Sunday, April 29, 2012

BREAKING FREE.. PART I (What has gone wrong?)

Eph 4: 11-12, Amos 7:7
Out of frustration parents and grownups may at times tell children “grow up, don’t act so immature” What do they mean by that? They probably mean “when will you take responsibility for your actions and behave like a matured person”?  But the irony is that many of us so called grownups act like a bunch of immature children. What does it mean to be immature? It means not mature, ripe, developed, perfected, emotionally undeveloped or childish.

If you ask marriage counselors what are some of the most challenging things they deal with in helping couples who are having marital problems?  They would say it is “Emotional Immaturity” Counselors may not say this in so many words but they too wish couples would grow up and begin to take responsibility for their own share of problems.  Do only non Christians struggle with emotional immaturity or even Christians do? Unfortunately we find immaturity among many church going Christians.

If I were to ask you what is God’s best for you what would you say?  The following scripture explains what is God’s best for us. John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full.”

Paul showed what the goal of every Christian should be in Eph 4:11-12, “It was he who gave some to be apostles some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” If becoming mature and having abundant life is God’s best for us then why don’t we see that in our lives and in the body of Christ? Instead we see brokenness in people’s lives. We see people struggle with a whole range of negative emotions from depression and insecurity to hostility and rage.  

What could be the reason?  Why are we not experiencing His fullness, what is hindering us from becoming truly matured? For the next five weeks I will be sharing a series called, “Breaking Free: (Moving towards Wholeness)”We will be looking into: What has gone wrong? Something’s Out of Line, The Walls of my heart, Breaking Down Walls, Rebuilding the   Foundations. Some of the things I will be sharing come from a subject which I used to teach in YWAM called, “The Divine Plumbline,” by Bruce Thompson.

Since this is pretty heavy duty stuff which may stir up certain reactions which cannot be adequately dealt with during Sunday service. Therefore the next five Friday nights during this series I invite you to join our group discussion on this material. These evening we will meet in a small grip[ where you can open up and ask questions, give comments, receive ministry through prayer. Let me assure you that to the degree you are open to God and to one another to that degree you will experience freedom, become mature and enjoy the fullness of God. In order to break free we have to be clear on what’s gone wrong?  Where did we miss the mark?

The question suggests that at one point things were better but they are no longer the same in fact they are getting worse by the day. Over the years there have been numerous discussions and debates on the subject of the earth we live came into existence. There have been two theories one is “Evolution which believes that “Life on Earth has evolved over 3.7 billion years, and the other is Creationism which believes that humanitylife, the Earth, are the creation of a supernatural being.”

There have been arguments and counter arguments on both sides and they will continue.  According to my personal study of scriptures I come to realize that I am a creationist who believes that everything we see and don’t see has been created by God. Therefore I want to take you back in time where every thing began and let you look at the origin of man, the fall of man and the affects of Sin.

The Genesis story begins with these words, “In the beginning God created.” After creating the world in five days on the sixth day God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the live stock over al the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen 1:26-28

This passage highlights three essential truths. First, God has set mankind uniquely apart from the rest of the creation by making them in his image and likeness. James 3:9, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.” Let this truth sink in; that all men are made in the image of God. That affirms the dignity of all mankind regardless of their color, race or ethnicity. Second, both men and women are made in the image of God hence no one is superior both are equal in the sight of God. Third, mankind was given a responsibility to be fruitful, multiply and take care of the earth.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? It means according to one commentator, “we are to be his representatives (imaging God) in carrying out his purposes in the ordering of our lives and the carrying out of our God-given responsibilities.”[1] What is our responsibility? To be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. We have done pretty good at that with the world’s population being at 7 billions, but we are doing a lousy job in taking care of the earth.

The earth has plenty of resources for every one, we are to explore them and not exploit them, and we are to manage them well by being good stewards of God given resources. Everything God made was good and untarnished in the beginning then how come we don’t see that goodness in the world today? The man who once enjoyed perfect harmony, peace and a loving relationship with God has lost that relationship, how did that happen? What went wrong? That brings us to the second point the fall of man.

