Holy Week Messages

Colossians 3:1-4


1.) If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.

2.) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3.) For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4.) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.





HAPPY EASTER!  I miss being with you on this most holy of days for the church.  My hope is that it will be for you a great family day as much as is possible.


Our text this morning comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse.  Paul did not found this church, nor had he ever visited it.  It was actually founded by Epaphras with help from Timothy; but Paul was good friends with Epaphras, and we know that he considered Timothy a son.  You will see Epaphras mentioned in other letters where he had provided for or helped Paul with something.  As a matter of fact, this letter is an answer to a letter delivered by Epaphras to Paul as he was awaiting trial in Rome.


Paul was writing in response to a problem of a form of Gnosticism that was rearing its ugly head in Colosse.  This city was located in the Lycus River valley in central Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.  Along with its sister cities, Laodicea and Hierapolis, Colosse had a very large Jewish population, many of whom had been taken there by the Babylonians.  This population had been there so long that even under the rule of the Greeks and the Romans, they were able to pay the temple tax back in Jerusalem, and it was considered tax exempt by the ruling authorities.  Many of the Jews from this area would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover and the other two major Jewish feasts.  The Gospel was probably heard by pilgrims from this area on the day of Pentecost.


The form of Gnosticism encountered in Colosse was different than that confronted in the Greek churches.  Where the Greek form was all about the attainment of knowledge, this form in Colosse was thoroughly Jewish.  There was belief in God and belief in Jesus, but that wasn’t enough.  The thought process was that one must seek enlightenment – by earning it!  One earned it by working to achieve different levels.  It was like an early game of Dungeons and Dragons or most role-playing games today, where after mastering one level there is always another higher level to attain.  For Colosse Gnostics, some levels required the help of angels, some levels required a fight with angels, and yet in other levels there was actual worship of angels. The whole goal was to make it to the throne room of God, to earn a way into God’s presence.


Right off the bat we can see what the issue was.  It totally ignored the cross.  It totally ignored the finished work of Christ.  It totally ignored the finished work of the Father, which was the resurrection and the ascension of the Son.  The finished work of Jesus was concluded on the cross.  He shed His blood for our redemption, and He gave His life for our forgiveness.  But God’s finished work occurred when He raised Jesus from the grave and sat Him at His right hand.  The blood and the death opened the doors for salvation, but the resurrection and the ascension made it a done deal.


The resurrection of Christ and the restoration of life proves that the debt of sin has been completely paid.  It means justification for the believer.  We are not just forgiven – we are justified in the eyes of God!  As humans, we can forgive a person for something terrible they have done to us, but that doesn’t mean we want to be around them.  Yet when a person is justified, they are not only forgiven but also wanted.  The ascension proves that the work of the cross is complete because Jesus is now sitting at the Father’s right hand.


Jesus is also our High Priest.  Before the cross, in the Tabernacle and subsequently in the Temple, there was a table with the show bread on it; but there were no chairs.  No chairs in the court of the holy or the Holy of Holies.  This meant that the priests’ work was never done.  They did not have a place to sit because they did not have time to sit.  Since the resurrection and ascension, the Father sat Jesus at His right hand.  Jesus sitting means that the work of salvation is done.


Paul sharing with us in Colossians says, “If you are baptized in Christ, then you died with Christ, then you were raised with Christ.” This means that through professing and possessing our faith in Christ and His finished work, through our baptism, we die His death and we are resurrected in His life.  As professing and possessing Christians, He is living His life through us.  Therefore, since our life is from Him, we should seek the things that are from Him, the things that are from above. We should seek the things of Christ where He is, which is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.


Paul then tells us to set our minds on the things above.  The Greek for “mind on” translates to “be devoted to”.  We are to devote ourselves to the living out the life and the treasures from above.  To devote ourselves to God’s word, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts which come from the Spirit.  To devote ourselves to doing His will, following His direction, allowing Him to do His work through us instead of hoping He will add His name to what we want to do.  We are to devote ourselves to following His will and walking in His power, to being citizens of heaven and strangers in this world.


Paul says that since we died and were raised with Christ our eternal life is sure, our eternal salvation is sure.  There are no doubts, for it is hidden with Christ in God.  Remember, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matthew6:19-21). Our treasure – our eternal salvation, our eternal life – is sure because it is in heaven with Christ IN God the Father.  It is where our true citizenship resides.


The promise continues when Paul proclaims that our salvation is so sure that when Jesus comes again, when He appears, we will appear with Him.  The word “appears” in the Greek translates as “to manifest oneself openly.”  Therefore, when Jesus returns, He won’t be hard to find.  The world will see Him, and not only see Him but see him in all His glory!  The Greek for “glory” means “eternal exalted state.” So, Jesus will be seen and made manifest openly to all in His eternal exalted glory.  But not only will the world see Jesus, it will also see us – openly sharing with Him and in His eternal exalted state.


Paul is asking, “Why?  Why are you falling for this false doctrine?  Why do you think that you have to jump through all these hoops and levels and seek or fight or worship angels to present yourself to the throne room of God?  Jesus has already done it for you!”  As Bob Hartman writes, “The provision has been made, the foundation has been laid, He paid the ransom due, tore the temple veil in two, and opened up the way for me and you.  IT IS FINISHED!”


We may not be like some of the people in Colosse, but there are those who think that grace is not enough.  They come up with new ideas, new concepts to earn our way:  Pray this way, and you’ll get God’s attention.  Read so many chapters a day in your Bible, and God will have to take notice.  Do this job or that mission.  Believe this way versus that other way.  It is as if Jesus was not and is not enough.


The GOOD NEWS is, Jesus is MORE THAN ENOUGH!  This morning we celebrate His resurrection.  HE IS RISEN!  Death no longer has any power over Him.  Since as believers we are baptized in His name, we have died and risen with Him.  Death no longer has any power over us.  Our salvation is sure because the One who holds our eternal life in His hands is sitting at the right hand of God Almighty.  All that we should want, need, desire, and be devoted to is sitting at the right hand of God.  And all we have to do is say, “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Lord!”




Now may the presence of our resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, and the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father resurrect your faith to greater faith. Amen



Be sure to continue to read Psalm 91 in the first person and claim it each day.





