March 28, 2021
Pastor John Hering
As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and told them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it, and he will send it back here without delay.’”
4 They left and found a colt on the street, tied at a door; and they untied it. 5 Some who were standing there asked them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 The disciples answered them just as Jesus had instructed them, and the men let them go.
7 They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their garments on it, and Jesus sat on it. 8 Many people spread their garments on the road. Others spread branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 Jesus went into the temple courts in Jerusalem and looked around at everything. Since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
You all have an idea what heaven will be like. For children they might wonder if heaven will be filled with Xbox games, toy dinosaurs and horses and lots of candy. If you ask teenagers and they’ll talk about a place where there’s no homework, where they can play sports and eat lots of food. Adults might be a bit more refined and talk about heaven as a place with perfect sights, sounds and smells. Our TV version of heaven is with white fog up to our knees, angel wings and white everywhere. In a word, heaven is indescribable. The best we can do is compare it to this world, and this is a broken planet. Nothing works perfectly all the time so we like to talk about heaven as the place where there is only happiness, everything works perfectly without pain or suffering. But, what I can tell you is this. Heaven won’t be boring! You see, if you ask me what heaven is like I would say it is the place where we will stand before our Creator to praise him, worship him, sing and thank him for all the great love he has shown to us. Wait! Worship. Praise. Singing. And I hope you’re not saying, “No thanks!”
Unfortunately, these are the same ideas that keep people from praising God on earth. It doesn’t take much to convince a weak soul to stay away from the House of God we have built in order to worship him. It doesn’t take much to convince a weak soul to refrain from sharing God’s greatness with other people. It doesn’t take much to convince a weak soul that the church is just full of boring religious people who claim they’re happy, but we all know they really aren’t.
But, today is Palm Sunday! It is one of the greatest Sundays of worship and praise in the whole year! It’s not only a day where we join together to sing Hosannas as we praise the Lord, but we also encourage each other how to praise and why we praise God to others. Jesus’ triumphant march into Jerusalem as the King of kings tells it all. Look at Jesus riding on a donkey with people waving palm branches and covering the road with their coats as gifts of honor and glory. Though so many in our world would rather surround themselves by this broken world than worship and praise God, we find great joy in raising
Hands of Praise!
That are Obedient to Jesus
When I asked my 5th & 6th graders at Calvary what they thought praising God meant they said it means coming to church. Really? Is praising God sitting in chairs and listening to hymns? The truth is most of the praising of God happens outside these walls. That’s what it was like for Jesus, too for most of Palm Sunday took place outside the temple. The first praise came from the obedient hands of the disciples. “As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and told them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it, and he will send it back here without delay.’” 4 They left and found a colt on the street, tied at a door; and they untied it. 5 Some who were standing there asked them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 The disciples answered them just as Jesus had instructed them, and the men let them go.” Not only did the disciples do what they were asked to do, but the people who owned the donkey would raise their hands of praise by giving the colt to Jesus without question.
Without question obedience to God’s holy will is the kind of praise the Lord needs today. Praising Jesus means more than simply saying and praying, “Your will be done!” while sitting in church or praying before we fall asleep. It means doing Jesus’ will on this earth without questioning the Lord’s wisdom or love. Jesus’ instructions to the disciples were weird. Don’t you think the disciples who got the instructions to go and take a donkey had some questions!?! “Jesus, how do you know the donkey will be there?” “How can we take it without asking?” “How can we be sure the owners will let us take it?” But, they were not going to question Jesus. The Disciples offered Hands of Praise that were Obedient to Jesus.
