What are your Expectations?

Expectations

Sunday 03/28/21

Palm Sunday 2021

Message – What are your Expectations?

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What are your Expectations?

Whenever Palm Sunday rolls around I cannot seem to help but think about expectations… and we will be encountering that word in various contexts and applications throughout this morning.

The historic significance of Palm Sunday is the ‘Triumphant Entry’ into Jerusalem…but what was that?

Well, it was nothing less than a hero’s welcome by the Jewish community into their capital city. It also, quite honestly, was something the disciples would never have expected.

You see, in the weeks preceding this event  Jesus had made His famous statement, “I and My Father are ONE” for which the Jews sought to stone Him to death. So Jesus escaped from their power and made Himself scarce from Jerusalem for a few weeks hanging out on the other side of the Jordan.

Then Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick in their hometown of Bethany which was less than 2 miles outside of Jerusalem.

Let’s eavesdrop on their conversation. It is found in John 11:20-27,

“(20)  As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house.  (21)  Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.  (22)  Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”  

(23)  “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.  

(24)  Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  

(25)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. (26)  Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die–ever. Do you believe this?” 

(27)  “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Wow, I just love this woman!

After this Jesus weeps over Lazarus’ death, orders the stone rolled away and then PRAYS – “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  (42)  And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

And we will see that This worked for many did… In fact it was in part the major reason why Palm Sunday even happened. 

Well after Jesus had prayed, He yelled loudly “Lazarus, come out!”  and Lazarus came out bound hand and foot with death cloths, but Jesus commanded them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

You could get NO clearer an illustration of the triumphant entry, the week of the Passion, the death…burial and resurrection of Christ and His church than this historic happening in the life of Jesus Christ.

It was shortly following this event that Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem again the week of His crucifixion.

Turn with me to Mark 11 and we will begin reading in verse 1.

“(1) Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples;  (2)  and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it.  (3)  And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”  

(4)  So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it.  (5)  But some of those who stood there said to them, 

“What are you doing, loosing the colt?”  

(6)  And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.  (7)  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it.  

(8)  And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  

(9)  Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: 

“Hosanna! ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’  (10)  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  

(11)  And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.”

This was in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew adds to this account by recording that,

“When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?”  (11)  And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!” ~ Matt. 21:10-11  

Luke too adds to this account by saying,

“Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!” ~ Luke 19:39,40  

Now as I told you, this whole procession was something entirely unexpected by the disciples. In fact, they had warned Jesus NOT to go to Jerusalem since they remembered that there were people there who had sought to kill Him. But John’s account gives us more insight into why these had gathered and were honoring Jesus at His coming…

John 12:16-19, “(16) His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.  

(17)  Meanwhile the crowd, which had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify.  (18)  This is also why the crowd met Him, because they heard He had done this sign.  

(19)  Then the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look–the world has gone after Him!”

Now, as I told you, the Triumphant Entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday always reminds me of expectations. The reason for this is because, like we’ve been learning since the first of the year, the Jesus we expect is NOT the Jesus Who really is.

Remember our focus text since January in 1 John 3:1-3,

“(1) See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us–that we should be called God’s children: and that is what we are. 

For this reason the world does not recognize us–because it has not known Him.  

(2)  Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that when Christ reappears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.  (3)  And every man who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”

Even we, who look back on all these events as well established and known history, still do not know Him as He really is. 

That is why, at His return, all prophecy, and tongues and gifts will end in the church (though not necessarily in the world). Because according to Paul in 1Corinthians 13 – when that which is perfect has come – meaning Jesus, then what which has been in part will be done away with!

Let’s read that – 1Cor. 13:8-12…  

“(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  (9)  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  (10)  But when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.  (11)  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.  (12)  For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.”

But that is THEN and THIS is NOW! So what does that mean to us now? It means that we have much to learn from the Jews in Jerusalem on the week of His Passion following His Triumphant entry. We, like them, do not see Him for Who He really is – only in part, and partial vision can sometimes be worse than no vision at all.

These people seemed to rejoice at His coming to Jerusalem and they were hailing Him as King.

According to the account in Mark, those who went before Him were saying,

“Hosanna! ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’  (10)  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  

 What is this blessing of the coming of the Kingdom in reference to Jesus, but an acknowledgement of He as King?

As we know however, the Jews were looking for a conquering king – to free them from Roman rule and establish the independence of the Jewish nation, beginning in Jerusalem – their capital.

What they saw in the week following, was someone entirely different than they expected and so, someone entirely different than they wanted!

In that week… 

  • Jesus entered the temple and drove out the money changers (for a second time).
  • He taught some unpopular parables.
  • His authority was challenged.
  • He encouraged them to pay taxes to Caesar (this was a big one)
  • He confirmed the belief in the resurrection which made Him unpopular with the Sadducees.
  • He warned people about the scribes – which undoubtedly upset the scribes.
  • He put the pharisees in their place a few times – even pronouncing 7 woes upon them.
  • He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (also not popular)
  • He spoke about the coming of the Son of Man (Which is Who He was – but this would have confused them – because they did not see a second coming only one)
  • He again foretold His death and that it would be by crucifixion.

All of this conspired together over the course of that fateful week to reveal a different Jesus than the one they thought they had honored and shouted Hosanna to- at the beginning of the week. The conflict between the Jesus they expected and the Jesus they encountered was profound…and their disillusionment with Him ran so deep that by week’s end they were shouting something entirely different.

So, I have to ask myself and I invite you to do the same…

How is Jesus different in reality, than He is in your mind? I ask, because it is THAT which is keeping you from truly and completely following Him.

Remember towards the beginning of the year, Francis Chan used the examples of the heavenly hosts in God’s presence who are constantly crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come… Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come…” over and over and over throughout the centuries.

Did it ever occur to you that the reason they do not get bored with this, the reason they do not walk away sometimes and say one to the other, “man praise and worship really wasn’t that great today…you know I get tired of how repetitious the music is. I wish we could do something different sometimes!”

No, they are entirely enamored with Him and engrossed by Him…totally caught up in the experience of being in His presence.

I don’t think those words they say are scripted – I think they are the natural outpourings of their hearts – as they stand in His presence. God does not seem to like “robots” so I have to believe this is coming from their core in with a sincerity which would make us blush in embarrassment when compared to our greatest expressions of worship.

Why do you think that is? I believe it is because they can see Him, to some degree or another – as He really is, and the effect that has on their soul compels all that is honest and sincere in them to respond instinctively to what they see – to WHO they are standing in the presence of.

So again, who is the Jesus you “expect”?

We claim we love Him and want unending fellowship with Him and possess undying devotion towards Him…but do we? 

Who is the “Jesus we expect?” are we willing to wrestle with the fact that regardless of Who we are expecting Him to be, whatever that may look like to you –  He is in fact, different on some level! 

The question is – do we love Him enough to seek Him for Who He really is and are we devoted enough to Him to remain completely His when we see Him to be different than thought or hoped?

I don’t ask this to be unkind or even to drum up a response by coming across melodramatic. 

You know we are all human and all are subject to temptation. Temptations goal is to separate us by drawing us away. Many times it is by drawing us away to something we believe (even if just for a moment) to be better and more fulfilling to us that Christ can be.

Though this is embarrassing, it need not be – no temptation comes to us but such as is common to man.

Jesus was different than what the disciples had expected as well and they fell into deceptions and temptations because of it.

The most famous of which, I believe, was when He told them that they were going to have to eat His flesh and drink His blood or they could have no shared experience with Him! Man…they wanted to bolt after that – and would you? Honestly…wouldn’t you?!

But the words he had spoken to them over those years had bound them to Him and they said, “where would we go?”

Again, in the events at the end of this upcoming week of Passion, Peter was offended. First when Jesus knelt to wash his feet and Peter told Him  “Never Lord – You will NEVER wash my feet”. Again Jesus’ reply was – “If I don’t, you can have no shared experience with Me”. So, broken by these words Peter says, “then not my feet only Lord, but also my hands and my head!”

Then again, Peter was offended when Jesus told him he would deny Him. Peter passionately declared his undying devotion with the words, “though everyone else forsake you I would die with youPeter, before the rooster crows 3 times you will have denied you ever knew Me”.

What caused Peter’s fall there?

Pride? For sure there was some of that, but up until now, Jesus had always been the Teacher no on could best. No one could out smart Him in a discussion, corner Him with their arguments and they couldn’t even lay their hands on Him to kill Him though they’d tried before – even recently! But that night…in the garden, Peter encountered a Jesus he did not expect! A Jesus, Who could be taken by sword and carried off to judgement.

Man…didn’t see that coming! It’s easy to say, “Lord I’d die with You” when you truly believe He could never die! But what about when they haul Him off and nail Him to a tree? Where is our faith and undying devotion then?

I mean, what do we do with a Jesus like that? 

The sacred, protected and guarded jesus of our imaginings will never challenge us – but none of us are safe against being offended and disillusioned with the REAL Jesus. 

He is not what you expected and that is something all true lovers of God had to encounter at one time or another in their journey and so will you!

Again I turn to Michael Card to bring this notion into focus for us, in his song ‘What will it take to keep you from Jesus’

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason… that’s nothing at all!

And there was a man who was owned by his money

He was as rich as could be

but deep in his heart was a voice that was crying

telling him he wasn’t free.

When he questioned the Master

concerning his problem

the answer took his breath away.

For his money, that had come to mean more than his soul

forever would stand in his way

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason…. that’s nothing at all

So many excuses and so many lies

are blocking the Light and the Way,

but the final decision to follow the Lord

can shatter and blow them away.

Once there was one who was lame in his body

Sick in his body and soul.

Though he didn’t know all the facts about Jesus

he knew that he longed to be whole.

So with some of his friends

He went seeking and found Him

but so many stood in their way.

So they tore through the roof

and they lowered him down

for nothing could keep him away.

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason…. that’s nothing at all

And how long before you stop with your reasons

take your defenses away?

It’s only a lie that keeps you from following

don’t let it stand in your way!

Blesings!

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!