Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The superiority of God's plan over our expectations

Mark 11:7-10 ...And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

This coming Lord's Day is designated "Palm Sunday" by the church calendar. "Palm" Sunday is a reference to the palm leafs (simply called "leafy branches" in the ESV) people laid on the road before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem for the last time on a prophecy-fulfilling donkey. For all the lessons the whole event teaches us, perhaps this is the greatest:

God’s plan is always superior to our expectations.

Martin Luther observed- "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope". Every action we take is somehow tied to a conscious or subconscious expectation or hope we have. The passage above is no exception. We observe the Lord Jesus fulfilling a centuries old prophecy from the book of Zechariah which described the coming of Messiah. Jesus gets on the back of a previously unridden donkey and rides down the middle street of Jerusalem toward the temple. Along the way people throw down their clothing along with leafy branches as one would do for the entrance of a great King. Surely there are mixed opinions within the crowd. But all of those people had expectations. They all expected something from Jesus. They expected something of Jesus. Their problem, like our problem, has to do with the origin of those expectations. No matter how noble we try to be, our expectations, our plans, and our hopes, are subject to our sinfulness. It is essential for us to carry our expectations, hopes, and dreams to the foot of the cross and allow our Father to show us what to expect according to His perfect Will.

Let's consider one expectation that was clearly present as Jesus entered Jerusalem that day- many in the crowd were Jewish and expecting a kind of redemption. Think of the many impressive ways God provided redemption for His people- Saving Noah and Family, Israel from famine under the ministry of Joseph, raising up Moses, sending plagues upon Pharaoh, striking the firstborn who were not covered by spotless-lamb blood, leading Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea and over to Sinai, the deliverance of Canaan in to Joshua’s hands, the expansion of Israel under David and Solomon, His restoration of Israel after their wickedness under Ezra and Nehemiah, and there are many other "mini" redemption's that took place along the way. I am sure many who saw Jesus enter Jerusalem thought in terms of these kinds of redemption's, focusing on the temporal deliverance from harm more than the spiritual lessons they were meant to teach.

All these redemptive acts of God were awesome, impressive, miraculous and inspiring.
All these acts of God showed God’s covenantal faithfulness to his people.
All these acts would surely cause people to take notice of the Great God of Israel
All these acts of deliverance, however, were temporary.
What many who witnessed Christ's entry missed in the midst of their joyful reception of Jesus in to Jerusalem, was their need for permanent redemption. Being freed from Roman occupation and oppression should have been the least of their worries- they needed deliverance from the power and penalty of their sins!

Now, apply this to ourselves- we need a permanent redemption- not another red sea salvation, not another famine salvation, not another war salvation, we need salvation from our ultimate enemy- an enemy far greater and more formidable than all the nations of the earth, including the mighty Roman Empire. We need salvation from our sins and praise God, Christ provided perfectly!

When Jesus got on that donkey in fulfillment of the ancient prophecy, people were still slaves to their feeble expectations. It is most likely that Jesus was the only one, that day, who had accurate expectations. He knew from what cup He would drink. He knew to what pain he rode toward. He knew to what end He was appointed. The Lord Jesus drove along on that donkey toward that Temple and was clear on His mission. He would die for the Salvation of His people. He would in fact, be the ultimate deliverer. The great High Priest. The Final Sacrifice. Other Deliverers need not apply. The Ultimate was here. The last to be needed. One greater than all the other deliverers combined because he did for the people what they could never do- make atonement for their sins and save their eternal souls!

As people threw their palm branches down, some mocking, some jeering, some seriously hopeful…but all of them with human expectations, the King rode on understanding the plan and fulfilling it perfectly. This story most vividly depicts for us the supremacy of God’s plan over human expectations.

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

Tony rightly exegetes, “Every action we take is somehow tied to a conscious or subconscious expectation or hope we have.” Tony comment takes us to this same story retold in Luke 19:35-40. Yet Doctor Luke has added this additional profound fact.
The religious hypocrites were annoyed at Jesus, because of the Disciples singing and the crowds zealous shouts of praise “to the anointed one!”
(39-40) “And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him,
’Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!’ And HE answered and said, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’”
Remember again, “Every action we take is somehow tied to a conscious or subconscious expectation or hope we have.”
What Jesus told those who would TRY and silence Him, His work, word and mission, is summed up in this thought. NO ONE CAN STOP OR EVEN SILENCE THE WORK, WORD OR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST! IF MAN IS SILENT…THE ROCKS WILL TELL OF HIS GLORY!