Summary: A perspective on Easter. When one is spiritually exhausted and even physically exhausted from wrestling with God in prayer, then there is only one way to go. That is, to surrender to the will of God and say, “Not my will, but your will be done”.
An Easter Sermon
Upon a white donkey, Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem. It was a practice for a ruler of a city to ride his white donkey. It allowed the lord to reveal himself in a particular way to the people of the city. The ability of any king to gently ride a young donkey through a boisterous crowd would reveal his loving nature and relationship not only to his donkey but also extended to all his servants. The donkey followed the Lord’s lead because of its trust in the Lord to get it safely to its destination.
A jubilant crowd of disciples surrounded Jesus as he made his way to Jerusalem. They shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The crowd that followed Jesus had great expectations of him and for good reason. They had seen the miracles that Jesus had performed, and they expected more of the same in Jerusalem. They believed in him as the Christ, the Messiah, the true king anointed by God himself. He was appointed as the King of kings, the Lord of lords over and above the civil rulers in Jerusalem that were appointed by a man, the Roman Emperor. Many believed that Jesus was coming to overthrow the Roman occupation and to restore Jerusalem to its former days of glory. Others expected a continued flow of unimagined miracles. Either way, those people that followed Jesus had great expectations of him to usher in a new era of life for the people of Israel.
We are very much like the crowd of disciples that followed Jesus into that great city. We too have great expectations of Jesus. I amongst others regularly preach that Jesus is a giver of life, and that he is with you, he cares for you, he can bring healing into your life, and that he will answer your prayer, and even perform miracles. Others too will confess of how Jesus had worked in their life and brought them healing according to their needs. It is no wonder that we also have great expectations of Jesus. Palm Sunday the beginning of Holy Week is a celebration of great expectations that we have in Jesus.
However, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus had on at least two occasions told his disciples the reason why he was going to Jerusalem. He was going there to die. It was a statement that was incomprehensible to the followers of Jesus. It was contrary to their great expectations of him. The talk of death seemed contrary to Jesus giving life. ““How can this be?” they thought. How can Jesus who performs miracles, who claims to be the Son of God talk such rubbish?” It was thereafter ignored, and the disciples continued with their great expectations of him.
In the following days after arriving in Jerusalem, nothing of any significance had happened according to the crowds great expectations. By then, Jesus was left alone praying in the garden of Gethsemane. It was evening, and Jesus was praying to his Father in heaven. The act of Jesus praying was in its self acknowledgement of the Father’s presence with him. He prayed intensely until his sweat was like droplets of blood falling to the ground. Jesus prayed to have his circumstances changed. His prayers were met with silence.
There are times in our own life where we kneel to wrestle in prayer calling upon God to change those tragic circumstances in life. Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane those prayers can be met with silence. We have all experienced the silence of God in prayer, and yet He is with us in prayer.
When Jesus could no longer pray, he surrendered to the will of his Father in heaven and said, “Not my will, but your will be done”. When one is spiritually exhausted and even physically exhausted from wrestling with God in prayer, then there is only one way to go. That is, to surrender to the will of God and say, “Not my will, but your will be done”. It means to hand over to God the decisions of life and death, and healing. The surrender of your will can give a sense of peace that comes from allowing God to take charge of matters beyond your control. It is letting go of self and putting your trust in God alone.
Jesus stood up from prayer and walked out from the garden of Gethsemane. He was soon arrested by those who were plotting against him. He was then interrogated, tortured, and finally crucified on the cross until he was dead. He hung on the cross while the crowd that had followed watched in silence. By the time Jesus was placed in his grave that once jubilant crowd that followed him into Jerusalem had vanished, and his disciples had returned to their former way of life.