Holy Week Messages


Luke 23:55&56

55.) And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after and observed the tomb and how His body was laid.

56.) Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils.  And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.




In the flow of Holy week, as we move from Palm Sunday to Easter, not a lot of thought is given to Holy Saturday.  It doesn’t get very much mention in the Scriptures.  It was the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection.  We are simply told it was the Sabbath and that it was a day of rest, so according to the Scriptures, the women rested.


The Sabbath in Israel is different from what we are familiar with here.  If you have spent a good bit of time around Hasidic or ultra-orthodox Jews, you may have a better understanding.  For them the Sabbath is taken very seriously.  In Israel today there is not a complete shut down, but certain compromises are made to appease.  The Sabbath is a family day.  It begins at 6 p.m. Friday night and ends at 6 p.m. Saturday night.  Many families come home for the Sabbath.  I was talking to a gentleman in Jerusalem on a Saturday night after 6 p.m.  He has three sisters.  The typical house in the country has maybe two bedrooms.  Each sibling takes a turn at the parents’ house while the rest stay in a hotel. They alternate each week, throughout the year.


In the cities and larger towns, people tend to eat out on Friday night while Momma has cooked all day Friday for the Sabbath meal, which is eaten at home.  I saw great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children of all ages gathered together on that Friday night. They blocked off the streets in the Hasidic and ultra-orthodox parts of town because if you go into those areas during Sabbath, the residents will throw rocks at you and try to stop your car in order to burn it.  For them, starting a car is striking a fire, and that is against the commandments.  I haven’t been able to wrap my head around where it is OK to throw rocks and stop a car to burn it on the Sabbath, but not OK to crank it.  Maybe some of you can help shed a little light on this for me….

One of the common compromises is that if you are in a building with elevators, all are shut down except one.  And that one elevator is programmed to stop at every floor both going up and coming down – because this prevents your breaking a Sabbath law by pushing a button.  Imagine the enjoyment of being in a 24-floor hotel, filled with tourist on a Sabbath day.  Your room is on the 20th floor, the elevator is on the 23rd floor, and for some reason it has remained there for awhile.  You have a choice:  You can camp out on a couch in the lobby or climb 18 sets of steps.  Again, how is climbing 18 sets of steps less work than pushing a button?  But I digress….


The important point is the Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest.  That is what the Scripture said these women did – they rested.  I have always wondered – did they go to the Synagogue?  Did they hear the liturgical readings from the law, the prophets, and the Psalms for that day?  Were they able to take their minds off the events that had just transpired?  Were they able to take their mind off the work that had to be done Sunday morning, which had been left undone from Friday?  I’m sure physically they didn’t have to crank the car or push the elevator button. But were they able mentally to let go and let God?  I doubt it.


I am positive the disciples were not able to.  They were not resting.  They were hiding.  Jesus was dead, and they could be next.  Their thinking was, “Where do I go from here?  I gave three years to this.  I was going to be the prime minister, or the secretary of state. Now, I’m hiding for my life.  When will it be safe to go outside again?  Can I get through the city gate without being seen?  I wonder if I can get my old job back as a tax collector.”  The disciples were not physically cranking the engine or pushing the elevator buttons, but they weren’t resting either.


We know exactly what that is like.  Like myself, I suspect you have experienced lying down at night, physically exhausted, only to have your eyes remain wide open as your brain churns 90 to nothing.   And once sleep finally does come, it is not restful, as on awakening you feel like you’ve pulled a loaded barge up the Mississippi River all night long….


The word rest has a different meaning for the church than it has for the secular world.  In the Old Testament, the word rest means to be living in the provision that God has provided.  In the first 5 books of the Bible, it literally meant the promised land.  Later, as with David, it meant dwelling in God’s goodness, presence, power, and grace. Working in God and through His power in order to accomplish His will.  It meant a life of not trusting in oneself but in the power of God working through one.  Paul carried this over into his thoughts in his epistles.  For the Christian to be resting is to be trusting.  Through trust we live by faith that our God is in control.  His word and His promises are sure. What has happened and what is going to happen is not a problem.  Through the Holy Spirit, our God is with us – and we are in Him!


One of my favorite old hymns is “Blessed Assurance”.  The third verse starts out, “Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed”.  Did you catch that?  Not I AND my Savior but I IN my Savior.  It is when we are IN Him, when we are IN His Spirit, IN His word, IN His presence through prayer and praise, that we can have perfect rest.  Then it is no longer about us, but it becomes all about Him.  It is no longer about what He is going to help us do, it becomes about what He through His power is going to do through us.


Back to our story.  It would seem no one was resting that day. The religious leaders were not resting – they were afraid Jesus would do what He said He was going to do and rise from the dead. Pilate wasn’t resting – he had no clue what political repercussions might come out of this.  The poor soldiers on guard duty couldn’t rest – the darn angels kept waking them up. Jesus wasn’t resting – His earthly body was still in the tomb, but He was in Hell jingling keys, rattling doors, and driving Satan nuts.


I believe there was only one Being resting on that Sabbath.  It was God the Father.  His Son’s work was finished.  His love for His creation and His plan for the salvation of His creation had been paid in full the day before.  The next day would start the new beginning, and He could rest in the fact that He through the work of His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit had truly made all things new.




Remember to read Psalm 91 in the first person each day and claim it for yourself.

Holy Week Messages


John 19:17-19

17.) And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,

18.) where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.

19.) Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:






It’s very early Friday, what most people would call the wee hours of the morning.  Jesus and His disciples had celebrated the Passover, where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  He had tried to teach them a little more, hoping that they would gain some insight into the happenings they were about to experience.  They had left the Upper Room and gone back to the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley.

The immanence of the moment was felt by Jesus.  Judas had left during the meal to fulfill his obligation in the upcoming events.  Jesus knew it wouldn’t be long before the temple guards would come to retrieve Him.  He separated Peter, James, and John and then went deeper into the olive grove Himself.  He asked them to stay awake and pray with Him, but they couldn’t – they fell asleep even though He asked them twice.  Jesus then asked the Father to take this cup away.  In our humanness, we focus on the terrible mistreatment and abuse He is about to undergo, but I have shared with you in the past, I believe the beatings, the pit, the scourging, and the cross were the least of His worries.  Jesus knew that for at least 3 hours on that cross He would be totally alone.  For the first time, His heavenly Father would be forced to turn His back on the Son, as the wrath of all the sins of the whole world – past, present, and future – were poured out on His body on the cross.  It would be the first time He, Jesus, the sinless one, would be separated from the presence of His heavenly Father.


He was arrested, and while being taken to Caiaphas’ house was beaten and mistreated.  After arriving, He was thrown into a pit to await the rest of the kangaroo court which was being hurriedly arranged.  The goal was to get this done before the city really began to wake up and the pilgrims, who would be sympathetic to Jesus, started entering the city.  The pit was about 9’ across and about 30’ deep, making it necessary to lower or pull out any prisoner via a rope.  It was not uncommon for those at ground level to spit, urinate, and defecate into that pit during a person’s detainment.


The actors all being assembled, Jesus was eventually pulled from the pit.  He bore the false accusations, endured more physical abuse, and suffered Peter’s denial.  Then He was taken to Pilate because the religious leaders wanted Him dead; but they didn’t just want Jesus dead, they wanted it to be a public spectacle – and they could not pull that off without Pilate’s approval.  Pilate really did not want to deal with this.  He found out that Jesus was from Galilee and proceeded to defer the decision making to King Herod.  Jesus didn’t play Herod’s game, however, and was sent back to Pilate.


Pilate has been made to look a whole lot better in this than he should.  He would have put Jesus to death in a split second if it had only been about Jesus.  He despised the priests and the elders, and he was aware that the priests and the elders wanted this man dead for no good reason.  Pilate would have liked nothing better than to let Jesus go free just to spite the Sanhedrin.  Thus, this all became a game of politics – back and forth – as Pilate tried to do what he could to punish Jesus and still let Him go.  Success here would have been the only way to have victory over the religious elders.  So Pilate had Jesus beaten and scourged, during which time He was humiliated and beaten by the Roman troops with a crown of Judean thorns also being pressed upon His head.  I’ve seen them, these thorns, and they are all of 3-4 inches long.  Jesus was then brought back to Pilate.  He tried to release Jesus as the prisoner set free at Passover, but the Sanhedrin weren’t  having any of that.  They cried out for Barabbas, a known criminal.  Pilate asked, “You want me to crucify your king?” and they answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” This was where the political game really became clear.  Pilate had already been told to stand down several times by his father-in-law.  The family of King Herod was very close to the emperor, and the religious leaders also had influence at the Roman court.  If Pilate’s releasing of Jesus got back to the court in Rome, it would have been interpreted as having chosen a kingship over Caesar. The religious leaders played their trump card, and Jesus was sent to be crucified…


When I was in Jerusalem last year, I walked the Via Crucis, which starts at the praetorium and goes through the old city.  The road is rough and uneven, being about 10 feet wide at its most narrow points and 30 feet at its widest.  It is also uphill all the way.  About halfway along, there is a little prayer chapel where the only piece of the old Jerusalem city gate is still standing.  On the far side of this point, there is still city but newer buildings and pathway (only about 1600-1700 years old, being built 250-to 350 years after Jesus’ time.) That part of the road now is a little smoother and wider, it is still uphill all the way.  On the day Jesus was crucified, once that gate was passed, there was nothing but rocky road and barren ground all the way to Calvary.  As one walks along the street in the old city, one looks at the building on either side, all of which now are two-story or more; but there comes the realization that although these structures were not present at Jesus’ crucifixion, they are still built on the very foundations of the original buildings that were there!  The road hasn’t changed because the foundations of those buildings hasn’t changed for 3000 years.


For me, climbing the hill was difficult.  (This trip took place before my knee replacement surgery).  But then I started thinking about Jesus.  For five or six hours, He had been beaten several times and whipped.  The movie, “The Passion”, shows Him being caned before he was scourged.  After the scourging, the Roman soldiers put a robe on Him, pressed a crown of thorns on His head, beat Him again, and then removed the robe, opening up all His wounds once more.  On my trip, I had enjoyed my breakfast and hot tea first – Jesus was undernourished and dehydrated.  The abuse and loss of blood, plus the burden of carrying the cross up the crowded street while being continuously beaten by the soldiers is unimaginable.  No wonder Jesus needed help.  Simon of Cyrene was conscripted by the Romans to assist in carrying His cross.  From my experience, it was hard to tell how far the walk actually was from the praetorium to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – I didn’t ask and I couldn’t find it on Google – but I would guess around a mile to a mile and a quarter.  Again, uphill all the way.


On that long-ago day, the group finally got to Calvary, where the soldiers again ripped off the robe so that wounds were once more reopened to bleed.  They laid Him out to nail Him to the cross, using spikes through His hands and ankles, and then they turned it over so they could hammer down the spikes on the back side. Next, they lifted the cross up and dropped it into a hole in the ground.  Jesus hung there between Heaven and Earth, between a righteous God and a sinful humanity.  He was suffocating (that’s how you die on a cross, hanging in such a position that breathing is impossible except for intermittently pushing up on the ankle spike to gasp a breath).


What did Jesus see from there?  He saw none of the disciples except John.  He saw His mother and a few of the other faithful women.  He saw that He was hanging between two thieves.  He saw the soldiers gambling over His robe.  He saw the angry mob shaking their fists and ridiculing Him.  He saw the religious leaders doing the same with sanctimonious attitudes.  


What did Jesus hear?  He heard words like, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross so we can believe in you. (Satan in his appointed time) He saved others – let Him save Himself.” He did hear one good word, when one of the thieves declared his personal guilt, Jesus’s complete innocence and kingship, and was asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom.


What did Jesus say?  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!”  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  “Woman, behold thy son! Son, behold thy mother!”   “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  “I thirst.”   “It is finished.”   “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

At 12 noon the sky turned dark.  When Jesus was born, the glory of God shown so bright that midnight became midday.  At the cross, God removed Himself from the situation so that midday became midnight.  Jesus was totally alone, and He quoted the Psalms.  He said, “I thirst”, but it was not for something wet to drink.  He thirsted for the presence of the Father back in His life….Then, after all of our sin and the sin of the world had been poured out on His body, after the total wrath of God had been exhausted upon His person, He said, “It is finished!”   At about 3 p.m., He sensed the presence of His Father once again, and He said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”  His work on earth was altogether and finally done…


What wondrous grace this is.  He took what you and I deserved so that from that point forward, we could have what He deserved.  With His stripes He gave us our healing.  By hanging on the tree, He bore our curse.  With His blood He bought our redemption, and through His death He made unconditional forgiveness a reality.  With His resurrection…..well, we will talk about that on Sunday.




