HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, March 28, 2021
Palm Sunday – “The King is Here!”
Weekly Topic - “Accepting the King on His Terms”
Text – John 11-13
We are going to begin our discussion today with Jesus just having spent sometime with his good friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. During the evening before, he had enjoyed their hospitality as they treated him to a meal prepared specially for him as their guest of honour.
Read John 12:12-19
“The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,
“Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: 15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
17 Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. 18 That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
The scene is truly incredible. This was no well-calibrated event of a royal visit that might occur these days with crowds lining the roadway held back by barriers, respectful cheers for the passing monarch and innumerable flags being waved. I remember in 2005, when Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Regina for the province’s centennial. What stuck out most to me was Shannan’s disappointment. Her class had made the short walk to the parliament buildings and had joined the gathered crowd. It was a rainy day—everyone got wet just to catch a glimpse of the queen as she drove past (relatively quickly) and waved. Our daughter, who had her hopes built up a little for the adventure was seriously underwhelmed. At six years old, she probably would have enjoyed the experience more watching it on television from the comfort of our home.
But what happened in Jerusalem that day when Jesus rode in on a donkey was an entirely different affair. The crowds gathered, intermingling, even choking the roadway, cheering to a degree that it raised the attention of all those in Jerusalem and drew a rebuke from the Pharisees, stripping palm branches to wave or to lay in the road, laying coats on the ground for the donkey to walk over, close enough to not only see Jesus, but reach out and touch him. It is clear that the crowds had come out to meet the long-awaited Messiah; so why was it that in a week’s time, many of these same cheering people became a maddened jeering crowd intent, not on crowning a king, but crucifying a criminal?
The King had arrived…but he didn’t live up to their expectations. While many wanted to be rescued, the vast majority refused the terms of his Lordship.
What does it mean for us to have Jesus as “Lord?” Is he really in charge? The literal ‘boss’ of our lives? If so, I want to ask a question for all of us to contemplate…how many of us spent any time in the past 24 hours asking him for his next orders? Or like the vast majority of people who call themselves Christians are we more likely to determine our own plans and ask him to place his royal stamp of approval of them? Just a thought as we begin this morning….
At the beginning of John 11, previous to the dinner with Jesus as the guest of honour, we read how he miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead. And this was no case of mistaken diagnosis…everyone knew Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus called him out of the tomb. And word had begun to spread. This is where I want us to pick up the story this morning in our quest to understand the terms by which we need to accept Jesus as King.
THE PHARISEES REJECTED – John 11:45-50; 12:10-11
“Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. 46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. ‘What are we going to do?’ they asked each other. ‘This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.’
49 Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed’…
Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, 11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.”
What stands out to you about the Pharisees response?
They acknowledged Jesus’ miracles, but not the source. They could not bring themselves to the point of recognizing the works that he did as being from God, because Jesus did not fit their expectations of the Messiah. He had no pedigree, no riches. Where was the proof of his Davidic lineage, his army or even his warhorse? He was nothing more than a carpenter, from the backwater town of Nazareth who had an uncanny ability of bedazzling the uneducated masses. Sure, he did miracles. But rather than looking more deeply into their validity, these learned men of God wrote them off and then worked to erase the evidence. They decided that it was in the best interest of everyone to not only dispose of Jesus, but Lazarus as well. “He raised a man from the dead? What man? Prove it!” They had lost control and saw discreditation of Jesus and his miracles as a means of regaining it.
They were concerned, too, about what might happen if the authorities got wind of this new king. The murderous Herodian family and Caesar, ever bent on conquest, would not have tolerated the news of a new king in town. History had not been kind to the Jewish nation when it had chosen to revolt against its Gentile overlords. The Pharisees, who enjoyed a certain amount of privilege despite their conquered status, refused to incur the wrath of Rome. Their fear of what Rome might do was greater than their trust in God. They did not want to risk losing what they had and, so, wouldn’t it be better to see this miracle worker removed than allow the people to get stirred up to the point that Rome would choose to act? As Caiaphas prophesied, it would be far better that one man die for the people, than to see the nation forced to surrender yet again following a failed revolt.
On a much baser level, much of the Pharisees’ motivation stemmed from jealousy and selfishness. They resented Jesus’ popularity and the way he seemed to be able to perpetually make them look bad. His new teachings and appeal to the masses jeopardized their way of life…and they adamantly refused to relinquish their beliefs, position, prestige and livelihoods. The crowds would soon grow tired of this would-be Messiah, if they could just erase him from the picture.
