I Will Go Before You (Manuscript)
Today is, traditionally, what we refer to as Palm Sunday. It is a celebration of Jesus’ approach to the city gates of Jerusalem. Those inside the gates, as well as those descending on the city from outside the gates, had been anticipating Jesus’ entry into the city. As he appeared, and the people lined the road, the only comparable moment in history that would even begin to relate was King David entering the city with the Ark of the Covenant – the people then celebrating God’s presence returned to the city. It is doubtful that the people watching Jesus enter grasped that correlation, nor did they grasp the depth of the celebration, few were yet to understand that Jesus was God – but they knew that this was historic – something was in the air, something was happening in their hearts. Jesus made this clear when leaders from the religious institution requested that he calm the crowd down, he responded that if he did then the rocks would begin to cry out which they would find much more troubling and threatening. God was again – present. The people threw their cloaks down on the ground to protect even the feet of Jesus’ donkey from touching the soiled dirt, they shouted praises, and they waved palm leaves in his honor.
It was an ironic use of the palm leaves as it was an ironic act of worship. Ironic, not in the sincerity of the people present, for they were truly engulfed in the moment of recognition of something greater than themselves. It was ironic due to the fact that within less than a week, their praise would turn into hateful curses and demands for Jesus’ death.
For the opposition, such a quick public opinion shift was an easy public opinion feat, a few key inflammatory words in gullible and trusting ears, half truths and outright lies planted in those minds who would repeat them on without a thought or consideration – pretty soon, ‘Hosannah’ had become ‘Crucify Him’. The opposition to Jesus had only to appeal to the self centeredness of the crowd – to their fears of the unknown. It probably only took a few days, maybe even just a few hours, the subtle plan spread like wildfire.
The Easter Question – Why Was A Death Necessary?
The question, therefore, is, ‘Why was a Death Necessary?’
- An Explanation
Reread this manuscript on Blog this week
We were created to be eternal beings, such is the reason for the Tree of Life in the Garden. While we are eternal beings, we are not God, or even gods. This was the reason for concern – that Adam and Eve would eat from the tree of life after they had turned from God – after they had made a self declaration of being their own god. In turning away, in doing what God said specifically not to do, they defined themself as equals to God. Living forever as gods who are not God would be hell – keeping Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life, from living forever, was God’s first rescue , his first demonstration of his act of love for, mankind.
Adam and Eve had been instructed to ‘not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’. In obeying, they were permitting God to be their God, but in reaching out and taking from the tree, they were declaring that they knew more than God. The serpent was incorrect when he said, ‘you shall not die,’ for now (apart from the Tree of Life) they would die. They had turned from God, their source of life, they could not live eternally apart from God, death was now inevitable.
Death had now become a reality of the human experience.
An inevitable reality, unless death could be defeated. Unless humans could once again be eternal.
Taking from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a revelation of choice, it was a revelation of heart. They had made themself, and their choice, to be self rather than God. A choice that was humanly impossible to reverse, yet a choice that only a human could reverse.
Death could only be defeated by death – a choice could only be changed by the different choice. A different choice that could only be made by a truly holy and righteous, yet flesh being, – a choice that could only be made by God as well as a choice that could only be made by a human.
Life was now only possible through an eternally resurrected life – a life that could only be God in the flesh.
The Jesus who explained to Martha that ‘Zoe’, ‘life’, is earthly and eterntal.
The Jesus who told Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
The Jesus who tells us, He is our resurrection – He is our life.
Second Question – Why Was Resurrection Necessary?
Remember that Jesus said, ‘I AM the Resurrection’ before the death.
A resurrection was inevitable. The occurrence of a resurrection was impossible to stop. A tomb could not hold a human who could not be held by death.
Lessons on Life from the Death,
Assurance from the Life
- A Rising will Occur
Writer, author, activist and historian Rebecca Solnit, writes about her research on the lasting positive, and negative, impact on societies and culture following times of devastating disaster. Positive impacts that produce change for the good and missed opportunities that result in long lasting negative impact. Solnit says:
“Every disaster shakes loose the old order: The sudden catastrophe changes the rules and demands new and different responses, but what those will be are the subject of a battle. These disruptions shift people’s sense of who they and their society are, what matters and what’s possible, and lead, often, to deeper and more lasting change, sometimes to regime change. Many disasters unfold like revolutions; the past gives us many examples of calamities that led to lasting national change.”
We see that dynamic in the story of the death.
As Jesus had prophesied, one would betray him and that all the disciples deserted, but that gave others a chance to RISE and fill in the gap.
Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Matthew 27:55-61
Later we see Nicodemus rise up.
These who had chosen to remain hidden, or those who culturally be dismissed and invisible, were suddenly visible. They did not demand to be seen but their hearts made it happen regardless.
- A Change will Take Place
Examples of Lessons Learned from recent history – Dust Bowl (faming practices), Depression (Economic Safeguards),
Example of Lesson Missed from recent history – Civil War (racism)
Our life is changed through a full and constant heart gratitude for the sacrifice made by God on our behalf, the demonstration of his love – His Love Motivated Rescue of Us. Leading to heart change in our life that determines our heart response to life.
The Apostle Paul explains the Lesson Positive Change:
Let (‘LET’ will happen with a heart change unless we choose to hold or restrain it) the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
There is an Assurance
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
Jesus, with full knowledge of the fact that these men would desert him, still he assured them that he would go ahead of them, ahead for them.
There is an Assurance – For Us
He makes that same promise and assurance to each of us. An assurance the he has already gone ahead of us even though we will be disobedient and that he will go ahead of us even in our disobedience.
This consistent aspect of God is explained later:
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
God will go before us, God has gone before us, God is before us.
The Lessons from the Death, the Assurance from the Life – for us.