After creating man God took him and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”(Gen 2:15-16) Adam must have communicated this command to his companion Eve.  One day Eve came to the middle of the garden and saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan showed up in the form of a serpent and said to the woman, “Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden? By saying that, he planted a seed of doubt in the mind of the woman. Even today his strategy is to sow seeds of doubt in our minds.

The serpent did not have to force the woman to take the forbidden fruit all he needed to was to make her doubt what God has said. Once the woman saw it, and spent some time in contemplating what the fruit could do, she took some at it and gave to her husband who was with her. That was the beginning of a major disaster, the harmonious relationship of man was broken. The first couple fell out of God’s grace.  With that fall not only man lost his peace but the world lost its peace. As a result of the fall what came into the world? Shame, guilt, fear, anger, jealousy, hatred, violence, murder and a number of other destructive vices we can label all of them into one word, SIN.

Adam and Eve disobeyed the single commandment given by God through their disobedience. The scriptures tell us, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”(Romans 5:12) How is Adam’s Sin affecting us today?


How we understand sin determines how we feel about sin. If we merely see it as weakness, mistake or an offense we may not feel remorse about sinning but if we see at as a willful or deliberate transgression or violation of divine law then we feel more remorseful. Each one views sin differently depending on their background. What is sin for someone may not be necessarily sin for someone else. When we define sin we give labels such as, drunkenness, sexual immorality, smoking, drugs, unfaithfulness, gluttony, etc but are they really sin or symptoms of a much bigger problem?

How does Bible describe sin? The word used for sin in Greek means, “missing the mark” or falling short of God’s standard or expectation. Moses after giving the Ten Commandments and other sundry laws to the Israelites tells them, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” Numbers 32:23. The clear definition of sin is breaking the commandments of God. In I John 3:4, “Every one who sins breaks the law; in fact sin is lawlessness.”

Do you see lawlessness in the world, people taking law into their own hands? That is the reason why in some places some one can kill an innocent person but under a certain man made law gets away without being punished. Let’s not be overwhelmed by the increased lawlessness in recent years. It has been predicted by Jesus, in Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness is increased most people love will grow cold.”

Sin is disobedience to God’s expressed commands.  The Bible says “every one who sins is a slave to sin” John 8:34 in other words they live in bondage to sin. The affects of sin are far reaching we will look into that as we go further in our study but for now it is enough to know that they are deadly and destructive. Sin destroys individuals, families, churches, societies and nations, in the end separates us eternally from God in hell. The sad news is that all of us have disobeyed God’s commands and if we do nothing, we will die in our sins. The wages of sin is death!  (Romans 6:23)  We will die physically and then there will be a judgment where we will answer to God. But the good news is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save us from the punishment of sin, free us from the power of sin and to give us eternal life.  Amen

[1] Erickson’s comments on P.527 Ethics and Social Issues class notes

Monday, April 23, 2012

RUN TO WIN:Christian Life: A Spiritual Marathon(I Cor 9:24-27)

Around here Patriots Day is famously known for “The Boston Marathon” in which runners from all over the world participate. I watched with keen interest as the gun shot went off for the 116th Boston Marathon. Upmost in every ones mind was the question “Who will get the grand prize worth of $150,000 this year”? In the midst of soaring temperatures, a total of 27,000 were registered, out of which 22,426 runners started the race of 26.2 miles. A record number of 4,574 opted out of the race even before it began.

More than 21,000 people completed the race. However out of these crowds two Kenyans, Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop emerged as the winners. The most spectacular win to watch was the win of Joshua Cassidy of Canada who broke the world record in a wheel chair. He was born with neuroblastoma a rare cancer commonly found in the spine and abdomen.[1]

As I pondered on this heated contest, I asked myself certain questions. What were the reasons for those who quit the race before it even started? What helped Joshua become a victor against all odds? What motivated many who complete the race even though they knew that they were not going to win? What made Kenyans the winners?