I conclude with the words of two songs:


It Is Finished” by Petra, written by Bob Hartman


In the heat of the early morning,

On a hill they call the skull,

The roaring of the angry mob had settled to a lull.

All eyes were cast upon the man whose hands and feet were bound –

They heard Him cry in anguish when they heard the hammer pound.

They saw the bloody woven thorns with which His head was crowned,

They watched the bloody cross of wood be dropped into the ground,

The soldiers gambled for His clothes, He watched them win and lose,

They saw the sign above His head that said, “King of the Jews”


It is finished, and the sky grew black as the night.

It is finished, and the people scattered in fright.

The work has been done, redemption had been won,

The war was over without a fight.

It is finished!


They searched His face for anger, for vengeance in His stare.

Instead of eyes that burned with hate a look of love was there.

He prayed for their forgiveness and bowed His battered head,

And no one knew the meaning of the final words He said.


It is finished, and the sky grew black as the night.

It is finished, and the people scattered in fright.

The work has been done, redemption has been won,

The war was over without a fight.

It is finished!


The provision has been made,

The foundation has been laid,

He paid the ransom due and tore the temple veil in two

And opened up the way for me and you.




Via Dolorosa”  by Sandy Patty


Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day

The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street,

But the crowd pressed in to see

A man condemned to die on Calvary.


He was bleeding from a beating, there were stripes upon His back,

And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head.

And He bore with every step

The scorn of those who cried out for His death.


Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering,

Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King.

But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me –

Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary.


The blood that would cleanse the souls of men

Made its way through the heart of Jerusalem


Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering,

Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King.

But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me –

Down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary……




Remember to read Psalm 91 in first person each day and claim it.


Holy Week Messages


John 13 1-5

1.) Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2.) And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him,

3.) Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

4.) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

5.) After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.


Luke 21:15-20

15.) Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

16.) for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

17.) Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;

18.) for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.”

19.) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

20.) Likewise, He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.


Luke 21:24

24.) Now there was a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.




Earlier in the day, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover feast. Jesus had been in the temple all day teaching His last to the pilgrims.  He arrived at the place where the feast was to be held.  It is known in Christian circles as the upper room. It was located in the lower section of the city of Zion.  Today it is a mosque, but Christians are allowed to go inside.  It is one of the places I want to revisit.  Our group was supposed to go, but because of time constraints we just got to view it from a distance.  I was told by a member of another group that there are no Christian symbols inside the building, only Islamic.  Yet compared to many older buildings we had seen, it was relatively large.  Well, it had to be large enough to handle 12 men comfortably!  The tables would be about 18” tall and set up in a U shape.  The attendees would have gathered around the outside edge of the U with space enough to stretch out on cots, lying on their left side so as to be able to reach food with the right hand.  I was told the real reason for this, and you really don’t want to know the real reason for this. Trust me, you really don’t.

Anyway, according to the law, the children of Israel were supposed to eat the Passover standing up, in recognition and celebration of the very first Passover.  The Romans, however, claimed that the Jews were slaves when they did this because in Roman society only slaves stood up to eat.  The Jews, in stubborn opposition to this, declared, “We are not slaves!” and began celebrating their feasts in a reclining position


In verse 15, Luke expresses Jesus’ desire to celebrate Passover one last time with His disciples.   He knows that tonight is the last night He will be able to be with them before His resurrection.  He imparts to them and to us the Lord’s Supper.  The loaf that He took was Elijah’s loaf.  At the beginning of the feast, the loaf would have been split, with half would remaining for the Seder and the feast.  By tradition the other half would have been given to a child to take and hide.  It would not be eaten that night.  The scripture does not tell us what was done with Elijah’s half and there were no children, so your guess is as good as mine.  We westerners tend to think of a regular loaf of bread, but this was unleavened bread, and it could be very flat and very large in diameter, being baked according to the size of the crowd.


The wine Jesus used was Elijah’s wine.  By tradition, before the feast, the master of the feast would take a container of wine and place it outside of the place of celebration.  For most people, this was outside the door of their home.  It was not used but was there as an invitation for Elijah to come. For you see if Elijah did come, that would mean the coming of the Messiah was near!  During this particular Passover, Jesus issued one of His few commandments: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  The establishment of the New Covenant.  As you read on past verse 20 you can sense the tension in Christ’s Spirit.  And what do our future church leaders do?  Verse 24 say they started to argue about who was the greatest among them….


In Luke’s writing, Jesus verbalizes what is true greatness. In the Gospel of John, He exemplifies it.  You see, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare the feast.  This they did.  They did it themselves. When everyone arrived, there were no servants, so there was no one to wash anyone’s feet.  They didn’t stand on ceremony and went ahead with the supper.  But if proper etiquette had been followed, Peter and John should have washed everyone’s feet when they arrived.  The disciples began to argue over who was to be the greatest – even as the One who was the greatest got up, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, got a jar of water, and began to wash all their feet, even the feet of Judas.

Have you ever been faced with an ordeal that to you was going to be a real test, a moment of truth, a time when you really needed the support and help of your family and friends to survive?  And those closest to you didn’t seem to understand or weren’t taking it as seriously as you thought they should?  We’ve all been there, except as Christians we know we are not alone.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that our loving Heavenly Father is with us.  He fully understands where we are and what we are about to go through.  But Jesus knew there was going to be a point where the Father was going to have to turn His back on the Son, when God would have to cease being His Father because of the world’s sins which Jesus would have to bear on the cross.  Because a holy, righteous, and just God cannot look upon sin.


Jesus handled this all so much better and differently than I would have….


Now let us recall that promise found in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Even on the night Jesus was betrayed, His disciples didn’t understand; but we can live with the confidence of faith that in our times of trial, if those around us don’t understand, our Lord and Savior does.



I want to share the lyrics of two songs with you.  They both come from an anointed singer and songwriter from the 90’s.  His name is Michael Card.


