Summary: Lessons from a parade for living a life that pleases God
For those who are new to our worship service, you can see our host church gives great thought to their worship environment. Their theme for the Easter Season is "God still moves stones." And He does.
Whatever obstacle in your life that is keeping your from becoming the person God intended or relating with other the way God intended, unless God has a purpose for them to stay in your life, God is more than able to move them out of the way. Not only that, God is also capable of moving obstacles that keep us from seeing Him, just as He moved the stone away from the tomb so that Jesus’ disciples could see the resurrected Christ.
The Palm leaves behind me remind us that today is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday commemorates the first day of the final week of Jesus’ life on earth almost two thousand years ago. Palm leaves were a sign of victory to the Jewish people between 140 BC and AD 70. Let me begin by reading a record of the first Palm Sunday, found in Matthew 21:1-11.
This historic parade into Jerusalem also has current relevance. Just as many life events teach us valuable lessons, this parade that surrounded the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem brings us valuable lessons for life. The context of this parade was the revealing of God’s plan for mankind to experience peace with God. So these lessons, when we apply them to our own lives, will help us to live a life pleasing to God. Let’s look together.
First, we learn from the disciples the lesson: When God guides, He supplies. We read this in verses 1-6.
If I were one of the disciples, I would have said to the other disciple, "Listen, I know what Jesus commanded, but what he’s asking us to do isn’t going to work. Let’s see if we can put our spare change together and go rent a mother donkey and a young donkey. We can bring them back to Jesus, and everyone will be happy."
But that’s not what they did. They did exactly what Jesus told them to do. And the owner of the donkey and the colt cooperated.
Anyone who has tried to be obedient to God’s command knows that God supplies us with what is needed to be obedient. When I obeyed God’s command to leave my work in biotechnology to serve as a campus minister for two years, God supplied the $60,000 of financial support and the prayer partners I needed.
The supply didn’t drop into my lap. I prayed for God’s guidance, wrote letters, made telephone calls, and shared my vision with many churches. I knew God would supply what I needed, but like the disciples, I needed to do a bit of legwork.
For the last two years, several people have said to me we needed to move out of the annex in order to grow as a church. I didn’t feel it was time, and I said, "God will make known the right time for us to move."
A few months back, we were told that the Valley Baptist Church Annex Building was going to be demolished in April. I took that as God’s command for us to move. Within a short time, Elder Bill told me about this church, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. I thought, "This is too easy." And that thought has made our facilities search harder than God intended.
When we obey God’s commands, whether from His Word or from His Spirit, He will supply the emotional, the physical, the financial and the relational resources we need. God will sometimes provide protection from harm as He did with Daniel in the lion’s den. Other times, God will provide courage and peace to die as He did with Stephen before the stoning mob.
On a daily bases, God commands us to live morally pure lives. If you obey, you will find that God provides the moral strength and the way out of temptation. Everyday God commands us to love our enemies. If you obey, you will find that God provides the power and the opportunities to love.
When you learn this lesson from the disciples, you will live the life that pleases God. You will look for possibilities rather than live in worry. You will reap success rather than regret missed opportunities. The disciples teach us the lesson that when God guides, He supplies.
Second, we learn from Jesus the lesson: God’s approval is more important than the crowds’ applause. We read this in verses 7-9.
The Jews laid their cloaks and cut branches on the ground, in honor of the one who might be their king. They wanted Jesus to deliver them from the Roman oppression and free them from Roman occupation of their land. They cheered and applauded Jesus.