I see a lot of similarities between the regular Marathon and the race that Christians are called to run. The Marathon is not a team sport. Each individual has to run the race for themselves, no one else can do it for them. Winning and loosing totally depends on the individual runner. Similarly, each Christian has to run his own race. What can we learn from a veteran runner the apostle Paul about the race in I Cor 9:24-27? Three things: The preparation for the race, the road blocks and how to run the race to win.

I.                   PREPARATION FOR THE RACE:

At the time of Paul’s writing, sports were an integral part of religious ceremonies. Paul was alluding to the Isthmian Games in his letter to the Corinthians. They were held during a festival in honor of Poseidon, the Greek god of the earthquakes and water, also known as the god of the sea.[2] The festival consisted of foot races, horse and chariot races, jumping, wrestling, boxing and throwing the discus and javelin. The prizes in these games were perishable wreathes. To the Greeks these were events of patriotic pride, a passion rather than a pass time.

Paul uses the analogy of a race to explain to the Corinthians that Christian life is some what like running a race. He reminds them by saying, “Don’t you know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Paul challenged the believers not to run for the sake of running but in such a way that they will get the prize.

Many could run a Marathon but what does it take to win the prize? Do you think those who ran the Boston Marathon got up that day and said ‘Oh I am going to run the Marathon today’? No! They must have been thinking about it and preparing for it way before the race began.  
Health experts say, “Training for a marathon takes intense preparation, dedication, and skill. It is imperative not to allow race-time decisions to counteract the hard work and planning of the last several months to a year.”[3] If that’s what goes into preparing for a Marathon what kind of preparation goes on as Christians get ready to run the Christian race? In the passage Paul shares how he prepared himself for his race.

In vs 26, we read, “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.” What does this say about Paul?  This shows that Paul was not simply running aimlessly, he had an aim; he had a goal, a focus and a purpose.

What was his aim? Well for one it was to win the prize, but what kind of prize? Was it gold, or millions of dollars? In Phil 3:8, Paul states what his real goal in life was, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ...”

Knowing Christ Jesus was the chief goal of Paul. He never let that go out of his sight. In order to reach that goal just like the athletes he disciplined himself. He says, “I beat my body and make it my slave.” It is expressed clearly in the Amplified version of NIV, “But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it.” (I Cor 9:27)  

If knowing Christ was Paul’s chief aim what is yours in life? How are you preparing yourself to reach it? Paul went into strict discipline so that he would not be disqualified for the prize. What does that discipline look like for us today? It includes daily reading and meditating on God’s word, worship, prayer and fasting. It means saying no to the flesh and saying yes to the Spirit. It means to walk humbly before the Lord and with one another.

When I first gave my life to the Lord my only aim was to please the Lord by the way I lived. As a young Christian I developed the daily spiritual disciplines of reading the bible, praying, fasting, sharing my faith etc. Nothing else mattered then; all that mattered was me and my Lord. Of late I realize that my passions and my loyalties are easily divided. Oh how I long for the olden days. If we are not careful we run into the road blocks in our race.


A Marathon training center describes common road blocks for the runners such as, “lack of time, excess weight, hills, and injuries.”[4] If the runners are not careful to follow instructions even a simple thing like “a clothing tag” can throw someone of the race.

Are there road blocks in the Spiritual Marathon? How can we identify them? Paul encourages Hebrew believers to run a “light race” by throwing off everything that hinders. Sin hinders us from running the Christian race effectively.(Hebrews 12:1) In the life of a Christian some times road blocks come in the form of opposition from people and hardships. How can we overcome these road blocks? Paul exhorted the believers to, “Consider him (Jesus) who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and loose heart. (Heb 12:3)
When we look at what Christ had to endure from sinful men what you and might be going through will become negligible. In fact scriptures tell us to “Endure hardship as discipline; For God is treating us as his Children.”(Heb 12:7) Think of that for a moment! Do I have to endure hardships as a child of God? As an exercise motto says “No gain without Pain.”

Some times we have a faulty view of Christianity. We think following Christ means always having a mountain top experience, always getting our way or being on the top. It is not necessarily so. God wants to train his children. In Hebrews chapter 12 Paul quite frankly talks about how that training doesn’t seem pleasant but painful to us at the time. He also reminds us that if we allow God to train us we will be changed people.

