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It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. Galatians 5:13 (MSG)

We need more Memorial Days, days of collective remembering and mourning, especially where we find ourselves as a people in 2021, deeply divided, tearing at the seams, splintering into ever more factions, forgetting our core values, descending into violence, truth twisting, indecency, uncivility, hatefulness, indebtedness, and godlessness.

I don’t think that is what our servicemen and women died for. The voices I heard walking through the American Cemetery in Normandie, or among the rows of Graves at Arlington, or at the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, spoke of a better world, a nobler nation, of a people who know what is worth fighting for and dying for, of standing up to evil, of blessing the generations to follow with freedoms, justice, order, and peace.

I don’t think they fought and died so we would war and fight among ourselves, so we would justify rotten behavior, trample and abuse freedom, cancel each other, and be consumed with what is best for me and mine rather than what is best for us as a people both now and long after we are gone.

It is not proper to run through a cemetery trampling on the graves and even moreso where those who fought for “One Nation, under God,” for a free Republic “with liberty and justice for all,” lie buried. You don’t have to be in a National Cemetery to trample, we trample when we abuse our freedoms, we trample when we restrict constitutional freedoms, we trample when we embrace hate and its rhetoric, we trample when we refuse to listen and see, we trample when we shirk personal responsibility, we trample when we are unwilling to make sacrifices, we trample when we perpetrate or are silent at injustice, we trample when we are takers instead of contributors, we trample when don’t confront evil, we trample when we exempt ourselves from or break the law, we trample when we support bad laws, we trample when we are part of the problem instead of the solution, we trample when we are unkind, unreasonable, and unhelpful, we trample when we don’t learn from history and ignore the voices of those who gave their lives for ideals worthy of dying for. No brief moment of silence, no amount of flag flying (and I am not against flying and honoring Old Glory) can silence the trampling of our everyday behavior, what pours from our mouths and fingertips, what we engage in, permit ourselves, and what we good we neglect to do.

We need more Memorial Days, more days when we walk among the graves in body or in spirit, to remember and mourn the dead and brave fellow citizens who put on a uniform to fight for and uphold liberty and self-determination, abolish slavery, defeat tyranny, stand up against evil, and keep alive the dream of a Nation where “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

May God have mercy on us and help us as a people.

Have a blessed and deeply meaningful Memorial Day, Pastor Hans

Susie and I have four children who born to us and a handful more God put into our home for some time of their lives, and now we also count five grandchildren as our own. It is amazing how different they all are, how their personalities, abilities, physiques, talents, and passions differ right out of the gate. From day one they contributed to the family, became participants in the routines, expanded and enriched the mix, impacted everyone else, and contributed to the life of our family.

When someone gives their life to Christ, is saved by repenting of their sin and placing their faith in Christ, believes in and follows Jesus, they are spiritually born again through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7). They become a child of God (John 1:12-13) and as such part of His family and are placed in the body of Christ, His church, just like a newborn is into his family (“… we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” 1 Corinthians 12:13b NLT), and are meant to contribute to the life, vitality, and love of that family from day one.

Every single Christian is uniquely shaped and gifted by the Spirit of God to contribute to the life of God’s family, to the body of Christ, His church, “A spiritual gift, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, is given to each of us for the common good” 1 Corinthians 12:7). God the Holy Spirit gives to every believer capabilities and abilities that are specifically meant to benefit the church, the family of God.

Both a family and a church are meant to be something beautiful, a blessed experience, something that enriches our lives immeasurably. This, however, is entirely dependent on how many members are committed, care deeply, and bring to the table the full inventory of all God has blessed them to be and enabled them to contribute. Things begin to break down when someone decides to behave badly, or decides to that they don’t really need these other people, or run from sorting out conflict the right way, or withhold from the rest what God has handed to them to contribute.

