“Preparing To Receive Christ”
Recognizing Christ as Lord will avoid many heartaches.
Acknowledge Christ Publicly
Accept Christ’s Care
Announce Christ’s Presence
Acknowledge Christ Publicly
Luke 19:37-38, NKJV
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Jesus has started the descent from the Mount of Olives where the two disciples had delivered the colt to Him from the village nearby. There were the twelve disciples around Him, but also many other disciples who gathered with Jesus when He traveled close to the larger cities like Jerusalem. This was especially true when there were travelers around like there would have been flooding Jerusalem at the time of the Passover celebration (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:23-24).
The Mount of Olives sat at a higher elevation from Jerusalem and Jesus would be descending into the Kidron Valley before ascending again up into the city of Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover. It would have been a sight to see people coming out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus on His way. The whole multitude of disciples is referring to many more than the handful of disciples who dedicated their lives to traveling with Jesus and spending all their time with Him. It would certainly appear that the whole world had come out to see Jesus (John 12:19). In the other gospel accounts it is recorded that these disciples were joined by the people of the city who heard Jesus was approaching Jerusalem (John 12:17-18).
The raising of Lazarus only a few days before caused a great stir among the people. His twelve closest disciples knew the authorities among the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead. Their joy and rejoicing was tempered by wondering if Jesus was truly safe coming into town. The disciples who did not travel with Jesus were rejoicing over the raising of Lazarus and the understanding of all the other miracles Jesus had done over the past three years. They were positive that Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for all those centuries. They made sure they proclaimed it loudly for everyone to hear regardless of the consequences.
The people were shouting a portion from Psalm 118, verse twenty-six to be exact. “Blessed is the King...” reveals that the people shouting this verse understood it to be about the Messiah who would come and provide the freedom they were looking for from all those who oppressed them. The word king is not found in Psalms 118:26, but they inserted it hear without changing the meaning of the text at all. The people were using this portion of the psalm correctly because it was referring to Jesus. They were praising God and proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. This was dangerous since there was obvious tension between the Jews and Jesus because of the many challenges that were directed toward Jesus and His success in embarrassing the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians (Matthew 22:15-33).
The next part of the psalm says, “...who comes in the name of the Lord!” The word “comes” carries with it the idea of appearing or to bring something. The people are proclaiming that Jesus is the King but He was bringing with Him something for God to deliver to them who would receive. Most in the crowd simply joined in with what everyone else was shouting, but many among the disciples of Jesus knew partially He had brought to the world words of truth and life that could be found no other place (John 6:67-69). Jesus knew He came from the Father and was returning in a little while, but there was the pinnacle of His ministry that needed to be accomplished: dying for the sins of mankind and rising from the dead three days after His death.
The One who came in the name of the Lord was truly blessed because He was God in the flesh among His creation. The greatest blessing was missed while it took place in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Many saw this entrance into Jerusalem as a blessing. People were cheering and shouting His praises. They treated Jesus like the royalty He truly was, but this is how mankind sees blessing. It is not how God defines blessing.
God identifies those who are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted as those who are blessed. Those of this world do all they can to avoid having these things as part of their life. Those God calls blessed are the ones who recognize their sinfulness, their dependency upon Him, His presence with them, and His power to overcome all things. Receiving Christ is physically living in a way that identifies dependency upon the Spirit of God, the teaching of Christ through the written Word of God, and proclaiming the hope that is in the promises of God as facts in life.
Publicly acknowledging God is more than giving a witness through testimony, even though that is extremely important to be able to do with those who inquire and choose to listen. Many in the world are so preoccupied with themselves and their own needs they will never take the time to listen. The best witness for those consumed by the world’s cares is when God’s people invite them into their lives to join them in living. This means inviting them to share in life with your family. This is to share the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow together. As people see the hope in times of despair and the humility displayed in times of great joy, there will be questions and interest in why God’s people respond so differently than everyone else which opens up the door to share with them the reason for the hope that is evident in life (1 Peter 3:15).
The final part of what the people were shouting is the results of what they believed to be happening through the presence of Jesus as the Messiah, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” This is not part of Psalm 118:26. The people were proclaiming their understanding that Jesus was bringing the favor of God upon the people of God once again as in the times of prosperity in Israel.
It is easy to praise God in times when public opinion is favorable to Christianity. It is difficult when Christ and those who follow Him are of the oppressed minority in society. Public opinion and social climate must never have an affect on the proclamation of the presentation of the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ being shared to the world. The way in which the message is delivered will be certainly different in the areas where Christianity is oppressed, but the call to share can never be ignored. Jesus gave the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them all He has commanded His people in Matthew 28:19-20 He was giving to the disciples in a political and social climate that was quite hostile to Jesus. Those who follow Christ can proclaim Him publicly in spite of the response of the world because He is caring for those who turn to Him in faith.
Accept Christ’s Care
Luke 19:39-42, NKJV
And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
The words and body language of the Pharisees would have been proclaimed just as loudly as the praises of Christ were being lifted up by the people as Jesus made His way toward Jerusalem. They cried out to Jesus calling Him teacher. This was a respectful title they gave to Jesus which identified Him as having followers who would carry out His instruction. Telling the people to be quiet would have been ignored, but if Jesus were to tell them the crowd of people might just listen to Him.
They wanted Jesus to rebuke those who were claiming that He was the Messiah of God. Rebuke is a word that is rarely if ever used in America today. The whole meaning of the word itself has been lost. In American society today it would be seen as the Jews wanting to censor the people from speaking out loud what some believed to be true and others may have doubted but felt saying among others.
There will always be people in the world that would prefer that all talk about Jesus as God Incarnate and as the risen Lord would stop completely. The rebuke is sometimes political with laws regulating what public officials and those who are employees of the state or in public works can say and do. A teacher in public school is rebuked if they would speak of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation from the coming wrath of God since it rejects and disavows all other faiths that people hold. It does not matter to the state if the truth is censored by the law, only that a semblance of order and peace is present in the public arena.
Jesus has never rebuked His people from proclaiming the truth. He silenced demons for reasons that were His own, but never His people. It can only be speculated at why Jesus did not allow the demons to speak which He cast out of people. I simply trust that Christ had a reason for this and knew that it was best since He never makes a mistake. The people of God, however, are encouraged to worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Jesus refused to quiet the people or censor what they were saying to accommodate those who rejected Jesus as the Son of God come in the flesh.
Jesus proclaims something that is often overlooked due to His incredible statement that the “...stones would immediately cry out” if the people would become silent. Jesus was not referring to some abstract idea of creation as a whole would still proclaim Him as Lord as Apostle Paul refers to in Romans 1:19-20. Jesus is saying the stones in the surrounding area the people stood upon as well as the Temple itself would verbally and probably more loudly voice their praise and worship of Christ (Habakkuk 2:11). Imagine the things of creation which are known as inanimate object that are apparently void of life, as in unable to grow and transform without any outside influence upon them, crying out the praises of Jesus, the Son of the living God.
In the first world societies of the world where science and psychology form the opinion and behaviors of the population such a claim is ridiculous. Thinking that such things could or would actually take place is sheer fanciful imagination to most, but for those who truly believe the Bible is inspired and without mistake then such a claim is legitimate and trustworthy. The crying out of inanimate objects is believable because of the great care and purpose God invested in all of creation. The very earth is groaning in anticipation for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-22). When this takes place God will eradicate the creation itself of sin so it will no longer be subjected to the futility that sin has hindered it from behaving as the Lord first created it to perform.
The great care God has for mankind and the whole of creation is actually displayed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The atonement provide for humanity through the sacrifice of the Messiah upon the cross did more than redeem people. The ministry of reconciliation is the proclamation of God the Father reunited with people and the entirety of creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-19; Revelation 21:1-4). The people of God will be transformed in the coming of the Lord to gather His Church from the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). In the same way the earth and the heavens that are known now will be transformed into things that are without the taint of sin and scares of mankind’s rebellion against God. If this is the future for those who are in Christ and for the universe He has made to reflect His glory, it is completely reasonable to expect the Lord to care for and be with those who turn in faith to Him.
The heartache of what it was going to take to bring the peace mankind needed before the Father was hidden from their eyes at that time because Jesus’ death could not be hindered or prevented. The price of salvation from the wrath of God to people is totally free. The cost to God was higher than anything imaginable and more painful than can be fathomed. Jesus’ tears were for the people more than Himself. This is not to say that Jesus was somehow detached or protected from the abuse and painful death He was about to endure by the end of the week. Jesus knew many would never accept the free gift of forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice and would opt to suffer an eternity in Hell, separated from God because of the sin that remained in their lives because they did not receive forgiveness through faith in the Messiah of God who is Jesus of Nazareth, born of the virgin Mary, Emmanuel, God with us, full of grace and truth (Matthew 1:20-23; John 1:14).
The life, ministry, and suffering of Christ is an illustration for those who follow Him that everything which God allows to pass through their life is for the benefit of others and for the reflection of the glory of God through their lives. Even the difficulties and failures of Israel was used by God as lessons to learn from for all who would come to surrender authority of their lives to God in the future through faith in Christ (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). The experiences of our lives whether they are due to our sinfulness or the will of God for us to endure are all things that can be used by God as a way of revealing Himself to others when the child of God confesses their sins, repents of them, and is restored to proper fellowship with the Lord.