SOME DESIRED RESCUE & REVENGE –
John 12:34 “34 The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”
The Israelite people had grown up under the teaching of the Pharisees that portrayed the coming Messiah as the rescuer from human oppression. He would be responsible for single handedly ushering in a new rule of eternal peace by conquering all the oppressors of the Jewish nation. What Jesus taught stood in stark contrast to the teachings of the religious leaders. Understandably they were left confused and needing to choose between different interpretations of the words of the prophets. They desperately wanted rescued from the Romans and to see some justice served; but Jesus taught something that would have sounded incredibly foreign. As a result, most rejected him just as readily as the Pharisees had.
And then there were Jesus’ own disciples who didn’t understand what it meant to follow him as King or the kind of kingdom he was ushering in…
John 13:4-10, 15-17 “So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’
7 Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.’
8 ‘No,’ Peter protested, ‘you will never ever wash my feet!’
Jesus replied, ‘Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.’
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, ‘Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!’
10 Jesus replied, ‘A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.’ 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, ‘Not all of you are clean’…
‘I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.’”
Those who believed Jesus was the Messiah, still struggled to understand his terms as their King. Jesus completely rejected their expectations when he assumed the position of a low household slave. While they had argued about which of them was greatest (Luke 22:24-27), Jesus told them he expected humility; while they jostled for positions of influence, Jesus encouraged them to take the role of a servant. No one who accepts Jesus as King on his terms, can do so with the expectation of gaining positions of superiority.
And then there was Judas…
John 12:4-6, 13:27-30 “But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 ‘That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.’ 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself…”; “When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.”
There is some thought that Judas’ betrayal was actually his attempt to force Jesus’ hand against the Romans. He may have reasoned, ‘Surely, if he was arrested, he would act?’ We don’t know much about Judas beyond his role of betrayer; but we do know that, even though he was one of the specially chosen twelve to accompany Jesus for three years of in-depth mentoring, Judas had some less than savoury habits. None of the disciples were perfect, but one of the things we know about Judas was that he was a thief. As the keeper of the group’s money bag, he had easy access to their shared resources and was known to help himself often. It certainly seems that he was always calculating, asking the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’
The Bible does tell us that after being used by Satan to betray Jesus to the religious leaders, “Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).
Had Judas thought to force Jesus into achieving what he had determined was the most needful outcome? When he discovers that Jesus has been condemned—there has been no dramatic turn of events, no heavenly blast of angelical horns, no righting of religious and Roman wrongs—he is immediately remorseful and tries to make amends, but it is too late.
I believe Judas learned, too late, that Jesus as our King, cannot be presumed upon or dictated to. I wonder, however, if some of us don’t play the part of Judas—not in our betrayal, but in our presumption. If Jesus is our King, he is to be in charge—ours is to follow and serve at his bidding…never the other way around. But in the 21st century Church I believe we have needed a wake-up call. How often do our prayers turn petulant and demanding as we remind God of his promises? Or does our obedience demand recognition? Or our service, reward? It ought not to! We need to learn from the example of those who believed and worshiped Jesus even prior to the events of Easter…
SOME BELIEVED & WORSHIPED – John 12:1-3,7-8; 12:42-43
“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance…
7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
“Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”
Mary, who had witnessed her brother raised from the dead, was already convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, her King, and no act of devotion bore too great a cost. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for all who had come to believe in Jesus. While some like Mary held back nothing in their service of their King, many believed in secret. They kept their faith private—they feared for their reputations with the Pharisees and their freedom to worship at the synagogue. Theirs was a faith limited in expression because of fear, ‘they loved human praise more than the praise of God.’
Their faith may have been imperfect, but they were on the right track. However, our faith, though potentially quiet at first, cannot remain there, hidden in the dark for fear of others. Jesus, as our King, has commanded us to go disciple, teach and baptize…the nations—all those without a knowledge of him.
I wonder, if we were to do a straw poll of those who profess a belief in Jesus (while in the presence of other Christians), how many of those polled could provide evidence for a faith and level of devotion like Mary’s and how many of us are much more inclined to keep our beliefs close to our chest when interacting with others who do not believe the same.
For many of us, Jesus’ words are a strong rebuke to this kind of secretive belief, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
MY STORY – Jesus must be King, not just Saviour…
My spiritual journey begins with that of my mother=s. At the age of 25, my mom, who had already been married for eight years and had four children, became discontented with her life. Up until that point, God had been a relatively unknown entity for her; she had attended Sunday school for a short time with her grandparents at a United Church as a child, but didn=t again step foot into a church except for the occasional wedding. My father had been raised in a Christian Reform church until the age of 14 at which point he completely turned his back and walked away from the church, God and the legalism he had come to view both as. For the four of us children, God was a complete unknown.
