Hosanna! Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the LORD!
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Rejoice! Selected Readings and Reflections for Palm Sunday

Rejoice Greatly

Rejoice!

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” -Zechariah 9:9

It was Palm Sunday. No one knew it was Palm Sunday. Only years later would it be called that, but years before, the day had been foreshadowed.

The King would come; the donkey would bear His weight; the daughters of Zion would rejoice.

And when He came, He would be just and lowly, but with Him, He would bring salvation. And that is exactly what happened so many years ago. Jesus climbed on the donkey and rode into Jerusalem welcomed by the Hosanna shouts of the people. They lined the path and spread the palm branches and he rode on.

Cheers accompanied His grand and humble entry accentuating the contrasts of his passion. Cheers would become jeers, and welcoming would give way to rejection. Coronation would take place on a cross of pain. His crown would be made of thorns. His scepter would be the rod that tore into his flesh. His throne would be Golgotha, the hill of death. The announcement of his reign would be nailed above his head on the cross by His executioner. Contrasts abounded.

Judgment would look a lot like forgiveness and forgiveness would be accomplished as God judged his own Son for the sins of the world.

It is Palm Sunday again and we cannot celebrate it in its fullest meaning without looking beyond it to the cross and beyond the cross to the resurrection. The great cause for rejoicing we have, as Zechariah predicted, is that on that beast rode the salvation of the world. He came willingly of His own accord to the place where he knew he would die a horrific death.

He came humbly to the city where he ought to have been acknowledged as King to be put on trial, convicted, and crucified.

It is Palm Sunday again and we understand these things. We have much to remember, much to grieve, and much to celebrate. The contrasts are still with us, but his humble mission has been accomplished.

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary … – Isaiah 50:4

As we celebrate the beginning of spring, we do so with hearts ready for a change. We have grown weary of winter and anxious for a change of seasons.

Spring is the season of hope and new life. It is a season of encouragement.

God’s Word reminds us often of the power of the tongue to build up or to destroy.

What a gift to be able to use the tongue of the learned, as a gift from God, to encourage and strengthen a weary brother!

He goes on to exclaim that God awakens him every morning with new instructions and wisdom.

You can have the tongue of the learned as well if you will listen to God, read His Word, keep an open heart and mind, and be willing to share a word of blessing with those who have grown tired of living.

The greatest privilege in the world is found in lifting someone else up and moving them forward on their road to spiritual success. There is no greater honor or joy than to be a part of someone else’s life story of God’s blessings through grace.

Often, all it takes is a word to bring springtime to someone’s winter of discontent. To give it, we must be willing and ready to receive it from God, to listen intently, and share generously.

The God We Worship

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1

Everything belongs to God. We have known this most of our lives as a theological truth. It is in the dimension of application that we are challenged to confront our ignorance on this subject. We have constructed exception clauses to make room for self-ownership and control over this and that. We want to think that some little ditty of a thing is ours and that we can have power over it. To this deception, the voice of God speaks clearly and forcefully, “No. It is mine. It always was and always will be.”

“For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.” - Psalm 24:2

For starters, it is all His because it was His idea from the drawing board to the factory. He thought of everything, planned everything, made everything, and retains sovereignty over – you guessed it – everything. He made the world and all that it contains and filled it with wonder and surprise. He is the owner, but that is not the whole story. He is a generous God who shares all that He has and is with us and invites us to discover the wonder of it all and celebrate creation with Him.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? ” - Psalm 24:3

When a soul discovers the wonders of God and His Sovereignty in creation and stands amazed at the glory of His Lord, there is but one response that rings true: worship. “I must worship this great God,” is the heart cry of the honest seeker,” I must know Him! I must come into His presence! I must some how get connected with the source and object of my being.” And things, brings for the question of the ages, “Who can come before Him? Can I?” You can, but you must come His way.

The People Who Worship

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” - Psalm 24:4

There is a lifestyle connection to worship. We cannot tolerate inconsistency in our lives that draws an arbitrary wall of separation between our relationship with God and those that we maintain with others. Nor can we divide our loyalties between false gods that give us temporary gratification and the only True God who has rightful claim to the world and all that is. Our hands are dirty and our hearts are divided. We are in dire need of the mercy and grace of God and His power to transform us into worshippers.

“He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. ” - Psalm 24:5

When one is qualified by God through grace to enter His presence, a blessing follows. In a moment of immediate transformation, we are fashioned into pure hearted worshippers with clean hands, and we enter a new era of our lives that makes all that came before moot. God’s vindication covers our record, and we simply stand before Him in awe. Our voices are lifted in worthy praise, and we are blessed.

