Welcoming the King on Palm Sunday

There is something exciting about being in a crowd. A crowd came from Jerusalem to greet him… to welcome him into the great city of David as the long anticipated Messiah… the deliverer for whom they had hoped.

But Jesus rides into Jerusalem in a manner that shatters the expectations of his people of their coming Messiah. The term Messiah means anointed one. In the OT, there were three different ministries for which people were anointed… king, priest, and prophet. On Palm Sunday, Jesus comes as the ultimate King of Zechariah’s prophecy. He comes into the temple as the great priest. He speaks to his people with the authority of the great prophet.

This is the simple message of Palm Sunday. The Lord Jesus Christ comes in a manner very different than our preconceived notions. He comes to do things in our lives that we do not anticipate or expect.

Why are we to welcome Him into our lives? The text of Matthew 21:1-17 suggests at least three reasons…

First of all, Jesus comes as a humble king to liberate us from sin’s oppression and bondage. When the King comes, He delivers us from the dominion of sin (Zechariah 9:9), not from temporal oppression. He comes not to disarm political enemies (i.e. the Romans), but to disarm all the spiritual enemies of his people that oppress them.

Why does he do this? Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet.” Thus, Jesus fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy who wrote 500 years before the birth of Jesus. By riding a donkey, Jesus declares what type of kingship He comes to institute. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: “Behold your king.” “But,” he is saying, “I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you.

How important was this for our Lord? The only personal characteristic that our Lord calls attention to in Himself is his humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart (Matthew 11:28-30). He wouldn’t lift up his voice in the street. He wouldn’t be domineering. Bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks… He comes not in wrath to take vengeance, but in mercy to work salvation. The wonder of his kingship is that it saves sinners.

How are you to welcome Him? Appeal to Him to save you. Petition Him to deliver you. The word hosanna means, literally, “O save us.”

This salvation is not merely a one-time decision, but a life-long battle against sin, temptation, and unbelief (Hebrews 10:39 – But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.).

How does he save us? The king comes to ascend a throne. It is not a throne of glory and power, but one of shame and humiliation. The eternal Son of God suffers in your place – the great sacrifice for sin is offered up – the great Passover lamb is slain. He is meek to suffer the greatest injuries and indignities for us, meek to endure the hostility and brutality of sinners against him. He comes at this point not to conquer but to die as the Savior of sinners in humiliation and indignity. He is a Savior marked by a gracious kindness and humility. Thus, He is precisely the kind of King you and I need.

(The King comes in deep humility and meekness, but his meekness is not a sign of weakness. Look at what happens next.)

Secondly, Jesus comes as the great priest to cleanse His house. He comes into the temple with cleansing power.

In verses 12-13, Jesus drives out the moneychangers showing forth His authoritative presence.  He evacuates the whole court of the Gentile claiming: ‘My father intended this place to be a house of prayer.’ This court will be devoted to worship.

Recently, the Barna Group reported on the spiritual involvement of twenty-somethings. The findings: only 20 percent of students who were highly churched as teens remained spiritually active by age 29.

The children who have been brought up in the church are abandoning the faith. Rather than lament this, let resolve to pray fervently that they would come to a place in their own journey where they will cry out “Hosanna – save me Jesus.”

Here’s an interesting question: If Jesus came into the temple of my life, what tables would he overturn? Jesus never ignores sin and bondage in our lives. We are made to worship Him, yet we all too often have our own den of thieves – distractions and inordinate desires for other things that we seek to satisfy our longings rather than God’s glory. We need to be cleansed. Jesus did this to the Temple.  Would you ask him to do it to your own heart today? Could you says today that your life is a house of prayer?

How about you personally? Have you ever appealed to Jesus to cleanse you? Confess your need for His cleansing (Matthew 21:12-13). Have you ever welcomed him into your life?

Thirdly, Jesus comes as the great prophet who unmasks religious hypocrisy (vv.14-17) He comes to blow the whistle on the awful layers of hypocrisy that linger in our own lives. Outwardly and formally religious

The priests and the scribes were indignant to see needy people brought to Jesus and being healed and restored.  Religious people were indignant that ceremonially unclean and blemished people were coming into God’s church. They were indignant at children singing exuberant praise to Jesus.