So how about your hands of praise? Are they obedient to Jesus? When the church proclaims God’s holy will to refuse to carelessly use God’s name, do you have lips of obedient praise? When the church proclaims God’s holy will to Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy, do you have feet of obedient praise? Our nature is to question what kind of loving God would send troubles into our lives? Our nature is to question God’s Word when it gives roles to men and women—men as the servant leader and women as the servant helper. Our selfish nature questions why young people can’t live & sleep together without being married? But these are anything but Hands of Praise that are Obedient to Jesus. Therefore, we confess our sinful actions and trust in God’s forgiveness. Then live as God has made you. Praise God by living godly lives. We are Christians. We are all about Christ and his will in our lives. Live as God has made you. Live good, clean, decent, honest, obedient lives outside this church. Then praise God by telling someone why you live with Hands of Praise that are Obedient to Jesus and eager to have Hands of Praise
That are in Service to Jesus
The disciples did what Jesus asked them to do. “7 They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their garments on it, and Jesus sat on it.” The disciples risked parts of their lives that were very important to them. Would they be accused of stealing? What about their honor? Would they get into trouble with the law and end up having to pay a fine? No. They put their trust in Jesus and then put their faith into action. Their Hands of Praise were given in service to Jesus.
Perhaps it is a challenge in your life, too, when you have to put something valuable on the line in order to serve Jesus. How easy it is for us to use our money as an example. Money is valuable to us and we want to protect it. It buys us everything we need. It is our food, homes, transportation, as well as the measure of our pleasure and influence. But, let’s dig in a little deeper. When the Bible teaches us that one of many ways we can use our Hands of Praise in Service to Jesus is to use our money, we get very sensitive within ourselves. The battle goes on inside the hearts of Christians because we still have a stingy and selfish nature. We think our money is ours. We forget that all we have is a gift from God. It takes real trust in God’s promises that if we are generous with our valuables, that he will take care of us.
We have something to learn from the crowds on the first Palm Sunday. “8 Many people spread their garments on the road. Others spread branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” The crowds who lifted their Hands of Praise in Service to Jesus were not tight with their valuables. They were lavish with their offerings of material things in service to Jesus. One person gave his donkey. The disciples took off their cloaks and made a saddle for Jesus to sit on. Others took off their coats and put them on the dirt so not even the donkey Jesus was riding would get his hooves dirty. Still others having nothing else to offer cut down palm branches to show their honor, love and praise of Jesus. They all praised Jesus with their valuables in Service to Jesus.
So, here we sit on Palm Sunday in 2021. We know the blessings of forgiveness from sin, eternal life, and deliverance from the devil. Feels good, doesn’t it? However, let’s match the enthusiastic crowds of Palm Sunday with Hands of Service to Jesus! Outside of our church there are thousands of people heading to their graves without Jesus’ forgiveness and love. Continue to use your Hands of Praise to Service Jesus. This is the perfect week to do that. Think of someone you know that is hurting because they don’t have a church where they can hear the gospel of Jesus. Invite them to the Easter Celebration this week. There are missions all around the world, and our own mission in Rockwall that need our prayers, our encouragement and our support. Wait, didn’t I just receive a stimulus check? Did the Lord just put this wonderful gift into my Hands of Praise? I wonder what my wife and I will decide to do with that “free money?” Perhaps this year will be easier than ever to use our Hands of Praise in Service to Jesus by offerings back to the gracious Lord a thank offering for his taking care of us (Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection). How about you? Together we can make a big difference in the kingdom work of the Lord. For those of you who are already generously supporting the work at Divine Peace, your special offerings for the Growing Gifts emphasis, and for the generous offerings of time, talents and treasures none of us even know about…..thank you. Your generosity is a foretaste of the perfect joy, peace and praise of God we will experience in heaven someday.
We know how important church work is to Jesus. “11 Jesus went into the temple courts in Jerusalem and looked around at everything. Since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Do you know what Jesus did the next day? He returned to the Temple to clear out the money changers who had turned God’s House of Prayer into a marketplace. The work of the Church is important for Jesus. It’s so important because the Gospel is proclaimed in God’s house. People hear the gospel of Jesus believe and are saved. It is a place where the Gospel and Word and Sacrament come to us so we can live in this broken world as we prepare to enter into heaven. And if you think heaven will be boring, then I would imagine that you also think using Hand of Praise to Serve Jesus on earth is boring, too.
You see, there were two groups of people there on Palm Sunday. Those who praised Jesus and those who hated Jesus. It is my prayer that Jesus rules your heart as the King of kings on this Palm Sunday. It is my prayer that your use your Hands of Praise in obedience and in service to Jesus. Then lift your hearts and voices on this Palm Sunday to Praise the Lord until God calls you to heaven to praise him forever. Amen.