Many families have a person who is the glue of the crew. Someone who cares more and is more deeply invested than the rest, for whom the welfare of the family is paramount, whose full commitment is to the common good. When it comes to both family and the church, After Easter People embrace being part of the glue of the crew, they contribute their all for the benefit of all, they know God has both gifted and assigned them to this, and they understand God wants them to be part of something really beautiful and glorious. Christ loves the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. Ephesians 5:25-27 (MSG)

Sign me up! Pastor Hans

  • An old man blessing a baby (Luke 2:25-32).
  • An old woman, long widowed, always at the temple praying and fasting (Luke 2:36-38).
  • A boy volunteering his lunch (John 6:9).
  • A poor widow dropping her last few pennies in the offering (Mark 12:41-44).
  • A servant girl keeping the door (Acts 12:13).
  • A woman, known for her kindness and charity, making clothes for widows, orphans, and the poor (Acts 9:36-39).
  • A husband and wife, business owners, teaching a preacher (Acts 18:23-27).
  • Seven mature church members volunteering to resolve conflict and lead a ministry (Acts 6:1-6).
  • Two young people signing on to be missionaries (Acts 15:36-41).
  • A runaway, thieving, slave helping an apostle (Philemon 1:10-18).
  • An immoral, shunned, gossiped about woman influencing her whole town for Christ (John 4:1-26 & 39).
  • A prostitute honoring Jesus (Luke 7:36-38).
  • A despised Samaritan helping an injured traveler (Luke 10:30-37).
  • A wealthy property owner selling things to give more to help more (Acts 4:36-37).

That’s what happens when people are directed by the Holy Spirit, when they see the world with Jesus’ eyes, when their hearts beat for Christ, when they surrender themselves to God, when they do what is obviously right and pleases God, when they participate and contribute to the life of the church and work of Christ’s kingdom.

None of them just sat around, settle for mere spectating, or fooled themselves into a consumer mindset when it came to following Jesus and being right with God. No! They were all contributors, they surrendered and used what they had. They allowed God to lay hold of them, the Spirit of God to direct their hearts, minds, and actions. They didn’t escape into excuses, comparisons, or platitudes. They didn’t much care what others thought about them, but they did care a whole bunch about worshipping God, honoring Christ, and serving God any way they could. Their age, ethnicity, past, social status, wealth or poverty, education, marital status, and gender made no difference; none of these prevented them from participating in, and contributing to Gods’ purposes, the life of the Church (Jesus’ body), and God’s will in our world.

Jesus told his disciples to pray for workers, participators, contributors to the work of His Kingdom because there are too many spectators, church consumers, and lifeless professions of Jesus (James 2:14-26), and because God wants the whole world to be reached and transformed by the Gospel of Christ, “What a huge harvest!” Jesus said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” Matthew 9:37-38 (MSG, italics mine).

So, I am praying that you and I will be the workers, the contributors Jesus is looking for, and that we will both pray for and inspire more to fully embrace what the Holy Spirit leads each follower of Christ to contribute to His work, kingdom, and church:

  • Contribute your person – yourself – give up.
  • Contribute your presence – time – show up.
  • Contribute your possessions – generosity – put up.
  • Contribute your passion – heart – lift up.
  • Contribute your past – story – speak up.
  • Contribute your prayers – relationship – offer up.
  • Contribute your particulars – skills, abilities, talents, spiritual gifts – serve up.

To God be all glory. Love you, pastor Hans

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. 
Proverbs 31:28-31 (NLT2)

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about being a Mother. I have no idea what it feels like to be pregnant, to have a brand-new life kicking around inside of you. I have only witnessed birth, and part of me is very glad to never have gone through that experience. I have never nursed a baby, although a few of our babies tried to find something on my barren chest. I haven’t got a clue when it comes to experiencing the emotions, pressures, struggles, and joys of a Mom.

