Friday, March 14, 2008

A Palm Sunday Meditation

This Lord's Day is commonly designated as "Palm Sunday" in many, if not most, Christian churches. We observe "Holy Week" at Redeemer finding it to be a very edifying period of seasonal reflection on the week of our Lord's passion. Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, but annually it is helpful to the brethren when we designate a week to contemplate the obedience of our Savior unto death on the cross and His glorious resurrection.

Matthew's account of the events immediately after Jesus' entry into Jerusalem reads as follows:

Matthew 21:14-16 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. [15] But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, [16] and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, " 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?"

I would like to take two posts to analyze what Jesus is is quoting in verse 16- "out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise." This comes from Psalm 8. Let's consider our Father's glory (this post) and kindness , as revealed by Psalm 8 and quoted by Jesus on the first "Palm Sunday".

Very simply, in confronting His opposition at the beginning of His “Passion Ministry”, the Lord Jesus refers to a text that gives us no less than the meaning of man’s existence in the cosmos. Psalm 8 bids us to continually study, celebrate, and rest in our Father’s Glory and Kindness.

First, His glory is revealed as the sovereign Creator.

Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

"O Lord, Our Lord" refers to God as our governor and lord personally, yet more universally he has set his fame above the heavens and established Himself above all creation.

[2] Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Not just that the existence of precious little ones glorifies God, but that He places praise upon their hearts and lips. God doesn't need the powerful eloquence of rhetoricians and grand preachers. Few things accentuate God’s glory more than the ordained praise and simple faith of children. The highly trained and oratorically skilled Pharisees had to chafe under the notion of unruly little kids giving such visible, acceptable praise to Christ.

[3] When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

The exploration of the moon has been both amazing and enlightening. The more recent study of Mars has also been remarkable. Flying through Saturn's rings and close to it's moon is very cool. Still, let's face it- such exploration is small potatoes! To appreciate the enormity of space, think of the oceans on our own planet. Our planet is mostly covered with water and we haven't even begun to explore it! How does space compare to the seemingly inexhaustible oceans? It blows your mind to think of the vastness of it all, and it is the work of His fingers! I have read the Hubble Telescope recorded the birth of a new star 170,000 light years away! That means if you traveled 186,000 miles per second or 6,000,000 MPH- it would take you 170,000 years to get there! That's 102 Quintillion miles away! There is an estimated 10 billion galaxies in the universe- each galaxy contains millions of stars! I know modern scientists like to throw around "billion" and "million", but even if we're talking a fraction of these numbers, it's absolutely mind numbing- the vastness of God’s Created Universe. It's too big for me. Just consider Earth and be blown away by the work of His fingers. Scoop up some soil as the weather starts to warm. In a small shovel full of dirt, there are probably 1000 little organisms, fungi, algae, and protozoa. Look to the sky and see all the birds. Consider how carefully God has made them all. Do you know there is a bird that flies a 10,000 mile round trip from Antarctica in Summer to Asia in winter (an Arctic Tern)! How about the Northern Fulmar which spends its entire life out on the ocean created to drink salty sea water. The thing has a stinkin' desalinization factory in the structural make up of it’s beak- no joke! God is glorious.

In the midst of all this, the Psalmist asks:

[4] what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Very good question! We are incredibly small! Yet God is mindful (remembers continually) of us and cares (provides for, attends to, has compassion for) for us!

[5] Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

Despite our small size and seeming insignificance on a universal scale, the great glorious God of it all has He has placed man as the crown of creation! What a beautiful, revealing, Psalm that Jesus chooses to quote after he enters Jerusalem. The Psalm proclaims the greatness and glory of our God, yet He is mindful of us. He has created us with incredible worth and great importance as evidenced by Christ's condescension to take on flesh, come to earth, and die for us.

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Tony, what a wonderful and inspiring message! I often ponder, and never take for granted the range of emotions Christ endured, as He Himself, the Creator of the Universe, knew what HE must do. In the midst of all the pain and suffering before Him, He resolutely set His face towards Jerusalem. And with the “Palm Sunday” account from Luke 19, we find Jesus stopping to heat up a debate with the Pharisees. These religious hypocrites were angry, demanded Jesus rebuke His disciples for showing too much public display of exuberant joy! We must understand and never be cavalier about Jesus powerful prelude to His “Great Commission!” In verse 40-41, we read “And HE answered and said, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’ And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it.” May my enthusiasm for Christ never be silenced, for I must tell the world about Jesus. I will weep and grieve Christ greatly if my zeal and passion for Him, ever be quenched.