and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
There are many short sentences that have been uttered through the years and we remember many of them. But without understanding the behind the scenes reasons for them being said, they do not have much meaning or significance to us. For those of you who do not know the background of the words, "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it." there is no connection and therefore they most likely do not mean anything to you.
On Sunday morning May 18,1980, USFS geologist David Johnstone watched the bulging north flank of Mt. St Helens from a vantage point about six miles northwest of Mt. St. Helens, believing that he was safe from the imminet eruption of the Mt. It had been erupting steam and ash for months, and precautions had been taken to keep people from being near the mt.
But shortly after 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, David Johnston shouted these famous words: " Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it.", as he watched the entire north face of the mountain begin to slide down into Spirit Lake. After that he was heard from no more as the powerful lateral blast from the Mt. carried him away and his body was never found. To those of us who lived in the area those words have impact and trigger our memories to the amazing signs of the power of God in an eruption of a volcano.
Are there any words that been spoken that should more impact than these which are recorded in Mark's Gospel which concern Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?
ESV Mark 16:6 And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
Today is Resurrection Sunday. We rejoice over the fact that the cross is empty, that the tomb is empty, and that He is risen!
That means that He LIVES! That is fact, not theory or conjecture. Because it is true, we believe it.
Usually on this day of rejoicing we hear the message of the resurrection of our Lord from the pastor of the congregation or from a guest speaker as we meditate upon Scriptures which speak of the events of this joyful day. This year we are going to switch things around a bit, as we will be asking the Sunday School to bring the message through the Word and through song.
So, in order to help us understand the significance of the words, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, He has risen, he is not here. See the place where they laid him, I would like to give a little background to the events preceding these marvelous words of comfort, of sorrow, of joy and of hope. And I am going to do it in an unusual and onconventional way. I have an imagined conversation that occurred between two people who were living when these events occurred 2000 years ago. Their names are Julia, a 16 year old girl and her friend, Gaius, who is 17 years old. Let us pick up the dialogue that they had going between themselves.
Julia: Hey, Gaius, what do you think about Friday? That big crowd that went up to the place where they crucified the three men? How it was so dark from noon until three oclock.! And then the earthquake! I was so scared. What do you think?
Gaius: You bet, I was scared and am still scared. Some one told me this afternoon that they were up on the big hill outside of Jerusalem and they saw the man called Jesus on the cross hanging there between two robbers. They told me that in all His pain and torment, He looked out on the crowd and spoke words of forgiveness, that He forgave a robber before He died, that He handed over the care of His mother to his beloved Apostle John and that He did not lash out against anyone, but had His arms wide open ready to receive anyone who would come to Him. And they told me that the darkness and the earthquake seemed to be connected together with that man Jesus. That from 12:00 to 3:00 was dark. And that at 3:00 he willingly died and when He died, the earthquake shook everything, including me. What do you
Julia: Really!! I saw the darkness and felt the earthquake, but how could they be connected?
Gaius: Did you also hear about when at 3:00 in the afternnoon the High Priest was getting ready to offer the spotless Lamb for sacrifice that as the earth shook the big thick curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem split right in front of his eyes.? Did you hear that it split from the top to the bottom as if ripped by an unseen hand?
Julia: What??What curtain?
Gaius: It was the one which separated the special place of sacrifice in the Temple from everyone but the High Priest. Only He could go in there once a year to offer the blood sacrifice which was an offfering for sin. It is no more, as now the way to God is opened up through this Jesus. I don't understand if fully, but there must be a connection between the death of Jesus and this curtain being tore from top to bottom.
Julia: What are you talking about? I don't have a clue what you are talking about?
Gaius: Don't you remember how people have been looking and waiting for the Messiah for a long time?
Don't you remember how Moses and the prophets spoke of the coming of the day of the Lord? How David spoke of the kingdom that will have no end? How Isaiah spoke of the One who has paid double for our sins? How Isaiah spoke of the one who would be despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men would hide their faces as they despised him and did not esteem him?
Julia: How do you ever connect what happened yesterday with what the Scriptures say? All I know is that every year I come here to confess my sins and through the sacrifices in the Temple I know that for the next year I can live with out the guilt. How can this ever change from the way we have always done it?