God cares for His people as well as for all of creation. The Lord is attempting to draw His people ever closer to Him by helping them understand their total dependence upon Him for all things, and to reveal Himself to a world dying without hope so they will find hope by receiving Christ in their hearts for the forgiveness of sins.
Announce Christ’s Presence
Luke 19:43-44, NKJV
For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
The consequences for ignoring or refusing to acknowledge the presence of God or His Spirit in life is devastation that goes far beyond the physical destruction of the Temple and the whole of Jerusalem Jesus speaks of here in these next verses. “For days will come upon you...” is more than an idle threat or warning made by Jesus. He was revealing to the people around Him of the assurance of the complete destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of the Roman Empire. The siege will consume the city and devour the inhabitants both young and old. This will take place to fulfill prophecy and because the Jews refusal to accept the Messiah they had waited so long to receive (Daniel 9:26).
There are consequences for all who deny the presence and identity of Jesus the Christ as the only begotten Son of God who was God in the flesh. This warning is for the Church as much as it is for those who refuse to submit to the authority of God through faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ penned by John who was the disciple of Jesus during His earthly ministry the risen, glorified Lord warns the believers in Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, and Laodicea of their lack of faithfulness in one or more areas of their walk with Him. He encourages the believers in Philadelphia and Smyrna to remain faithful in the trials they were going to face. There is a temptation to forget that these warnings are for those who are in Christ and seek to interpret them as addressing those who are of the world.
The Word of God is and always will be offensive in the world because it goes against everything the sinful nature strives after such as pride, greed, excess, and promotion and praise of self over all other things. Therefore, those who live to reflect the character of God through emulating the fruit of the Spirit in all they do and say will receive a sharp rebuke from those who refuse to accept or acknowledge Christ as Savior, Lord, and risen from the dead. There is no haven of sanctuary in this fallen world outside of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people.
It is easily forgotten that Jesus did nothing wrong. He was completely righteous before the Father in all things, did the will of God without failure, and followed the leading of God’s Spirit perfectly in all things. Yet, Jesus was rejected, cast out, mistreated, falsely accused and crucified according to the will of God. There is an expectation in many believers in America specifically that if one is obedient to the will of God in all things nothing bad will come into their lives. The reality is certainly different than this perception held by many people within the Church. This is revealed whenever disease, sudden physical disabilities, and death touches the lives of these misguided and mistaken people within the church pews.
God’s people are just as likely to if not more likely to have tragedy touch their lives according to the will of God. This is the model that has been given and often ignored when people look at the life of Christ and His ministry. Jesus revealed the Father through His humility instead of exerting His power. This is why the Apostle Paul along with all the biblical writers continually stress humility (Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3-8). God has been proclaiming His presence as seen in the confident humility by commanding it through the prophets (Deuteronomy 10:12; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:12).
The bold stance of the child of God is the quiet, confidence displayed in the kind helping hand given to the one who hates them. It is most apparent when the one who is suffering torture for simply confessing their faith in Jesus Christ prays for and asks that God would forgive them of the abuse they are inflicting on them. This humility that sets God’s people apart from the rest of the world is displayed when they would rather be wronged than take legal action against a fellow brother or sister in Christ in the civil courts (1 Corinthians 6:7-11). The quarreling and verbal disputes that become loud and end up berating one another is warned against when Paul was moved by the Spirit to instruct Titus by writing, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).
Jesus gives His followers some stern words of warning that if a person denies Him before people, He will deny them before the Father. Jesus also promises to acknowledge to the Father those who acknowledge Him before people in the world (Matthew 10:32-33). What does it mean to confess Christ before men? It is speaking the truth, living in a manner that displays the fruit of the Spirit, which only grows in the life of one who is in Christ. It is accepting gracefully, without complaint, all God allows to come into or out of the life of His child. There are many in western congregations that have lost the sense of what it means to announce the presence of Christ in their lives because they have limited this to share the Gospel message or the giving a testimony to someone. Announcing Christ’s presence is to reveal His character through the ethics and conduct a person practices in their lives in both good and bad times they experience.
The joy of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem for His final Passover celebration was exciting and filled with bittersweet emotions for Him. He was the One who the whole Passover celebration pointed to and the Jewish leaders who studied and proclaim themselves as experts in the law of God completely missed out was happening. Let it not be said of the body of Christ that they missed out on the presence of God moving in their lives through the events of the day.
This Palm Sunday let the people of God make it their goal each day from this day forward to drink deeply from the spring of living water that has sprung up within their souls by the indwelling of God’s Spirit so in all things Christ will be seen in them and through them.