The test of a true child of God is how we handle hardships. Do we endure them as Christ endured the cross? Or do we resent and become bitter towards God, ourselves, church and every one else? It is helpful to know the road blocks and certainly imperative that we prepare well for the race but that doesn’t necessarily make us win the race at the most it will help us to cross the finishing line. But how can we run in such away we can win the prize?

In the Boston Marathon thousands of runners participated and many of them completed the race but only two Kenyans won the prize. What made the Kenyans win twenty Marathons in the last 22 years? Is it their wiry legs, or their lean bodies? Well that may be one factor but as the study tells us, “They win because of the way they perceive distance, have a sense of possibility and the willingness to endure extreme challenges.”[5]

Trailing the leaders by 200 yards when the Boston Marathon slogged through Heartbreak Hill, Wesley Korir passed them one by one until he took the lead. I like what the ABC news reported, “Singing religious songs as he trudged along the scorching pavement, the native Kenyan — a permanent resident of the United States — retook the lead in the final mile to cross.”[6] Isn’t it amazing the ABC News noticed the faith of Korir. In an interview in 2011 this is what Korir had to say, “Running is not my destiny," he says. "Running is just a stepping stone of what God's prepared for me. God has put something so amazing for me out there. This running, it's not Wesley--it's not the end of me. God has put in my heart helping the poor of Kenya."[7]

What can we learn from this? The secret of winning the race for Korir is not so much his preparation, practice or his physical stamina but I believe it is his focus on God. Similarly, what can help us win our Spiritual marathon? It is our focus on Christ. Paul encourages the Hebrew believers with these words. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” (Heb 12:2)

Only by keeping Jesus as our reference point and through persistence and endurance can we win our Christian race. Our race is not a short sprint (100 meters) dash. It is a long drawn-out Marathon. Where are you today in regards to your race?
Are you one of those who quit the race even before you began? Or are you like the Galatians believers who started of well but were thrown off course and stopped running? (Gal 5:7) Do you feel like giving up totally because it is getting too hard and difficult? Cheer up! Don give up! Don’t looser heart, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who completed their race and won their prize. Now it is our turn.

If you persevere in your race like the apostle Paul did in the end of your life you too can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

In the earthly Marathon there is only one perhaps two winners get the prize but the good news is that in the Spiritual Marathon all of us can win the grand prize provided we run by the rules, therefore let’s run in such way we will win the prize. Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WHAT IF...? JOHN 20:19-29

Part of the challenge in raising young children is being there for them and patiently answering hundreds of questions throughout the day especially “What If” questions, such as “Hey Dad, what if I jumped out of the car while it was moving? What would happen?” “Hey Mom, what if I stuck my tongue in the socket?” What would happen if never went back to school? “What if I only eat Ice cream and drank root beer for meals?” However silly and stupid these questions may sound we make room for them. How about “What if” questions in the Church such as, what if God did not exist? We say Hey, don’t ask that question here. We’ve not always handled our outside inquisitors, our faith-teetering skeptics and our wearied doubters with gracious elegance and honest engagement.

First Easter Sunday was full of inquisitors and skeptics. Jesus’ very own disciples were faced with, What if moment in their lives. The may have had questions in their minds, “What if Jesus remained in the ground after three days? They were so consumed with their own doubts they couldn’t believe any report and what they saw with their own eyes even when Jesus appeared to them face to face. It must have been disheartening for Jesus to see the height of skepticism and unbelief among his own disciples.

How did Christ handle their doubts? Was he angry, did he rebuke them for their lack of faith like other times? How did Jesus respond to one particular disciple who had a ‘so what’ attitude? What was the reaction of the disciples when finally the truth dawned on them? To find out answers to some of these questions let’s look at John 20:19-29. Read.

This passage can be divided into three parts. Firstly, the disciple’s what if moment (Vs19-20) Secondly, Jesus’ offer of peace when we are in doubt (21-23) Thirdly, Thomas’s what now moment (24-27).


It was Sunday the first day of the week. It has been three days since Jesus was crucified and buried. As the disciples waited for the most anticipated resurrection of Christ what must have gone through in their minds? Doubts! Doubts! Of all sorts! What if Christ would never come out of the tomb as he had promised that he would rise again after three days? What if all what we believed is simply a lie? What if the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus’ now come after our lives? To add to their anxiety and doubts, Mary Magdalene of whom seven demons were driven out claimed that she had seen the LORD. Could they trust her words? Moreover her words seemed to them like nonsense. Doubts! All over again! In their minds they became prisoners to their doubts hence were paralyzed by their fears. They locked themselves up in a room for fear of retaliation from the Jews.

Don’t we all wrestle with these what if moments from time to time in our lives? Not only Children but adults also ask “What If” questions such as, “What if I married the wrong person? What if I never went back to that horrible job? What if I never became a parent to these children? What if I hit the lottery? And so on. What if the decision I have made is going to back fire? What if my business partner cheats me? What if I receive a bad report from my doctor? What if I get bad grades and fail in my exams? What if I am not accepted in college?

Personally in our immigration journey we have had many ‘what if’ moments. Doubts and fear paralyzes us from taking any action. The good news is that Christ would not leave us to our fears; he comes to us in our doubts. In our text we read that “while all the doors were closed Christ came and stood among them.” What did Jesus have to say to the disciples in their “What If moments?”


How do we deal with people who come to us with questions and doubts about God and life in general? Unfortunately we often act more like Job’s friends than Jesus. We lecture them about faith and trusting God. Instead of praying we may be critical this further makes them doubt God’s nature and his character. How would Jesus deal with those who have little faith?

Several scripture passages tell us that Christ was and always is compassionate towards those who doubt and are frightened and offers peace to them. Remember when the disciples were caught in a storm they were absolutely frightened for their lives. All of a sudden Jesus appeared walking on the water. When they saw him they were doubtful whether it was the Lord or not in fact they thought he was a ghost. Did Jesus rebuke them for their fears and lack of faith? No! He said, “Take courage! It is I don’t be afraid.”(Matt 14:27)

On another occasion the disciples were distraught and fearful upon hearing Jesus’ plan of leaving them and going to heaven. Jesus said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.( John 14:1,27)

Paul reminded his audience in the Church of Rome that Jesus was and is indeed the prince of peace. He encouraged them to take courage in the midst of trails and hardships because the God of peace will soon Crush Satan underneath their feet.” (Romans 16:20)What were the first words of Jesus after his resurrection? They are “Do not be afraid”, “Peace be with you” In our text we hear the same assuring words to his troubled and frightened disciples Peace be with you.

The disciples were over joyed when they heard those comforting words except one disciple named Thomas? What was his experience like? Where was he when Christ appeared to them?


It is interesting to note that when Christ appeared to the disciples the scripture tells us simply he was not with them? Where was he? We could only assume where he might have been. Was he so distraught that he needed to be alone? Was he bitter and hardened his heart because all what he learned of Jesus seemed a lie? Or was he angry that they killed his LORD that he was out there hatching a plan of revenge? We don’t know. Excitedly, the ten reported to Thomas that they had seen the LORD.” When he heard that did he say great and shared their joy? No he felt skepticism and doubt all over him so he said, Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Thomas was kind of a guy who is not merely convinced by simply hearing someone else’s report he needed tangible evidence. He needed the facts. Thomas represents many skeptics of today who don’t easily believe that God exists and that Jesus is the savior of the world. They look for visible signs, for them seeing is believing. These skeptics also exist in our homes and in our churches. They will have hard time to believe that God is at work in their lives. They question saying; I only believe in God if appears to me the way he appeared to Moses in the burning bush, or to Paul on the Road of Damascus? God has no problem to show himself the way you are asking him to do provided that your are willing to become blind for three days and spend the next forty years in the wilderness.

It is interesting to read that Jesus let Thomas remain for a week with his doubts. Why did Jesus take one week before he answered Thomas’s doubts? That tells me that some times God lets us wander in our doubts but nevertheless sooner than later he comes to turn our ‘what if’ moments to ‘what now’ moments. Some times he may only delay in coming to us quickly so that we may become strong in our desperation of exploration of Him.

Jesus never turns away any one whose heart is sincere in knowing him. He doesn’t push, ignore, punish, patronize or marginalize the doubter instead he comes to them in ways in which they will come to know him. We read in Vs 26; Jesus returned a week later; again the disciples were in the house; the doors were closed; but this time Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them and spoke the same words, “Peace be with You.”

This time Jesus went one step further, he engaged the doubting disciple with tangible evidence. Jesus knew exactly what proofs Thomas was looking for, so he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” This is Thomas’s ‘what now’ moment, a clear encounter with the Lord himself. When Thomas was presented with a “What now” moment how did he respond to that sudden revelation? All he could say to Jesus was “my lord and my God”.

Jesus gave Thomas the help he needed even when he was in a “what-if?” mode. Even though Thomas was wondering “What if Jesus is still in the tomb?” Jesus still was willing to meet him in the place where faith and doubt intersected. Today many in our churches and homes stand in the legacy of Thomas. But as was the case with Thomas, when the risen Lord comes and stands before you today what would be your response? Would you embrace Jesus and worship him with these words, “My Lord and My God? Amen

Sunday, April 1, 2012

DONKEY ONE (LUKE 19:28-40)

One of the most familiar pictures on American TV screens is that of the president of the United States walking across the South Lawn of the White House to board Marine One, his white-topped VH-3D helicopter, for the quick trip out to Andrews Air Force to board the Air Force One, the flying White House. You get an idea of what the Air Force One contains in the 1997 Harrison Ford movie. It all looks impressive. President George H.W. Bush had a treadmill installed on the plane so he could keep up his workout routine. On board Air Force One, the president and his entourage travel with all possible security precautions in place.

Let’s say the president is coming to Boston for a speech. Even before the president takes off, Secret Service agents and local law enforcement at each destination have already been hard at work for days or, sometimes, weeks or months, interviewing and screening people who will be close to the president. When Air Force One rolls to a stop on the tarmac at the local airport or airbase, after the president gets into one of the armored limousines, the motorcade moves quickly on a designated route accompanied by Secret Service and local law-enforcement vehicles and helicopters.[1]

If it takes all that for the president of the United States just to go make a speech, what did it look like for the King of Kings, God’s chosen ruler of the whole world, to make his grand entrance at the beginning of the most important week the world has ever known? Was it a logistical nightmare? What was the reason for his coming into town? What was the mode of His transportation? What were the preparations like? What was the crowd like? Luke gives a detailed account of Jesus’ Road trip to Jerusalem, and the travel arrangements in an environment that was anything but secure. First, let’s look at the reason for Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem.


Presidents usually go where they were invited to make a speech or attend a meeting. Jesus received no invitation to come to Jerusalem. He showed up unannounced and quite unexpectedly. But Jesus knew all along that he would need to make that trip. In Luke 18:31-34 Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

Jesus explained to his close disciples about the nature of his death and resurrection as it was written by the prophets yet his own disciples did not understand the plan. Even today God communicates His truth through the Bible and the sermons you hear on Sunday or from other sources yet just like the disciples we lack understanding. On this Palm Sunday and during the Holy week; let’s ask God for understanding and clarity of his message. Why did Jesus come to the earth? The primary reason for his trip from heaven to earth was to seek and save a lost sinner, that is you and I, and restore us back to the father.

The reason why he made his trip to Jerusalem was to be mocked, insulted, spat upon, flogged and crucified, as a fulfillment of what the prophets had prophesied for centuries. What was the mode of his transportation? Was it the Air Force One? No! It was “Donkey One”


Jesus couldn’t have picked any other moment to make this spectacular entry. The city of Jerusalem was bustling with crowds because of the Passover feast. It was celebration all over. He sent out two disciples to a near by village with clear instructions to bring him a donkey.

The disciples went and found a donkey exactly as Jesus described. As they were untying the donkey the owner asked why are you untying the donkey and the disciples said, “The Lord has need of it” that’s it; no more questions were asked, the disciples brought the donkey to Jesus. What can we learn from this incident? Four things: First; the Lord needs some thing or some one to accomplish his purpose. Secondly; as Christ needed a donkey to communicate a message concerning his kingdom to the people of Jerusalem today he needs you and me to communicate the gospel message to the people of our city. Thirdly; God doesn’t necessarily use the impressive or celebrities to accomplish his purpose but often uses the humble. Fourthly; when God needs some body, those who have a so called claim on them need to let go off them.

Coming back to our text in the midst of jubilation Jesus made his entry on a donkey. Imagine, the King of the universe! Came riding on a donkey? What a sight that must have been? It must have shocked some but given hope to many. Why did Jesus choose “Donkey One” as his mode of transportation? The scholars have noted three significant reasons for the usage of the donkey:

A) The donkey was a traditional mount for kings, rulers and prophets in the ancient Near East; Jesus was therefore making an implicit claim to be the king of his people.

B) In the Old Testament horses were associated with war and human pride, the donkey may have presented the image of peaceful humility. By riding on a donkey Jesus was making a statement regarding the nature of his kingship and kingdom. In fact he was ushering in another kind of Kingdom where Love and Peace reigns.

C) The image of a King on a donkey approaching Jerusalem was consistently understood to signify the arrival of the messianic King and his Kingdom.

A young donkey the mode of Jesus’ transportation was perhaps even more symbolic for the crowds gathered than Air Force One is to us. By riding into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, Jesus reminded the crowds of a 500 year old prophecy by the Prophet Zechariah. We read in Zech 9:9, “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph (victory) O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold your king is coming to you, your king He is Just and endowed with salvation, Humble and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In a way Zechariah was prophesying about the future messiah, King Jesus. Instead of a display of power and might with armed security and fighter escorts, this King comes in humble and riding on a donkey. Jesus’ unassuming arrival without any pomp and military power must have sent mixed reactions in the crowd. While the Pharisees, scribes and teachers were offended and disgruntled by the shouting of Children, how did the crowds along the way respond?


The ordinary folk, the farmers, many of these people probably wouldn’t have passed a Secret Service screening, but they nonetheless lined the road for the approaching donkey-cade, were simply delighted with joy. As Jesus entered through the gates, the crowds went out of their way, some took off their cloaks (outer garments), and some cut Palm branches from the trees and laid them on the road. The young, the old and little children began to shout joyfully, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the Highest” What does Hosanna mean? It is a Hebrew expression meaning “Help or Save”

Throughout his ministry wherever Jesus went even under normal circumstances crowds followed him. However, Jesus was not impressed by huge crowds because he knew their hearts so he wouldn’t entrust himself to anyone easily. But this time it looks like the crowds got it right; really? They were shouting LORD save us; but what were they asking the Lord to save them from? Was it from the tyranny of the Roman Empire and give them security and economic relief? Or did they truly recognize that Jesus was the messiah and the savior of their souls? Were they asking Jesus to save them from the eternal damnation?

Jesus is not easily fooled, even when people shout Praise God and Hosanna in the Highest, he sees right through to what is in their hearts. Christ passed through the cheering crowds, disgruntled Pharisees and saw the actual state of the whole city of Jerusalem. It was anything but responsive and repentant. When he saw their hardness and the absolute rejection of Him as their messiah and King he wept over Jerusalem and said; “if you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

A few days prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem this is what he said out of vexation of it’s constant refusal, we read in Luke 13:34-35, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”

What happened to the city of Jerusalem could happen to single individuals and churches. God has been incredibly patient with unrepentant sinners; that is one of the reasons why he is delaying the return of His son Jesus Christ to the earth. In 2 Pet 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Palm Sunday is a great time to assess our preparation for the King’s arrival, not only in our individual hearts but also in terms of the end times. If our King comes to us so gently and humbly, how might we prepare for his return by following his example? Would we be prepared? If Jesus were to arrive in our congregation this Sunday, how would you welcome him? What would you be proud to show him (or ashamed to show him)? With what songs and shouts would you praise him? Sing and shout Hosanna today for the Lord to not only save you, but the whole world we live in. Amen