Gaius:: Well, Julia, it is like I am looking through a glass darkly, but I think I see a connection. Don't you see it? Don't you see at all that He is the one we have been waiting for? Don't you even see a little that this could be the One who will be the final sacrifice for sin and that He will carry away our sin for good?
Julia: Not at all.. For example, remember last Sunday when we were all gathered in the City for the Passover celebration, and we heard that the Messiah was coming? Remember how we waited for Him to come in His power and might riding on a big white horse? But what did we see? Tell me!!
Gaius: We saw an ordinary man come riding into the city on a donkey.
Julia: So there you are! Tell me, Julia, how can someone on a donkey be one who saves us from all the oppression and domination of thegovernment?
Gaius: That is where you are wrong. You were like many of the people there that day, for you were looking for someone to change your circumstances and you missed seeing the humble and serving heart
of this man Jesus. This is the same man that had lived the same way that He died: "With His arms wide open." He came to deliver us from our sins, not our government and its oppression. He came to bring newness of life in that He came to dwell in us through the power of the Holy Spirit so that out of our innermost being would flow river of living water. He came to bless us with the forgiveness of our sins so that we could bring the message of His Gospel to others in order that they might be set free from the bondage of sin.
Julia: What???? Now I am really confused! How could a man riding on donkey have anything to do with delivering me from my sin? Are you saying that I am a sinner?
Gaius: Yes, that is what the Bible says, not me.: Don't you remember your Bible lesson in which Isaiah wrote: Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Don't you see that this is who Isaiah was talking about in that Jesus is as the sheep that he was talking about?
Julia: Now you are getting preachy at me. And besides, what do these verses have to do with a man riding into the City on a donkey, preaching for 3 years about loving one another, serving one another, laying down our lives for one another, constantly battling with the higher ups in the church and in the end being taken up to the big hill and crucified with two common criminals? He is dead and gone and your big theory is out the window!
Gaius: Don't dismiss things so quickly. These things He did and I agree with you that He is dead." Yes, He is in the grave. But if you are honest with yourself, you will have to admit that He said that He was going to
Julia: Yes, I recall that but find it hard to believe that it could happen. Look it is already Saturday night and where is He? Everything is quiet, too quiet.. I know that today is the Sabbath and so everyone is resting today, but where is He? I think you are going to be disappointed when your hopes are dashed in your Messiah.
Gaius: No, again you forget that He said, " I will rise again on the third day from the dead." It is only the second day. Today is only Saturday, but Sunday's a coming!
Julia: I admit that you have me thinking. I am starting to see a connection between the sacifices that the High Priest offers once a year and this Jesus. I think that I am beginning to understand what I have been hearing some people say about how John the Baptist called this Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"
Gaius: Now you are getting it, Julia: Now do you see why the curtain ripped open when the Messiah, how about if we call Him Jesus, died at three o'clock? Do you see why the earthquake rumbled? He truly is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, and that includes yours and mine.
Julia: Yeah, I heard how even the Centurion who was guarding the area around the cross after seeing the happenings there said: "truly this was the Son of God."
Gaius: Don't you see how much God loves you and I, in that He made a way for us to be brought back into fellowship with Him? Don't you see how He Himself laid our sins upon His only Son in order to pay the ransom so that we might be freed from our debt of sin? That we would be saved instead of lost?
This is what God has been telling us through the years from the Old Testament Scriptures. God is saying from the cross, "my beloved creation, my beloved creation, this is it", for my grace is shown unto your from the cross. For my greatest glory is in showing you mercy, rather than judgment, showing you grace instead of condemnation, for I delight in showing mercy.
Julia: Yes, I think I see I am beginning to put the dots together so to speak. But. one more question, if he paid for our sins, why is it necessary that He arise from the dead? What does it mean for my life?
