VIDEO Palm Sunday: The Real Story

Apr 16, 2014

 Palm Sunday. We are going to go back that day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to shouts of praise. Luke 19 gives us a rare glimpse into the very real human emotions of Jesus. Hebrews 5:15 says, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tested as we are yet without sin.”

At this point, Jesus is headed to the Cross. We will follow His steps right up to Easter. The story before us is about what happened on Palm Sunday and after.

Toward Revival

Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. Psalm 26:2

Metallurgy was in its pre-industrial stages in biblical times. The process involved the application of intense heat to ores, which caused the desired metal—gold, silver, copper, tin—to separate and liquefy. Refinement by heat was used as an image of spiritual purification in the Old Testament (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2). The image of testing by fire is also applied to Christians—the Judgment Seat of Christ will determine whether the believer’s works have had value or not.

The notion that impurities in life may impede spiritual progress and revival is well-documented in Scripture. Perhaps the best example is David’s desire for cleansing in his life: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Personal revival begins with the search for, and purging of, impurities—things offensive to God that will block the Spirit’s work. Such purging begins with known impurities and can continue with David’s prayer, asking God to reveal things of which we are unaware.

To move toward revival in your life, ask God to show you the condition of your heart.

Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. Jonathan Edwards

Palm Sunday

Luke 19:28-44

Hindsight is always 20/20. Yet while we are in a particular situation, we often make things out to be what they aren’t and infer wrong meanings. Later, we kick ourselves, thinking, If only I had known then what I know now!

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been one of those moments for the disciples. It probably appeared to be a wonderful day for them—and it was, but for different reasons than they realized. They thought the Messiah had come to reestablish Israel’s power in the world. But God had something else in mind.

The disciples weren’t the only ones who had misconceptions about the Messiah. Many Jews expected Him to be an earthly king. When the crowds heard Jesus was coming, they shouted, “Hosanna,” which means “save now” (John 12:13). They saw Him as their new king, come to bring salvation from political and societal oppression. He raised the dead, so they assumed He could also restore the kingdom of David and free them from Roman rule.

Seated upon a donkey, Jesus resembled a ruler returning to his city in peacetime, whose loyal subjects lined the path with coats and palm fronds. Even the Pharisees were there watching in indignation, saying, “Look, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19).

This week, think back to those times when circumstances looked one way but turned out to be something else. Recall what it was like to realize God was different than you imagined and to see His will unfold in surprising ways. Look for an opportunity to share your insight with a friend or loved one.

Judgment Is Coming

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

There is only one thing that is absolutely sure to happen to every person—everyone will have to face God some day. Not even “death and taxes” are certain for every one, but meeting God for an accounting of one’s life is certain!

Therefore, as the prophet Amos warned some 2,500 years ago: “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12). “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

To the Christian believer, of course, there is no need to fear hell, for there is “now no condemnation [that is, ‘judgment’] to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The Lord Jesus has paid for our sins and purchased our redemption with His shed blood. He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

Nevertheless, we as Christians still “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10), where “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide . . . he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

Those who die in unbelief, however, not having trusted Christ as their Savior, will face a different meeting with God. John describes the awesome scene as he saw it in his prophecy. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). But no one can ever be saved by his works (Ephesians 2:9). Therefore, “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). HMM

“My presence shall go with thee.”

Exodus 33:1-7, 12-23

Exodus 33:4

There was some right feeling left, and while Moses spoke to them it came to the front; but, alas, it was as fleeting as the early dew.

Exodus 33:5

As if the Lord knew not how to shew mercy to impenitent sinners.

Exodus 33:6

This is always a preliminary to mercy. Pride must strip, self-righteousness must throw off her mantle, and carnal security pull off its tinkling jewellery.

Exodus 33:7

They were not worthy to have the residence of the Lord in the centre of the encampment. The Lord did not utterly leave them, but he went into the outer circle, and all who would seek the Lord must go without the camp. The lesson is plain, and holds good even now.

Exodus 33:13, 14

Thus the Lord gives us his presence now and rest at the end. What a precious promise!

Exodus 33:17

Grace received is the guarantee of answers to prayer.

Exodus 33:19

Thus we see that the sovereignty of his grace is the very glory of God. Why do men quarrel with it?

Exodus 33:22, 23

Nowhere else can God be spiritually seen, save in the Rock of ages cleft for us. As yet we see but the skirts of his garments, but even this glimpse delights us. How sweet to know that however little we see of God, yet it is God, our Father.