“This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:6

There is something powerful that happens in our lives when we seek God. Jesus promised that all those who truly seek will find Him. This requires an open heart. Purity of heart and cleanliness of hands means that we bring no other motive or agenda, nothing in our hands or hearts, save the yearning to know God and worship Him in His fullness. Seek His face today as you begin and as you continue. In every face you encounter, seek His, in every circumstance, in every thought, word, and deed.

The Way We Worship

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” - Psalm 24:7

Expectancy calls for preparation. If our awareness of God’s glory is deep and our desire to worship, desperate, we will be anxious to lift up our heads to behold His face, to open the gates of our hearts for His anticipated entry. We will welcome Him wholeheartedly into the center of our lives and will exalt in His coming. The spirit of celebration and joy characterizes Old Testament worship, likewise, authentic Christian worship. The presence of God calls for singing and dancing. Lift up your heads!

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” - Psalm 24:8

“Who is this King of glory?” We tend to grow smug as we “mature” in the grace and knowledge of God. We hear the questions that we ought to be posing ourselves and point to the pages where we answered them in our notebooks years ago. We have gone shallow and are settling for yesterday’s encounter with God. If we think we really have a grasp on God, we are far, far away. Let us keep seeking and, as we seek, meet God in worship where the encounter is always new.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” - Psalm 24:9

It is a refrain, and we could simply overlook it and move to the next verse for commentary, but that would be an exercise in shallow worship. Something has changed in the last few days. We have a new way of singing this song, a fresh encounter with the Living God. We have deeper insights into what it means to lift our heads and open the gates. We have a more intimate relationship with the King of Glory having sought Him. We can never sing the same song twice the same way and call it worship.

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:10

Don’t assume that you know the answer just because you read a few sentences of devotional comment or thought the matter over. The Lord is Almighty – we shall never begin to fathom the riches of who He is or plumb the depths of His character and love. Glory annotates weight – a weight so heavy that is transcends gravity and displaces everything that comes across its path. He defies definition and demands reverence. When given the choice between shallowness and depth today, choose to go deep.

The Form of a Servant

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. - Philippians 2:5-7 -

To have the mind of Christ is to think like He thinks. And Jesus was and is always thinking “service.” Everything about His coming, from His humble birth to His lowly life to His sacrificial death was wrapped in humility much as He was wrapped in swaddling clothes,

What Jesus knew about His rights was that He was God – coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, deserving honor, reverence, and worship, and owing nothing to anyone. The angels worshipped Him; the shepherds bowed low; the Magi honored Him with gifts, and He humbled Himself.

He was not deluded and did not suffer from an inferiority complex. In His thinking, He knew that He would be perfectly justified in assuming His role on earth as God-come down.” But it was also His thinking that caused Him to empty Himself of His prerogatives and take on a different form and role as He walked among us – one of us – and not just one of us, but also the lowliest of us.

It takes a pretty healthy self-concept to lower oneself. You have to be very secure to be a servant. And Jesus was. And we can be too.

You are a child of the King. You have princely prerogatives. For instance, you have a standing invitation to enter the throne room of Heaven in prayer at any time of the day or night. Yet, if you take the mind of Christ, you will not assert those privileges as a way of lording over others, but as a reason for service.

He became as we are to lift us up to His level that He might bring us back with Him into the fields of service as servants of His to our fellow human beings. This is a reason to celebrate. This is a reason for Christmas. Have this mind in you this season and enjoy the wonder.

He Humbled Himself

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.-Philippians 2: 8

John could not help but notice that the “new” tie he opened from Aunt Myrna was not as “fashionable” as those he had been seeing on the racks at Sam’s Fine Men’s Clothiers this season.

We judge the term from a human perspective with other people as our standard for fashion. God’s ways are different. For God to be found in fashion of a man meant to be humbled. Rather than flamboyant, Jesus was simple in His style and mannerisms.

Whatever our outward pretense, “fashionable” for the sons and daughter of Adam means brokenness and sorrow, weakness, and temptation, pain and grief. It means the frailty of flesh and the inevitability of death. He took on that fashionable form knowing that it was not His ultimate reality or destiny.

For Jesus to be found in fashion as a man meant servanthood and obedience to the point of death. Death meant a cross and for that reason He came and to that end He set His compass.

What then does it mean for us since we are to have that mind in ourselves?

For one thing, it means shedding our pretense of “having it all together.” It means being vulnerable, transparent, and humble. That is hard for most people. We want to project and ideal image of ourselves and live in a state of denial about our humanity. It means service and obedience and it means confronting our own mortality.

