Who Is This

Matthew 21.1-17

Jesus enters Jerusalem, and His final week of ministry is underway. Some gladly accept Him as their King while others complain and reject Him as an imposter.

None of the events of this final week will catch Jesus by surprise. Not one. He is in control of His destiny. He will lay down His life as a willing sacrifice. He’s not a victim. He’s not a bystander. He’s not “along for the ride.” He is the King. And He is in control. That hasn’t changed. Doesn’t matter how the world shakes or what storm is brewing in your life…Jesus is still King, and He’s still in control.

I love the OT story of Joseph. Though things start out well for him…his dad loves him and gives him a great coat…they take a turn when his brothers turn on him and sell him into slavery. It seems that every time he gets ahead, he gets knocked back down again until of course he is promoted to the second position in the kingdom. Joseph has an opportunity to confront his brothers who are the catalyst for the grief in his life…how does he respond to them? “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Who says that? Somehow Joseph recognized God’s fingerprints all over his story, even though he didn’t know the why at the time. He trusted God all along the way to guide his steps.

In my own life, when I’ve allowed God control, amazing things have happened that I can’t explain any other way. When I’ve tried to take the reins…well the outcome is pretty predictable. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Do you believe that? Do you believe that your heavenly Father wants to direct your steps, or do you think He purposely keeps His desires for your life a mystery that you have to bump around in the dark to discover?

It goes back to the care thing. Do you believe that God is a Father who cares about you? It hit me as I was going through the sermon this week. The Father cares about every detail in our life. No detail is too small and no problem is too big for Him. If your child came to you crying because their favorite toy was broken or they dropped their ice cream or they’re just mad because their brother or sister won’t play with them, would you ignore them and tell them their problems are too small for you to deal with? The best of dads wouldn’t. The best of dads wouldn’t ignore their child because they’re too busy…the best of dads stop what they’re doing. The best of dads enter into their child’s world. The best of dads…and our heavenly Father is the very best of the best of dads.

It’s our own impatience and lack of faith that cause us to take matters into our own hands most times with disastrous results. Instead of trusting God, we are trusting ourselves. And instead of letting Him be King, we grab the throne for ourselves. I am convinced that we cannot experience the fullness of life and the abundance of joy that Jesus promised unless we stop trying to be our own king and allow Him to be King in our life.

Jesus has a way of upsetting the proud and the self-righteous. But He welcomes the outcast and the broken…those who feel unworthy and the humble who recognize their need for Him. Which are you?

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This post is based on a sermon from Palm Sunday. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube: @ccclancaster

Failed Expectations

Luke 7.11-35

Jesus said, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Three groups are represented in our passage today…John, the people and tax collectors (those who had been baptized by John), and the Pharisees and lawyers.

John had expectations of Jesus…right expectations, but mistimed. John wrestled with seeing God’s kingdom coming through Jesus in physical/political ways (conquering the Romans) versus spiritual ways (conquering sin and Satan). And while you can’t separate the spiritual from the physical when it comes to the kingdom, the present form of the kingdom is mostly spiritual with some physical aspects. But one day, the kingdom will be both fully physical and spiritual (God’s kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven)…politically Jesus will come as conquering King…but not yet. We’re not told for sure, but we presume that John accepted Jesus’ message from the messengers.

The people and the tax collectors seemed to have come to Jesus with the only expectation of being rescued by Him. They weren’t looking for a political agenda…they were just sinners in need of repentance, and in Jesus they found the Physician who could heal them. They see Jesus for who He is.

The Pharisees and the lawyers also had expectations of Jesus…they wanted Him to conform to their rules. They wanted Him to look and act like them. They wanted Him to validate their self-righteousness. When He didn’t, they rejected Him.

Which of the 3 groups do you find yourself in? Are you like John, wrestling with your expectations of Jesus or what the Christian life is supposed to be like? Are doubts creating a crisis of faith? Do you feel like John…like you’re sitting alone in prison wondering if God even cares? Do you need to be reminded of who Jesus is and that He hasn’t forgotten you? That although it may feel like you’re losing, Jesus has already won the victory? Or are you like the Pharisees and lawyers, wanting Jesus to conform to your image rather than the other way around? Now’s the time to see Jesus for who He is…the only One who can rescue you, the only Physician who can heal you. Don’t wait…today’s the day.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we show forth the wisdom of God as we rejoice in His salvation through faith in Jesus.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Easter Devotional – March 9

Matthew 11:1-19

John’s Questions

When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

Jesus’ Tribute to John

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Word seems to travel fast – even without social media. John hears about Jesus while he’s in prison and sends people out to ask Jesus if He’s the one they have all been waiting for or if there’s someone else. Fair question since Jesus does not appear to be what they were expecting. And that seems to be just like God doesn’t it? He’s always defying our expectations. We would expect a Messiah to come to wage war and save us by conquering our enemies in one fell swoop. But “eating and drinking”? No one expected that. And we’re left to either trust that Jesus is who He says He is, The Son of God. Or to hold onto our expectations of what we think a Messiah should be. Who do you expect Jesus to be? How do you recognize Him in your life?

Prayer: Lord, give me the grace to recognize You and to acknowledge You as my Lord and King.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)