The Week Before: A Palm Story (Message Recap)

Yesterday, Ted Beasley, spoke at Gateway Church. Here are some of the thoughts he shared:

“There was a moment, not much time before his final week, that Jesus pulled his closest followers together and asked them: ‘What are the crowds saying about me? Who do the say I am?'(Matthew 16).

Peter gets this one right. ‘You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.’

Jesus affirms Peter in essence saying: ‘Your faith is not the product of peer pressure or being born in the right place at the right time. Flesh and blood – the crowd didn’t tell you. God helped you figure that out as your own person, and your belief is real. And for that you are blessed.’

In an unguarded moment, have you ever wondered if your faith is your own, or if it is the by-product of where you were born, or the parents who raised you, or the current circle of friends, or even the person you are married to? Think back on your life. When were some moments when you decided to assume ownership for your relationship with God? When did you take ownership for your own spiritual progress? When did you say, I believe he is king, not because the crowd or flesh and blood told me. I am my own person in God.

Vignette #1: Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. Do you treasure Jesus?

This is the first difference between the crowd and really owning your faith for yourself. People in the crowd follow Jesus without passion. They offer very little to him of that which is most precious to them. When you come to Jesus as an individual apart from the crowd, you do so extravagantly. When was the last time you were so full of joy that you are his, or gratitude for some way he rescued, or just filled with such awe at his grace, and you responded to him extravagantly in a worthy way?

Vignette #2: The Disciples got out of their comfort zone and obeyed Jesus’ when he asked them to get a donkey for him.

Are you willing to get out of the Comfort Zone? Are you willing to do something today in which you will have to trust God? This is the second difference between those of us who are merely in the crowd, and those who have taken ownership over our own faith. Real followers of Christ respond to the leadings of God. Are you doing anything in your life in which you have to trust?

Vignette #3: The Pilgrims (What do you want him to save you from?) Jesus mounts the donkey at the top of the Mount of Olives, and he looks out over the vista. Jerusalem is his destination. Jesus chose to come riding into Jerusalem proclaiming himself to be the messiah on lamb selection day. The air among the pilgrims along the road is electric with excitement about the feast, but word starts spreading that the Rabbi Jesus is coming down the Mount of Olives from the East. This is the guy who taught with moral authority. The man who healed the masses and fed the hungry. He claimed to be the Son of God. And, have you heard, just up the hill he raised the man Lazarus from the dead a short time ago? The whispers passed through the crowds along the road in the Kidron Valley. Could he be the one we’ve waited for? Is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah? He’s coming this way. Let’s have a look at him. Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus comes not as everything you want him to be, but as everything you need. He comes not to fit into your agenda, but to give you a new way to live. He comes not as a cosmic candy machine. He is a king. He is a king of those who accept his rule, his way, of those who are willing to surrender their will.

What do you want him to save you from? Hangers-on draw near to God in the hopes that belief will equal blessing. That religion will be a nice, safe addition to their lives, that it will shield them from problems. And just as the shouts of the crowd went from Hosanna on Sunday to “Crucify him” on Friday, if your faith is not your own, you probably are tempted to abandon it as soon as it stops paying off.

Vignette #4: The Religious Leaders (Will you be silent?) Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ (Luke 19:39) As Jesus draws nearer to the city gates, the singing intensifies. The crowds are with him. But the religious leaders are on edge. Just a week before they had issued his death warrant. They were hoping to prevent this very thing, that somehow the tide of public opinion would turn in favor of this would-be messiah. The situation is about to boil over. The Roman soldiers are on heightened security because of the feast. They are poised to crack down on any rebellion. And he is a man who would claim to be king, riding into the east gate, with palm branches waving before him. Palm branches were the symbol of the nation of Israel. They were stamped on their coins. It was an emblem of national pride and independence. The Pharisees come up to Jesus and say, ‘You’ve got to calm your people down. The Romans are right up there in that citadel. Do you want them to think this is a revolution? Do you want them to crack down? Stop this singing.’

And Jesus says, ‘When people see me for who I am, they respond in adoration. And even if you shut them up, it doesn’t change that fact that all creation wants to worship its king’. We are created to recognize and worship Jesus as the king he is.

Ask yourself, am I just part of the religious crowd or have I made him my king?”

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