Gaius: Good question and an important one. The simple answer is, that because He arises from the dead it means that He lives!! And we know He will rise again because He said He would do so. But Julia, remember a couple of things as you ponder the truth of the resurrection. There was some talk about the government going to great lengths to keep his body in the tomb by putting a stone over the opening. Also I heard that the government talked the soldiers into spreading a story that the disciples had come in the night and stole the body of Jesus while they slept. I wonder how they knew that the disciples came to steal Jesus' body if they were sleeping? . The fact is that He will arise and that will mean that He is alive forever. One thing more, Julia, of all the great men over the ages purported to be "Messiah" who have been laid in tombs, there has been only One whose remains have never been found, Jesus the Christ.
Julia: Okay, I will wait.....
Sunday School part of the message:
He is Risen
Do you believe that Christ is risen?
As recorded in Mark 16:1-10
Very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at sun rise. When they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: and entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, wearing a long white garment; and they were frightened. He said to them, “Be not frightened: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: see the place where they laid him.
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
As recorded in Luke 24:13-34
That same day, two of them went to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about 7 miles. They talked together of all these things which had happened. While they discussed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But they did not know him. He said unto them, “What type of discussion are you having with each other, as you walk, and are sad?” The one man, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you a stranger to Jerusalem, and have not heard the things which have happened there these past days?” Jesus said unto them, “What things?” And they told him, of the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.
Yes, and certain women with our group surprised us, they went early to the sepulchre; and when they did not find his body, they came back, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some men who were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it to be true as the women had said. Then He said unto them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. When they drew close to the village, where they went: he made as though he would have gone further. But they stopped him, saying, Abide with us. And he stayed with them. As he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. Their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
As recorded in Luke 24:35-43
And as they spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, “Why are you troubled? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is me: touch me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as I have. Do you have any food?” They gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and honeycomb. He took it, and did eat before them.
As recorded in John 20:24-39
But Thomas, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples said unto him, “We have seen the LORD”. But he said unto them, except I shall see the nail prints in his hands, and put my finger into the print, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples, and Thomas were together: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then he said to Thomas, touch my hands; and thrust your hand into my side: and be not faithless, but believe. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Do you believe that Christ is coming again?
As recorded in Luke 21:25-28
And there shall be signs in the sun, the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh.
As recorded in Matthew 24:23-35
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; in-so-much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet. When you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
The Great Commission
If you believe these things than Christ says to do this…
As recorded in Luke 24:44-49
Jesus said, “These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, “It is written, and it was necessary for Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
As recorded in Matthew 28:16-20
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
As recorded in Mark 16:15
Jesus said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
As recorded by Luke in Acts 1:6-9
When they were come together, they asked him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.
But you shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
May the grace of our risen Lord Jesus Christ rest with you today.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
For long years Prophets had spoken about the coming of the Messiah. From the book of Genesis through the book of Malachi, they had written about the coming of the Lord, but for the last four hundred years there had been no Word from the Lord. When John the Baptist began to preach about the necessity of a baptism of repentance, there must have been a sense that something was going to change. After John baptized Jesus in the river Jordan, He told the people that here now is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world., pointing to Jesus as he said it.
But not many understood the message that John preached, not many understood the message that Jesus preached, but they rather opposed the radical message that Jesus came preaching. For He brought not a message of domination and control, but He came living and preaching a message of freedom from the guilt and power of sin which results in humble service to our neighbor through the doorway of repentance and faith.
But not everybody received Him with open arms, for the Sanhedrin, the highest ruling body which was patterned after Moses and the 70 seventy elders, did not receive Him. They were responsible for the local rule of the Jews in the Roman province of Judea. Included in its responsiblities were the investigation of charges related to the violations of Mosaic law and the assessment of claims made by people to be prophets or the Messiah. Politically, the Sanhedrin walked a tight rope, answering to the Roman governor while at the same time trying to stay in favour with the majority of the people. After the raising of Lazarus, quite a stir was raised among the crowds. We read in John 11:45..
John 11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
They called a meeting to discuss the repercussions of the ministry of this man Jesus and how to deal with the people who were flocking to Him in droves.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
In walking the tightrope the leaders of the Sanhedrin knew that if the numbers kept increasing of those who believed in Jesus, it would come to the attention of the Roman governor and would be seen by him as a threat to his imperial rule in Judea. Most likely the governor would crackdown on this growing movement and as a result the Sanhedrin would lose their office and their place of privilege in relation to the temple and the people. However, it was difficult for the Sanhedrin to move against Jesus because of His growing popular support.
