Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Jesus enters Jerusalem 3.20.2016
Today is Palm Sunday in the Christian church because of it being the day of the commemoration of entry into Jerusalem by Jesus during which palm branches were waved as Jesus entered the Holy City and to his death on a cross. It is the beginning of Holy Week which includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (His crucifixion) with the word Maundy pointing to the giving of the new commandment in John 13:34-35. It also marks the evening (Thursday) in which He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion. And then on Sunday.......He arose from the dead.........

His entry into the city was on the back of a donkey, precisely as Prophet Zechariah prophesied around the year 500 BC:
ESV Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

There was a huge crowd gathered there for the annual Passover celebration, and many, as they watched Him riding on the donkey would have grasped the significance of his humble means of transportation as pointing to His Kingship, but yet not understanding the nature of His kingdom. This is always difficult for us humans, for we are able to recognize the office of a king, but do we always understand the nature of the kingdom of a king?? A New Testament writer gave this description as to the nature of Jesus' kingdom: He came as a servant, but with absolute kingly authority.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What were the people expecting the Jesus the Messiah to do when he arrived in Jerusalem? Well, for the most part, they were looking for a king who would overthrow the oppressive Roman government, thereby setting them free. But how confused they must have been when the events later in the week showed something quite different, in that this "Saviour" died a terrible death on a Roman cross like any other criminal of their day. What???? How does that make any sense? They did not understand that He came to set them free in a far different manner that what they were thinking they needed...

In light of our difficulty to keep rightly thinking in our mind of the nature of His kingdom, throughout the ages Christians have recognized the importance and the benefit of having a special focus on the events of the Holy Week. For in the events of Holy Week is seen the love of God for all humanity, the wrath of God against our sin, and the Man by which He bought us back to Himself.

The passion accounts are recorded in Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23 and John 18-19. I have found that it is helpful to keep in mind the different phases of the passion of Jesus as I read and meditate over these scriptures and as I utilize other writings that are at our convenience to use as a help to give us a deeper understanding, and therefore, a deeper appreciation of the meaning of Jesus' death and burial for us.

Martin Luther wrote that it is good to meditate on the passion of Christ during this Holy Week. He stated that we need to be reminded that His suffering was greater than any other man ever suffered, further saying that many have died on a cross, but only One has suffered under the entire guilt and condemnation of all the sin of the world, past, present and future. It was for my sin and your sin that He suffered and died..in order that we might be freed from the guilt and the power of sin so that we might come to experience what real freedom is: Free from bondage to serving self to being free to love others as Christ loves us.

The importance of setting quiet time aside during this week to read and meditate over these scriptures along with other resources that will help us to focus on the love of God as demonstrated through the giving of His Son for us cannot be overestimated. It is important to read and to listen to what God is saying to us today through the scriptures so that our knowledge of Him is gained through the revelation of Himself through His Son, Jesus the Christ. As we do this, may we be challenged to contrast that which God did to 'fix the problem" with what many in our current day are offering as solutions to "fix" the broken system that we live in today. 2000 years a Man already "fixed" the broken system by dying on a cross between two criminals. That same Man arose from his grave on Easter morning and lives forever in the hearts and lives of his descendants through His Spirit.

Let us remember that Christ died to reveal His kingdom to the world. It was in His dying that He showed the power of God, for in His death, life came forth. The kings of the world rule and dictate through human influence while our King Jesus served in humility, laying down His life as a ransom for our sin. The kingdoms of this world have risen and fallen, and will continue to do so, but the kingdom that was established through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reigns today and will do so forever. He initiated his kingdom in time from the cross, He died on that cross to bring life, He left the grave on Easter morning, He ascended to heaven and His spiritual body of believers all over the world now lives in order to bring this message of eternal life to those who are dying in their faithlessness and consequently, in their sins.

Many through the ages have brought this message of forgiveness and freedom to those in need, and as a result have suffered persecution even to the point of death to their physical being for being a follower of Jesus Christ. How could they do that? They knew that they were already translated from death to eternal life through believing that through Christ they had received forgiveness, and so therefore, death merely meant a transference from earth to eternal life in heaven. Some have joyfully suffered for years for the sake of their bringing the message of forgiveness to those who need it, for others their time as a believer/follower of Christ here on this earth has been very short, as in the following case.

Following the martyrdom of Coptic Christian men by Libyan Islamic State (IS) militants in February 2015, the names of 21 of the martyrs were widely shared. The martyrs were kidnapped from Sirte, Libya, where they were working.

Initially, it was believed that all of the men killed for their faith were from small villages in Egypt. However, the name and background of one of those killed, a black man, was unknown. Mathew Ayairga was soon identified by friends after being recognized in video footage of the killings released by IS. According to Ahram-Canadian News, Mathew was from Chad. Mathew had gone missing in January 2015, captured by one of the radical groups in Libya who have kidnapped hundreds, both Muslim and Christian.

The video made public on Feb. 15 shows each of the men dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling on a beach, with their black-clothed attackers standing behind them. Each one is systematically beheaded and the video clearly shows many of the men praying “Lord Jesus Christ” in their final moments.

According to reports, Mathew Ayairga was not a Christian. However, when moments before his death the IS extremists demanded that he follow Islam, Mathew turned them down. After reportedly witnessing the “immense faith” of the Egyptian believers, and he decided to become a follower of Christ.

On camera, one of the terrorists asked Matthew, “Do you reject Christ?”

“Their God is my God,” he responded, and he became one of the 21 men laying down their lives for their faith in Christ

Last year during our time of Vacation Bible School I had made a tomb into which was placed a form that represented the dead body of Jesus Christ. A stone had been rolled onto the opening just as it had been done with the tomb of Jesus. As I brought the 10-12 year old youngsters there to the tomb, one of the young boys shouted out: "What a joke, you think that that stone is going to stop Jesus from getting out! You can't keep God dead!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 20 Mar 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns