Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

BLCF: Led by the Spirit1

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Led by the Spirit to a Victory of Faith: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch’

© May 1, 2016, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 1, 2016

BLCF: Enabled by the Spirit

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #612 (The Lamb of God – from Isaiah 53); Prayer                                                                                                   

Opening Hymn #237: What Can Wash Away My Sin?; Choruses                                

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                         

 Scriptures: Matthew 19:8-12; Acts 8:26-40; Isaiah 53:7-8 

led_by_the_Spirit                                      

 

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church for May 1, also known as May Day, Communion Sunday and Easter Sunday for members of the Orthodox Christian Church, which bases its Easter date on the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar.

Today’s lesson is primarily focused on the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch found in Acts 8:26-40 (ESV):

Acts 8:26-40 (ESV) Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

BLCF: Acts_8_26-40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[a] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

BLCF: Ethiopian_Eunuch_Baptism

 

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[b] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Footnotes: a. Acts 8:26 Or go at about noon b. Acts 8:36 Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The above account, of the encounter between Philip and a eunuch in the remote desert, describes how the Apostle is first directed by an angel of God, on a trek on the road running south Jerusalem towards Gaza.

BLCF: Meroe-Africa

 

It is on this road that the Spirit of God directs Philip to approach a chariot carrying an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. Philip, directed by the Spirit, asks the eunuch whether he understands the Scripture which he is reading.

 

BLCF: The_Journeys_Of_Philip

This affords the eunuch the opportunity to invite Philip to join him in order to understand the Scripture, particularly Isaiah 53:7-8:

Isaiah 53:7-8 (ESV)

BLCF: Icon_Philip

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

It is in regard to this passage of Scripture that the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Philip helps the eunuch is to understand that Isaiah 53:7-8 indicates that Christ’s sacrifice was made on behalf of all people, who are oppressed and judged for their transgressions or sins. No doubt, the eunuch was given limited access to the temple, as a eunuch would be considered “blemished’, under the criteria of holiness that the Lord gave Moses in Leviticus 21:16-24:

Leviticus 21:16-24 (ESV) Holiness and the Priests

BLCF: WhatDefilesYou

16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.

The Temple was partitioned into four courts, beginning with the Court of the Priests; then the Court of Israel; followed by the Court of the Women, and finally by the Court of the Gentiles. But a eunuch was viewed to have a physical blemish that would prohibit him from entering the temple or Assembly of God:

Deuteronomy 23:1 (ESV) Those Excluded from the Assembly

BLCF: accessibility-access-denied

23 “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Because a eunuch was considered to bear a physical defect or blemish, he would be lucky if he were permitted to enter the Court of the Gentiles, a court most removed from the Holy altar containing the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence of God was considered to reside.

BLCF: four_courts_of_the_temple

In addition to being a blemish, the eunuch was also considered a foreigner. But Isaiah indicates that the Lord offers a path to salvation to foreigners, as we see in Isaiah 56:1-5:

 

Isaiah 56:1-5 (ESV) Salvation for Foreigners

BLCF: God qualifies the called

56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.

But the Lord did instruct his people to offer compassion to the afflicted, such as the deaf or blind:

Leviticus 19:13-14 (ESV)

BLCF: Access for disabled

13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

But there is a huge difference between have compassion and pity for the disabled, whose afflictions were regarded as a punishment for sin, and being totally forgiven of their transgressions.

By the grace offered by the New Covenant, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the judgment for any blemish or sin is removed. The believer is made both whole and holy in the eyes of God to become an Ark of the Holy Spirit, by way of God’s New Covenant.

The eunuch is sanctified by faith in Christ and asks Philip to be baptized in a stream nearby. At one time, only a eunuch, who is impotent, would be allowed to approach a married woman without being judged guilty of the sin of adultery:

Matthew 19:8-12 (ESV)

BLCF: disability

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 19:9 Some manuscripts add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery; other manuscripts except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery

BLCF: Covenant-of-Grace-chart

As a final reflection, under the Old Law, a eunuch would be barred from entering the temple and drawing close to God because of the blemish of his physical condition. Any priest who suffered injury and thus became physically blemished could no longer perform the rites of a priest and was subject of charity in order to be fed. He could no longer approach the Ark of the Covenant and would be removed from the presence of God because of his affliction.

In the Acts 8 account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is significant in so many ways. We see that Philip, an apostle/messenger of Christ’s Gospel, is sent out by an angel of God on a missionary journey and then directed by God’s Holy Spirit to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch, who is converted, Christian.

In contrast to other accounts of conversions of blind, paralytics and others who are considered by Jews as blemished,  are first healed of their respective infirmity or blemish in order to enter the temple and worship as a member of the assembly. The eunuch is baptized and received as part of the body of Christ and his blemish is unchanged. Through Christ, he is unblemished in God’s eyes.

We see that being a eunuch with physical deficiencies is no more an impediment to being saved and joining the body of Christ, than are the scars or stripes Jesus bore for our sins an impediment for the Lord to be the head of his church. Through Christ, there is no physical impediment to salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Wheelchair-cross_Image

The Ethiopian eunuch is the first foreigner to become a convert of Christ and the first black person to covert to the Way of the Lord. In spite of being a student of the Scriptures, who had just returned from worshiping at the Temple, the eunuch’s physical blemish would likely have been allowed by the Temple Priests to worship in the Court of Gentiles, and this conversion is significant as it is the first recorded Christian conversion of a Gentile.

Christ suffered physical affliction on the cross to remove the restrictions and judgements under the Old Covenant and to permit access to God’s Presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit, under a New Covenant through Christ.

BLCF: Jesus_would_be_banned_from_the_templs_due_to_his_stripes

 

Come to think of it, under the Old Covenant rules, the Resurrected Christ would not be permitted access to the Temple because the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and sides would be considered unacceptable defects or blemishes. Under the Old Covenant, the blemishes borne by the Son of God would create the paradox that Christ would neither be allowed to pass through the veil at the Priest’s Temple Court to access Holy of Holies nor allowed to ascend to sit at the side of the Father in Heaven.

 

1_temple_4_courts

But it is because Christ took upon himself to bear the marks or stripes of our sins under the New Covenant, any blemish or defect can no longer be a barrier to the sanctification of the believer. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice guarantees our access to the presence of God, which is the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Communion_Sunday

Communion – (Matthew 26:26-29) Institution of the Lord’s Supper: 

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”                                                                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

Closing Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Amen

BLCF: baptised in one Spirit

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Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life

BLCF: Extravagant-Love

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’

© April 24, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 24, 2016

 BLCF: Friday-but-Sunday

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 (Christian Baptism – from Matthew 3 and 28, Acts 2, Romans 6); Prayer                                                                            

Opening Hymn #365:  I Am Weak, but Thou Art Strong; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                       

Scriptures: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; John 12:1-8

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’, which could have the included a subtitle taken from the illustration on the front of today’s Bulletin: ‘It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming’.

Our Lesson includes three Scripture passages which describe Jesus visiting two of his disciples and friends who lived in the village of Bethany, Martha and Mary, under three different circumstances, with the second and third Scriptures include a third disciple and friend, the women’s brother, Lazarus.

Our first passage, from Luke’s Gospel, describes how Martha invites Jesus into her home, Luke 10:38-42 (ESV):

 Martha and Mary

BLCF: Mary-of_Bethany

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[b] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 10:38 Greek he b. Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts few things are necessary, or only one

While Martha is busy with serving food, she becomes distracted from her serving by observing that her sister sits at Jesus’ feet listening to the Lord’s teaching. Martha is so anxious and upset by Mary not helping her sister serve, that she implores Jesus to instruct Mary to help her, complaining that Jesus does not seem to care that Martha has been left alone to do serving duties. Jesus replies by compassionately rebuking Martha for being anxious and troubled about “many things”, indicating that Mary by choosing to listen to the Lord’s teachings, she has chosen to consume the good portion, which is the “Bread of Life”, which will not be taken from her.

