Friday, October 31, 2014

The Triumphal Entry

Life of Christ 147

Indian Christian devotees carry palm leaves during a Palm Sunday service at Wesley Church in Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, on April 13, 2014.
          It is Sunday morning. Jesus will die the following Wednesday afternoon. But on this morning He does not come into Jerusalem as a suffering Saviour; He comes to present Himself to the nation with His claim to the throne. 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; Lowly, and riding upon an ass, And upon the foal of an ass.' (Zechariah 9.9).
          Ungodly men assert that Jesus simply staged this (Matthew 21.1-11) as a self-fulfilling prophecy. But you cannot stage the strange availability of two animals in a city packed to the gills, and you cannot stage the excited reaction of a crowd of millions. As word got around of Jesus' formal entrance into the city an impromptu parade route formed. Those closest to Him spread their coats on the ground in a form of honor. Others, tearing palm branches off of their huts, waved them. Shouts of 'Hosanna' and quotations from Psalm 118 rose in the air. There have been high points before but nothing like this. This is the nation at His feet.
          Or is it?
          No, it is not. This is not a national acceptance, and the proof of this fact would be seen in 72 hours. It was the fulfillment of a necessary prophecy, and if the crowd had remained silent the stones would have cried out. (Luke 19.37-40) Jesus Christ was going to be praised that morning one way or another.
          No, this is not a national acceptance. It is an enormous excited crowd. Crowds exponentially multiply the emotions that people are experiencing, whether panic or worship or excitement or hatred or anything else. 'All the city was moved' (Matthew 21.10) but there was no widespread repentance and belief.
          The Apostles made several tremendous mistakes on this day, but one of the worst was equating excitement with spirituality. They looked at the response around them and decided that the nation had come to believe in Jesus' claims at last. Yet that mistake is by no means limited to the Apostles of His day. It is made repeatedly, on a wide scale, by God's people in the twenty first century.
          Do not confuse excitement with spirituality, in a preacher, church, ministry, or movement. To be spiritual is to be scriptural. To be scriptural is to believe God's Word. To believe God's Word is to base your life upon it – not just your emotions temporarily. Exciting sermons, invitations, conferences, and ministries are not wrong because they are exciting, but they are not right because they are exciting either.
          Excitement is exceedingly temporary. Belief is permanent. The Word of God is permanent. The promises of God are permanent. Heaven is permanent. Salvation is permanent. Heavenly rewards are permanent. The salvation of the souls of men is permanent. Live by the permanent not by the temporary. Be impressed with the permanent not with the temporary. Prioritize the permanent not the temporary.
          The Apostles were emotionally caught up in a temporary mood of excitement. Meanwhile, Jesus rode above them and wept for He saw the truth. I look around at this old world and I see so many people caught up in excitement about temporary things. I want to keep my eyes focused on the permanent – the truth, the Word of God, the things of God, and Jesus Christ.

          Beloved, let us be impressed and moved, not by what is exciting, but by what is true and permanent.

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