How Much More Servant Could He Be?


On this final night, they bicker and they fight

Still they are slaves to men, but not yet slaves to Christ.

He would give up on words, too tired to speak,

So He took up the towel and washed their filthy feet


The arguments just melt away,

And there was nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

He took a loaf of bread, He broke it and He said,

“Take this my body, and remember Me.”

He took the final cup and as He raised it up,

“This covenant is new, My blood poured out for you.”


The arguments just melt away,

And there is nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?


He is the slave that always serves Himself

And makes of Himself the final meal,

Lived out in flesh so we could see.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?


He is the wine and bread, too much to comprehend!

He leads from His knees and serves us as a friend.

In time they’d finally hear the message made so clear.

Who is the greatest One? It is God’s Servant Son!




This second song comes from Michael’s third album of his trilogy about the life of Christ.


Come to the Table


Come to the table and savor the sight,

The wine and the bread that was broken.

And all have been welcomed to come if they might

Accept as their own these two tokens.


The bread is His body, the wine is the blood,

And the one who provides them is true.

He freely offers, we freely receive,

To accept and believe Him is all we must do.


Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow, He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.


And here at the table sit all those who have loved You,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified


Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The savior wants you to join in the feast


Come to the table and see in His eyes

The love that the Father has spoken,

And you are welcome, whatever your crime,

For every commandment you’ve broken.


For He comes to love you and not to condemn,

And He offers a pardon of peace;

If you come to the table, you’ll feel in your heart

The greatest forgiveness, the greatest release!


Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow: He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.


And here at the table sit those who have loved you,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified.


Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The Savior wants you to join in the feast




Remember to pray and claim in first person each day the 91st Psalm.


Holy Week Messages


Matthew 21:23

23.) Now when He (Jesus) came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”


Mark 11:27

27.) Then they came again to Jerusalem.  And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him.


Luke 20:1

1.) Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him,


John 12:1

1.) Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.




I share these four scriptures from different Gospel writers with you today to demonstrate one point: The entirety of Holy Week, Jesus was in Jerusalem.  From the moment He entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives until His arrest on the Mount of Olives, He was in the temple in Jerusalem.  He wasn’t hiding or holed up in a secret location.  He was in the temple, teaching and preaching the Gospel.


Mark has Jesus walking in the temple as He is approached by the Jewish authorities.  Matthew and Luke have Him teaching Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  He would get up early and go to the temple and teach all day. Then He and the disciple would return to the Mount of Olives for the night.  There Jesus would ply a crash course of instruction for His disciples.  I truly believe that one reason the disciples had such a hard time staying awake the morning He was arrested is because they had gotten very little sleep or rest the previous four nights.  That, on top of the feast they had just shared…(Well, all we have to do is think about a typical Thanksgiving celebration, and we can understand!)  Read all four Gospels from the points listed above and you find the majority of the teaching is for the disciples.


None of the Gospel writers break the account up, detailing that this was done on this day or that occurred in such-and-such a location.  The story is all incorporated together.  But this and probably much, much more was spread out over a four-day period.  Each Gospel tells us the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus.  He was there right in front of them as they tested Him, hoping that He would say the wrong thing.  But He didn’t, and they left Him alone.


As He taught, Jesus most likely was seated in the colonnade. The colonnade ran from end to end of the temple grounds along both the east and west walls.  In Israel today, there is very little left of the Temple mount, and none is fully restored.  There is a section about 150 feet long on the west wall.  It has a step-up of 6-8 inches high and 30-35 feet wide.  And although today the remains are only of part of the original structure, it is easy to see how this would be a great place for teachers and rabbis to hold their classes.  The Gospel writers tell us that the Jewish leaders couldn’t afford the uprising it would create if they arrested Jesus in the temple, because all of the pilgrims were congregated there also.  That’s why they tried to test and trick Him.  They couldn’t arrest Him when He left town either.  Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives, as did a thousand others.  They could stomp around out there all night and not find Him, and also all the commotion could warn Him off.


I know you’re thinking, “Okay, preacher, why are you sharing this? Why do you think this is important?”  Well, because it comes down to God’s timing.  Everything is about God’s timing.  God’s timing is all about what God wants to accomplish, His reasons, and His plans.  At one point or another in all the Gospels,  Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem for the specific purpose of the sacrifice He would make.  It wasn’t just the sacrifice itself.  No, it had to be at the Passover, the greatest celebration of the Jewish faith.  The time they celebrated their deliverance from Egypt.  Those who have joined us in the past for the Passover and Seder know that it is celebrated as a time of deliverance.  Jesus’ death was not just to be the deliverance of a nation but of the world.  By His taking of the partial loaf of bread, which was set aside for Elijah, and of the wine, which was placed outside for Elijah, Jesus confirmed to His disciples that Elijah had come, and the Messiah was there!!  Thus, the establishment of a new covenant through His body and His blood….  The beatings and mocking and scourging would then fulfill the Scriptures about the suffering servant.  Remember, it’s about the timing:   The nails being driven into His hands and feet at 9 a.m., the traditional time of the morning sacrifice.  His cry, “It is finished” at 3 p.m., the traditional time the Passover lamb was slain.  The Passover lamb whose blood kept away the Angel of Death and delivered a nation, replaced by God’s Passover who took away the sins of the world and made a way of deliverance for all humanity.  It is interesting, is it not?  God’s timing…..


Consider this crazy virus, which has caused so much change in our lives.  This coming Sunday marks the fourth Sunday in a row that we have not been able to meet together as the Body of Christ.  Our local congregation had planned to celebrate the Passover and Seder this year.  No Sunrise Service. No Easter breakfast together.  This virus has taken away of lot of our freedom.  So much is still unknown about it.  The facts that we do know cause us concern.  Those who have contracted it, those who are hospitalized, those for whom it has caused death.  We look around and wonder if what we don’t know will end up affecting us in a negative way.  In our own immediate family, both Kate and Clayton have been informed that people they worked with last week became symptomatic and have now been diagnosed with the virus.  Because of that, we were not able to celebrate Wyatt’s birthday together with them on Sunday.  This difference in our routine, like other situations in our lives, could add to the worry, fear, and frustration about what we don’t have, what we can’t do, and what we don’t know….


