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Sunday grace

These day I observe the Passover moon grow full and circular. This year’s Passover celebration begins tomorrow.

The Gospel writers, all four, pen their description of what we call The Triumphal Entry, Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey just days before their Passover began.  The event is weighty with significance.

Jesus on donkey

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  — Zechariah 9:9

The Jewish community would be picking out a lamb for their own Passover festivities, a lamb for a household, to set it aside from the flock and examine it for imperfections. For only a perfect lamb was suitable.

And on this day, a day triumphant, Jesus rode into the city as the Lamb of God chosen and marked for sacrifice. From the foundation of the world He is the One.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  — Matthew 21:9-11

This is Jesus, the Word made flesh, the One who showed us the Father’s love. He came with intention and for a purpose, to take up our pain and bear our suffering, to receive the punishment for our sins. And through His wounds we are healed.

Rejoice daughters and sons of God, your King has come and He has been victorious over death, hell, and the grave. He revealed the strong arm of our God who saves.

Shout Hosanna in the highest heaven. Blessed is He who has come in the name of the Lord!

Sunday grace.

palm-branches

 

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Sunday grace

Praises came from the children and from the people in the city.  They were there for the Passover Feast.

The time had come.  It was appointed before the foundation of the world.  Grace was planned and grace was coming, riding on a donkey.

The journey into Jerusalem would announce the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  But they would not comprehend.

They expected a takeover, a rebellion, a war.  Not a suffering Servant, a crucified Savior, a Son who would show the full extent of the Father’s love.

Jesus lived so He could die.  And this Sunday on the calendar began the free fall of events leading to the end.

But it was only the beginning.

When the darkness would turn to light.  When sins bondage would be broken.  When the children of men would be invited into the very presence of God.

This day they shouted Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

And their words were true.  Though their understanding clashed with the outcome, God’s promise was being fulfilled.

For He was their long expected Jesus.  The Messiah.  He is the One.

Sunday grace.

Jesus on donkey

Looking for a king

palm-branchesTomorrow is called Palm Sunday.  The Sunday before a crucifixion.  A Sunday with palms and praises and prospects.

There is so much to this simple story that would cause us to remember the day of palm waving.

As the Christian community gathers in their church houses and hear sermons about the one called Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey colt, some may wave palm branches, some may wave away their boredom, some may wave at their friends, and some may wave away thoughts of even getting out of bed.

But the implications to the Jewish nation at the time of Christ were huge. The details of the story are told in all four of the gospels because they were important to a nation looking for a messiah, someone to save them from the tyranny of Rome, the cruelty of soldiers, the hopelessness of living without freedom.

The were looking for a king.

Today, in our our world, in our nation, in our hearts we are still looking for a king.  Someone to make things better.  Someone to relieve our poverty.  Someone to raise our salaries.  Someone to give us what we want.  Someone to promise a future.

No matter our nationality, our affiliation, our political persuasion, we want someone to come and save us, someone who will rescue us and show us the way.

There was Someone on that Palm Sunday a couple thousand years ago.  He came bringing peace.  He offered love.  He was their hope.

But He didn’t fit the criteria of a king.  He was not the one they really wanted though He was the only One they desperately needed.

The One we are looking for is still Jesus.  He is the hope of all nations.  He is the answer for our country.  He is the rescuer of our families.  He. Is. The. One. We. Need.

Wave the palms branches.  Lift your voice in praise.  Shout hosanna because blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

The King has come to save us.

“Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is he, this King of glory?  The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory.”

palm-sunday

 

The journey to the cross – He is the One!

Day 34 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Read about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

(Matthew 21:1-13, Mark 11:1-19,  Luke 19:28-48, John 12:1-19)

Jesus on donkeyEntering Jerusalem by Harry Anderson (1906-1996)

The story is familiar.  I’ve heard it since I was a tot in Sunday school.  The flannel graph figure of Jesus sitting on a donkey moves along through the streets of Jerusalem while people wave palm branches and lay down their outer cloaks.  They are shouting “Hosanna” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” He accepts their praise, even welcomes it and says the rocks will cry out if the people are silenced.

It is His day.

All four Gospel writers narrow their lenses on the last days of Jesus’ earthly life.  They spend chapters talking about a week of activities.  There is consistency in their view of what occurred yet they each have their own slant, their own perspective.  It’s as if they want us to sit up and pay attention.  As if they shout “This is important!”

But why is it important, other than the fact that it fulfills yet another prophecy about Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah?.  Zechariah said the king would come riding on a donkey.  He would be righteous, victorious and humble.  Jesus was all of that and more.

There is something else.

Hundreds of years before, Moses had instructed the people to talk a lamb.  On the tenth day of the first month of a new year.  Set it apart.  Examine it for imperfections.  Keep it until the fourteenth day.  Then kill it.  It is the Passover lamb.

Jesus made His grand entrance into Jerusalem on the tenth day of the month.  He was about to make all things new.  He would give all those who believe a new beginning.  And so He was set apart.  Examined for imperfections.  Presented to the people on the 10th day as the sacrificial Lamb.  And on the fourteenth day of the month, just days later, He was killed.

God’s Passover Lamb.

He is the One we have been waiting for.  Give Him praise.  Shout Hosanna.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Preparing for Resurrection Sunday

Day 31 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggetion:

Get ready for Resurrection weekend by doing any or all of the following:

  • Put a palm branch on your front door on Palm Sunday and leave it there all week for a witness.
  • Watch The Passion of the Christ movie. 
  • Clean out a closet or a drawer in remembrance of Passover (leaven was to be removed from houses in preparation).
  • Make Resurrection Cookies with a child, yours or someone else’s. (Recipe will be posted tomorrow.)