Our second Scripture, from John’s Gospel, gives the account where the sisters ask Jesus to visit their brother Lazarus, who is quite ill, John 11:1-44 (ESV):

 The Death of Lazarus

BLCF: Mary-Martha-Lazarus

11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Jesus, when asked to attend his beloved friend Lazarus, gives a seemingly strange reply that Lazarus illness will not lead to death, but will to glory of both God and the Son of God. And Jesus delays departing to visit his friends by two days, as we continue reading in Luke 11:

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin,[b] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

After two days, Jesus tell the disciples that it is time to awaken his “sleeping” friend, indicating no fear of the Jews who sought to stone the Lord and that the death of his friend will offer him an opportunity to give them a sign, so that they may believe.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

BLCF: I_ AM._the_Resurrection

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus arrived to find Martha, Mary and many Jews mourning the death of Lazarus. Martha greets Jesus, indicating her brother would have not passed if the Lord were present.

Jesus replies to Martha, that her brother will “rise again.” Thinking that Jesus is referring to the Judgement Day, when he asks whether she believes Lazarus will be resurrected, Mary acknowledges him as Lord, the Christ, Son of God. Let us continue with John 11:

Jesus Weeps

BLCF: Jesus-wept2

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus then asks for Martha to send for Mary, the Lord choosing to remain at the place where Martha had met him, just outside the village. Assuming Mary is leaving for her brother’s tomb, the Jews follow Mary from the house to where Jesus awaits. Mary falls at Jesus’ feet, weeping that if he were present, he brother would not have died. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in his spirit by the weeping of Mary and the Jews that asked to be brought to the tomb, where Jesus wept. John 11:35, happens to not only be the shortest verse in the Bible, but speaks volumes about the love and compassion that Christ has for those whom he loves. We see that Jesus now shows a sign that demonstrates the glory of God:

Jesus Raises Lazarus

BLCF: Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Footnotes: a. John 11:6 Greek he; also verse 17 b. John 11:16 Greek Didymus c. John 11:18 Greek fifteen stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters d. John 11:25 Some manuscripts omit and the life e. John 11:33 Or was indignant; also verse 38

It is interesting that as the Lord instructs Martha to have the stone removed from the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb, and Martha worries and complains to Jesus that after four days Lazarus’ body will give an odor of death.

Jesus demonstrates to Martha, Mary and the Jews gathered at the tomb, that he is indeed the resurrection and the life, by calling Lazarus to rise to life and come out of the tomb.

This brings us to our third and final Scripture passage, John 12:1-8 (ESV):

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

BLCF: Mary-anoints-Jesus-feet07sm

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Footnotes: a. John 12:3 Greek litra; a litra (or Roman pound) was equal to about 11 1/2 ounces or 327 grams b. John 12:5 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer c. John 12:7 Or Leave her alone; she intended to keep it

Jesus returns to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, this time to be the guest of honor of a dinner, served to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus.

While Martha serves the meal, with Lazarus reclining at the table with Jesus. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with an expensive, fragrant ointment, wiping the Lord’s feet with her hair.

For her actions, Mary again becomes the object of ridicule, this time by the disciple Judas. Judas complains that the anointing is a waste of money and a better use of the ointment would have been selling it and giving the money to the poor.

Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone as the ointment could be used for his own impending death and burial. After all, anointing Jesus was an act that celebrates God’s glory, Christ’s lordship over death, as witnessed by the resurrection of Lazarus.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God be the Glory

Benediction – (Philippians 4:23) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.       – Amen

BLCF: Holy_Spirit_Romans_8_11

Jesus in Jerusalem: In like a Lion; Out like a Lamb

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-With-Lion-And-Lamb

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Jesus in Jerusalem: In like a Lion; Out like a Lamb’

© March 29, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin March 29, 2015

BLCF:1holy_week

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading # 625:                          

’The Triumphal Entry’ (Mark11; Matthew 21); Opening Prayer

Opening Hymn #131: All Glory, Laud, and Honor                                                  

Tithing and Prayers; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests

Today’s Scriptures: Zechariah 9:9, John 12:12-19, John 13:1-35

BLCF: Lion-or-Lamb-Which-Do-You-Need

Let us pray…

Good morning and the blessings Holy Spirit and the grace of our Saviour flow upon all of you, on this Palm Sunday morning. Our lesson today will focus on the challenge of understanding God’s plan and how He reveals the glory of that plan, through His son, Jesus.

But first, let me ask you this question: “Have you ever gone to a place, or an event, or met someone and find out what you see was totally different, from what you expected?” That is to say, what you experienced was radically different from anything that you anticipated?

I must admit that my answer to the question is: “Yes, not just once, but on many occasions.”

A perfect example would be the first time that I entered through the front doors of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. Based on the front façade, what initially looked like a small size church building of modest dimensions, turned out to be many times larger than I had expected. There have been occasions when I first meet someone, with whom I previously only spoke to by phone, only to be surprised that their appearance is radically different from what  I expected, based upon their voice. Many silent movie era actors could not transition to talkies, because their voice did not match the expectations based solely upon their screen image.

For those baseball fans old enough to remember, the intimidating stare that pitcher Dave Stewart gave from the mound during the years that he pitched for Toronto and Oakland. But Stewart, who now manages for Arizona, had a high, friendly voice and manner of speaking that was in stark contrast to his demeanor on the mound.

BLCF: dave-stewart

Dave Stewart

This is what happened to Jesus when the Lord arrived in Jerusalem. Based on their words and actions, the expectation of those who came to the city to participate in Feast of Passover and then gathered just outside the city to receive Jesus was quite different from both the prophecy in the Scriptures and the manner by which the Lord arrived at Jerusalem. While the crowd treated the Lord’s arrival in the manner of a bold king or lion, the manner of his arrival and surrender to the cross could best be described as a humble lamb. A sacrificial lamb.

To understand this discrepancy, let us review today’s Scripture verses. The first is Zechariah 9:9 (ESV), which gives a prediction of the arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem:

The Coming King of Zion

BLCF: king arrives on a donkey

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!     

Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;     

righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey,     

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This single verse gives us a description of the arrival of a righteous king who brings salvation. The king will arrive riding upon a donkey. The prophecy of Jesus’ arrival that is described in Zechariah 9:9, is “fleshed out” in the account of the event stated in John 12:12-19 (ESV):

The Triumphal Entry

BLCF: Hosanna_hosanna_hosanna_in_the_highest

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;

behold, your king is coming,     

sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

The crowds called out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” Other accounts in the Scripture record that the crowds placed palm fronds in front of the donkey that Christ rode to Jerusalem, hence the reason we call today Palm Sunday.

But what did the crowd mean when they shouted “Hosanna” to the Lord? For a better understanding, let us look at our Wikibits for the term “Hosanna”:

Wikipedia Definition: Hosanna

BLCF: hosanna-psalm-sunday_

The word hosanna (Latin osanna, Greek ὡσαννά, hōsanná) is from Hebrew הושיעה־נא, הושיעה נא hôshia-nā’ which is short for hôšî‘â-nā’ from Aramaic הושע נא meaning “save, rescue, savior”.[1]

In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25).

It is applied in numerous verses of the New Testament including “Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11.9), “hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11.10); “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matt 21:9). The old interpretation “Save, now!”,[2] based on Psalm 118:25, does not fully explain the occurrence of the word in the Gospels as a shout of jubilation, and this has given rise to complex discussions.[3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna

We get a clearer understanding of the meaning if hosanna from gotquestions.org:

Question: “What is the meaning of hosanna?”

