Missing It

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 19, Psalm 67

“As he approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying “If you knew this day what would bring peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build and embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44 (HCSB)

 There is so much in this 19th Chapter of Luke, I can hardly hold it in. Reading the story of Zacchaeus repenting for his sins and hosting Jesus while others looked on with distain. Then on to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on that young donkey. My HCSB Study Bible explains that the distance between Jericho and Jerusalem is about 17 miles. The elevation change is 3,300 feet which means that the road was going up on average at a rate of almost 200 feet per mile. As he nears Jerusalem his disciples and followers spread their cloaks on the road as a way to honor their King. People were rejoicing and proclaiming His mighty works. I can only imagine the electricity in the air that day! I can imagine what it felt like to believe that your King has come and to be able to see him. Some texts say that the crowd was shouting Psalm 118:26:

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26)

This further solidifies the messianic expectation at that time. But when Jesus begins to approach Jerusalem he weeps. He weeps at the thought of rejection by the city of Jerusalem. It is true that the Jews enjoyed peace in this time under Roman rule until about 40 years after Jesus spoke the words in verse 44:

“…They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” Luke 19:44

 In A.D. 66 the Jews revolted against the Roman control, three years later Roman soldiers attacked Jerusalem and burned it to the ground in A.D. 70. Six hundred thousand Jews were killed during that siege. Many Jews did not open their eyes to see Christ as the Messiah or recognize His coming as God’s visitation and offer of salvation. After studying the gospel of Luke and the historic context I’m struck by how similar this ancient society is to our so called modern society. We too are arguing about who is really the messiah. We have modern pharisees asking us to rebuke one leader in favor of another. Jesus viewed the corruption of the temple as a reflection of the corruption of the nation. He knew that they were about to enter an even greater season of judgement. How can we learn from the fall of Jerusalem? Can we begin to connect the dots between ourselves and the ancient Christians? The leaders among their people included wealthy men in politics, commerce and law. They saw Jesus as a threat. He drove the merchants out of the temple and his teachings favored the poor. He attracted attention that wasn’t in line with their business goals.

I love the woven tapestry of Luke 19. It’s a collection of parables for us to consider and then compare to our own Christian life. Are we tax collectors? Are we merchants in the temple? Are we truly spreading our cloaks out for Jesus to walk upon or are we a Pharisee, rebuking the message of Christ. Are we just plain missing it…in other words are we actually missing the opportunity for a visit from God. Are we so close but not quite there in our total commitment to the Messiah? I know that I have work to do. My eyes are open and looking for encounters with Him this week. I hope yours are too.





An Audience of One

John 12

The church I grew up in celebrates Holy Week with a Palm Sunday celebration and then a Maundy Thursday and Good Friday combined evening service and of course, Easter service on Sunday morning. I can remember walking into the church in the choir as a child carrying palm branches and singing about Jesus being king as we read about today in John 12 when he enters Jerusalem. This section in my Bible is appropriately called “The Triumphant Entry,” as the people shouted “Hosanna” and called Jesus” the King of Israel.”  Later in the week, in our combined Maundy Thursday/Good Friday service, we would turn off the lights at the end. There was a spotlight on a large, wooden cross in the front and sitting in dead silence, someone came the microphone yelling “Crucify him..Crucify him!”  Then, there was a wooden block being hit with a hammer 3 times loudly to represent the nails being driven into Jesus’ feet and both hands. I cringed with each strike of the block. We then sat in the dark with no one saying a word or moving for a few minutes which felt like an hour! Whoa! The lights came on and that was everyone’s cue to file out in silence. People would talk in the lobby, but the buzz, cheerfulness, and mood was a little different than the normal Sunday service.

On Easter Sunday, it was a time for celebration and the buzz and cheerfulness was back again. The palms were back, lilies were all around the church, a white sash hung on the cross to represent us being washed clean of our sins, and the sun seemed to always be shining on Easter morning. He is risen!

