Summary: Palm Sunday - Jesus embraced his purpose, remaining focused on the goal. So can we succeed if we remained focused on him!
17-year-old Vivian Ip of Inglewood Cliffs, New Jersey offers a heart cry that resonates in the lives of all too many youth. It is an indictment of her American search for purpose and meaning. There are pages of looking, searching, whys, and survival language. She cries in her loneliness and expresses unhappiness about being misunderstood. She comes to suggest that what she wants is “peace and quiet.” But later she says, “I want a cause…I want a leader…I want unity and respect….What I really yearn for is silence.”
At first glance it appears that Vivian doesn’t know what she wants. As we ponder her thoughts though we could see how maybe in saying what she wants, she realizes that “no, that’s not what I’m missing either.” Maybe she is looking to understand who she is, what she’s about, or she may want to know what her purpose is.
Vivian is like so many of us.
Do you know what you’re about? Can you summarize in a couple of sentences why you exist?
Jesus knew what his purpose was! He was so totally focused on his purpose that he was free all the time, whether debating with religious people or hanging on the cross. He was always free!
I want freedom like that! I know how to get it too! You can have freedom like Jesus as well! We get it by Embracing Our Purpose.
If we will embrace our purpose, know our potential, live a life that says we know what we’re about, there are three things we have to deal with, or three things we’ll have to admit.
1. I AM SCARED!
This verse is a powerful verse. At first glance we see the scared disciples and the frightened crowd that is following Jesus. What we don’t pay attention to is what is making them scared. Do you see what is making them scared? It’s Jesus. Jesus is walking ahead of them and whatever is going on with him, they don’t know. But there is something about him walking ahead of them, maybe somewhat agitated. It could be he was behaving strangely somehow but whatever it was, it made them scared.
It’s no fun following someone who scares you. Being afraid is not often a good thing. John Ortberg, pastor and author, writes about the Bible’s “fear not” statements. He credits another author, Lloyd Ogilvie as saying there are 366 in the Bible – one for every day of the year and even one for leap year! Then Ortberg offers this about fear. He questions why the Bible offers so many “fear not” charges. This is what he thinks. “Fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do. Fear is the number one reason why people refuse to get out of the boat. So we need this command all the time.”
“Jesus leading the way…” is profoundly important.
John Stott, an amazing theologian (great reading material) talks about the most impressive thing about Jesus telling his followers about what must happen to him. The most impressive thing he says “is the determination [Jesus] both expressed and exemplified. He must suffer and be rejected and die, he said. Everything written of him in Scripture must be fulfilled. So he set his face towards Jerusalem and went ahead of the twelve in the road.”
Was Jesus afraid? I would not answer “no” quickly. Whether or not he was afraid, I can’t be certain. But I know this. Whether his followers keep up with him on the road to Jerusalem or would turn around and go back, there is one thing he had no doubts about – God had called him to this and he would obey, even if he must do it alone. One source offers, “He knew that He was putting Himself into the remorseless hands of His enemies. But, having made His choice and pledged His loyalty to God, nothing…could ever daunt Him.” (Speaker’s Bible)
Do it alone he would, for the cross brought the bitterest agony of all pain when he experienced even the rejection of God. It brought the agony cry of the soul that searched the skies and asked, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34, NIV) Maybe the cry of his heart had as much to do with being afraid as he experienced being completely alone, as it spoke about his questioning heart, wondering how God could do that. Jesus had many lonely moments – the wilderness tempting of the devil, the garden experience as he got ready for the cross – but in those times of loneliness God was always with him. But now, even God turned his back on him because of sin. For the very first time in his life, Jesus felt the dark experience of being completely alone.