We must face the reality of death in our lives and live with the understanding that we have a temporary lease on life in this world. With that in mind we must live with purpose as Jesus did and align ourselves with His cross. We do not have to do what He did; we cannot. But we must allow His cross to do its work in our lives and take up our crosses and follow Him.

What gifts did you receive for Christmas? Some were no doubt fashionable and some were out of fashion. As you watch the old year pass and enter into a new year, consider Him who was found in your fashion that He might, through His death, resurrection, and indwelling Spirit, fashion you into something new as you conform to His way of thinking. Commit to that and be truly fashionable.

Exalted

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. Philippians 2: 9 

“Wherefore” takes us backward and forward. It is causal and resultant. Because He humbled Himself, He is now exalted in a new way. Because of His inherent glory, He was able to humble Himself.

He is exalted and He has a name above every name. These two statements of faith rally us to loyal devotion and invoke a chorus of praise and adoration.

It’s not that He wasn’t already exalted and it is not that He didn’t already have a high name. Yet, somehow this invasion of time and space that we call the incarnation with all that it entails calls the sons of earth to worship at a new level. What we once acknowledged as theological truth, and affirmed as a philosophical construct, we now shout from the heart.

The humility and sacrifice of Jesus translate “the Name” into a present, approachable reality for human beings. Jesus gives God a human face and God gives His Son a name that we can pronounce, unlike when He told Moses His Name and it was thought to sacred to say out loud. God-fearers would come to that Name in the sacred text and substitute the word, “Lord,” in Hebrew. Now we gladly affirm that, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

It is above every name and He is exalted.

The mysteries of Trinity and Incarnation are beyond the capacity of the human mind to contain or explain. Our response is not to understand, but to worship. God lifts up Jesus Christ in our midst as the center of all Christian worship and draws us to Him by His Spirit. As we begin a new year, may it be a year of praise. Let us join the Father in exalting Him with our words and our deeds as we call upon His high and wonderful Name.

Let Us Bow

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2: 10- 11 

At the name of Jesus we bow – now or later. We will all confess Him as Lord – eventually. God will be exalted – before all is said and done.

The question is, “Will you do it now with wiling joy or later under the duress of inescapable truth?”

This is what God desires: that His exalted Son be worshipped by those He came to save. He wants every living creature to recognize His preeminence, and acknowledge His Lordship. He purposes to gather all things in Heaven and earth around Him for Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of all history and all creation.

There are three categories of “things” that will bow to Jesus Christ who humbled Himself obediently unto the death of the cross. There are those manifestations of God’s created power that dwell in heaven – spiritual beings that inhabit the presence of God for certain, and of course the material forces that constitute the universe, known and unknown.

The second is all that is in the earth. That includes us. You can stubbornly resist His claims upon your life for now. For a short season, you can avoid His grace, and ignore His authority and love, but not forever. To acknowledge Him as Lord today is a saving act of faith. To wait too long is disaster – but you will confess Him. Do it today; you are not promised breath tomorrow.

Finally, all that is under the earth will confess Him. This most likely means the realm of death. The book of Revelation says that death and hell will give up their dead and that all will stand before God. And that means that there is no escaping the truth. Even the grave cannot hide you. Let us bow down now and give Him the glory He deserves and enjoy His presence forever.

A Memorial

“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, [this] also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” - Mark 14:9

God wants us to remember some things. Some memorials are mandated in scripture, but the principle is always active. Lessons from life that are worthy of learning once are worth remembering and revisiting again and again. We remember because in remembering we grow in grace and in character.

This woman did what she could in remembering Jesus. For that, Jesus said she would be remembered. Hers was an act of simple devotion and profound love. We remember her because she reminds us to remember Him.

“Greater love hath no man …” Those who have laid down their lives on the battlefields of the world for friends and country need to be remembered for their sacrifice and because their sacrifice points to His.

We take courage from them as we take courage from Him. They challenge us as He challenges us. The values for which they died, freedom, justice, peace, are the values that we cherish to this very hour. If the call came, would we lay down our lives for them … from Him?

How great is our love? How great was theirs? How great is His?

Let us set aside some silence for remembering and reflecting. Let us remove us from the noise and madness of the world to a quiet place of gratitude. Let us renew our own commitments to the things that count. Let us ask our God what we can do today to love our neighbor more and preserve the freedom for which so many died.

Let us remember.

And let us Rejoice

 



Sections on Philippians are from The Confidence Factor.

 

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