Would you ask Him to unmask your own hypocrisy and free you to worship Him with the same enthusiam of the children long ago in Jerusalem? Praise Him with no pretense. If you’re like me, we at times struggle with a crippling self-consciousness that hinders our worship (Matthew 21:15-16).

Important application: God will see to it that the Son is praised and worshipped. Christ quotes Psalm 8:2 in order to demonstrate this reality. He gladly receives the worship of little children much to the indignation of religious people (Psalm 8).

The way we welcome Jesus into our lives—and into our church—is through praise and worship. He asserts that the stones would cry out if the children stopped.

C.S. Lewis reminds us what praise is? It is “inner health made audible…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment:  It is its appointed consummation.”[1]

Is Jesus as fervently praised and as greatly rejoiced in among us as he was by the children long ago in Jerusalem? Oh the joy of Christ’s presence with his people. Oh, that we might have it in greater measure!

Let me close this post with two quick points of application on welcoming the King into your life. At the end of this story, the crowd did not want Jesus to rule over them. Thus, their praises rang hollow. “Those who take Christ for their King must lay their all underneath his feet.” What is it that the Lord is calling you to lay down at His feet this day in submissive surrender?

Also remember you too are coming to a great King today. Do your prayers express honorable views of the love, riches, and bounty of your King? John Newton summed it up best in this verse of his hymn “Come My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare:”

Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring;

For his grace and pow’r are such, None can ever ask too much.

What large petitions are you bringing to King Jesus today?


[1] C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, (New York, NY:  Harcourt Brace & Company, 1958), 96-97.

Family Discipleship – Commending What We Cherish

Here’s a brief outline with a few questions that I put together as a resource for our young parents. Click on the link below that contains a pdf file on:

Commending What We Cherish – Psalm 145

 

How can children be included in missional living?

I read this blog entry from the Verge Network this morning and highly recommend this short interview with Paul Tripp. There is also a written synopsis of the interview.

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/09/19/how-can-children-be-included-in-missional-living-paul-tripp/

With what would you be satisfied?

Here’s a question I have asked myself on occasion while raising my children in terms of my desires, hopes and dreams for them. It comes from Susan Hunt in her book Your Home: A Place of Grace:

“Would you be satisfied with children who are well behaved, who avoid drugs, who graduate from college, marry well, and make you proud? Or is the passion of your hearts to see your children love and serve Jesus with all their hearts?” (p.80)

Like C.S. Lewis said, all of us parents at times “are far too easily pleased.” There are three Scriptures that I pray through on occasion for each of my children that remind me what God desires for them.

First of all, the Apostle Paul writes to the churches in Galatia and sets forth a graphic analogy that reflects how he views his role as a discipler and also his ultimate objective and hope for those whom he has invested his life. He says in 4:19, “my dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”

The Apostle John writes to his disciples in 3 John 6 that “I have no greater joy that to see my children walking in the truth.” This ought to serve as a bullet point for prayer for our children… that they might conduct their lives in the truth of the gospel… that nothing else would be more beautiful, engaging, and inspiring that “God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6).

Lastly, I pray for our children “to serve the purpose of God in their generation” just like King David did according to Acts 13:36. By the Lord’s empowering grace, may they find and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. Nothing else will satisfy and give life meaning and true joy.

May the Lord use this short post to stimulate your thinking about what you most desire for your children… whether they be your physical children or spiritual children in whom you are investing. Also, may these short Scriptures provide specific prayer requests for you to pray on your children’s behalf.

Dad: The Family Shepherd from Psalm 78

Psalm 78 offers a simple guideline for all of us moms and dads in nurturing in our children a love for the Lord.