But you know what we DO have?  We have the blood of Jesus! If the blood of a simple lamb could keep the plagues of Egypt away from the children of Israel, just imagine what the blood of the only begotten Son of God can do today!  The blood of the One who made the lame to walk, the infirm well, the maimed whole, the lepers clean, the blind to have sight, and the dead to rise back to life. Imagine what He could do if we truly turned to Him instead of just Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.


Know what else we have?  We have His word in which we find the statements of faith of the saints who have gone before as well as His promises.  Imagine if we were to dive deep into His Word in search of them instead of focusing on our fears and doubts….


Know what else we have?  We have His very presence.  Through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, He fulfills every moment of every day the promise that He will never leave us of forsake us.  We are not alone.  We are not locked down.  We are locked in with the God who created the universe and Who is also our Loving Heavenly Father.


Know what else we have?  We have each other.  Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to be joined together in our spirits.  The space of separation is absolutely no problem for our Heavenly Father.  Through our Facebook page, our website, our phones, our letters, and our computers, we can communicate and share our burdens, our joys, our fears, our hope, and our faith.


I love God’s timing.  It is giving us a chance now to see not just what He can do, but what He is already doing.  It is giving us an opportunity to experience what He wants to do through us as well.




Remember – claim Psalm 91 in the first person every day.

Holy Week Messages


Psalm 120


1.) In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me.

2.) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.

3.) What shall be given to you, or what shall be done to you, you false tongue?

4.) Sharp arrows of the warrior, with coal of a broom tree!

5.) Woe is me, that I dwell in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!

6.) My soul has dwelt to long with one who hates peace.

7.) I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.




Psalm 120 is the first of the Songs of Ascents.  There are 15 of these, beginning with Psalm 120 and going through Psalm 134.  Four of them, Psalms 122, 124, 131, and 133, are attributed to David.  Psalm 127 is attributed to Solomon.  The authorship of the others is unknown.  They are called Songs of Ascents because they held the ceremonial function of being read at the feast of Passover as the celebrants approached the temple.  The main entrance of the temple in Jesus’ day was on the south side of the temple mount.  There, one would go by the baths and the merchandisers and on to the main temple court.  There were other gates, of course, but this was the primary gate for the people.  It was here where Jesus entered on the day following Palm Sunday.  There were 15 steps (not your typical steps) approaching the gate.  The custom was for the pilgrims, as they approached, to stop on each step and read or recite from memory one of the Psalms.  One entire Psalm for each step.  The gate as it was in Jesus’ day is not there anymore, but the steps are.  They are located in the middle of what is now the Christian/Crusader cemetery outside the southern wall of the temple grounds.  On our trip to Israel, stopping at these steps was one thing we were told would happen, and I was looking forward to it.  We were to stand and read a Psalm of Ascents on each step, reliving the ancient tradition.  Disappointingly, we were not able to because of time constraints….


If you read all fifteen Psalms, you will find they are not really alike.  As a sum, they incorporate the total spectrum of life. From praise and thanksgiving to fear and doubt. From statements of faith and promise to questions of grace and mercy.  It is interesting, because we think of Passover as this massive celebration of joy, love, and peace.  It was!  But the Psalms helped to ground the children of Israel in the remembrance of their true celebration.


I intend to return to Israel one day and stand on those steps and read those Psalms.  Yet we don’t have to be in Israel to read them.  As we prepare ourselves for Easter, let us in our own homes take time this week to read these Psalms.  They are not long at all.  You could read them in one sitting. But let’s divide them up, three a day, beginning today.  Put yourself in the place of the Hebrew pilgrims as they approached and prepared to enter one of the grandest sites in the world:  the center of their faith, the throne of the God Most High, the Master of the Earth and Sky, the God of Power and Creation, the Almighty Sovereign of the Universe.  Let them help us, as we move toward Easter, to celebrate the God who lives with us in our total spectrum of life; the God who walks with us through our praise and thanksgiving, our celebrations of joy, love, and peace and who rejoices in our faith; the God who also carries us in our fears, our doubts, and our questions.  That we may truly have a heart of real celebration this week!  Just think what we have to celebrate – the gift of the Lord’s Supper, the finished work of salvation on the cross, the empty tomb, the resurrection which brings our justification. This enables us to approach not the throne made by humanity, a throne of wood and stone, but the very throne of grace eternal in the heavens, where our Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.  Where all His enemies are placed at His feet!




Remember to read and claim Psalm 91 in the first person each day this week.


Holy Week Messages


Mark 11:15-19

15.) So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

16.) And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.

17.) Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of thieves”

18.) And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.

19.) When evening had come, He went out of the city.


Thoughts on a Holy Monday:


In March of 2018, I along with my sons, Ricci and Clayton, took a trip to the Holy Land.  We saw so many sites, and so many are engraved upon my mind.  The sad thing is, there were many I did not see that I wanted to see, and a few I want to revisit and see again and hopefully for more time of prayer and meditation.  On our second day in Jerusalem, we went to the old city, beginning with the temple mount. The security was as intense as, or maybe even more so than, at the border checkpoints.  We went through as a group, showing passports and being checked for weapons.  When I went through the x-ray, fortunately my hip replacement did not cause the same delay as it did in Atlanta, coming back from Jordan and Tel Aviv, and finally, in Newark, NJ.  But I digress…I can remember walking onto the temple grounds and experiencing a sense of total AWE.  It was the size of ten football fields!! I stood there for probably 20 minutes just looking around. You cannot see from end to end unless you’re standing in the middle where the Mosque of the Rock is positioned.


