
But there were some who knew exactly who and what Jesus truly was. They had searched the Scriptures and believed that He was Who He said He was and committed themselves wholly to Him. These true believers recognized Jesus as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.” A few would follow Christ regardless how dark the path became.
Where do you see yourself in this crowd?
Most of us would like to answer: the faithful followers, the ones who follow Jesus in the darkest of times, unwavering.
Unfortunately, if I am being honest, I can see that sometimes I have a tendency to be more like the ones that are there for what Jesus can do for them. It hurts my heart to say that. I would not go as far to say that I would yell, “Crucify Him” however, I must be careful to sing Jesus’ praises when things are not going well in my life like I do when I am on cloud 9. I must guard my heart to want all things Jesus and not just the miracles and gifts.
I must be careful to not want a mighty king who slays all that come against Him. This is a hard one for me. In the world today, following Christ is not what it used to be. Even those we consider “good people” are not truly following Christ. It hurts my heart. It discourages me. When people speak negatively against Christianity, I want a mighty king who “gets them”. Needless to say, this attitude makes it hard for me to evangelize. A good friend pointed me to the book of Jonah to help free me from this negative attitude. I highly recommend you read this book if you too are struggling. I could (and maybe I will) prepare an entire message on that topic. We cannot rewrite or make our own Jesus. While Jesus is the epitome of power and might, He is also the epitome of humbleness. If you trust in His ways and walk in obedience to the Word of God, while it may not seem like it at the time, I promise you will receive the peace that surpasses all understanding and God will work out all things for your good.
So, on Palm Sunday, all things seemed to be going Jesus’ way. You would have thought all that praise did His heart good; however, we must not forget that Jesus knew what was to come. He knew that these same people praising him were about to turn on Him. He knew that these people and some of the ones closest to Him was about to betray Him.
This is what stuck out to me when I watched the video. Betrayal. Hurt. I couldn’t take my eyes off Peter. Oh, how I resonate with Peter. A man who truly loved Jesus, believed in Him, followed Him, witnessed and participated in miracle, but a man who couldn’t quite fully let go.
Palm Sunday is a weird time to talk about Peter’s soon to come betrayal, but I want to get this said just in case this is the only time I have your attention.
I can’t even imagine the shame Peter felt. Recently I have experience of feeling like I betrayed someone I love so dearly. It was one of the hardest times in my Christian walk in a long time. But, I was forgiven, and so was Peter.
Peter, denied Jesus. He turned His back on the one he loved most. He left Jesus alone. Peter was Redeemed. Jesus showed absolute forgiveness and grace. Jesus still does this for us today. There is nothing you have done that Jesus will not forgive. Peter could have let his guilt hinder him from coming back to Jesus. He could have went back to his old life and felt sorry for himself. Peter did not do that. He went on to be the leader of the Church. He went out and became one of the most influencing men (through the power of Holy Spirit) of all time. Why? He answered Jesus’ call to “arise”; he accepted Jesus’ forgiveness and grace; He relented to the Word of God and walked in obedience (yep, had to get that in there…hehe).
For over a year God has been whispering in my heart to “Rise”. I could do a whole other message (a maybe I will) on this topic, but what God wants us to know now is that we can rise just like Jesus. Our sins no longer have a hold on us. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome our temptation to sin and to be held captive by our sin. We have the power to walk in obedience to the Word of God and be free!!!
Sadly, not enough of us believe this. Too many of us walk around saying things like, “I’m a sinner, I’m always gonna be a sinner, Jesus understands.” These statements and the doctrine of “hyper-grace” come straight from the pit of Hell! We don’t have grace so that we can enjoy our sinful nature yet still go to heaven.
I’m not trying to beat anyone up. We all sin. We just should not be okay with it. We are called to repent. To turn away from our sin. Yes, it is a heart issue. If we love Jesus we will obey his commandments and want to walk in His ways.
1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all yourconduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[c]
John 4:15: “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments.
John 4:23: Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
My point here in this is that Jesus wants us to rise, just like He did. He wants us to overcome the grave, just like He did. He doesn’t want us to be bound in sin and shame. Forgiveness and grace are found in Jesus. Grace paves our way to salvation, but it also paves the way to our freedom. As long as we continue to act in our old sinful nature, we will see the product and bondage of that sinful nature. When we rise to the occasion and purposely walk out our salvation through obedience to the Word of God, we will see all those glorious promises given to us in His Word.
Don’t get me wrong, without grace we are all doomed. My question remains (after all these years): What are you going to do with that grace?
Today, Jesus is calling all of us to arise! Arise to your new nature. Arise and become the person God made you to be.
I pray that you join me all this week as we prepare ourselves for Resurrection Sunday.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,