Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The King Rides a Donkey

In many large cities that have historical districts, you will often find bronze or stone statues depicting a great general astride a fiery stallion, flashing his saber as he leads an attack to rescue the people. Next to those statues are plaques describing the epic battle that was fought. The words describe the thousands upon thousands of soldiers with bayonets fixed to rifles behind him as they marched into battle. As you continue to read the stories associated with those heroes, you are filled with awe and a level of pride knowing that men were willing to do so much for those who cried out in despair.

Heroes, past, present and future, will always be celebrated and remembered in stories. Each one given honor and glory each time his or her story is shared with those interested in hearing it. But, there was one who was heralded as a king, but he didn’t ride into a city with a saber flashing as he yelled, “Charge!”

This king came into the city of Jerusalem not on a fiery steed, but, rather, on the back of a lowly donkey. A donkey is a beast of burden and only those of low station would ride one. He did not come to conquer those in the city. He came to love them and give them the gift of salvation given by God the Father. His hands were not clenched in anger. They were open in friendship and love. Those who witnessed his entrance into the city celebrating his coming like that of a hero. However, in less than a week, those same people would be demanding not the love that he brought but his blood.

The Hebrew prophet, Zechariah, wrote, in chapter nine of the book bearing his name, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.

Zechariah calls this new king who comes “righteous and victorious”. Another word that he uses to describe this king is “humble”. It almost seems like the words should be at odds with one another. On one side, you have the word, victorious, while on the other, you have the word, “humble”. They almost seem diametrically opposed to one another. But, when you think about Jesus’ life and what he came to do, those very same words compliment one another and fit perfectly. He came into this world to save us not condemn us. He came to die for our sins and was resurrected to give us victory over death. Because of his sacrifice for us, we receive the free gift of salvation directly from the hand of the Father. That is the victory that was humbly given to us.

When you read the account of Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem, you see the people greeting him and praising him and celebrating his coming. But, there were those who didn’t like what they were seeing or hearing. There were those who felt that Jesus threatened the establishment and wanted to overthrow the status quo.

In chapter twenty-one of the Gospel of Matthew, we read not only the account of Jesus’ celebrated entry into the city of Jerusalem but we also read about him clearing the temple of the money changers and those conducting business in the House of God.

Jesus says to those conducting business in the temple, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!

He is quoting the words of two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. He reminds them, and us as well, that when we come into the House of the Lord it is a place of prayer and not a den for thieves to conduct business.

When the status quo is threatened, things change very quickly. The same people who celebrated his entrance into the city were turned against him by those who were powerful members of the Sanhedrin.

It is so very interesting to think of this in our own lives. On one hand, we celebrate the coming of the Lord and on the other, we try to protect our old way of life. We say one thing and mean quite a different thing when it comes to what is in our heart.

Over the past couple of months, I have personally witnessed the dedication of EMTs, nurses, doctors, facility people, food service individuals and so many others. Each goes to work to help those in need and gives so much to each. I applaud them for all that they do.

While I witness this, I also see the other part of our society, the greedy individuals who hoard and sell items for a lot more than the standard cost. I see people stealing, cheating and robbing those who have very little. As I write about those individuals, I am truly sickened by the thoughts.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday, let us do it with a heart full of joy and the desire to live a life full of love and compassion for each other. Let us not change or go back to our old ways. Jesus came into this world to give us the gift of salvation and to save us from our sinful lives. When we accepted him as our Savior and Lord, we were reborn to walk in the newness of life. Act that way all the time. 

Later in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, in chapter twenty-three, criticizes the religious leaders by telling them, “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Celebrate Palm Sunday not only outwardly but also from the inside. Do not be accused of being a hypocrite by doing things you know are wrong. When you live a life that has been transformed, live it in love and service to all of God’s children. When you do all things that you, as a child of God, know are righteous, you can easily stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment