Friday, April 15, 2011

Who Is This?

My sermon this week comes from Matthew 21:1-16. Here is the introduction. Feel free to comment. I have been imagining what it would have been like to have been in the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. It must have been a festive event. A great crowd had already gathered to celebrate Passover. People were shouting and cheering as they laid their coats and palm branches on the road before Him. Would I have wondered, “Could this be the promised Messiah, the Son of David? Is this the beginning of a new era, one without Roman occupation and oppression?” Maybe like others in the crowd I would have heard stories about the teaching and healing by this man called Jesus. In the midst of this great fanfare and excitement people began to ask, “Who is this?” This may be the most important question we can ever ask. Who is this man called Jesus? Our answer determines everything. I wonder what I would have thought as events unfolded. Would I have recognized God’s righteousness when He drove money changers and those selling doves out of the temple? Or would I have become angry because I profited from the lucrative business of exploiting those that came to draw close to God as they offered their sacrifices? Would there have been tears in my eyes as the lame and the blind were healed? Keep in mind this is more than a physical healing. Their healing meant that they would have been no longer barred to the court of the Gentiles. Would I have been moved in this great moment as God’s temple was being used properly as a place of prayer and display of God’s healing power? Would I continue to shout with the children, “Hosanna to the Son of David”? One last question: Would I have been one in the crowd that moved from shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David” to a few days later declaring, “Crucify Him” and, “We have no king but Caesar”? I guess it all depends on how I answer the first question. Who is this? Have you ever thought about that question? Maybe you make it a habit to regularly worship God both privately and corporately. Maybe you come to church on Christmas or Easter because you know it makes Mom or your spouse happy. It doesn’t matter where you are I think it is easy to get caught up in the moment of celebration. We may enjoy the singing or the energy from the crowd around us and never answer the question, “Who is this?” Some suggest He was a good man, teacher, leader, prophet, etc. Others consider Him to be the champion of the poor and oppressed. He has been called delusional, a rebel, a pacifist, a demon, and a fraud. The list goes on. Some use His name as if it is a magical incantation. Still others see intellectual assent to His existence as a ticket to the next world. Sometimes our assertions tell us more about each other than they do about Jesus Christ. So, who is He and does it matter?

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