Here is what I do know: I know the incredible difference my Mama made in my life. I know what it feels like to have an awesome and godly Mom. My Mama’s commitment to my four brothers and me, to our family, was absolute, nothing mattered more to her, and the five of us and my Dad knew it. We were her boys! I remember many times seeing her just watching us with nothing but joy in her eyes. We gave her grief x 5, which had zero effect on the love she had for us. She sacrificed so we would have opportunities she never had. And she prayed, and prayed some more, usually in the bathroom, which also housed the washing machine, we knew better than to interrupt her when she was in there with the door closed.

I wish I knew what my Mama prayed for us, for me. I should’ve asked her when I was older. I do know God heard her, strengthened her, gave her wisdom, helped her to keep going through deep trials and dark valleys. Her prayers didn’t always get immediate answers, but they proved to be effective in the long haul. I believe those prayers are still being answered today, much like Jesus’ prayer in John 17. What a difference my Mama has made in my life, what a life-long blessing she turned out to be.

I lived with my Mama for 17 out of the first 18 years of my life, but I have watched Susie, that super-cute girlfriend of mine, whom I married as soon as she agreed, be the Mother of our four children and a handful of extras, for the past 39 years. After my Mama first met her, a few days before our wedding, she told me, “You found a Good One! Which I prayed that all of you boys would.” So, I have had the privilege to watch this “Good One” being a Mom for over twice as long as my Mama had me. I can tell you this, it is a blessed thing to be with, watch, benefit from, and be blessed by a godly, strong, wise, tenacious, selfless, kind, and brimming with life wife, who is fully committed to her family and loves being Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day. Pastor Hans

What’s your dream car, dream vacation, dream home, dream job, dream retirement, dream …?

What’s your vision for your life, your career, your kids, …?

How about being a prophet/ess? And whose spokesperson are you?

I do know that whatever influence you are under will impact your dreams, your visons, who you are going to be, and what comes out of you. If you are under the influence and control of greed your dreams, visons, speech, and character will reflect that. If you are controlled by hedonism (a continual pursuit of pleasure) what you dream of and envision for your life and our world will be vastly different from being controlled by altruism. When the Apostle Paul wrote about “being filled by the Spirit,” he implied being controlled by the Holy Spirit and contrasted it with being drunk, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation (squandering, wasting life), but be filled with the Spirit” Ephesians 5:18 (NASB, parenthesis mine). When you are drunk your whole being is affected, your mind, body, tongue, dreams, vision, decision making, and behavior are all under the control of alcohol. The same is true when you are filled with the Spirit of God, but you cannot be under the control of both at the same time.

When on the day of Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on who was left of Jesus’ followers, the church, they poured out of their meeting place into the streets of Jerusalem under the control and in the power of the Holy Spirit. A huge crowd of people quickly gathered and the Apostle Peter, himself being under the Spirit’s control, stood up to explain and then proclaim Christ. The first thing he made clear was they were not drunk, that they didn’t have a few too many endless Mimosas with breakfast, but that this was nothing but the fulfillment of what God had promised long ago, “(We) are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy’” Acts 2:15-18 (NIV, parenthesis mine)

After-Easter People, Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, are meant to be Holy Spirit filled/controlled people, so-much-so that is evident to everyone, even the critics and cynics, that some other power is in control of their lives. Did you notice that Peter made it clear this would be true of all believers, young and old, men and women, and that they would “prophesy,” see new “visions,” and have different “dreams.” They speak and declare the word of God (that’s what prophets/esses do), hear from God (that’s what happens when dreams and vision are from the Holy Spirit), and be captivated and motivated by the words, visions, and dreams inspired by God to live radically devoted lives for the sake of Jesus’ name and His kingdom. Did you also notice that they chucked their old dreams and visions in favor of what the Holy Spirit was doing in and through them, and that they threw their reservations to wind even though most of them had never prophesied under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The truth is that we will be controlled by something, our dreams and visions will shape our lives, character, and speech, and who or what we are willing to abandon and surrender ourselves to will determine whether our lives will be dissipation or serve the eternal and redemptive purposes of God.