But then one of them, named Caiaphas, spoke up with his offer of a solution to the dilemma facing them.
KJV John 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
KJV John 11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
He said that it was better for them that one man be killed rather than have the whole nation of Jews perish because of a Roman crackdown on them. In his mind, this was logical solution, however ruthless it was. He was the high priest and he was the one that once a year made sacrifice for the sins of the people, but he certainly was not suggesting that he himself be the one to die. He was pointing to Jesus.
John here inserts his commentary.
KJV John 11:51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
KJV John 11:52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
KJV John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
Caiaphas's words were taken at face value as counsel to do away with Jesus. They resolved to kill Jesus, as an official decision of the Sanhedrin. There is a marked difference here in the approach that Caiaphas took and the mission of Jesus: The Sanhedrin, at the suggestion of the high priest, Caiaphas, decided to sacrifice an innocent man to retain their place in the nation. Jesus came to sacrifice himself to gather the scattered children of God into one. Here we see another example of how God's way are way above man's ways, for here man thinks that he is thwarting God's plan, but in reality, God is using man to work out His plan for the saving of the world.
Consider what Peter wrote about who actually delivered Jesus to be killed.
KJV Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
KJV Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
NAU Acts 2:24 "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
But it was not yet time for Jesus to be delivered up and therefore He
KJV John 11:54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
John 11:55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
Now the hour has come, the hour which on numerous occasions, Jesus had said "his hour was not yet come."
KJV John 2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
KJV John 7:30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
KJV John 8:20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
It was now approaching the Passover Festival during which the betrayal, crucifixion and death would take place. During this time the ceremonial cleansing for which many came to Jerusalem was carried out in Mikvah baths located near the entrance staircases on the southern side of the temple precincts. Levitical purity was required of lay people at Passover because the men had to enter the courts of the priests to bring their lambs to be sacrificed. Those requiring ritual cleansing needed to undergo this seven days before Passover.
John writes concerning the people's wondering where Jesus was and if He was coming to the Passover.
56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.
It was a very hostile situation that awaited Jesus in Jerusalem, for there was great expectation by many to see this man who had raised Lazarus from the dead. They gathered in the temple precincts to see the amazing man, but the chief priests and the Pharisees awaited His coming so that they might capture Him and have Him killed.
KJV John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
KJV John 12:2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
KJV John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
KJV John 12:4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
KJV John 12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
KJV John 12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
KJV John 12:7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.KJV John 12:8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
A dinner was given in honor of Jesus. Along with Jesus, the twelve, Martha, Mary and Lazarus gathered at the home of Simon the leper. True to her calling, Martha served, we can only speculate that Mary sat at Jesus' feet until she began to anoint His feet. Also seated at the table was Lazarus who had recently been raised from the dead by Jesus. Mary had some knowledge of the mission of Jesus into this world and therefore, she poured a precious ointment on His feet and wiped it with the hairs of her head. By doing this she publicly displayed that she knew what He was referring to when He said that He was going to be delivered up by the Cheif Priests and the Pharisees to be tortured, killed, put into the grave and be raised on the third day The disciples did not understand, neither did Judas understand, but they considered what she had done as a waste of money, saying that it would have been better if she would have sold it and given the money to the poor. But Jesus stepped in and told them to "leave her alone" for what she has done is right in line with my mission. " I am going to die, and she is showing me that she understands the purpose and the value of what I am doing for my Father. You always will have the poor, take care of them when you can, but you must understand that I am not going to be with you always in my body as you see now. What she has done will always be remembered by future generations whenever the gospel is preached, for what she has done shows the true nature of the kingdom of God and the gospel. It is a gospel of grace, a gospel of giving. For it is better to give than to receive."
Now the scene changes as John offers his commentary on what is happening with the people that are gathering into a huge crowd as they prepare for the Passover feast in the big city. Mark gives more detail as to what happened along the way as Jesus made His way to the city. In other words, John's description is of those who are waiting for Jesus, Mark's describes those who are traveling with Jesus.
KJV John 12:9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
KJV John 12:10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
KJV John 12:11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
The people that were at the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
What did they expect to see when they heard He was coming?
