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Sunday Message for 28 March 2021 (Palm Sunday): “Spiritual Entrance”

Share in the joys of Palm Sunday, a time of welcoming Jesus. Today celebrates not only Jesus’ historic donkey ride through Jerusalem’s gate but also the promise of God’s entrance into your life.

Jesus’ ride into the ancient capital city of Israel encouraged his supporters, many of whom perceived him as a celebrity. Those ancient crowds might have known Jesus as the populist, healing prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Other of his admirers considered Jesus to be a messiah who would free them from Roman occupation. Whatever the onlookers felt was based on their perceptions of that controversial, donkey-riding man. A relevant question for you is what type of Jesus do you perceive?

All was not well amid the parade-like atmosphere of Jesus’ grand arrival. The Jewish and Roman leaders realized that a fervent crowd could get out of control. From their perspective, the onlookers could foment a riot, possibly sparking a revolt against the Roman occupiers (which eventually happened about a few decades after Jesus’ death). Whether intended or not, both Jesus and those gathered to watch him were contributing to escalating political instability. With the Romans, even a parade led by a peculiar holy man aroused dangerous forces.

What if Jesus had leveraged his popularity to initiate insurrection against the Jewish priestly oligarchy and the Romans? Jesus didn’t promote such a scenario because he was emphasizing a spiritual revolution over a political one. It’s not surprising then that Jesus chose to present himself as the spiritual King of the Jews. Earthly kingdoms come and go, but God’s eternal presence doesn’t depend on who holds ruling power. Jesus did not exploit opportunities for changing the political map of ancient Palestine.

Some of those people cheering Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem felt betrayed because Jesus didn’t instigate the anticipated political changes. This explains why some people abandoned Jesus during his trial and execution. Initially buoyed by high-hopes, those who shouted praises during Jesus’ triumphal entry would soon be appalled by Jesus’ silent complicity. It’s unfortunate that public opinion was so fickle and focused on worldly things. Once evident that Jesus would not fulfill nationalist aspirations, most of his base of cheerleading supporters abandoned him. Such is how peoples’ expectations about political messiahs leaves them frustrated and unfulfilled.

Fast-forward nearly two-thousand years and Jesus continues to make entrances into peoples’ hearts and minds. As in the past, views about Jesus vary across a spectrum. So many different views of Jesus are possible that some have suggested that it’s like a spiritual cafeteria or religious smorgasbord, where you can pick and choose the Jesus you want based on your tastes and underlying prejudices and expectations.

As always, those who think about Jesus can be casual observers, hardened skeptics, true-believers, people who want to manipulate sentiment, and just about every shade of opinion in-between. Your task is to cut through the smokescreen and embrace the Jesus of love and truth, thereby welcoming the God of your life renewal.

Today, it’s not about a literal, triumphal entry through a city gate as much as it is a spiritual entry of God into your life. Are you ready for this? Is God your guiding force and are you enthusiastic? The point is to get you to the place where you can follow God authentically, not out of habit, fear, social pressure or anything less than a transforming embrace of the Almighty.

As you prepare for Easter, hunger and thirst for God’s spirit. Allow yourself to be filled with meaning and hope. Don’t let Lent end in vain. Move forward courageously and continue the positive spiritual momentum through 2021.

The tendency is for people to drop off and drop out after Lent and Holy Week. Don’t let that happen to you! Avoid the slow death of apathy and complacency and remain motivated. Allow God to make the grandest of entrances into your life. You may not sit on a donkey but whatever you ride my prayer is that the Almighty will be the driving force in your life.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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