That got everyone’s attention didn’t it? Like when you throw chum in the ocean; sharks quickly gather at the smell of blood. They know it’s time for the kill and a feeding frenzy follows. For the most vicious species of sharks swimming around nowadays, please note, I didn’t say I am Jesus. Aren’t you relieved!
Good Friday is fast approaching. Soon we will be celebrating our Lord’s death and resurrection as part of our cultural calendar. That’s a wonderful blessing. During this season, many Christians take time to meditate on the last week of Jesus’ life before his resurrection (Matt 21-27; Mark 11-15; Luke 19-23; John 12-19). It is call Holy Week or Passion Week and it begins with Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday announces our Savior’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. As a child, I loved this particular Sunday because we received actual palms with which to celebrate. They made for great whips and lots of fun. Sorry…back to my point.
As Jesus entered the city, The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9)
Within a week it all changed as the crowds were demanding his execution. We read in Matthew’s gospel, But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (Matt 27:20-23)
The faithful Christian cannot live out his faith based upon the favorable or unfavorable opinions of men. He may learn from criticisms or benefit from encouragement; but he cannot live for praise or be deterred by hatred. What an incredible example our Lord Jesus Christ left for us in this regard. Palm Sunday and Good Friday teach us to live for God alone. Flattery and betrayal go hand in hand. Especially when standing up for righteousness.
Let me ask a question. What was the first thing Jesus did on Palm Sunday after he entered the city to shouts of “Hosanna!”? Here you go. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Matt 21:10-13)
This week an angry mob has been crying out, “Crucify him.” Last week they were extoling, “Hosanna.” (I am using figures of speech). God has called me to overturn a few tables and benches and expose a “den of robbers” often characterized by deceit and self-interests. Such vocations test a man’s soul. Jesus was applauded one day and vilified the next.
In the end it matters not what others say. We live for the audience of One and that means daily picking up our crosses, denying ourselves, and following him. None of us does this perfectly, but we can’t do it at all, unless we are willing to walk the Via Dolorosa or The Road to Suffering. Those that walk The Road of Ease cannot claim to be Christians. Genuine believers have renounced looking good, being liked, lying, fitting in, self-interests and worldly security to mention a few. The Christian disciple knows that those that desire to live a godly life will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). An absence of suffering means an absence of faith.
I heard from some SGM pastors this week. I can’t control their sentiments but I can appeal to their consciences and ask them not to turn a blind eye. Here is one response I penned.
“I understand how you feel about me. That is fine. But please don’t allow the lying, deception, cover up, etc. to continue without calling these men to account. You may not agree with how I’ve gone about things or the manner in which I’ve written at times. That is fine too. But please be certain that what I have written is true! I’ve not made things up. I’ve not embellished illustrations. I am willing to answer any question. I always provide abundant and objective evidence.
“Furthermore, I’ve pleaded to be heard. Instead I’ve been threatened, excommunicated, and prevented by deceitful means from making a case and defending against false witnesses. This alone should result in every SGM pastors calling for the resignation of the entire SGM Board. I am not exaggerating when I say the corruption is great. You can’t allow it. You must confront it. Condemn me. Hate me. But don’t allow the brazen hypocrisy, deceit, and favoritism to continue. It is destroying SGM.
“You are the salt of the world. Salt protected against decay. Too many SGM pastors have lost their salt. They are unwilling to stand up against evil but they are willing to crush those who do. Don’t be one of them. You are better than that my dear friend.”
God has a different calling for each of us but faithful discipleship always requires suffering for righteousness sake. One of my professors use to say it is one of the occupational hazards of being a Christ follower. Cowards have no place in the Kingdom of God (Rev. 21:8). Don’t live for the praise of men; live for the glory of God.
I expect to be mocked for what I’ve written here. Some will despise my “I feel like Jesus some days” analogy; but I don’t pretend greatest or unusual godliness. I am an average believer seeking to do God’s will. On the other hand, I find comfort and strength in the example of my precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Hosanna” and “crucify him” are under his blessed control.
In the coming days, study the Passion Week in Scripture and remember the sufferings of Christ in your heart. Jesus gave us an example to follow. Moreover, remember Good Friday. Good for us. Bad for him. That day was filled with holy horrors because Christ suffered the righteous indignation of God toward sin and sinners. Jesus died because of us and he died for us. He took our place. His passionate love resulted in his passionate sufferings. Then look forward to Resurrection Sunday and celebrate the Father’s glorious vindication of his Son whom seated him at his right hand in power and majesty. Sin and death were dethroned. Christ is Lord and he has granted new life to his church. Halleluiah, he is risen from the dead..