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Monday, February 22, 2010

Journey to the Cross - From Cheers to Jeers

Americans are fascinated with royalty and rulers. One only has to observe America’s obsession with the life, wedding, and death of Princess Diana to understand the truth of that. Books and television shows about Hitler are eagerly absorbed as Americans search for new information about this evil dictator whose early leadership elicited such cheers. Could this obsession with kings and rulers be because of our inborn need to serve the true King of Kings?

Morning Meditation

Read 1 Timothy 6:12-16
1 Tim 6:12-16 NIV
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time-God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.


Sit quietly and let yourself become willing to fight the good fight of faith.
• Think about life eternal and let yourself “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”
• Our Savior “made the good confession” even when he had to testify to Pontius Pilate. Ponder what it means to “make the good confession” in the face of opposition.
• Jesus is our Ruler, our King of Kings, our Lord of Lords. Ponder what that means.
• To Him be honor and might forever. Worship Him.


Morning Prayer

Praise God for who He is.
• Commit to letting Him be your King of Kings regardless of the circumstances.
• Ask God to help you let His love be enough for you today.
• Ask God to help you see and understand Him in everything around you.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.


Morning Bible Study

Have you ever seen a joyfully shouting crowd coming towards you? At best, it would be disconcerting, and yet that was just what happened whenever Jesus was around.

Read Luke 19:37-38.
Luke 19:37-38 NIV
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"


How did the crowd feel about Jesus?
• What was the volume of their praises?
• What did they call Jesus?


It’s no wonder that Jesus’ impact upset people. Maybe they were trying to take an afternoon nap or their babies were asleep. The gleeful sounds were probably frightening. It’s not surprising that people called the police – or at least the Pharisees. Wouldn’t you?

Read Luke 19:39
Luke 19:39
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
NIV


What did the Pharisees say to Jesus?
• Why do you think they were concerned.


Have you ever felt so excited, you could burst? Electricity filled the air when Jesus was near. The drama and the moment captured people’s emotions. Some were sincere while the moment possibly carried others away.

Read Luke 19:40.
Luke 19:40 NIV
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."


What was Jesus’ dry answer to the Pharisees?
• What do you think He meant?


Instead of curtailing Jesus’ popularity, the crowds and enthusiasm grew. Read John 12:12-13.

John 12:12-13 NIV
The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!"


What signs of worship do you see?
• What did the people call Him?
• What do you think they expected of Jesus?
• How do you think the Pharisees felt about the title Jesus was given?


Yes, the people wanted a hero. They wanted someone to do the hard work for them and to change their lives. Their desires were self-directed and selfish as they misunderstood Jesus’ purpose. Jesus knew the truth and wept for them. Read His lamentation in Luke 19:41.

Luke 19:41-44 NIV
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."


What did Jesus see for Jerusalem?
• What did Jerusalem fail to see about Jesus?
• Do you always recognize “the time of God’s coming” to you or do you fight your earthly circumstances?


How quickly the crowd’s praise turned from cheers to jeers when they realized He was not an earthly king sent to relieve their current circumstances. Read Matthew 27:23-23.

Matt 27:22-23
They all said, "Crucify Him!" And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Crucify Him!" NASU


What did the world want from Jesus?
• Why do you think the crowd’s cheers turned to jeers?


Application

Bonnie’s life was a mess. Her marriage was in trouble. She and her husband fought continually and she blamed him for the difficulties. In her eternal search for happiness, Bonnie was repeatedly unfaithful to her husband but it only made her pain worse. Finally, in desperation, she went to a church seeking an answer.

The first church she visited suggested she confess her sins, turn her life over to Jesus, and change her behavior. They asked her to take responsibility for her past. They warned her of the long road of recovery but they offered her a picture of redemption and hope.

Unfortunately, Bonnie didn’t “have ears to hear.” What they were suggesting was too hard. Besides, how would her confessing help the marriage when everything was her husband’s fault?

Bonnie went to a second church, one that promised instant miracles. She walked the aisle and told the counselor her difficulties. They took her into a dark candlelit room and formed a circle around her with everyone touching her. Together they screamed chants and joyfully pronounced the demons gone from her body.

Bonnie shouted her praise before God. The people surrounding her shouted even louder and sent her from the room, “cured.” They gave promises of restored “virginity” and “purity.” They warned that if her life was still difficult, it would be because her of lack of faith. They encouraged her to believe in the miracle.

Bonnie left that room delighted, thinking she had found “the way.” The “exorcism” of demons had evoked deep emotions that left her with a high better than any drugs she had ever tried.

Unfortunately, Bonnie arrived home that Sunday to the same angry husband and dreary life. The urges that drove her to sexual infidelity were still there. Nothing had changed. By the end of the week, she was even more guilt ridden than when she arrived at the church the Sunday before.

At first, she blamed herself for her lack of faith and tried harder. She went to church every Sunday, danced in the aisles, and shouted hosanna. Eventually, she gave up. By the time I met Bonnie, her cheers had turned to jeers and she no longer believed.

Why didn’t Bonnie get the miracles she was seeking? I submit to you that Bonnie wasn’t looking to serve the King of Kings. Instead of seeking to follow a ruler, she was seeking a quick easy fix. I submit that she mistook the drama of emotion for the work of serving a King who gave specific instructions. I submit that if Bonnie had followed the instruction of the first church, she would have found the miracle she sought.

What kind of God are you seeking today? Does your God need to prove His worthiness to you by solving your earthly problems? Do you barter your faith by wanting Him to alter the way of the world and give you a life free from pain or are you willing to accept His rule? Are your cheers turning to jeers as your life disappoints you?

We have a God of miracles and sometimes, we get the quick fixes we seek. More often, God works in slow and mysterious ways that are sometimes “hidden from our eyes.” Today, ask yourself some questions:
Are you willing to serve Jesus as “King of Kings?”
• Have you studied the Bible to learn His nature?
• Do you have the faith to believe The King is in charge?
• Are you willing to let Jesus be your Lord of Lords without earthly restrictions?
• Is King Jesus enough for today?

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