 

I need thy presence every passing hour,—

What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

 

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless:

Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness;

Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?

I triumph still if thou abide with me.

 

Peter Swings for the Head, But Gets an Earl

John 18:10

Luke 22:49, 50

Can you think of a time when you became so impatient while waiting on the Lord that you decided to take matters into your own hands to get things moving a little faster? When you later realized that you had made a big mess of things, were you regretful that you didn’t wait a little longer before taking action?

At one time or another, all of us have been guilty of acting rashly and thoughtlessly. For example, just think of how many times you’ve said something you later regretted! Oh, how you wished you could have retracted those words, but it was too late! Or perhaps you’ve been guilty of acting spontaneously on an issue before you had enough time to really think things through.

Or have you ever gotten so angry at someone that you popped off and vocalized your dissent before the other person was finished talking? When you later realized that the person wasn’t saying what you thought, did you feel like a fool for popping off too quickly? Did you have to apologize for making a rash statement, all the while wishing you had just kept your mouth shut a few minutes longer?

Hotheaded moments rarely produce good fruit. In fact, when we act rashly, we usually end up loathing the stupidity of our words and actions. The truth is, we all need a good dose of patience—a fruit that is produced inside us by the Spirit of God. We desperately need patience in our lives!

Perhaps no story better demonstrates the mess that impatience produces than that night in the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter seized a sword, swung it with all his might, and lopped off the ear of the high priest’s servant.

When Jesus spoke and identified Himself as the great “I AM,” the soldiers and temple police were knocked to the ground—their eyes dazed, their heads whirling and spinning, and their bodies stunned by the power of God. The power that was released hit them so hard and so fast that they were on their backs before they knew what hit them!

While these soldiers were still flat on their backs, Peter suddenly decided to take matters into his own hands. He must have seen it as his great chance to show himself brave and to take advantage of the moment, but what he did was simply shocking! It is the perfect picture of someone acting before thinking things all the way through.

Peter’s spontaneous, hasty behavior earned him a place in history that no one has ever forgotten. However, to see the full picture of what happened that night, it is essential to piece the story together from both Luke and John’s Gospel, for each Gospel writer tells a different part of the story.

While the soldiers and temple police were lying horizontal on their backs, Peter looked around and realized that the armed men were disabled. So he reached down and took a sword, and with sword in hand, he gleefully asked, “… Lord, shall we smite with the sword?” (Luke 22:49).

Before Jesus had an opportunity to answer, Peter swung into action and did something outrageous and utterly bizarre! He gripped the sword and impulsively swung down, slicing right past the head of the high priest’s servant. Imagine how shocked Jesus must have been to see Peter lop this poor man’s ear right off and then to watch the severed ear fall into the dirt on the ground! John 18:10 tells us that Peter “… smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear….”

Let’s look at these words to see exactly what happened in that impulsive moment when Peter swung this sword. The word “smote” is the Greek word epaio, from the word paio, and it means to strike, as a person who viciously strikes someone with a dangerous tool, weapon, or instrument. It can also be translated to sting, like a scorpion that strongly injects its stinger into a victim. In addition, it means to beat with the fist. In this verse, the word is used to picture the force of Peter’s swinging action. This tells us that Peter put all his strength into the swinging of his borrowed sword, fully intending to cause some kind of bodily impairment.

Do you think Peter was aiming for the servant’s ear? Why would anyone attack an ear? Furthermore, it wouldn’t take this much force to cut off an ear. No, I believe Peter was aiming for the man’s head and missed, swiping the man’s ear by mistake. When that sword missed its target, it slipped down the side of the servant’s head and took his ear with it.

When John 18:10 says Peter “cut off” his right ear, the words “cut off” are from the Greek word apokopto, which is a compound of the words apo and kopto. The word apo means away, and the word kopto means to cut downward. Put together, it describes a downward swing that cuts something off. In this case, Peter swung downward so hard that he completely removed the ear of the servant of the high priest. Some try to insinuate that Peter merely nipped this man’s ear, but the Greek shows that the swing of Peter’s sword caused its complete removal. The Greek word for “ear” is otarion, and it refers to the entire outer ear. The Bible is so detailed about the events that occurred that night, it even tells us it was the servant’s right ear. The servant of the high priest lost his entire right ear when Peter swung in his direction!

John 18:10 tells us the servant’s name was Malchus. Who was this Malchus? Did Peter indiscriminately select Malchus as his target that night? Was there a particular reason Peter chose this man as the focus of his wrath?

