Pastor Mike's thoughts

Thoughts on today's Christian world and how it fits into secular society.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I love palm trees!

This Spring has been very weird for us here in Southern California. Since we are technically a desert, we only get about 9 inches of rain a season (Between December to February). Well, this year it was extremely dry during the rainy time, and now we're getting a series of storms that are making up for the times that we had no rain. But along with the rain, comes cleansing.

When I wake up in the morning and look out my window, I'm treated to a God-given scene of beautiful palm trees, serene Koi ponds, and babbling streams. This morning was one of those "Oh Yeah" mornings because as I rolled over in my bed and looked out the window, the first things I heard and saw were the fresh new frawns on the palm trees and the babbling of our Koi pond and stream. Everything was so bright and new from the recent rains. As I looked upon God's beauty, it reminded me of how much He loves me, because today is the start of the Holiest week of the year. The week of Jesus' sacrifice for us.

The last week of Jesus' life was crammed with events as we follow Him from His entry into Jerusalem on Sunday until His death on Friday. In the days in between, He preached, taught, presided over the Passover supper, stood trial, and was sentenced to death. So this week, we're going to actually take a look at each day of Holy Week, and examine what Jesus did on each day leading up to the time of His death, and the impact it had on the world. So, let's start off this Holy Week with the first day, Palm Sunday.

Now at the end of today's devotional, I'm going to give a list of references where you can go in the Bible to read about Palm Sunday, but for today, we're going to focus on Matthew 21:1-11 for our study, so let's get started.

In verses 1-3, Jesus tell His disciples to, "go into the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with the colt tied by her. Untie them and bring them to me." Now there's many different thoughts on why Jesus chose a donkey to make His triumphant return to Jerusalem on, but in verses 4 and 5, the Bible clearly tells us that it, "took place to fulfill prophecy." The prophecy that Jesus based this on came from the prophet Zechariah, who told God's people years earlier to, "Rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)" You see, the Bible is full of promises and hope, and God will never go back on those promises to the people who follow and obey Him. Jesus knew that Zachariah had told the people of his day that there would be hope of salvation coming in the future, and that He would be coming on a donkey's colt. He knew that the people would have hope when He entered Jerusalem because they would see prophecy fulfilled before their eyes. That's what Jesus is. He's hope and prophecy fulfilled. His acts were based on giving the world hope and salvation. Please take the time to read the book of Isaiah, and match the prophecies in this incredible Book to the events of the New Testament, and you'll see hope and promises fulfilled. That's what our sweet sweet Jesus is, HOPE AND FULFILLMENT. Do you see Him this way?

Now in the second part of this passage, Matthew 6:6-8, we see another turn of events that shows us how Jesus was first accepted, and later in the week, rejected, just like He is today. In verses 6-8, we see that people were doing everything they could for Him. They were giving their all, "They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from trees and spread them on the road. (Matthew 7-8)" Now we see where the term Palm Sunday comes from. The palm tree was held in very high regard because it was such an intrical part of life. Palms provided shade, food, building material, and every bit of the tree was invaluable. So, to use it for a donkey to walk on was an incredible act of reverence. But the people knew that this was no ordinary event, they knew it was an act of prophecy being fulfilled right before their eyes, so they took joy in throwing down the palms and their cloaks for what they knew was the man who came to save them. What are we willing to do to show our reverence for the one who comes to save us?

The final verses of todays passage, verses 9-11, show us the hope the people of Jerusalem held in Jesus. We see where, "The crowds that went ahead of Him, and those that followed shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, who is this? The crowds answered, this is Jesus the prophet." There are a two significant events here that we need to be mindful of in order to grasp the reverence that these people held for Jesus. The fact that they used the word Hosanna when shouting to Jesus shows that they seriously considered Him their savior. The word Hosanna means save us, and comes from Psalm 118:26, "Blessed is He who come in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord, we bless you." They knew that Jesus was the Savior, and treated Him with the reverence He was due. Too many times today, people expect Jesus to serve them, but it really needs to be the other way around. We need to remember that Hosanna is a plea for Jesus to save us, not for us to save Jesus. He's the lifeguard, not the victim. We need to remember and respect the realationship between us and God.
Now the second part of this verse that needs to be paid attention to is the part that mentions the city was "stirred." You see, at this time, the city was under the rule of the Romans and without hope that they would ever be freed again. But now, after all this time of foreign occupation, came prophecy fulfilled, and the hope of freedom that came along with it. Can you imagine how happy and relieved that the people must have been? They had been oppressed by the Romans for so long that they'd probably given up hope given by the prophets of so long ago, and now they saw their hope coming through the gates of Jerusalem on a colt. Just as God had promised! We still have the promise of eternal glory today, so don't forget that our future is being shaped by our actions now.

We live in a world today that is oppressed by sin. The world has lost it's zeal for Jesus because it's not paying attention to the Word of God, or the prophecy in it. We need to regain that joy of knowing that one day Jesus will return and take us home to spend all eternity in His Kingdom. A Kingdom of no fear, no worry, no problems, just joy, happiness, and praise. Remember that the theme of Palm Sunday is based on the promise of God sending His Son to die on the cross so we could be forgiven of our sins and have a second chance to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jesus knew what faced Him as He entered those gates of Jerusalem. He knew it was going to be painful and humiliating, but He loved us enough to do it. He had the choice to die for us, or to choose self-preservation. He chose us. Have we chosen Him? He doesn't ask us to make the sacrifices for him that He made for us. Ours is nothing in comparison. Make this Palm Sunday special by remebering why Jesus came into Jerusalem on a colt. You may not have palm trees where you live, but you have your heart. Give Jesus the love He's due. Give Him your all.

Be blessed today, and remember what Hosanna really means.

Remembering the Palm trees today,
Pastor Mike

Verses to read for Palm Sunday

Luke 19:28-46
Matthew 21:1-17
Mark 11:1-11
John 12:12-50 and 2:13-15


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