So, what are your dreams and visions, and what fills your speech? Are they clear evidence that you are under influence and control of the Holy Spirit? Or are they evidence that you are still functioning under a influence and power that neither knows nor is surrendered to God?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NLT2)

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.
Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Acts 2:1-4 (NLT2)

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 (HCSB)

My laptop, cell phone, alarm clock, the coffee maker, cook stove, TV, internet router, lights, dishwasher, washer, dryer, swamp cooler, garage doors, hair trimmer, toothbrush, stereo, sprinkler timers, air compressor, numerous tools, water heater, wood stove fan, … all of them require power (electric power to be precise) to function. You cut off the electricity and everything comes to a screeching halt, our way of life is dependent on power. Every car, airplane, ship, and machine is rendered useless without a power supply of some kind.

We not only require power for bodies, but also minds, souls, and spirits, and, the source of what fuels us makes an enormous difference. I once drove a group of teenage boys to camp. On the way we stopped at a gas station. By the time I was done pumping gas they had purchased several four-packs of the most potent, caffeine and sugar-laden energy drinks and had slammed four or more before even getting back to the car. Within minutes they were bouncing off the walls like hummingbirds on speed, only to completely crash and burn a few hours later. It makes a difference if you are powered by hate or love, by bitterness or forgiveness, by a mean spirit or kindness, by greed or generosity, by violence or peace, by abuse of power or justice, by arrogance or humility, by foolishness or wisdom, by negativity or joy.

Before His ascension, Jesus told His Disciples to wait for God the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4,8), promising them a new source of power, because what God wants you and to be and do cannot be accomplished without divine power. The source of power in a believer’s, a Christian’s life is the Spirit of God and without Him we will make a mess out of the Christian life, the church, and the global mission of being witnesses of Christ.

If you unplug your TV it will stay dark, your toaster won’t toast, your coffeemaker won’t brew anything in spite of having everything in it for a delicious cup of joe. Similarly, the Christian is completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to live a holy, Christlike, fruit bearing life, without Him we won’t light up, broadcast the wrong program, and lack transforming power. For life with, filled, and empowered by God’s Spirit you and I have to learn to:

  • Wait, on the Holy Spirit. He leads and we follow, He directs and we comply, He assigns and we accept, He inspires and we carry it out. (Acts 1:4)
  • Welcome, the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. Welcoming requires openness, to welcome someone into your home you have to open the front door. Life in and with the Holy Spirit is different from anything we know, filled with ways and experiences that are different from anything we know. (Acts 2:1-4, 8:1-3, 25-30, 9:9-18)
  • Wield, the power of the Holy Spirit. The power the Holy Spirit gives is meant to be used, but we have to learn how to use it and not abuse it. (Acts 7:8-10, Ephesians 6:17)
  • Witness, the power of the Holy Spirit equips us first of all to be witnesses for Christ, to make Jesus known in all the world, to all people, in all places, and in all circumstances. (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Walk, live in the Spirit. This is a 24/7 activity, and it is life-transforming. It is through continual reliance on and obedience to the Holy Spirit that we shed the sinful, useless, and fruitless, and are able to acquire holiness, credibility, and the ability to bear fruit that pleases God. (Galatians 5:16-25)

To God and Christ be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

“Yes!” Think about how much your life has been shaped by that little word. The most profound, determinative, and blessed turning points of my life involved that little word:

  • Susie saying, “Yes!” when I asked her to marry me.
  • My saying, “Yes!” to accepting and following Jesus Christ when I understood His offer of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.
  • The “Yes!” I spoke in response to God’s call to be a preacher and teacher of His word.
  • The “Yes!” answer Susie and I gave to the Lake Don Pedro Baptist Church when they asked me to be their pastor.

But it is not just the big yeses that have shaped your and my life, so have the dumb, foolish, and sinful ones, the ones we’ve regretted, wished they had never crossed our lips.

Big yeses require many little yeses to actually hold water. That is certainly true of the Christian life. True faith in Jesus Christ is always expressed in obedience, a continually saying, “Yes,” to the will, word, and ways of God.