The name Malchus has two meanings: ruler and counselor. We do not know that this was his original name; it may have been a name given to him because of his close position to the high priest, who at that time was a man named Caiaphas. Caiaphas was a member of the Sadducees, a sect that was particularly opposed to the reality of supernatural happenings, viewing most supernatural events of the Old Testament as myths and legends. This is one reason Caiaphas was so antagonistic to the ministry of Jesus, which, of course, was overflowing with miraculous events every day.

When Peter saw Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane, it no doubt brought back memories of the many times he had seen Malchus standing at the side of the high priest. Although this man is referred to as the servant of the high priest, he in fact was the high priest’s personal assistant. This was a very prominent position in the religious order of the priesthood. As a high-ranking officer of the religious court, Malchus was regally dressed and carried himself with pride and dignity. To Peter’s eye, he probably represented everything that belonged to the realm of the priesthood, an order of religious men that had instigated numerous problems for Jesus and the disciples.

Because Malchus was present at the time of Jesus’ arrest, we may conclude that he was sent as the personal representative of the high priest to officially oversee the activities connected with Jesus’ arrest. Few scholars believe that Peter singled him out by chance. Although the following thought can’t be said with absolute certainty, Malchus may have become the intended target because of Peter’s deep resentment and long-held grudge toward the high priest and his entourage, all of whom had been continually critical of Jesus’ ministry.

I must point out that the healing of Malchus’ ear was the last miracle Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. What a statement this makes to us about Jesus! Just before He goes to the Cross, He reaches out to help a publicly declared and avowed foe! This man was part of a group that had been menacing and antagonistic toward Jesus. But Jesus didn’t say, “Finally, one of you guys got what you deserve!” Instead, He reached out to the man in his need, touched him, and supernaturally healed him. Keep in mind that the high priest, a Sadducee, was vehemently opposed to Jesus’ supernatural ministry. Yet it was the high priest’s own servant who received a supernatural touch from Jesus!

What a contrast Jesus’ actions were to Peter’s behavior! More than likely, Peter acted out of a long-held offense, but Jesus demonstrated love and genuine care even to those who opposed Him during His life and who were instrumental in leading Him to His crucifixion.

So don’t follow Peter’s example; instead, pray for the grace to be like Jesus! Decide today to let the Holy Spirit empower you to reach out to your offenders and opponents and to love them the way Jesus would love them!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I ask You to help me be more like Jesus! Help me release the grudges and deeply-held resentments that I am tempted to carry toward people. Instead of rejoicing when they get in trouble or when something bad happens to them, help me to reach out to them, to see what I can do to help, and to become the hand of God in their lives. Forgive me that I haven’t already acted as Jesus would act, and help me learn how to put any negative emotions aside so I can reach out to them in the name of Jesus!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I do not hold grudges, nor do I allow deep-seated resentments to reside in my heart, mind, and emotions. I have the mind of Christ, and I think just like Jesus thinks. What Jesus does is what I do. What Jesus says is what I say. How Jesus behaves is how I behave. Because the Holy Spirit is working to produce the life of Jesus Christ in me, I can be the extended hand of Jesus to everyone around me, including those who have been opposed to me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of five times in your life when you acted rashly and later regretted that action in your life?
  2. What did you learn from these incidents, and how might you respond differently the next time?
  3. When you find yourself reacting with impatience, do you ask the Holy Spirit to help you become more patient? If you haven’t done this recently, why don’t you stop what you’re doing right now and ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this area of your life today?

 

On Finishing The Race Well

Why is it so few people end the Christian life well? Here are a few observations I have made over the years:

 

1. A failure to comprehend and rest in the grace of God. (Psalms 103:10-14; 2 Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 4:9-11)

 

2. A failure to live a life of disciplined priorities. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-8)

 

3. A failure in our earlier years to deal with sins and other debilitating issues. (1 Timothy 5:24; Galatians 6:7, 8)

 

4. A failure to handle finances in a biblical manner. (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Luke 6:10-13; Romans 13:8; Proverbs 6:1-5)

 

5. A failure to deal Biblically with the sexual area of life. (Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)

 

6. A failure to grasp God’s sovereignty and grace in responding Biblically to bitterness, disappointment and disillusionment. (Isaiah 14:24; Romans 8:28-30; Hebrews 12:14, 15)

 

7. A failure to live a life of sacrifice rather than a life of ease. (Luke 9:23, 24; 2 Corinthians 5:15)

 

8. A failure to live a life of transparency, accountability and fellowship. (James 5:16, Proverbs 27:17; 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 10:24, 25)