Palm Sunday musings

When I was a little girl, Palm Sunday was one of my favorite occasions. Our church was decorated with green potted palms. Our children’s choir sang. It was wonderfully happy. “Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang.”

I suspect our Palm Sunday in an elaborate church with stained glass windows looked nothing like the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem, but we welcomed Him. We praised Him. It was a celebration that culminated the next Sunday with the Resurrection.

So much could be said about all the happenings on that first Palm Sunday, but I want to limit my thoughts to the triumphal entry itself.

Jesus sat on a donkey colt. I have always wondered why. I’ve read that kings rode donkeys in those days, but other biblical accounts don’t have kings on horseback or mules or donkeys at all. They are almost always in a chariot, pulled by horses. So, I am not sure about this.

People put their clothing on the donkey for Jesus to sit on and in the way—to make a clean road for Him. This speaks of the willingness to serve, sacrifice, and loving Jesus. Others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way (Mark 11:8b). It was a symbol of honor.

Multitudes—one wonders how many—went before Jesus and followed saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest (Matthew 21:9).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out (Luke 19:37-40).

What an occasion!

The multitude introduced Jesus as the Messiah when they called Him “King” and “son of David.” Even the phrases “peace in heaven” and “glory in the highest” remind us of the angel’s message at His birth.

The religious rulers were not happy with this message. It went against their own ideas. They didn’t want to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

But Jesus replied, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Can you imagine? This message was so important that even dumb, inanimate rocks would be able to speak if Jesus quieted the people.

Hosanna to the Son of David.

As Jesus gets close to Jerusalem, he beheld the city, and wept over it.

Jerusalem—the central city in all of the Bible. It will be the city where the end time prophecies occur and the city that’s completely re-created to be the permanent home for believers. The New Jerusalem with its rainbow-hued foundations, pearl doors, and beauty like nothing we can imagine, where Jesus Himself is the light, and where Hosannas will be sung forever and ever.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:1-4).

So, Jesus’ ride on Palm Sunday was introducing Him as Messiah.

Hosanna in the highest!

Photo courtesy of www.lumoproject.com.

“Sorry for your loss”

When a loved one has passed away, we hear, “Sorry for your loss.” Of course, we understand the phrase and sentiment behind those words. It’s an appropriate thing to say. The people left behind will grieve their loss—each in his own way.

A friend’s wife passed away, and many people said the same thing to him. He replied, “I didn’t lose my wife; I know where she is.” And, it’s true. This woman is with Jesus in heaven. Her husband knows her whereabouts.

Loss and grief, mourning, anger, and feelings of guilt over “what ifs” and “I wish I had” are part of everyone’s experience.

Death is certain. There’s no getting away from that awful consequence of sin. Everyone, sooner or later, will pass on. The Bible says, And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

And, we who are left behind grieve the loss of the people we love. It’s important to allow ourselves to process grief, recognize its phases, and by God’s grace, move forward—though we will always miss him.

I’d like to address the two kinds of loss:

  1. Loss with hope
  2. Loss forever

I personally have been through both kinds, and I can tell you it is much easier to face the loss of a loved one when I know I’ll see that person again. What I’m talking about is the difference between knowing you’re going to heaven and that your loved one is already there, and not being sure where your loved one is.

Let me insert a parenthesis. Only God can judge a heart. If your loved one has heard the gospel, you probably don’t know for sure whether or not he always rejected God’s mercy. Only God knows the heart. We may suppose that someone rejected salvation until the very end, but we probably can’t know for sure if that person cried out to the Lord for salvation in his last moments of consciousness or not. Only God knows.

Someone who’s gone ahead to heaven doesn’t have pain anymore. He’s also sinless, thanks to Jesus. He is joyful, praising, and has no need of anything. Though we grieve the loss down here on earth, we have the wonderful promise that we will see him again. We have the assurance that they’re in a better place and can even rejoice through our tears. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I’ve attended the funerals of several people who seemed not to have any interest whatsoever in the Lord, who lived their lives in the pursuit of pleasure and chained to addictions, and who—from what we could tell—rejected God until the end of their lives. (One probably never heard the gospel; the others had.) These are the saddest occasions. (Again, we’re not God, and only He knows if those who had heard the gospel responded at the very end of their lives.) As a born again person, I don’t know that I will ever see them again. I grieved profoundly.

The most important thing you can do for your family is make sure you know you’re going to heaven when you die and to help your family know, as well. You can know. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).

