On this Palm Sunday, we revisit the gospel story of Matthew 21 when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem:
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11
The name “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace,” and Jesus enters riding a donkey, a symbol of peace. One of Jesus’ names in the Bible is the Prince of Peace. God wants us to understand that Jesus gives peace!
In the beginning in Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God, and they tried unsuccessfully on their own to cover themselves up with leaves. So God goes to the wilderness for skins with which to cover them. An innocent animal died, and blood was shed to cover their nakedness.
We often attempt to cover our own sin also, but we can’t fix it. This is the work of God.
We often attempt to cover our own sin also, but we can’t fix it. This is the work of God. The provision of God for Adam and Eve is a foreshadowing of the shedding of Jesus’ blood for our sin.
Later in the book of Exodus, God is working to deliver His people from the slavery and oppression of Egypt. He brings a plague to kill all the firstborn in the land, but makes a provision to protect His people. They are instructed to kill a spotless lamb and place its blood on their houses so that they will be “passed over” when the Angel of Death passes by to bring death to all the firstborn in Egypt.
The Bible tells us that there were crowds of people who had come from all over to celebrate the Passover as the scene for Jesus’ death and resurrection. These crowds were excited because they had been hearing about the wonders of Jesus for three years - his amazing teaching, casting out of demons, healing the blind, and raising the dead - and now they are about to see Him in person. However, while on Sunday they celebrate His triumphant entry as a king, by Friday this same crowd is shouting out, “Crucify Him!”
What does it take for our voices to turn from praise and worship to denial? Today is a day for us to reflect on our own sinfulness and to realize how much we need God’s peace and forgiveness. More than ever, we need peace in our nation, in our lives, and in our hearts. Jesus comes to deliver that peace.
Pastor Marcus shared three points to illustrate why we need peace:
1. God’s peace is powerful.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
A while back, Marcus met a restaurant owner who shared with him a special phrase to tell his server any time he visited one of the man’s restaurants, and Marcus would receive a50% reduction in his bill. The first time Marcus tried this, he had eaten a large meal with his family and felt a little apprehensive when he told the waiter the special phrase. But sure enough, the waiter nodded his head and returned with the promised reduced bill. The special phrase had power because it came not from Marcus, but from the restaurant’s owner.
Similarly, the reason God’s peace is powerful is because of the source: God Almighty!
2. God’s peace is promised.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
God spoke to the young prophet Zechariah with these words over 500 years before Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem! And it is not surprising that the name “Zechariah” means “God remembers.”
“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19
God has not forgotten about you, either. He remembers His promises to you, and His peace is promised to you! Have you received it, only to forget about it in the midst of current turmoil? Remember and claim it again!
3. God’s peace is paid.
Our nation spends over $5 billion each year with men and women putting their lives on the line for our freedom and safety.
There are crazy things going on in the world right now, but we are comfortable, seeking God, expressing our faith in a peaceful nation. We only have that peace because someone has paid for it. But this is nothing compared to the price paid for our spiritual peace - the death of God Himself!
As a closing challenge, Pastor Marcus shared a story printed recently in a Bolivian newspaper concerning a man who had struggled with substance abuse and fallen into such financial ruin that he became homeless. He was living on the streets, wrestling with condemnation and despair. One day, he spotted some police officers who made eye contact with him and began to approach him. Afraid of what this encounter might bring for him, the man ran away and eluded the officers, so unfortunately, he didn’t get to hear the news they had been trying to share with him: that the authorities had been trying to locate him to notify him that he had just inherited $6 million. They still are not able to find him today, and thus this massive inheritance has no value in the man’s life because he has not claimed it.
God’s peace is promised, powerful, and paid for, but it is of no value in your life if you don’t claim it. Have you received this precious gift from God?
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