I.  Model the truths of God’s Word (Believe and model the gospel.)

  1. An Old Testament Model for Contemporary Moms and Dads
  2. David shepherded and guided the people of God (Psalm 78:72) HOW?
  • According to the integrity of his heart. תֹּם
  • Webster’s tells us integrity means “an unimpaired condition.” It means to be sound. The Hebrew word for integrity, tom, also means to be complete or solid.So he shepherded them according to the integrity [tom] of his heart,
    And guided them with his skillful hands. (Psalm 78:72)

    “Integrity is completeness or soundness. You have integrity if you complete a job even when no one is looking. You have integrity if you keep your word even when no one checks up on you. You have integrity if you keep your promises. Integrity means the absence of duplicity and is the opposite of hypocrisy. If you are a person of integrity, you will do what you say. What you declare, you will do your best to be. Integrity also includes financial accountability, personal reliability, and private purity. A person with integrity does not manipulate others. He or she is not prone to arrogance or self-praise. Integrity even invites constructive and necessary criticism because it applauds accountability. It’s sound. It’s solid. It’s complete.” (Chuck Swindoll)

  • With wisdom (skillful hands).

II. Transfer the truths of God’s Word (Communicate the gospel – Psalm 78:1-8) What specifically are we to intentionally share with our kids?

The praises of the Lord (v.4).

His strength (v.4)

His wondrous works (v.4, 12-72)

  • God’s deliverance from bondage – the exodus (12-16).
  • God’s provision of refreshing water from the rock and bread from heaven – manna in the wilderness (17-29).
  • God’s leading and protection of His people (43-53).

His word (the Law) (v.5) – He is faithful to fulfill His covenant promise

Who has the primary responsibility to transfer these things? DADS

  • (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 — These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.)

And to whom are we to transfer them?

  • Our children (v.5)
  • The generation to come (v.6)
  • Children yet to be born (v.6)

 What is our purpose in doing this?

  1. That our children might be equipped to disciple their children (Arise and tell… (v.6).
  2. That they might develop the capacity to trust God (v.7). In what/whom are they to put their confidence? Question: By your lifestyle and choices, in what other things might your children put their confidence?  Education, money, material possessions, or appearance?

  3. That they might make worship of God their ultimate priority. The Israelites aroused God’s jealousy with their graven images (78:58).
  4. That they might not be like their forefathers (v.8).
  5. That they may not forget His works (v.7) What was the major problem with the people of Israel? And what’s our biggest problem?

Spiritual Amnesia:  They and we have a short memory (Deut.4:9).

What are some of the characteristics that we and our children are called to  avoid or set aside?

  •  Stubbornness and rebelliousness (v.8a)
  •  Lack of attention to heart issues (v.8b)
  •  Lack of faithfulness in keeping covenant with God (v.8c)

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing our children to faith?

This week Chris Ammen, our Children’s Ministries Director, ask me a number of questions. Here’s the first installment.

Women Who Impacted the World for Christ – Clara Elliot

Mary Ann Faulkner Thomson wrote the hymn, “O Zion Haste Thy Mission High Fulfilling” in 1871. One of her stanzas goes like this:

“Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious, Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way, Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious, And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.”

Clara Elliot trained and gave her son to bear the message of the gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador. As a young man at Wheaton College, Jim prayed:

“God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee.  Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine.  I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”

Jim Fishing in EcuadorJim Elliot was born in Portland, Oregon on October 8 1927. He was the third child of four. He had two older brothers, Herbert and Robert, and he had a younger sister named Jane. His father, Fred, was an evangelist. His father couldn’t finish school because he had to work. His mother, Clara, finished her studies and opened a chiropractic practice in their home to support the family. She devoted herself to the task of preparing her children for a lifetime of walking with God and ministering to others.

The fruit of her labors is seen in Jim Elliot’s note he wrote to his mother upon his departure to serve as a missionary in Ecuador:

“Remember how the Psalmist described children?  He said that they were as a heritage from the Lord, and that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them.  And what is a quiver full of but arrows?  And what are arrows for but to shoot?  So, with the strong arm of prayer, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly– all of them, straight at the Enemy’s hosts.”            — Jim Elliot, age 22, Shadow of the Almighty, p.132.