It is interesting that John places the fact that He is on a donkey after he writes that they went out to meet him: What did they expect to see? Before we see what happens, let us see what was going on behind the scenes with God as He many years before had planned for this day. Zechariah wrote this day more than 400 years before and now the prophecy is fullfilled.
KJV Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
KJV Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
Expectation is built upon what which we have come to believe will happen in the future. As long as we have understood correctly of the promise/prophecy, we will not be disappointed when the promise is fulfilled. But what if we have not understood or accepted that which God intended to bring to us? We will be disappointed..
Today we are trying to make sense of the present in light of the future. Where are we going in the future? They looked in that day for a world that would make sense of their existence. They were anticipating a kingdom and a king who would reign over them, would deliver them. But what was their expectation? Deliver them from their outward circumstances or deliver them from theirselves, their sin? Time passed and passed...someday the king would come unto them. As Jesus walked and talked among the people of that day, there was in the back of people's minds the question: "Could this be the one we have been looking for? Could this be the king that we are looking for who will set things right, who will establish His kingdom? In their homes at night as they discussed the things they heard about Jesus, as they talked about those things He was doing in the lives of people, they wondered...Is this the One?...In our lives today, we think on and discuss the same questions, don't we?
And Lazarus has been raised to life from the dead. Now things are heating up, as the crowd in Jerusalem swells and the chatter is at a high fervor now. For as a result of this sign (miracle) being performed by Jesus,more people were led to believe in Jesus.. But the leaders of the church plotted to kill Jesus as well as Lazarus, for they were motivated by self preservation of their kingdom. Jesus is proving not to be the Jesus that they think He should be, for they do not want this kind of a king, the kind that would reign in their lives. Are we the same, in that we do not want a king to reign over us.
After the feeding of the five thousand, people at that time wanted to make Him a king by force, but he withdrew into a moutain by himself. Here they want to take him and kill him, but he again withdraws. All this only increases the interest in Jesus among the crowds. Just imagine the people as they talked back and forth about the raising of Lazarus, there was a buzz about the news that if anyone saw Jesus to tell the leaders for they wanted to know where he was. .
A huge crowd awaited Jesus' arrival, and Jesus slowly ascended the 20 miles from Jericho to Jerusalem climbing in elevation about 3000 feet during the journey.. The closer one gets to Jerusalem the greater the majesty of Jerusalem gets. The people were going up to Jerusalem had in their mind of the promises of freedom that were promised by their God through out the past. As they continued their journey, the songs of the ages cheered their hearts as they anticipated that which was before them. Now their God was bringing them a King. They had in their hands the palm branches which were used in another special event, the Feast of Tabernacles. At that Feast when the choir sang Hosanna, the palm branches would be waved. At this time in history the branches had become a symbol of nationalistic fervor.
Their great expectation seemed to be based on their understanding of what their King was going to do for them. That is fine, but what is the nature of His deliverance that is key.
John 12:12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: (Hosanna=save us we pray) Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
KJV Psalm 118:25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
KJV Psalm 118:26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
The Fulfillment of God's Promise
John 12:14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
Here in verse 16 John gives his commentary concerning how the disciples (and most likely most if not all people) did not understand the significance of what was happening, even though it was clear prophecy and the fulfillment of it. Likewise it is with us today, that we struggle greatly with understanding as well as receiving the true nature of the kingdom of God which is present among us today.
Waving the palm branches, awaiting the arrival of their King, what must they have thought when they saw Him riding on a donkey? Riding on a beast of burden, which according to Zechariah's prophecy denotes humility and lowliness. Most present that day must have been crushed at that sight, that instead of a victorious general riding on a horse, they saw a donkey walk by with an ordinary looking man sitting on it, not saying a word. As they watched him go out of sight, what must they have thought? What about their expectations for the future? How was this type of king going to change anything? If they thought this way, they missed an amazing illustration of all that the King had said and did to this point in His ministry. As He rode out of sight and left His public ministry, so also their opportunity to understand the nature of the Kingdom went out of sight with Him. They must have went to their homes totally frustrated at the unfulfilled expectation, for they had counted on their King delivering them from their oppressors by force and by might. They did not understand at that point that His greatest moment was yet to come and that in His humility and meekness, He was going to exhibit and demonstrate His greatest power over sin, over death and over hell as He went to the cross. As the donkey plodded on, with its creator on its back, the time of true deliverance for all people drew near.
