March 20, 2016
Text: Luke 19:28-40
There’s nothing greater than when the Jesus we had all been waiting for shows up! Can anyone relate to that? When things finally come together and go our way-when our prayers are finally answered when and how we wanted them answered- that’s when we think Jesus shows up- or rather- that’s when it feels like it. Truth is, Jesus has been there all along.
God has always been in the middle of our lives and the history of the world from the beginning of time and even before. It is not God who shows up- He has always been with us- it is we who need to turn to Him. Pray.
On that day, 2,000 years ago- Jesus’s popularity had been spreading like wildfire. People had seen and heard of all the miraculous things Jesus had been doing- healings the sick- raising people from the dead, feeding 5,000 people- it goes on and on. After waiting for generations, they were tired and anxious and they were looking for the kind of king they had been waiting for.
And so when they got word that Jesus was outside the gates- the excitement began to grow- it was contagious. Everyone got caught up in the moment. It was contagious. Some cut palm branches and paved the road in front of Jesus. They waved them in the air and shouted Hosanna! Hosanna! Which in Hebrew means- “save us! Save us!” They praised Jesus- thinking- hoping that He was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
We too cry out to God to save us –as we should- save us from our pain, our fears, our sins- whatever it is. I remember as a little boy, waking up in the night from a dream and crying out in the night for my mom and dad to save me, and they would get up and stay with me until I was calmed down and fell asleep. I always knew they would be there for me. Now, there are times when I cry out to God in the middle of the night- and I know He will always be there for me.
But we tend to see things from our perspective- when our prayers aren’t answered when and how we want them to be answered, we wonder if God is listening- if he even cares- if he is really there. Some people are led to believe that God only shows up when we can see him moving- when he answer our prayers the way we want. But Jesus has arrived to save us even before we call out to Him.
Numerous times throughout the Old Testament come to mind when God “showed up” to answer prayer with power and might. When God answered Elijah’s prayer to rain down fire from heaven and burn up the altar as a show of power- defeating the 400 prophets of Baal- that was certainly a day when God “showed up”.
The whole story of how God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt- the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the desert, leading them in a visible way by a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night to name just a few.
But then there are those times in the bible when God didn’t seem to “show up”. Elijah-immediately after his victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah ran and hid in fear- and asked God to let him die. And there was a great wind- but God wasn’t in the wind- and there was a great earthquake- but God was not in the earthquake and then a fire- but the Lord was not in the fire- and then came a still, small voice-and God was in the voice.
God speaks to us through the Psalmist-“be still- and know that I am God”. God has always been close and active in our lives and throughout the history of all mankind- even when we don’t recognize what He is doing or understand what He is saying. It is we who need to turn to Him and listen- and rest in His promises- trusting He knows best.
God had promised a king- a deliverer to come and save Israel. They expected a warier king- riding on a white horse leading an army to free them from the Romans- if not a warrior king-at least someone like Moses who had led their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt.
On a cold winter night, God fulfilled His promise. Only this time He didn’t send a prophet-this time God sent His own Son. He “showed up” quietly-a vulnerable baby lying in a manger- in a barn. An almighty, all powerful, holy and righteous God had done the unimaginable. He had emptied Himself- humbled himself- even becoming obedient unto death- even death on the cross.
Today, the crowds yell: “Hosanna” – “save us”. His followers were excited. In their eyes Jesus had finally made it. People were finally giving him the honor and praise He deserved. But it wouldn’t last-by the end of the week, those same crowds would cry “crucify Him- crucify Him”. To Jesus followers- it would seem that all their hopes and dreams of Jesus the King they had hoped for had crumbled in front of them. And when Friday rolled around- and they saw Jesus dying on the cross- and laid in the tomb- it seemed the Jesus who had “showed up” a few days earlier- had left- and in the middle of a sleepless night- once more they prayed- God- save us.
Little did they realize that God had not been silenced- He had not left- He was closer to answering their prayers of loud Hosannas and quiet whispers of “save us” than He had ever been before. He was finishing up business- even more perfectly than we ever could have hoped.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”- Paul writes. Jesus is our savior-our perfect savior- not necessarily a savior we always wanted- but a savior we always needed.
Because we know that God is faithful to His word- that He answers our prayers in due time- in His own way- that He has never left but has drawn close- who hears not only our prayers and loud Hosannas “save us”- but also our private, quiet prayers of “save us”- we may confess with
the Psalmist when he says: “but as for me-I have trusted in you, O Lord. I have said, “You are my God- my times are in your hands- save me in your steadfast love”- Amen.
One day soon- Jesus will come back in all His power and glory- and on that day the whole world will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Come Lord Jesus! Hosanna! Save us! Amen