It=s with this background that my mother took herself and four children to church in hopes of finding the thing that appeared to be missing from her life, but which she had not yet identified. So, at the age of eight, I had my first introduction to church and within the year my mother and each of us children professed a relationship with Jesus. My father continued his resistance for a couple more years before also making a decision to follow Christ.
And so began my journey; unfortunately, my spiritual growth was lopsided. As a child I learned the Bible stories eagerly and excelled at memorizing passages of Scripture and Bible trivia. At the age of 12, I was baptized. I got involved in Christian serviceChelping out with the children=s midweek ministry, leading the youth group and volunteering many years as a camp counselor. Despite all this activity it took another 10 years before I recognized that Christ was not merely to be the Saviour of my life, He was to be my Master and, more astonishingly, Friend. I did not comprehend that God was far more concerned with my beingCwho I am and am becomingCthan with my actions. My busyness and knowledge of God prevented me from recognizing the immaturity of my heart and the stunted relationship I had with my Lord.
Complicating matters, my teenage years at home were tumultuous. I have learned in my life that authoritarian parenting and strong-willed children are often a recipe for conflict. Our experience of growing up together as a relatively young Christian family included many lessons learned by trial and error and sometimes we didn=t do very well in our relationships with one another.
By the age of 17, I was on my own, living in the big city, taking care of myself. My departure from home had been bittersweet. I was now free to live my life my way, but I was filled with anger, bitterness and a cynicism that hung over me like a black cloud. I still went to church every Sunday, got involved, continued to do all the Aright things@; but, one big thing was missing. Subconsciously I had determined that I was the only person I could trust, the only person who wouldn=t let me down; however, in the process of pushing people to a safe arm=s length away I did the same with God. I wasn’t prepared to give up on Jesus as Saviour, but I had no intention of making him King.
At the age of 19, God brought me to a place in my life where I was forced to choose between humbly submitting to Him and allowing God to take over the controls OR reject Him completely. Either way I had to quit playing the hypocriteCoutwardly faithful, while inwardly distrusting and distant. My life was quite literally turned upside down. My self-reliant little world crumbled before my very eyes through the events of a head-on car accident. While in hospital recovering, I demanded an answer from God. Why did He do this? What on earth was I supposed to do now? And God responded in His absolute grace by answering me, by allowing me to literally hear Him say, ABible College.@ In disbelief, I challenged Him to make it happen. It wasn=t that I didn=t want to go, but I didn=t see anyway it was going to happenY and so believing it impossible, dared God to get me to Bible College.
God used the next 6 months to rebuild my capacity to trust. He healed not only my broken bones, but also my broken spirit. He proved Himself faithful, even in the face of my doubt, that He could and would provide beyond anything I could ask or imagine. In the fall of that same year, I found myself enrolled for the next 4 years at Emmanuel Bible College. I have never looked back!
Much has happened in my life since that time, and there have still been times that I have needed reminders that, despite life’s circumstances, he loves me; but I have never again doubted his Lordship and continue to learn to trust him implicitly. In my faith journey, I continue to praise God for His faithfulness, His abundant grace, and the privilege I have of serving Him not only with my strength and mind, but now also with my heart. Proverbs 3:5+6 are key verses for my life: ATrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.@
There is no question, Jesus is King. The question is whether or not we will accept him on his terms
· Do we reject him like the Pharisees, even to the point of trying to get rid of evidence?
· Are we like the amazed, but unbelieving crowd, content not to question what we learned as a child or what we think we know?
· Are we like Peter, who professed that Jesus was the Messiah, but still didn’t recognize the kind of King that Jesus was—wholly God, all powerful, eternal…and servant? And still needed to learn how to follow his King’s example without questioning.
· Do we have the attitude of Judas, ‘What’s in it or me?’
· Are we fearful of others’ opinions and therefore negligent in our duties to share the good news about Jesus?
· Or have we been too comfortable with the idea of Jesus as ‘Saviour’ and haven’t moved deeper into our understanding of his Lordship over our lives to recognize him as ‘Master?’
· Or, like Mary, have we fully recognized his Lordship and count no cost too high in our worship of him?
· If Jesus is our King, we need to take our directions from him. We are obligated to give him Lordship over the whole of our earthly lives, so that we can enjoy eternity with him.
Many years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem, but many were unprepared for his arrival. The final question for us today, is whether or not we are ready for the King to return?
Friday, April 2, 2021 @7pm – “Good Friday Service” – Reflection & Communion
Sunday, April 4, 2021- “Easter – Unbelievably Good News!” - ONLINE Only
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!