Answer: Hosanna is a word used in some songs of praise, particularly on Palm Sunday. It is of Hebrew origin and was part of the shout of the multitudes as Jesus entered Jerusalem: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “Hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

So, as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the crowds were perfectly right to shout “Hosanna!” They were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah, as shown in their address “Son of David.” Theirs was a cry for salvation and a recognition that Jesus is able to save. Later that day, Jesus was in the temple, and the children present were again shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15).

The chief priests and the teachers of the Law were displeased: “‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise”’?” (Matthew 21:16).

In saying, “Hosanna!” the people were crying out for salvation, and that’s exactly why Jesus had come. Within a week Jesus would be hanging on a cross.

http://www.gotquestions.org/hosanna.html

While in truth, Jesus did come to fulfill the Scriptures, as the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, to deliver Israel. But is the rest of the prophecy was forgotten by both the crowd and even the disciples, was the manner by which the Lord would fulfill the prophecy of their deliverance. It seems that they expected Christ to deliver the People of Israel, in much the same way as had Moses and Joshua. There was the expectation of a leader who would wield the power and might of God to defeat Rome, the Scribes and Pharisees, and all others who threatened the faith of the People of Israel.

Jesus did come to defeat the greatest enemy of not only the People of Israel but all believers in the one true God. This enemy was not a Pharaoh, or an Emperor, or King, or an army, or a kingdom. To defeat this enemy did not require leading a mighty army, to march through open seas, to tear down the walls of a mighty city. For the enemy that the Lord defeated was the world’s judgment for our sins. Not just the sins of those people and of that day, but the sins of all people, for all time.

But the lesson that Christ taught came after Palm Sunday and before the day of his execution. The lesson that Christ taught the disciples, was like the sacrifice that he made, for all disciples, for all time, as we read in John 13:1-35 (ESV):

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

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13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

One of You Will Betray Me

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21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,[e] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus[f] of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

A New Commandment

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31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b.John 13:10 The Greek c. words for you in this verse are plural d. John 13:16 Greek bondservant f. John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled g. John 13:23 Greek in the bosom of Jesus h. John 13:24 Greek lacks Jesus

In this passage of Scripture, the Lord sought to demonstrate the need for a humble perspective with respect to their relationship with God, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

The message of the Gospel of Christ should be delivered to others with the same humility as a servant washing their master’s feet. This would be the same humility that the Lord demonstrated by traveling to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, not riding a mighty steed or being on chauffeured on a chariot. It was through humble self-sacrifice, that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified in place of all sinners. He died for our sins that we may live through him. The disciples did not understand this as we read in John 12:16:

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

When Peter asks the Lord “Why did he wash his feet, we see the reply in John 13:7:

 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

And just as the Passover celebrates God’s judgment of death passing over the faithful, making them innocent of that judgment, this last supper was the first communion to celebrate the fact that through the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf, God’s judgment for our sins passes over us, to His glory. Christ gave the first bread to Judas Iscariot, who was taken over by the spirit of Satan and then betray our Lord. Then our Lord instructed the remaining disciples to observe communion in remembrance of his sacrifice, until the day that he returns.

The glorification of our Lord did not occur at the time of his crucifixion, or at his resurrection, or even when he ascended to heaven. The glorification of Jesus took place in the Upper Room, immediately after Judas left to betray the Lord.

For it was after Judas Iscariot leaves the Upper Room, to betray the Lord that a chain of events is put into effect resulting in the arrest, condemnation, and death of Jesus. This marks the glorification, of both: God, the father and his son, Jesus, Who with the Spirit are one, as we read in John 13, beginning with verse 31:

A New Commandment

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31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As followers of Jesus, along with the disciples, we are instructed to love others in the same manner that the Lord loved us: sacrificially and humbly, so that we may demonstrate our confidence to his reply to our cry of Hosanna!

Let us pray…

BLCF: happypalmsunday

Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name 

Benediction (Philippians 4:23): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

BLCF: Palm Sunday