How about us? Where are we in our lives today? Have we come to understand the nature of the kingdom of God? Let us consider some Scriptures and a commentary concerning these questions.
When Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount, he began in this way. The first four "Blesseds' that he spoke were concerning our understanding and receiving of our response to His laying down His life for us. All four of these Beatitudes can be considered as a reflection of that which is in our heart. If we receive and experience these truths iton our heart as we respond to that which God has done for us in Christ, we own the promises that relate to each condition. For example, if we are poor in spirit, (humility) we will possess the kingdom of God. We will be a partaker of it by grace through faith. Therefore, when we mourn over our sin, we will be comforted by the gospel of peace. And so on..
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
KJV Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
KJV Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, (humble) above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
As we said earlier, if those who awaited the King's coming as one who would change their outward circumstances, they were left disappointed and frustrated even as we are when we have an expectation of Jesus as being one who will come to change our outward circumstances. He came to serve so that we could be changed inwardly by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. His humility was the doorway to bringing us into the place where we are enabled and empowered to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, so that we may serve them in humility. What this looks like is described in the book of James:
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
And here is some commentary by Martin Lloyd Jones as related by Dr. John Stott.
"It seems important to note that in the beatitudes ‘the meek’ come between those who mourn over sin and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The particular form of meekness which Christ requires in his disciples will surely have something to do with this sequence. I believe that Dr. Lloyd-Jones is right to emphasize that this meekness denotes a humble and gentle attitude to others which is determined by a true estimate of ourselves. He points out that it is comparatively easy to be honest with ourselves before God and acknowledge ourselves to be sinners in his sight. He goes on: ‘But how much more difficult it is to allow *other people* to say things like that about me! I instinctively resent it. We all of us prefer to condemn ourselves than to allow somebody else to condemn us.’
"It causes me no great problem. I can take it in my stride. But let somebody else come up to me after church and call me a miserable sinner, and I want to punch him on the nose! In other words I am not prepared to allow other people to think or speak of me what I have just acknowledged before God that I am. There is a basic hypocrisy here; there always is when meekness is absent."
Dr Lloyd-Jones ‘Meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others ... The man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.’ This makes him gentle, humble, sensitive, patient in all his dealings with others."
Consider this closing illustration:
A missionary was preaching the gospel of Christ from John 3:16 in a remote Native American village. After he had preached for awhile the chief of the tribe came walking up to the pulpit at which he was preaching and laid down his tomahawk. "Chief giving Jesus my tomahawk."
Preaching continued, chief stepped out of the room, returned with his blanket, walked up to the pulpit, gave the blanket and said, "Chief giving Jesus my blanket.
Preaching continued from his text, chief went out and returned leading his horse to the pulpit and said, "Chief giving Jesus my horse."
The minister continued to preach the grace and love of Jesus from the text, chief got up, came to where the preacher was preaching, looked straight into the preacher's eyes and said "Chief giving Jesus himself."
That all happened during one service, but it can also have application over a lifetime. For example, the giving of the tomahawk could be likened to repentance and faith and the rest of the story could apply to our struggle to really understand and live in the grace and truth of His kingdom. letting go of self. The change of mind and direction does happen rather quickly but our understanding of the nature of the kingdom of God as well as living it are impeded by our misapplied traditions, by our biases, by our prejudices, and by our lack of knowledge of the Word of God. Jesus introduced and established that kingdom during his lifetime, and on Palm Sunday, He gave a demonstration of the nature of the kingdom which is yet present among us today. It is marked by sacrifice, by humility, by meekness, by serving the other. The outward circumstances of our situations today do not have to change, but we in our hearts need to consider as to how we have received and are experiencing that which Jesus has revealed asto the nature of his kingdom among us today.
May the Lord bless us richly as we consider the humility of his heart toward us.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Resurrection Day 2010 April 4, 2010
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob