Do you remember the last time you were excited about something … I mean, really excited?
I came across this picture of my young grandson who was clearly excited about something that he saw. The focused expectation that is plastered across his face is priceless.
There are many events that trigger excitement in our hearts. A soldier returns from a long deployment. A student leaves from home for the first year at college. From the parents’ perspective, excitement reigns when that same student returns home. A young couple experiences the birth of their first child.
One example of excitement that we have on a daily basis is Snickers’ excitement to get into the backyard. Despite her diminutive height, She jumps higher than the door knob, with her tail wagging and her sister trying to stay out of her way!
In the Bible, and even today, a time of widespread excitement is the Passover celebration. It is the feast that reminds the people of Israel when God acted mightily causing Pharaoh to release them from bondage in Egypt. The night of the last plague, the people were to kill a lamb and put its blood on the door frame of their homes. Then, the angel of death passed over the country and killed the first-born in each home; but the angel “passed over” the houses that had blood on the doorway.
While Passover is a time of solemn remembrance, it is also a time of excitement. This was true even in Jesus’ day. The people were excited … on the day we know as Palm Sunday, they were going to Jerusalem to celebrate their deliverance from bondage.
Not only that, they had just found the One who they believed would be the Messiah, the One who would crush the dominance of Rome, and the One who would again lead the people, militarily, to a kingdom such as David had ruled over centuries before.
They were so excited that they put their garments on the ground and waved palm branches shouting “”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” It was a parade with the only “float” being Jesus, riding on a donkey’s colt. Read John chapter 12 for the whole story.
In my mind’s eye, I envision the people jumping and screaming, rather like Snickers. Going full-out, no holding back, excited to the core.
When they were praising Jesus as King, they did not know that at the end of the week they would be screaming again, but this time it would be “CRUCIFY HIM” as Pilot stood wondering what he should do with this innocent man, Jesus.
Rather than taking the high road and releasing Jesus, Pilot succumbed to the demands of the people on that Thursday night. He let the mob determine justice and he, quite literally, washed his hands of the whole thing. He sent Jesus off to be crucified. Read Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the sinless Son of God, was put to death to pay for the sin that each of us has committed. Dr. R. C. Sproul says this about sin:
Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying “God, Your law is not good. My judgment is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.”
The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything. It is an insult to His holiness.
R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 115-116
The week started with the people joyfully screaming in honor, blessing and allegiance to the King, the One riding into Jerusalem on a colt.
The week ended with the people again screaming but this time their malevolent demand was for the murder of this Man; He was not simply to be killed, they demanded that He be killed by crucifixion.
Sin and evil, Satan, appeared to have won the battle. Satan knew people disobeyed God – he caused Adam and Eve to sin in the very beginning. The pure Son of God was going to die this ignominious, excruciating and humiliating death, and Satan thought he would then have full sway in this world.
Instead, the pure Son of God voluntarily went to the cross, not in payment of any sin that He committed. Rather, He endured Calvary in payment for my sin, and for yours. By His death, He spanned and closed the chasm that had existed between man and the Holy God..
Because He lived a perfect life as required by God’s law, because He committed no sin, His death paid the price that the broken law incurred and that a just and holy God demanded. Sin could not be forgiven and forgotten unless God’s justice was satisfied.
This is what the cross accomplished. Justice was meted out and now forgiveness could be granted. Jesus Christ died … but Satan did not win the victory. On the first day of the week, the tomb was empty because Jesus rose from the dead. And, he lives today, even as He is in heaven interceding for each of us before His Father, the Almighty God.
Now that is something to be excited about!
Father, I pray that these words would be used to prick the hearts and minds of those who read it. I pray that Your Spirit would work in each of our hearts so that we would reflect our Lord to others. I thank You for the great give of grace and salvation that has been given to us through faith in Your Son.