(Note: Pastor Ben’s sermon series runs all the way through Easter. We are on a 60 Day Journey with Jesus as he appeared in the letters of the New Testament. Through seeing Jesus in the letters of the New Testament we are learning how the way of Jesus was lived out in the early church which in turn will help us better live out the way of Jesus as his people today. This week’s Devotionals are borrowed from a Devotional set from the past. It should serve us well as we see how the way of Jesus as he made it known when he was here manifests itself in this week’s New Testament letters.)
As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:1-10
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
The serpent of old tempted Adam and Eve with the lure that they could “be like God.” This tempter was the fallen angel, Lucifer, who had attempted to make himself like the Most High. In these instances to “be like God” means to usurp Him, taking His role. How readily we want to take charge, be in control, call our own shots. Being creator-like is much more to our liking than to be creature-like. But creatures we are and there is only one Creator and to Him we must bow and yield allegiance. Our Creator became a man and dwelt among us, calling people to follow Him. He continues His call to mankind today and the question remains, “will we follow?”
The imagery of the garments and palm branches spread before Jesus to pave His entrance into Jerusalem is compelling. We picture a king being exalted and his subjects bowed before him willing to do whatever it takes to honor him in his entrance to the royal city. And Jesus’ followers were honoring Him and His entrance into Jerusalem. It portrays them as ones who are willing to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, even dirty for the one they have chosen to follow. What about us? Do the lives we live readily portray us in this way – ones who truly follow Jesus? True followers of Jesus take a lowly place before Him as ones who have forsaken being in charge in favor of honoring and serving their Master.
Willing to get down and dirty is only a start. The further imagery of Jesus riding and His followers walking is instructive as well. The desire to be acknowledged and honored runs deep. What starts as an act of humility can easily turn into an occasion for pride. “Hey, look at me, I’m one of the ones who got down and dirty so Jesus could enter Jerusalem with honor. It even cost me the coat off my back and a tree from my front lawn. Jesus must continue to be exalted as we acknowledge and honor Him in an ongoing way. The imagery of Him riding and us walking helps us to keep this in mind and to be content with being a forever “follower.”
A significant test of being a follower comes when it is time to accept and go where the one we are following wishes to lead us. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem did not immediately lead to His conquering and taking charge of the nation of Israel as its true and rightful king. Rather, it led to crucifixion on a barren hillside outside of Jerusalem. This was not the expectation of the followers who had just created a path of honor for the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem. Their cries of “Hosanna” were an appeal for the Messiah to manifest Himself immediately as the one who would deliver them from Roman occupation. As followers of Jesus today, we must cast our expectations on the very ground over which we will follow Him as He leads us into the fullness of His will along the path of His choosing.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I know you are working out your will in my life. What a privilege it is to be your follower and to be on the right path. Teach me more and more to want only what you want. Fill my heart and awareness with yourself. Free me from all expectations except that we will go forward together into the fullness of your will. You are my Lord and Master. I worship you with a heart of surrender and obedience. Amen!