Following His resurrection and before His ascension Christ commanded His disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). The only way to carry out that order was to say, “Yes,” to it. So, they waited the next seven days. But while they waited, they kept saying, “Yes!”

  • They said, “Yes” to a life of Christian community and unity, which is a life centered on Christ together and committed to one another (Acts1:14).
  •  They said, “Yes!” to a life devoted to prayer, which is a life seeking the presence of God, a life lived in dependence on God (Acts 1:14).
  •  They said, “Yes!” to the roles and whatever ministry God called them to, no matter how much that changed their plans and lives (Acts 1:21-26)

When, standing at the wedding altar, I said, “Yes, I do!” to the minister’s question whether I wanted Susie to be my wife, I also said yes to a lifetime commitment to faithfulness, to loving her, to stick with her for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. That’s a whole lot of yeses to be faithful to every day. This is true of every Christian, in saying, “Yes!” to Jesus Christ as Savior we also committed to a life of spiritual fidelity that continually embraces, says “Yes!” to all the things Christ loves (people, His church, givers, humility, God’s will, …), to all Christ taught and commanded, and to the habits and lifestyle Christ wants us to develop and adopt.

You and I dare not live the Christian life with cheap yeses, they have to mean something, have substance, and have to become visible down to the smallest details of our lives. Jesus has not called us to be men and women who loudly proclaim big “I-believe-in-Jesus” yeses but otherwise keep saying, “No,” to the radical transformation every “Yes!” to Jesus leads us into.

The best, most blessed life is the one that keeps saying, “Yes!” to Jesus.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

After He (Jesus) had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:1-5 (HCSB, parenthesis mine)

Jesus commanded His disciples to stay and wait. So, they thought, since He brought up the topic of waiting, that this would be a good time to ask about something else they and generations of Jews had been waiting for, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Acts 1:6 (HCSB). Jesus basically told them it was none of their business“It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority” Acts 1:7 (HCSB). For them the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Israel was the same thing, but the kingdom Jesus was talking about was far bigger, it encompasses all people and the entire world, so He continued, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8 (HCSB).

Christians are called to be After-Easter People, men and women who live radically different lives in light of the victory of the cross and resurrection of Christ, but too often we are just like His disciples before His ascension:

·      Not listening very well.

They heard the word “kingdom” and not much else after that. It was a cultural and religious code word that conjured up all kinds of images. We are like that with words like freedom, justice, love, blessing, happiness, … The results are we end up asking the wrong questions and often get very sidetracked from what Jesus wants His disciples to be about.

 ·      Not waiting for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had to command them, order them to stay put and wait for “the Father’s promise,” the outpouring, indwelling, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They were like us, impatient, rushing off, working in our own power, wisdom, and strength kind of people. That is a sure prescription of missing out on the kind of life God wants us to live and bless us with, “but those who trust in the LORD (Holy Spirit) will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31 (HCSB, parenthesis mine).

·      Not thinking big enough.

Jesus’ mission is bigger than any national dreams, it is a global and eternal endeavor of salvation, redemption, and restoration, it is building a kingdom that “is not of this world” (John 18:36). In the afterglow of Easter, Jesus’ disciples were just glad to have Him back and settle for breakfasts on the beach, a little teaching, and some feeling good praise music, but Jesus was sending them out to take the world back, to battle the kingdoms of darkness, to proclaim the risen King of Kings. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9 (HCSB).

Listen well, live in the power of the Holy Spirit, think and dream big, it is what After-Easter- People do.

             To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 (ESV)

We are celebrating the second Easter under the reality of the Corona Pandemic. There are lots of opinions about COVID and how it has been handled, but there is near-universal agreement about wanting it to be a thing of the past sooner than later. One thing is for sure, none of us will see this COVID time in the rearview mirror without passing through it.

