Summary: Jesus succeeded in his mission because he merged ahead with God’s will. He didn’t turn back or stop along the way to the cross.
Iliff & Saltillo UM Churches
April 13, 2003
“Merge Ahead--Don’t Stop Now”
INTRODUCTION: When the crowds came out shouting “Hosanna” and waving palm branches, they didn’t realize that prophecy was being fulfilled right before their eyes. Jesus came riding in on a donkey prophesied hundreds of years earlier by Zechariah. “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). The Psalmist wrote about the palm branches in Psalm 118:26, 27 when he said, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord...with boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar...”
The day was unfolding according to prophecy. The crowd thought Jesus was going to be their earthly king to help them out of their problems. They shouted, “Hosanna” which meant SAVE NOW and waved the Palm branches, a symbol of VICTORY. They shouted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel” (John 12:13). They didn’t understand what was really happening that day. The crowd was made up of people coming from many different perspectives. Some came out of curiosity to see the One who had raised Lazarus from the dead. Some came to cheer him on to set up an earthly kingdom. Some were Pharisees and religious leaders who wanted to suppress him. Some were there to criticize him. His disciples were following him out of love and loyalty wherever he went.
STORY: Three people were visiting and viewing the Grand Canyon--an artist, a pastor, and a cowboy. As they stood on the edge each one responded with a cry of exclamation. The artist said, “Ah, what a beautiful scene to paint!”
The minister said, “what a wonderful example of God’s handiwork.”
The cowboy exclaimed, “What a terrible place to lose a cow.”
The Matthew account tells us that no one really understood what was going on that day. They were all asking in one way or another “Who is this?” Some answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
On the surface it looked as if things were going great. Soon they would see him set up his kingdom and set them free from their troubles. But everyone had it all wrong. Even his closest disciples got it all wrong.
Verse 10 says that “at first his disciples did not understand all this.” In fact they never understood the total picture until after Jesus had risen from the dead and was glorified.
Today--Palm Sunday, 2003, we may be like the crowd in general or like the closest of Jesus disciples--not really understanding many things relating to Jesus’ mission.
Today’s road sign in our series is “Merge Ahead: Don’t Stop Now.” What does this say to us today?
1. Go God’s Way: Many times people will say, “I just don’t understand so many things about Christianity. I just can’t understand how salvation works. Don’t understand the Bible. I can’t understand why things are like they are in my life. Why don’t things work out for me when I pray? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Many people decide to make a U-turn and go back on the Lord. A lot of people in that crowd did. The disciples, however, didn’t do this in spite of a lack of understanding. They had wanted to follow Jesus totally.
ILLUSTRATION: They were like a sign that a hitchhiker carried that read, “Whither thou goest, I will go.”
They were continuing to go God’s way--to merge their way with God’s way. The disciples’ faith was imperfect in many ways as well as their understanding. Yet they did not go back on the Lord although their faith flickered and almost went out during the trying days ahead. At that time they didn’t understand the nature of the kingdom of God. They also thought it would appear in external pomp and power.
Jesus understood where they were coming from, and he knew that they would eventually come into a greater knowledge if they continued on. Jesus was focused on his mission, and he fulfilled his mission because he stayed spiritually connected to the Father and was directed by his desire to complete the mission.
He knew his identity and yet he served with humility as symbolized by the lowly donkey he rode into town on. He didn’t let the crowd sway him from continuing on toward the cross. His will had MERGED WITH THE WILL OF THE FATHER. The shouts and cheering of the people did not go to his head no matter how his disciples may have tried to influence him.
When we don’t understand we need to Merge Ahead: Don’t Stop Now. Understanding will come.
2. Jesus Saw the Total Picture: Jesus saw the REAL situation of the day. He saw the fickleness of the crowd.