Palm branches

A dear friend told me about her tradition of taking home a branch from the Palm Sunday decorations to place on her door during holy week.  I followed her lead.  To me the branch represents victory and triumph and hope for the future kingdom of peace.

The palm branch is beautiful and green when I press the tack into it to secure it to my front door.  By the end of the week it has become yellowed and dried, a bit symbolic of Jesus vital life being snuffed out in the prime of His life.

I hope this visual is a witness to my neighbors as they pass by and see something different at my house.  I’d like to think the outward sign reveals the heart of the home I share with Sweet William, the atmosphere that comes from the presence of Jesus, the Prince of peace.

The Passion movie

The Passion

The first time I saw The Passion, I cringed at what I saw on screen, the meanness, the beating, the cruelty of those who arrested, tried, and crucified Jesus.  It was more real than I had ever seen or could have imagined. My mind reels at what Jesus did for me.

I try to watch The Passion once a year during this season.  I can only bear to watch it once a year.

I see myself in the characters of the story, people like Judas, Peter, and Mary Magdalene. A betrayer.  A deny-er.  A sinner.  What I saw in Jesus’ eyes in this portrayal was love and longing and an offer of forgiveness.  I am convinced that is an accurate representation of His response.

How could he love me when I’ve failed Him so often?  Why does He long to be my friend and offer His sweet fellowship?  How can He forgive me again and again?  And again.

I don’t know the answers.  I only know He does.  He was passionate to do the Father’s will, to complete the plan, to die in my place.  He is the Savior I needed.  The Lover of my soul.  The High Priest who always intercedes for me.   He is Jesus.

Clean out something

Before Passover begins, Jewish families make a thorough cleansing of the house to remove all leavening agents, whether it is cookies or bread or baking powder. During the Passover meal and for seven days thereafter, nothing containing leaven is to be eaten.  This is the Feast of Unleavened Bread as told in Exodus 13.

Jesus warned His disciples about the leavening of the Pharisees, their pious self-righteous attitude that made them think they were better than others.  Jesus’ constant reminder was to serve, to think of others first, to stop trying to get the first place.  He lived out the principal for three year and washed feet at their last supper together, showing He meant what He said.

Cleaning out a drawer or a closet isn’t going to make me more humble.  But it can be a reminder that I need to consider what clutters my heart and my life.  I can gather hurt and unforgiveness, pride and selfishness very quickly.  If I don’t examine myself, those things can become corrupt in me.  The corrupting influence of leavening must be dealt with.  I need daily cleansing from the precious blood of the Lamb.

With any clean space, I want to be careful what I put in it.  I’ll take faith, courage, peace, love, joy and the gifts God offers.

Wash me, Lord, and I will be cleansed from my sin.  Fill me with Your presence.

Resurrection cookies

resurrection-cookiesCooking as a family can be fun, educational and even a little spiritual.  Making Resurrection Cookies together gives the adult an opportunity to tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection to a child with the best object lesson ever – something that can be eaten later.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe and more information. Think about a child with whom you can share this activity. It will be well worth the effort.

Palm Sunday

Day 35 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Rejoice this Palm Sunday.  Your King is coming.

Zechariah 9:9 – 10

Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!

    Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
    a good king who makes all things right,
    a humble king riding a donkey,
    a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
    no more war horses in Jerusalem,
    no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
    a peaceful rule worldwide,
    from the four winds to the seven seas.

                                            — The Message

palm-sunday

Something old, something new

Day 33 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read about Jesus’ last supper, the Passover, with his disciples: Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14:12-42, Luke 22:7-46 (Part 1)

Last Supper

Don’t you love getting something new?  A new dress or pair of shoes.  A new car.  A new house.

There is excitement about the latest shiny possession that now hangs in the closet or sits in the garage.  But eventually, it gets old along with everything else.  It looses its uniqueness and settles into the rest of our stuff.  And we go looking for something else brand new.  Something to satisfy the longing within us.

Jesus and His disciples assembled in a borrowed room to eat the yearly Passover meal together.  They had been acting out the ancient ritual all of their lives, this recounting of the Exodus experience over a table of lamb meat, bitter herbs and unleavened bread.  It was a celebratory festival, remembering the wonders of a God who delivered in the most astounding way.

But tonight there was a solemn atmosphere.   Jesus says He has longed for this time to share this meal with these men.  These disciples who had become His friends.  They had traveled together, discussed every topic under the sun, been privy to the secrets of the kingdom, had seen miracle after miracle, and were surrounded by the greatest love ever known to mankind.

In the midst of the celebration, weighty matters are brought to light.  One will betray.  One will deny.  All will forsake.

It must have sent a chill down their spines.  What is He talking about?  They love Him.  They have left all to follow Him.  They would die for Him, or so they say.  While they asked, “Is it I?”, I wonder if they looked at one another and thought, “It must be him” because Luke tells us they were still arguing over who is top dog among the twelve.

It’s the end of the supper.  Jesus takes one more bite of bread in His hand and lifts one more drink from the supper cup, gives thanks for it, and offers His friends something new.  A new arrangement, a new transaction, a new commitment.  It is His promise to them because obviously they were incapable of keeping promises and remaining faithful.  This new covenant did not depend on the disciples.  It was wholly sustained by the Word that became flesh.  And His Word was His bond.  And His bond was love.

“This is my body . .  . this is my blood . . . ”  He had nothing else on earth to give them.  He owned no earthly possession other than the clothes on His back.

But He gave them His very life, His flesh and His blood.  And it would make them new.  And this newness would last a lifetime.

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

If you’d like information about the Passover Celebration at Little Flock, visit here.