We were given a designated amount of time to wander around and take pictures, so I went to the southern end where in Jesus’ day the mikveh baths were located. This was a place where the people could undergo ritual cleansing before entering the temple grounds if they wanted to or needed to. Archaeological work has uncovered about 50 of these baths. On the top level was where the merchandising was done.  Imagine entering the temple grounds and the first thing you see are money changing tables and vendors for goats, sheep, bulls, doves, oil, wine and grain.  Before I started seminary, I was visiting schools and was seriously considering ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I remember walking into the world-famous prayer tower, and the first sight to be seen (because I had to walk through it) was the gift shop, filled with high-priced, cheaply made souvenir products.  This was not the campus bookstore or the student center, but the prayer tower! I was totally taken aback. The first thought that came to my mind that day was today’s scripture…


Back to the temple: These vendors were necessary but not the graft that went along with their business. Pilgrims could not bring their own animals for sacrifice with them, but they were forced to pay exorbitant prices for those guaranteed by the priests to be unblemished. The folks who did bring their own sacrificial animals would often be told their offering was blemished in some way and would be forced to buy one of the “guaranteed” animals. Then there were the money changers. The temple taxes had to be paid in the temple currency.  You can imagine how they scalped on the exchange rate. They were necessary, but the graft and corruptness were not. They were necessary, but that location was not….Now, imagine Jesus walking into the temple the Monday before He goes to the cross. I’m sure it was not the first time He had walked through the market. I’m sure His heart was stirred each time He did.  But now it was just a few days before Calvary.  He began turning over the tables, chasing the vendors out of the place.  And the ones He chased out had to leave all that they had behind.  In the Greek words, He did not in any way allow them to take anything with them.  He did not allow them to go through the temple or take any of their goods with them when He ran them out of the temple!


Then Jesus quotes from a combination of Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. But before He quotes the scripture, He says, “It is written.” This does not mean pen put to paper, it literally means to be sculpted or engraved. This word is permanent, eternal. “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations.” Jesus had come to Jerusalem to fulfill the Father’s plan for salvation – not for the Hebrews only, but for the Gentiles as well. At this time, the most holy symbol of God was the Temple.  And what was the first thing a Hebrew person or Gentile saw as they entered the temple grounds?  A place of commerce, graft, and deceit….


Most of the area where this would have taken place is now covered by the second and least-known mosque located on the temple grounds, but it is actually larger than the Dome of the Rock.  On our trip, the mikveh baths were closed off. Yet, later that night as I was lying awake in my bed, between the stereo snoring of Ricci and Clayton, my thoughts focused on this truth: Jesus didn’t say a house of worship.  He didn’t say a house of praise.  He didn’t say a house of singing or Psalms.  Jesus said His Father’s house was called a house of prayer.


On this first day of our Holy Week, we are not facing a painful crucifixion on a Roman cross. We are, however, facing a lot of uncertainty.  Some of us are trying to deal with the quick spread of this virus that has the world by its throat.  Some of us are dealing with the uncertainty of the future after this whole ordeal is done. Some of us cannot go to work because of the lock-down and are worried how we are going to make it financially.  Some of us are in essential jobs and have to work and are worried about exposure to disease by either customers or coworkers.  Some of us are about to retire and watch our retirement funds dwindle with even the safe havens taking huge hits.  How will our health be? How will the economy be?  What happens when my essential job is not essential anymore?  When this whole mess is over with, will I have a job once again?


I do not have an answer to all these questions. Neither does our President and definitely not the congress, or the CDC, or the WHO, or the UN.  But there is One who DOES know.  He sent His Son to enter the unfriendly streets of Jerusalem and face an unwarranted death so we could live in His unmerited favor.  This One is God the Father, and He said in 2 Chronicles 7:14,”if My people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  Pray!  Earnestly, thoughtfully, intentionally, profoundly – PRAY!  Turn off Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and turn on TBN or the Hillsong channel.  Get into His word or the words of anointed believers.  Put away the merchants of fear, death, and uncertainty.  Wear the armor of faith and salvation.  Claim His promises, stand on His word, and trust.


But first we must humble ourselves, realizing it is not all about us and that there is nothing we can do about it.  Then we are to PRAY with the understanding of faith, knowing in our souls that what needs to be done, He is already doing.




Remember, continue to claim Psalm 91 in the first person.

Holy Week Messages


Matthew 21:1-11

1.) Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

2.) saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to me.

3.) And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them’ and immediately he will send them.”

4.) All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5.) “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you. Lowly and sitting on a donkey. A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

6.) So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.

7.) They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them and set Him on them.

8.) And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from trees and spread them on the road.

9.) Then, the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out saying: “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 had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

11.) So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”



It is Palm Sunday.  Like most of you, I am disappointed that we cannot be in our houses of worship this morning. But even though we are unable to meet together in one place this morning, we can be joined together in one Spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit.


I titled this message The Misunderstood Entry because it is. This passage is often represented as a triumph, but it wasn’t. For a long time, I could not understand how Jesus went from triumph one Sunday to the lowest point in His earthly life the following Friday, to the ultimate triumph the next Sunday.  Jesus had come to the top of the Mount of Olives. The other Gospels tell us that He had been in Bethany at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus a few days before.  He had come the way the pilgrims from Galilee would normally travel.  He had healed the blind at Jericho and had been camping out on the Mount of Olives for a day or two. The pilgrims from Galilee had been gathering there as well. Some maybe had places to stay in Jerusalem, but most stayed around Bethphage, Bethany, or on the Mount of Olives. It was a time of great excitement – the Passover, one of Israel’s three major feasts. And as the pilgrims from Galilee could see with their own eyes, there was Jesus the prophet from their own region, the one who had performed so many signs and miracles, the one whom many were wondering (and some proclaiming) could be the Messiah. In their minds was that question:  Could this be the time?  The place was perfect, it was Jerusalem. What more perfect time could there be than the Passover? The week where they would celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. What better time to be delivered from the Romans and other enemies?


Jesus came to the top of the Mount. The people saw Him. and instead of going on to the city, they waited in anticipation to see what He would do.  He told two of His disciples to go into the village and procure a donkey and her colt.  I am sure it had been prearranged.  Jesus was not unfamiliar with this area, and the people of this area were not unfamiliar to Him.  What makes this story important is not that there was a donkey and a colt waiting for Him, but what that donkey and colt represented.    What stands out to me are two words Jesus gave in His command to the two disciples, “You will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her.” The Greek word for with is meta, pronounced met-ah. When you delve into the Greek you will find prepositions that may have 2 pages of definitions of ways that they are used. Meta is one of them. Here it means together, to share the same experience. The second word is loosed. The Greek word translated here for loose is luo, pronounced loo’-o, and it means to unbind. These two words stand out because the two donkeys were about to share an experience with their creator.  But to share that experience, they first had to be unbound…. God created us to share Himself with us. From the very beginning in the book of Genesis, to the Tabernacle in Exodus, to Solomon’s Temple, to Pentecost Sunday – God’s goal has always been for us to be in relationship with Him. But before that can happen, we like the two donkeys have to first be unbound…


Verse 4 tells us that this was done (donkeys found and unbound) so that the prophesy might be fulfilled. The Greek for was done is ginomal, pronounced ghin’-om-ahee. It means that this act was done for a specific purpose.  The word fulfilled is pieroo, pronounced play-ro’o. Here it means to finalize, bring to a complete conclusion.  And what was that conclusion? God’s plan of salvation for His creation!


