Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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27 The Parade of Peace

Luke 19:36-44

36 As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. 38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” 39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” 40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” 41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.

As Luke records the final events of Jesus life he makes it very clear that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was an intentional act on Christ’s part. Jesus was not lured, trapped or tricked; he deliberately chose to enter Jerusalem and journey to the cross. It is here that we see the contrast between Christ crying and the crowd cheering, between the tears and triumphant entry. While all the people are praising the one that the parade is thrown for is crying. In the midst of the praise we see His pain because the people are missing the plan of God, peace. They are so preoccupied with their personal plans that they miss the very purpose of God, His provision of peace. Jesus is crying because He knows that in a matter of days the shouts of “Hosanna” will turn to “Crucify, from save to slaughter. Yet what I marvel at is that the Messiah is not crying over the pain and rejection that he will endure, he is crying because of what their  rejection of Him will mean for them. Jesus looks down the road, past the momentary rejoicing and to the ruin that awaits those who reject Him. He sees the death and destruction for those who denounce His offer of peace.  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.” The people of Jerusalem were blind to the path of peace Jesus presented. They sang about peace, “38 Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” they just never surrendered to it. The sad reality is that this is not the first time that the people of Jerusalem missed the peace that God provided. In Isaiah 30, Jerusalem was being threatened by Assyria and instead of trusting God as their power and provision for peace, they like many of the nations around them turned and trusted in Egypt.

Isaiah 30:1-3 “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection.     You have tried to hide in his shade. 3 But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced.

30:15-17  ”This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! 17 One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.”

Jerusalem put their trust in Egypt’s horses for their peace, they trusted in the tanks of their day. They turned and trusted in man’s power but God reminded them and us that it is only when we trust in Him that we will experience true peace. Now as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, Rome is ruling the world, providing a temporary peace, Pax Romana. It was an uneasy peace and as long as no one got out of line, the brute force of Rome was not used. It was peace without freedom, the kind of peace that this world still offers. The nation in power providing worldly peace might have changed but God’s people hadn’t, they were still groveling for temporary peace instead of trusting in God’s. They demanded that Jesus silence the singing, they rebuked the rejoicing because what if the Romans heard? If the Romans thought that this Jesus was going to lead the Jewish people in a revolt against them it would lead to a crackdown and they would lose what little peace they had. Jesus cries because here are His Father’s chosen people passing on His provision of peace once again. They are far from the faithful followers they pretend and project themselves to be. God was offering them true peace and they reject it, turning from truth they trusted in the temporary peace of a tyrant. The peace that God offered them was not just a lack of war, it was a life of worship. At our core we long for peace and rest, but we often reject true peace and chose what leads to death. When it comes to peace often our perspective is perverted, we are naive failing even to grasp the reality of our situation. I love the story about the two little brothers who presented their mom with a houseplant. They had used their own money to buy it and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you. It was real pretty but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said ‘Rest In Peace,’ and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest. Because we long for peace we willingly run ourselves ragged, searching for that thing that will provide rest, when it’s right here in front of us. Only Jesus offers us forgiveness for our sins and peace with God, something society can’t and never will.  We were created to be in communion with our creator, and when that intimate connection was severed by sin we lost our peace along with our purpose, worshiping the One who is worthy.  Without God, nothing works, and all the places that we go searching for peace always come up short. Without God nothing works, but with him everything is put into perspective. Not only do we experience peace but we find our purpose, which leads to us living a productive life instead of a pointless one. The problem is that we can get so comfortable in the conflict that we no longer realize how bad it is.  We can get so used to the lack of peace in our world that we ignore the longing for something better. Like people living in a war zone, who sooner or later just get on with their life. They learn to run between buildings, they no longer flinch and duck at the sound of gunfire. This constant conflict becomes their new normal, the abnormal is accepted and they adjust their life accordingly. Only Jesus can bring us back into a right relationship with God the Father, only He can provide lasting peace, Ephesians 2:1-5 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” So what about you are you missing the miracle, are you seeking after a peace apart from God? Are you turning to the culture instead of Christ? Are you trading peace for what is popular? Are you finding your security and satisfaction in something other than the Savior?