HOPE: How God surprised me this Easter season (2013)
It’s always amazing to me how the LORD providentially connects things in ways we never see coming.
For example: I’ve been reading/studying/meditating on the Gospel of Matthew for over a year now… and today I landed in Matthew 21, verse 1 – the triumphal entry.
You know, Palm Sunday? Looking forward to Easter?
It’s the season we are in now!
Seeing God’s providential hand in my scripture reading for this morning, I was full of hope about what He might have to show me.
And HOPE is exactly what He showed me:
ted them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!” 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.”
I think I may be seeing this passage with “fresh eyes” for the first time.
For the past 20+ years I’ve been a busy Pastor this time of year… diligently preparing for the instruction and leadership of people.
Though I’ve always tried to be diligent to ensure that my heart was always “in it” I find that this year, since I have none of those pressures – the passage spoke more readily, more simply.
I found myself suddenly viewing the scene through the eyes of those involved…
First, I consider what nervousness and caution must have been in the hearts of those disciples who were sent to retrieve the animals.
Were they fearful?
Were they nervous?
Was there a sense of anticipation in their hearts?
Did they know that a celebration was about to erupt?
The quotation of the prophecy comes from Zechariah 9.
In its original context it’s a passage of judgement and deliverance – a promise of freedom from and conquering of enemies.
If the disciples, or anyone else in the crowd even had a notion of the prophesy as Jesus mounted the animals… it’s no wonder they were so excited.
In that context Jesus ride does seem a very hopeful precursor to a very great deliverance.
Though not mentioned in this passage, they were surely aware of the event that was evolving in the streets of Jerusalem.
I can’t imagine them not being concerned.
They too were ignorant of the true significance of what was going on, and I suspect that rather than joy, they felt fear, concern, and apprehension.
Both their role in the society and their position in it set them up as watchmen, guardians – and such responsibility can breed suspicion and skepticism (I know of which I speak).
It happens at least on subtle levels even in the hearts of those genuinely dedicated to keeping themselves right before God so that they can do their work with pure motives and desires.
The people were clearly thinking of themselves in any case.
They were hopeful that Jesus might be their long-awaited King (which the prophesy encourages).
They were hoping for freedom from Rome, prosperity once again, and a national identity unstained by Gentile oversight.
The “cleansing of the temple” that follows (Matthew 21:12-17) would only have supported those notions.
Yet, they clearly understood that something significant was afoot. Their cries were cries of hopefulness, shouts of joy upon thinking that their liberation could be on the horizon.
They did not know the type or the extent of the freedom Jesus would bring, or that it would be a more important liberation than anything they could conceive.
Their sights were set too low – yet their low-aimed hope still brought honor to Him as the “Son of David,” the agent of God’s victory and deliverance, whatever form it might take.
It’s the tone of the Zechariah passage that stirred my heart. Though there is much in the details and timing of events in it that I don’t understand, it excites me to hear of deliverance, and to hope for things to come.
To see the LORD coming in victory, but with amazing humility.
I long for it. Do you?
To see all enemies of the kingdom of God once and for all thwarted and removed – what relief and long-awaited joy that will be!
We earth-bound servants long for such relief.
We are eager for righteousness to reign and justice to be plainly and perfectly seen, forever.
Our hearts ache for such times to be here, to be now.
I think of our present-day longings for smaller relief – removal of debt, financial stability, health, absence of worry – these are echoes of the deeper, more lasting yearnings of those days of victory yet to be.
In that sense, the LORD showed me that I can be comfortable with those “here and now” sort of longings.
I don’t have to label them as “selfish” and immediately try to ignore them.
They are longings of a helpless human heart – a heart that recognizes its own dependence.
They may still be selfish at times – but not purely so.
They are worship, cries of the heart to the God of justice and righteousness – calling out to Him to make all things right.
Overall, I find my heart eager to rejoice, to relish Jesus’ victories in my life and on my behalf.
I want to be a celebrant, a prisoner of hope (as quoted in the broader context of Zechariah 9). I want my soul to be captive to hope, thriving in it because my LORD Jesus is faithful to His own… even in circumstances that might normally lead to despair or discouragement.
I want to learn how to push away all doubt in my Jesus’ good plans and works in my life.
I want to learn to be done with fear, weariness, and discouragement because of the certainty of His victory and coming restoration.