It was perplexing to me growing up, and still is  today, that Jesus was adorned as a king by a crowd and then just a few days later another crowd, with maybe some of the same people, shouted for him to be crucified.

Often in our life, we can feel like we are on top of the world. Maybe we get a big promotion, secure a big client, have someone praise us for a job well done, family relationships are great, and everything seems to be going our way. And then out of nowhere a job is lost, a client leaves you, a falling out with a family member occurs, you are criticized by a boss, you have an unexpected financial hardship, or even a divorce. Where does your identity come from in these low moments? I don’t know about you, but I feel it is hard not to lose confidence in myself during these challenging times because I can mistakenly get puffed up when others are telling me good job, and I put my self-worth and happiness based on what others are saying when things are going well. It is then equally as bad as it was good and my self-worth and confidence can decrease when others are critical of me or when nothing seems to be going right.

We don’t know Jesus’ thoughts on Palm Sunday as he was being praised like a king, but something tells me based off his humbleness and servant leadership throughout his lifetime that he was not puffed up and proud. During his toughest times on the cross, his focus was not on himself, but on others as he said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus did not put his identity and worth in what others thought about him. He knew who he truly was, and most importantly, whose he was.

When things are going well, let’s remember to give glory and praise to him and not be prideful and think it’s by our own doing. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..” When things aren’t going so well, let’s not be discouraged by what others think, and let’s remind ourselves that we are living for an audience of one. Let’s remember who we are and whose we are. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” If we look in the mirror and we’ve made mistakes we are not proud of (and we all have), let’s be thankful instead of sad. This is why Jesus came and died on the cross. Our identity is in him and in his unconditional love for us. Let’s hold fast, for we know what is coming, the sunshine and celebration of Easter morning! He is risen…he is risen indeed!



Don’t you love the story about Jesus riding into town on the donkey, being praised and worshiped? See Mark 11:1-11 for the full story. I remember it from childhood and our kids have heard it many times in Sunday school.

Judges 12; Acts 16; Jeremiah 25; Mark 11

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!” (Mark 11:9-10)

There were people praising him for who he is, publicly acknowledging Jesus as he fulfills Old Testament prophecy from Zechariah 9:9.

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. (Zechariah 9:9)

Today I’m reading this story under a different light. Jesus, being God in the flesh knew that this earthly worship and party wasn’t going to last. He knew that in a very short time he would be crucified. Wasn’t this victory ride bittersweet to Jesus? Did he know some of the people who were praising him would betray him and call out for him to be crucified? Did he know they would choose to set free a known vicious criminal, a murderer (Matthew 27:15-23) instead of him? I believe he did. What was on his mind as he rode? It is easy to praise King Jesus, but what about when he doesn’t meet “our” expectations, when obedience isn’t on our terms, when following costs us friendships, social status, jobs, or even our own safety? Even though Jesus knew they as well as us, would betray him he continued on because of his love for us and his commitment to the Father’s plan.

This next verse seems really simple on the surface but I ask that you join me on a journey through the eyes of Jesus. He was just celebrated, it is getting late, and he goes into the temple. At this time of day temple attendance was likely sparse. Picture Jesus looking around at everything, saddened over the forthcoming betrayal, and saddened as the temple had become a “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). Perhaps a last look since he knew what was to come? I’m envisioning this to be something like when a person is saying goodbye to a place or people they love and adore, picking up photo albums and looking at them fondly but yet with concern for their loved ones.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Father God, you are above all things. We praise you for who you are; for loving us, for your perfect plan, for being patient, merciful, and forgiving. Like Jesus looked around at everything in the temple, we ask you to look around at everything in our hearts. Please forgive us for the times when we have praised you with our lips but yet our actions are that of betrayal of your son Jesus. Everything your son did, he did for us so that we may have life with you. He lived a perfect life all while knowing he would suffer on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Show us where on the outside we seem pure and just, but on the inside we attempt to harbor secret sin; we have no secrets from you God. You know all, you see all. Please help us, please save us. Amen.