A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, for Sunday, April 10, 2022.
For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, please select here.
To make friends, you need to live in such a manner that promotes an atmosphere of friendship. Being a friend to another person requires friendly behavior (of course), courtesy, being polite and good-natured. The antithesis of friendliness is to live in a selfish manner or be mean-spirited. Going further, your messages to others are best received when there is an underlying calm instead of those delivered with nervousness and tension. It’s true that words used that are normally perceived as being courteous can have their meaning changed if they are spoken with sarcasm and negativity. Having a positive influence on others requires a peaceful and approachable demeanor.
Don’t we need more of this within the body of Christ?
Friendliness and love for others is the best way to emulate the character of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to earth because He loved His greatest creation—mankind. He wanted to reach them and culminate His plan of salvation and create the opportunity for everyone to have fellowship with Him for all eternity. He would do so with His message of love and peace.
Luke 2:10-14 NKJV
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
His plan was to bring peace to those persons that recognized Him as Lord and Savior. This is exactly what the gospel message is all about.
Today, we will be spending time on the life of Jesus just a week before He rose from the dead after His crucifixion. He was traveling with His disciples to Jerusalem at the culmination of His ministry on earth. One of His comments as He approached Jerusalem, the main city of the Israelites, reflected His love for the Jewish people, the chosen nation, and at the same time His frustration with the people because of their inability to recognize who He was to them—their Savior of peace.
Luke 19:41-42 NLT
41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.
It should make you wonder how Jesus feels about today’s generation of people who have been pulled away from following Jesus and His good news. While Jesus can do anything, He does not force anyone to accept His teachings. It must be disappointing for Jesus to look upon those who choose to live under their own desires. Please consider this as you think of others who are living in this manner…and pray for them. Our desire should be to see them celebrate with us recognizing how Jesus conquered sin and death for us!
Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is what we recognize today as our celebration of Palm Sunday. It was a day of great celebration for the people who acknowledged Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah—the Savior of their people. At the same time, we are reminded that Jesus lamented over those who chose to ignore Him as the Messiah. They were afflicted with spiritual blindness.
Isaiah had already made the same declaration about Israel during His prophecy of Jesus’ coming:
Isaiah 42:18-22 NLT
18 “Listen, you who are deaf!
Look and see, you blind!
19 Who is as blind as my own people, my servant?
Who is as deaf as my messenger?
Who is as blind as my chosen people,
the servant of the Lord?
20 You see and recognize what is right
but refuse to act on it.
You hear with your ears,
but you don’t really listen.”
21 Because he is righteous,
the Lord has exalted his glorious law.
22 But his own people have been robbed and plundered,
enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped.
They are fair game for anyone
and have no one to protect them,
no one to take them back home.
Many will hear, but not listen. As we love Jesus, He gives us a heart for those who are spiritually blind.
Pray for them. Stay in prayer for them as we humble ourselves before Jesus.
Let’s note the words of Jesus to the physically blind man who had previously spoken to the Pharisees about Jesus’ healing power, and the response of the Pharisees:
John 9:35-41 ESV
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Despite Israel’s continual inability to maintain a relationship with God all throughout their history and even see the true Messiah with their very eyes, Jesus still declared His love for His people. He came to them in peace because He knew that those who would follow Him would carry forth His message of peace. He also knew that those who would not accept Him would cause division.
Luke 12:49-54 NLT
49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
53 ‘Father will be divided against son
and son against father;
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right.
Can you see where the message of Jesus will attract those who love Him, and repel those who love themselves more?
Jesus came to us in peace, but the results of His ministry were anything but peaceful. He reached many people with His message of peace beyond human understanding.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
6 …do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus also brought change that stirred the people towards a true worship and fellowship with God—much to the consternation of the Jewish religious leadership.
Matthew 21:1-11 ESV
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” (Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9)
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
There are several items of note to consider with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem:
1. The donkey
Jesus chose the donkey because it was a humble way to enter the city. In Eastern tradition, the donkey was an animal of peace. Most kings or noblemen used horses in the day, which symbolized a declaration or presence of war. The donkey was more of a communication that Jesus came in peace with a message of peace. He came as the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 ESV
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
2. The clothing and the palm branches
In many lands in the ancient Eastern region, it was customary to cover the path of someone who was worthy of honor. This honor was bestowed upon Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, in 2 Kings 9:13. In Jesus’ case, there were people putting their clothing on the ground along with cut palm branches (from the Greek word phoinix). There was an existing Jewish tradition—the Feast of Tabernacles—that involved the use of palm branches as part of the celebration (Leviticus 23:40).
In Greco-Roman culture of the Roman Empire, the palm branch was also viewed as a symbol of victory and triumph. In ancient Egyptian religion, the palm was carried in funeral processions as a representation of eternal life. It later became a symbol of Christian martyrdom as a symbol of spiritual victory over death.
Look at Revelation 7:9 for another significant use of palm branches:
Revelation 7:9-10 ESV
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
There is a day coming when those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be in that multitude—shouting in celebration. It’s only the love of Jesus Christ that gives us the heart and mind of prayer for the lost.
Palm Sunday is a message of celebration, but it is also a message of hope for those who need to decide to follow Jesus.
Jesus entered the city with humility and the people responded to Him as royalty. Imagine His presence with the showering of clothing and palms with the joyous shouts of the people. What a glorious moment it must have been for the people! It was a celebration, and He was the reason for the celebration.
3. The use of the word “Hosanna”
Hosanna comes from the use of similar words in both Greek and Hebrew to mean “save” or “rescue” (possibly “Savior”).
Mark 11:8-10 CSB
8 Many people spread their clothes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted:
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom
of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
The people who saw Jesus were making a public declaration—with a loud shout—that He was the Messiah that brought salvation to their people. John the Baptist declared that He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and it would be less than a week from that time when Jesus would sacrifice Himself to atone for the sins of the people—all people—past, present, and future.
He was the Lamb without blemish who was slain for all of us.
John 3:16-17 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
When we look at Palm Sunday, the traditional beginning of Holy Week, let us remember the significance of the events of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the very nature of who Jesus is to each of us and how much He gave to us:
- The One who loves His people unconditionally
- His example of humility
- His deity as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (clothing dropped before Him)
- The representation of eternal life (the palm branches)
- His presence of peace that surpasses all understanding
John 14:27 AMP
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]
In a few short days, the joyful celebration experienced that day would be a distant memory because of the shocking development when Jesus went to the cross. No one, at that time, would understand why it happened or that it even had to happen the way it did, but we all know today that it had to happen for Him to be the atonement for our sins. His holiness, through the sacrificial blood of Christ, covers our sins. He came to earth to go to the cross to save His people.
Please don’t hesitate to focus on the love of Jesus and for those who are still on the fence as to their own personal relationship with Him. Your fervent and consistent prayers are powerful.
James 5:16 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
It was His plan from the very beginning. Jesus loved us then and He loves us now. His love for each one of us is eternal! He is worthy of our celebration for everything He has done for us.
Hosanna in the highest!
Copyright © 2013, 2022 Melvin Gaines.