Verse 5 brings us the Old Testament prophesy from Zechariah 9:9, “Tell the daughter of Zion, behold your King is coming to you, lowly and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew doesn’t quote the whole passage, stopping at verse 9 and not including verse 10.  He also leaves out the portion regarding the King coming with righteousness and salvation. To understand this, we have to first understand what Zachariah was saying. In chapter 8, Zachariah was talking about the conquests of Alexander the Great.  As he came from Syria to conquer Palestine, he went ahead of his army, adorned in splendor and riding a magnificent steed. The deliverer of Israel will not do so.  He will not come in His own power, but in the power of God’s righteousness.  He will be meek and humble, submitting Himself to the will and word of God.  He will not do His own work but the work of God.  He will not come at the head of a mighty army on a beautiful charger but on a donkey.  And not just any donkey but a colt, a donkey foal.  And the other Gospels tell us it was one that had never been ridden before.


So, the disciples bring the donkeys to where Jesus was, a spot somewhere from 100 to 300 feet higher than the Temple mount; and from this location, He can see the entire city of Jerusalem.  He already knows that in a few days His work on earth will be done.  Is there a chance that Jerusalem will receive their King?  We could look at the scene on top of the Mount of Olives and think there was hope. The disciples began to put their clothing onto the donkey.  Matthew wanted so badly to fulfill the prophesy that he had Jesus riding both animals at the same time. Sorry church, Jesus was not a circus act. It would be impossible to ride both animals at the same time and accomplish what Jesus was trying to do here. His riding into Jerusalem with one foot placed on the back of each donkey would not project the humble and meek spirit intended.  In Zachariah the Hebrew translated that He rode only one.  So Matthew, while being literal in this point, missed the true translation.  Matthew tells us that there was a huge crowd.  Seeing what the disciples did, and Jesus then riding the colt, the people began to place their clothing on the road.  Others started cutting branches from trees and placing them on the road. Then all began the descent from the Mount of Olives through the Kidron Valley to Jerusalem.  All the people were praising God and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”- part of which comes from Psalm 118:26. What doesn’t come from Psalm 118 is “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Hosanna in the highest.” They were proclaiming their hope that this prophet would be the Messiah. The word blessed translates as the blessing of God toward a particular person and the Greek translation of LORD going back to the Hebrew is Yahweh. The covenant keeping God, the God of absolute power and authority.


The celebration continued the whole trek of three quarters of a mile to the eastern gate of Jerusalem. The people within the city heard it, and our scripture says they were “moved”.  The English word moved does not tell the whole story.  Moved in the English could mean a lot of things: moved to joy, anticipation, excitement, wonder, sympathy – well, you get the line of thought. The Greek word used here is seio, pronounced si’-o.  It literally means to agitate, to rock, to cause to tremor.  These people in the city were not celebrating, they were severely shaken and agitated. They asked the question, “Who is this?”, and the multitudes answered, “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”  Notice they did not answer,  “Jesus of Nazareth” or Jesus of Galilee” but “Jesus the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee!”


Now, the majority of people inside the walls of Jerusalem were from Judea or Jerusalem.  To them Galilee was not much more than their hillbilly cousins whom they looked down upon.  And as we have heard before, the lowest point in the Galilean cesspool was the town of Nazareth!  Dr. James Fleming has written and spoken on the fact that at the feasts like Passover, there were two types of people: those inside the walls of Jerusalem and those outside the walls.  Outside the walls were the pilgrims from Galilee and other places.  Inside the walls were the locals for the most part.  Outside the walls, Jesus was relatively safe.  Inside, He was in enemy territory.  Inside the walls were the religious strongholds of the pharisees and the priests.  Those inside the walls were not excited by His entry.  They were shaken.


Jesus came into that stronghold riding on the colt of a donkey.  He was fulfilling prophecy. Matthew tells us that He came that way for a specific purpose, to finalize and bring to completion God’s plan for salvation. Yet both sides misunderstood.  The multitudes were hoping for the military overthrow of the Romans and maybe then a spiritual renewal of the Temple and the Temple cult.  The religious leaders were afraid of a political uprising that could upset their apple cart and threaten their power.  Neither group understood that Jesus could care less about political or religious power.  He came to bring salvation to the world through the righteousness of the Father.  He came to restore the opportunity for us to once again walk and live in the presence of the living God.  He came to break the yoke of sin, the oppression of condemnation.  He came to bring God’s grace and mercy to a world shackled by religious rules and regulations.  He came to take upon Himself our sins so that we could take upon ourselves His righteousness.  He came to take the curse so that we could be free from the curse.  He came to show us in His life and His death the unconditional love of the Father – and with His resurrection, the unconditional faithfulness of the Father.  He came that we, like the donkey He rode into Jerusalem, could be unbound.


This Sunday is Palm Sunday.  It is the first day of Holy Week. As we move through the week, let us not overlook and skip forward to Easter.  Let us meditate on the entire week:  Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Let us remember that today begins Jesus’ walk toward Calvary and the end of our separation from our loving Heavenly Father. That shortly after today, we, like the donkeys, will be unbound…..     AMEN




Remember Deuteronomy 31:8, “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.”


Remember to read Psalm 91 each day and claim it for yourself. Read it in first person. Watch out, though – it changes from a statement of faith to a promise in verse 14.  You can still claim it in first person, just be sure you claim your blessing not God’s pronouncement.


Blessing for Your Week:  


Now may the God who promises He will never leave you nor forsake you, the God who promises He will work all things for your good because you love Him and are called according to his purpose, the God who is your Rock, your Strength, your Shelter, your Horn, and your Salvation:  keep you, protect you, and give you His peace.  AMEN