Summary: God’s anger is inflamed when humanity exploits itself but more especially in the name of religion. God will hold accountable, people who make worship a burdensome thing.
Michelle Sterling, Global Image Group:
"Within the first three seconds of a new encounter, people evaluate you… even if it is just a glance.
People appraise your visual and behavioral appearance from head to toe. They observe your demeanor, mannerisms, and body language and even assess your grooming and accessories – watch, handbag, briefcase. Within only three seconds, you make an indelible impression. You may intrigue some and disenchant others.
This first impression process occurs in every new situation. Within the first few seconds, people pass judgment on you – looking for common surface clues. Once the first impression is made, it is virtually irreversible."
Religion’s impressions on society are widespread and varied. Christianity is among those that leave first impressions. Young people/adults in our post-modern world embrace any and all religions that speak to where they are in life. Christianity as the only way is a foreign concept and certainly not an acceptable philosophy among youth. George Barna (survey guru) conducted a survey among teens regarding teen spirituality. This is what he found:
“Teens these days are highly ‘spiritual,’ but they are not very religious, nor are they naturally inclined to embrace Christianity as their faith of choice. They are, after all, the first generation of Americans (same can be said of Canadians) to be raised without the culturally established assumption that they would start their religious explorations with Christianity…the belief system maintained by most teenagers is a…customized religious smorgasbord…Christianity is of some importance though certainly not of central significance.”
Christianity turns heads which is not always a compliment because often people wonder if we’re from another planet - and so we are in one sense because we are no longer "aliens from the commonwealth of God"! (Ephesians 2:12, KJV) "This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through!" A word of caution is needful however. Failing to relate to people, meet them on their terms, or walk their turf creates a huge gulf between ‘them’ and ‘us’.
Not a new challenge – quite historical as seen in our key verse in Matthew 21:10---
Kids are asking this today. Society is asking this today. And I believe the same answers are coming back to people now as were given centuries ago. Sometimes followers of Jesus are not sure of the answer in some respects as Christians were not in Jesus’ day.
“Who is this?”
1. JESUS: A Nobody
Donkey-riding was a sign of kingship, one on a mission of peace, not war; it was a fulfillment of Prophecy (Zec. 9:9). Some shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” but five days later the same people shouted with the same passion “Crucify him!” They were only following the nostalgia of the moment rather than any conviction that was borne in their hearts. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey emotions were stirred and the heightened activity created a cacophony of sound, shouts and excitement.
In the midst of all the rush and rise of feelings, when the donkey-riding would have been clearly understood that the rider was declaring himself a king, some ventured to ask, “Who is this?” The people of Jesus day knew the name “Pilate”, they knew the name “Caesar”, and they knew who the “High Priest” was. But this donkey-riding Galilean was a stranger so that many asked, “Who is this?”
- Video clip “Who was Jesus?” (sermonspice.com)
- People walking past KCC don’t know who Jesus is; there are people in line at Tim’s or Starbucks who don’t know who Jesus is; the blank-faced clerk at the grocery check-out line may not know who Jesus is.
Some people of Jesus’ day had some idea of who he was. We see him presented as:
2. JESUS: A Prophet
To be a prophet is an honorable title, though being from Galilee his credibility was suspect. Case in point: John 1 – Jesus found Philip and called him to be His disciple. “44Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. 45Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." 46"Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?""
Jesus’ heritage created obstacles for him. Another example is Matthew 27, where Peter denied Jesus and on round three, before the knockout, when Peter was challenged about being with Jesus someone said to him (Contemporary English Version), “We know that you are one of them. We can tell it because you talk like someone from Galilee.” The Galilean. It was Galilean peasants, his own countrymen, who announced him. What credibility is there in that? He was merely a face in the crowd.
So here’s the picture. We have a Galilean, a person whose speech is noticeably different, a prophet from Galilee, taking the stance of a King by riding a donkey, a symbol of peace; a fanatic; a face in the crowd.