The way of the Cross
Throughout life, we all develop expectations. An expectation is something we look forward to happening. Expectations develop from a pattern that we have come use to. People either has did or said things in a way in which you have come accustomed to them doing it. Some expectations result from needs in our lives, like being loved, accepted, and feeling secure. When those expectations are not met in the ways we want them to be met by others or God, the emotional reaction is often anger. It’s easy to praise God, when he meets our expectations and when we understand what he is doing, isn’t it? But, what about when life isn’t going well and what we expected to happen do happen at all? You know God; I was really expecting to get that job? Or God, I was really expecting my parents to be around longer or God I was really expecting you to show up in this situation. Another expecting I hear is every year Browns fans have for their team but, lately every year has ended in disappointment. The truth is though that God always exceeds our expectations. He didn’t give us that job because he had a better one in store for us or even though, our parents have left us he has given us other family, the church, and His son who loves us more than we could ever imagine, or when we thought God wasn’t there for us, is when he was the most present. And as for the browns, well I still believe God is in the buisness of miracles.
This week, actually today marks in the liturgical church calendar year as the beginning of Holy Week, and it walks us through the journey of Christ to the Cross and His resurrection. Today is Palm Sunday which celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem which was basically a parade for Jesus. The people’s long awaited Messiah who would save them from their military threats had finally arrived and they waved palm branches and laid down their coats which were custom for the acknowledgment of a king. But, he didn’t come as the king they expected. He didn’t come with military might; he came as a suffering servant, yes even death on a cross which, in those days was the most shameful and humiliating ways to die. They were cheering and praising him because they thought he was going to defeat their enemies, shed their blood and set up a physical kingdom on earth but, they must have missed the part where he said “love your enemies” and “my kingdom is not of this world”. The way of the cross is upside down to how the world thinks. Too truly Worship Christ is to trust in his plan. There are three ways I see in this passage on Palm Sunday how God is worshiped and that is through the obedience of his word, the consecration of one’s life to service, and the proclamation of who God is.
We worship God by being obedient v. 1-6
A. Listening to His voice
God in the flesh spoke to his disciples and today He still speaks through the written word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Now sheep are known as pretty dumb animals and we are pretty dumb people compared to the Wisdom of God. Do we really know the Shepherd today? Do we recognize His voice when he speaks? There is nothing sweeter that hearing the voice of God. But we can’t hear him unless we know Him and we can’t know Him unless we know the Word he speaks and if we are going to be obedient to Him we must have ears to hear what He says! Jesus told them “Go get me that Donkey and Colt” and if anyone says anything tell them that “The LORD has need of them! Would we be so willing to follow if Jesus commanded us to do something?
B. Serving God no matter how big or small the task
Jesus gives two disciples the task of going and getting a donkey and a colt. This was a strange request of Jesus, and you have to think that this had the disciples scratching their head. “So you want us to go get a…what!? The prophet Zechariah prophesized this when he said “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Now just think about this. The donkey was one that was never ridden, so it hasn’t been broken yet and is use to having its own way and does what it wants to do. It’s a lot like us before our salvation experience but, the donkey like us yielded our life to Christ and allowed Him to use us for His purpose just like the donkey allowed the Messiah to ride him.
C. Jesus, the perfect example of obedience
We see Jesus as the perfect example of obedience as he rides into Jerusalem not on a white stallion but, on a Donkey, just as the Lord commanded him to do so through prophecy. it is notable that this is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus elevates himself above the crowd, but instead of doing so by mounting a war horse, he gets on a donkey and rides into town, indicating among other things that he comes in peace, not with sword in hand. Remember what Peter told Jesus about his impending death? He said Surely this isn’t the will of the father? Jesus responded by saying “Get behind me Satan!” The world will try to prevent us for doing the will of God but, We are to reflect the humility of Christ and put others above ourselves. He rode into Jerusalem knowing what awaited Him and knowing what He must suffer and endure. He knew that nails would be pierced through his hands and his feet. He know that he would be spit on and mocked, betrayed by his own friends, rejected in his hometown but, he also knew that he was the king of kings and Lords of Lords and that He would rise victorious, defeat death, and be seated at the right hand of the father in Glory!
We Worship God in preparation v. 7-8
1. The disciples prepared the donkey for Jesus
Now, ever here of that phrase if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. A lot of things take preparation such as cooking a meal, planning a wedding, and planning for a baby to arrive. I also think when we do it with a heart for God that preparation is worship. We see the disciples lay their coats on the donkey in preparation of the king who is going to ride it. We see all throughout scripture how people prepared things for God. We see it in Genesis with the preparation of Noah’s Ark we also see in the New Testament how Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume in preparation for His burial. We need to live purposeful lives and consecrate you for His service and we do this by offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, Holy and pleasing to God for this is true worship. We do this by coming to Church on Sundays instead of sleeping in and by giving our tithe to the church instead of what’s left over after paying bills and by serving the church in any way possible, this is true worship.
2. The people prepared the way for Jesus with garments and palm branches symbolizing Victory and the coming of a king.
We also see the people prepare the way for Jesus with laying garments on the road and waving palm branches. This symbolized the coming of a king dressed in royalty and splendor. These people have witnessed his miracles, seen demons casts out, healings of all sorts, and dead men rose to life. This was the Messiah, the one they have waited for so long. They wanted to be saved in an earthly sense from the harsh roman government, religious leaders, and they wanted their land restored to them. They did not recognize Jesus as who he was. A king who came not to setup a physical kingdom but a spiritual kingdom and yes victory would be won in the blood but, not the blood of their enemies but, the blood of their own King who would reign supreme by defeating the kingdom of darkness on the cross.
We Worship God by proclamation v. 9-11
1. The people proclaimed him with their lips
SHOUTING Hosanna which means save us now. This is another way we worship God by proclamation of our lips by giving him praise with the words we sing and the words we speak but, soon these SHOUTS of praises for Hosanna would be turned into SHOUTS of condemnation in CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM! The savior of the world didn’t live up to the expectations of the people. They wanted a different kind of savior but, for now they would cheer him because of the miracles, healings, and teachings. They would cheer him for what He did for them and not for what he can do in them and through them.
2. The prophet proclaimed Him with truth
The prophet Zechariah proclaimed him with truth. Declaring who He is. Today people don’t like hearing the truth. They would rather hear a watered down gospel that tells them how to live their best life instead of the way of the cross which tells them to believe, repents of your sins, and turn to Christ. But, in the prophecy passage, we are being told more than a means of transportation that the Messiah would be provided with but, he says in Zechariah 9:8- But I will defend my house against maurading forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch”. We see the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke His followers for their shouts of praise but, Jesus responded “If they keep quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers”. What does this mean? Stones are mere objects and they aren’t living. They can’t speak? This was a proverb that was speaking of the people in the city of Jerusalem and was twofold. The people would burst into cheers for the Messiah but, they would also burst into a riot for they just simply could not hold back the praises of their king! They had this fire deep down in their soul to proclaim Jesus. We should have that same burning to cry out for God when people are silent to proclaim to people the truth and love of Christ. To sing with joy for the way of the cross. But, worship is not mere lip service. It has to come from within the heart. We are told to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Brendon Manning said “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (Brennan Manning) We worship God through obedience by preparing our hearts to proclaim Him through our actions and words. This week I want to challenge you to worship Christ in new ways. Through listening and obeying his voice, through acts of service no matter how small or large they seem to be, through proclamation of who God really is to yourself and other people. Let him be the voice of truth that works in you and through you and know that when ever your expectations aren’t met that God simply has a better way.