Do you have eternal life? Have you believed on Jesus? Have you accepted His payment for your sins?

Before your passing, make sure your family knows where to find you. Make sure your new home will be heaven.

Easter memories and actualities

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

The sanctuary is adorned with myriad pots of white Easter lillies wrapped in purple foil, and the organ plays. Our children’s choir, in two-piece robes with ridiculous, huge bows at our necks, walks down the center aisle, singing Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. When our choir gets into place up front, our minister floats across the platform in his white robe with the special purple and gold scarf and begins the invocation. “Jesus is risen. Let us rejoice.” And the adult choir begins the anthem.

One very early Easter morning when I was a teen, our family went to a park to hear another choir’s resurrection songs. I remember the trees were lacy with tiny chartreuse leaves, dogwoods were in bloom, and the beautiful voices sang out. Low in the grave He lay Up from the grave He arose! It was thrilling.

Between my participation in the children’s choir and the dewy Easter morning in the park, I was born again. I understood the significance of Easter. No tomb can hold Him. He is God. He is our Redeemer. He’s alive!

The resurrection is the crowning pinnacle of the gospel.

Jesus died on the cross. That’s a terrible and wonderful fact, since His death—the perfect Son of God willingly paying the price for my sins—made it so that I could decide to acknowledge that payment and be saved.

And, even though He died and was buried, He rose.

Jesus told his disciples what would happen. He told the Jewish leaders as well. But his disciples didn’t understand. The leaders did, but they said, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God (John 19:7b).

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

After Jesus’ death, the Jewish leaders paid hush money to those who guarded the tomb, so that the people wouldn’t know what happened (Matthew 28:11-15).

Many saw Him after the resurrection. He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me (Paul) also, as of one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

Well over five hundred people saw Jesus alive, walking on the earth, talking to them, even eating food. He stayed around for forty days.

Disciples and angels watched as He ascended into heaven, promising to come again.

Why is it so important that Jesus is alive? Wasn’t His death enough?

Many religions portray Jesus on the cross, in glass caskets, and lying down on slabs—dead. While it’s true He suffered on the cross and was buried in a cave tomb, the most miraculous part of the gospel is His resurrection.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

The resurrection of Jesus gives us the way to eternal life. The resurrection gives us hope.

Jesus said unto her (the woman at the well), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

Have a Happy Easter!

Expressions of Love

Have you ever read old Valentines? They can be really corny. The honeybee says, “Won’t you bee mine?” and the little secretary bats her eyes and murmurs, “You’re just my type.” Cartoon green Martians declare, “You’re out of this world.” Then, we have those lacey, flowery Victorian Valentines with their declarations of love. For example: “Fain would I guard thee through life’s desert drear, And fling around thee love to soothe and cheer, For thoe I live might I but call thee mine, I’d be forever thy own Valentine.” If I ever got one like that, I’d crack up for sure!

My husband makes up little love poems for me. They are terrible poetry, but I know the sentiment is real. They usually begin with “You are my” or “Roses are red.” They’re composed in the moment and always hilarious.

As a child, we decorated shoeboxes with hearts and doilies and put slits in the tops to serve as mailboxes, for our classmates to give us Valentines. We took Valentines to class, and gave each of our fellow classmates a Valentine as well. They were of the honeybee and Martian types (above). The whole concept was goofy. I mean, what did “Won’t you bee mine?” mean in third grade? We were clueless.

Expressions of love.

Real love.

Abiding love.

We all need it. The whole world clamors for love. Usually, the world has no idea where to find love, but it continues to search. Every person on earth wants to feel loved, protected, and cherished.

There is one source of this kind of love. And, there’s one eternal Valentine worth reading: God’s expression of love, the Bible. Enjoy reading what He says to you:

  • The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

The Bible is Truth. We can rely on the fact that God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love. We can give our own cares over to Him.

God’s love—expressed here as great love—gave us salvation. Many times in the Bible, the love of God is linked to His provision of salvation and accompanied by mercy and grace. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

God’s love is reflected in our love for others. In fact, the Bible says that when we love God, we will love others.

  • He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:8-9, 16).
  • When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37, 39).
  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:9, 12-13, 17).

Not only are we supposed to love others, we’re to encourage them to love—that Valentine word again—and do good. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24). When people see our lives and the way we treat others, they should be encouraged to do the same.

Walking in the Way shares one more Valentine verse:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,

and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice

to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).

May God bless your life with His love.