When you're stressed, upset, or anxious, how do you deal with those emotions? When your mind is filled with worries, what do you try to think about instead? What do you daydream about? I bring these questions up because our answers can help us identify what we actually believe can provide us a sense of peace.
This world is looking for peace. Ever since mankind severed our fellowship with our Creator, we've been attempting to find the peace that we long for through created things instead of through Him. This has been the struggle of humanity ever since our earliest days.
This struggle was also highly visible on the day of Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. As He entered into the city on that day, He was surrounded by all kinds of people. Some genuinely trusted in Him. Others were looking for Him to be the means by which they could acquire the worldly things they actually trusted in. Still others despised Him and openly rebuked and rejected Him.
Each of us can find someone in that crowd that represents the state our hearts are in right now. Would you like to know how true and lasting peace can be obtained? Let's take a look at what we're told in Luke 19.
I. View everything entrusted to you as actually belonging to Jesus
Some of the most influential people in my life fit into categories that you might not necessarily expect. Years ago, I had the privilege to meet two elderly sisters who had never married or had children. They were both retired and in better health than most of their peers. Because they had a decent amount of available time, they volunteered to serve in many capacities in the local church and they also took the time to drive a large percentage of the elderly people within our church to their doctors appointments or to visit the grocery store when needed. They had a reliable car and they believed that the Lord had blessed them with it in order to bless others for His glory.
I bring that up because this passage of Scripture illustrates a principal that we would do well to examine. In this world, there are many things that will be entrusted to us. We may be blessed with knowledge, time, abilities, finances, or specific resources and tools. In the context of what was taking place in this Scripture, we're told that Jesus sent two of His disciples to acquire and bring Him a colt. They followed His directions, found the colt, untied it, and told the owners that they were taking it because the Lord needed it. And from what we see in this pivotal passage of Scripture, that answer was apparently sufficient for the owners of the colt.
Jesus was about to utilize this colt to demonstrate something significant and prophetic about His identity as Eternal King, but He also providentially chose to allow the owners of this colt the unique privilege of partnering with Him in this mission. They certainly could have said no and chased the disciples away from their property, but they didn't. They were content to treat what the Lord had entrusted to them as something that ultimately belonged to Him anyway.
This is a helpful example for us, even though we live many generations after this event. I have found it to be a true principle of life that you can either worship what the Lord blessed you with, or you can use what He blesses you with to worship Him. If we are selfish with His blessings, we turn those blessings into harmful idols. If we're generous with those blessings, we're exhibiting good stewardship that's the fruit of genuine faith. Everything that the Lord entrusts to us doesn't actually belong to us. It belongs to Him. This was a concept that was widely embraced by the believers that were part of the early church.
Have you ever wondered if one of the reasons you've struggled to find peace in this world might be because you're trying to hold on to things that don't ultimately belong to you? Can you identify any created thing that you would not say "Yes!" to the Lord if He made the request of you to turn it back over to Him or share it with someone else?
II. Don't let a critical spirit inhibit your enthusiasm for praising Jesus
This portion of Scripture is amazing on several levels, including the fact that it includes the fulfillment of a prophecy made by the prophet Zechariah five centuries earlier. Zechariah 9:9 told us that the King who could offer salvation would come to Jerusalem humbly, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey. This was a sign that was foretold as a form of confirmation to those with eyes to see and ears to hear so that they would recognize the coming on the Messiah.
Jesus rode that colt into the city and the people spread their cloaks on the road. Mark 11:8 also tells us that people spread leafy branches on the road which is why we typically refer to this event as having happened on "Palm Sunday" in reference to palm branches being spread.
Incidentally, I don't know why we call it "Palm Sunday" instead of "Cloak Sunday" because both were placed before Him as a sign of respect and as an acknowledgement of Christ's kingship.
And as Jesus rode into the city His disciples called out, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" They praised Jesus loudly and openly. Clearly they were ecstatic about the possibility of Him setting up His earthly kingdom and bringing Israel even greater prominence and peace than they enjoyed back in the days of King David. But instead of joining the disciples in praising Jesus, we're told that the Pharisees, who were the religious elite of the day, didn't like what they were seeing at all. In fact, they sternly instructed Jesus to tell His disciples to be quiet. In their mind, this kind of praise toward Jesus was blasphemous in nature.
Jesus, the Lord over all creation, replied to the religious leaders in a wise, honest, and direct manner. He told them that if His disciples didn't praise Him, the very rocks of the ground would cry out in praise. What He was saying was that even though humanity tries to squelch knowledge of its Creator, the creation still testifies to the One who made it. If man, being made in the image of God, won't sing the praises of Jesus, the humble rocks that man thoughtlessly walks upon would joyfully accept the privilege to do so in our place.
Just the other day, I was edified while watching a popular investment channel online. The person making the video, a man who believes in Jesus, was reading comments from regular viewers and one of the comments he received said this, "Looked at your profile, there aren't too many people in tech who believe Jesus was our Lord and Savior, it's nice to get some diversification in the tech industry."
You know and I know that just as there were people trying to dampen praise of Jesus on this day, there are still critics who attempt to do so in our day as well. But don't let a critical spirit dampen your enthusiasm for testifying to the greatness of Christ. Do this in whatever sphere of life the Lord has placed you, regardless of your field and regardless of the smug attitudes of those who look sideways at you or try to rob you of your joy.
III. Let Jesus show you what He's trying to show you even if it isn't what you were looking for
Every single one of us has things we're passionate about in life. A few years back I met a man who was honestly passionate about installing fences. He told me he had the opportunity to work in several different areas, but he never found a task he enjoyed as much as marketing and installing quality fences. In the process, he built a successful company that did just that.
When we're passionate or excited about things, it can sometimes result in us losing sight of things that are actually of greatest importance. We can develop somewhat of a tunnel vision that misses what Christ has been trying to show us because it isn't what we really wanted to see.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He looked out over the city, observed the buildings, the people, and the activity taking place there, and He wept. His heart was grieved as He watched the very people He had created spending all their time and energy focused on the wrong things and seeking to find peace in this world through worldly ambitions and created things instead of realizing that He alone could give them the peace their hearts were thirsting for.
Their lives were being invested in things with no eternal value and Jesus prophetically stated that it was all going to be taken from them. Their enemies would one day surround the city, tear them to the ground, and not leave one stone resting upon another because they did not recognize the time of Christ's visitation to them. They rejected Christ as their King because they really only wanted a political savior. Less than forty years after Jesus spoke these words, in the year AD 70, the Romans besieged and destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple.
Christ knows that naturally speaking, we were not looking for Him. We weren't reaching out to Him and neither were the people living at the time this Scripture was being lived out. We weren't seeking Him, so He came to this earth seeking us. He's still seeking us and He's trying to show us things that we weren't inclined to look for or value.
Christ offers us true peace. Not temporary or circumstantial peace like this world gives, but lasting peace through a relationship with Him.
Christ offers us a real future. Not a future built on the flighty ambitions of worldly priorities, but a future in His kingdom that He has secured for us.
Christ offers us life. We were dead in sin and stained with our own unrighteousness. We had no standing before our Creator and were condemned to an eternity apart from Him. But Jesus took our sin upon Himself at the cross, defeated death when He rose from the grave, and offers us new life through faith in Him. We are cleansed of our sin and made a brand new creation through Jesus, destined to live forever with Him.
Would you like to know what can bring you peace? Jesus makes it clear in this passage that the answer to that question is, without a doubt, Him and Him alone. Don't offer the affections of your heart to anything less than the one who created you. Trust in Christ, walk with Christ, and you'll find the peace you know you truly need.
© John Stange, 2018