COVID, Jesus, and Easter remind us of another reality, one that most of us are happy to come later rather than sooner – passing from life to death. Hopefully, you and I will survive Corona, but we won’t survive life, we will most certainly pass from life to death, and with death, we will also face the Judgment of God. “Just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT2).

You and I, everyone, will not outlive death nor survive the judgment of God. We are on a certain trajectory towards both, and we are completely powerless to escape either. For us it is life, then death, then judgment – guaranteed, and we can’t change a thing about it.

Our physical dilemma is that we run out of life little by little every day. Our spiritual dilemma is that we will be held fully accountable for every action, word, thought, motive, and desire, in light of the standard of God’s holiness, which means none of us has even the slightest chance to survive God’s judgment and escape hell.

Maybe you are wondering, “Hey preacher, I thought Easter is a happy celebration? But here you just splashed four paragraphs of gloom and doom all over the page and my mind!” You are right about both. Easter is the most happy and glorious reality and celebration of all because it addresses the darkest, most hopeless realities of life: sin, death, and eternal judgment. You and I are incapable to pass from death to life, but Jesus did. Your and my life’s sum total indicts and convicts us of sin, but Jesus’ was spotless. The two of us don’t know how to escape both the grave and hell, but Jesus did. We don’t have eternal life, Jesus is. We can’t pronounce ourselves forgiven, but Jesus can. None of us is acceptable before Holy God Almighty, but cleansed by Christ’s blood and dressed in His righteousness we are.

It is only through faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Christ a sinner can pass from death to life. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved (sin, death, God’s judgment, and hell)” Romans 10:9-10 (NLT2, parenthesis mine)

Believe in and confess Christ this Easter. Love you, Pastor Hans

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:9, echoed through the streets of Jerusalem as people gave Jesus a royal welcome. Masses lined the road, an impromptu red carpet of coats and tree branches was rolled out, and everyone in town had hopes and expectations regarding Jesus:

  • The nationalists wanted Jesus to restore Israel back to Davidic glory and dominance (Mark 11:10).
  • The masses wanted someone who would provide food, healthcare, justice, and peace (John 6:1-15).
  • The religious leaders had hopes of eliminating this uncomfortable critic, after all the real Messiah would surely cooperate with the custodians of the Mosaic Law and the Temple (Matthew 23:2; John 9:28).
  • The Roman occupiers wanted to just get through another Passover without any major incidents (Matthew 27:24; Luke 13:1).
  • Many were hoping to see this healer, preacher, prophet, Messiah perform something extraordinary, something miraculous (John 12:12-18).

By Thursday most of the hype had worn off, come Friday, “Crucify” echoed down the streets from Pilate’s, the Roman governor, hall. No rock-star preacher/prophet event, no major uprising, no revolution, no major overhaul of the system, no big crowd protesting on behalf of Jesus. Jesus had failed to build a political machine as his brothers advised him to (John 7:1-4), He didn’t use divine power to strike down the powerful like Moses did with Pharaoh, He only caused a minor ruckus, and by Monday He and the events of the past week were already fading in the news.

“Hosanna!” literally means, “Save Now!” but the way people were using it was more like, “It’s happening!” “God’s doing His thing!” and that’s just it, God always does His thing, He doesn’t do your or my thing. Too many have rolled out the red carpet for Jesus only to roll it up just as quickly when He doesn’t live up to expectations.

Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago, serves as reminder that what we need is not the Jesus who is defined by our expectations, that’s a Jesus who is too easily twisted and discarded, and it is not the Jesus God sent to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). But Palm Sunday also reminds us that Jesus the crucified Savior will return as the King of Kings (Revelation 19:11-16) and the only question will be whether you and I are prepared to welcome Him. Maybe the best thing you can do this Palm Sunday is to read what Jesus taught from Monday till Friday after He rode into town, especially Matthew 24-25. Palm Sunday reminds us that daily we are called to live the red-carpet life that says, “Hosanna! Jesus you are welcome here, you are the king of my life!”

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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