Wednesday, April 04, 2007

“The God Quality”

Today is Palm Sunday. It’s the day when we celebrate what’s been called the “Triumph of Christ” or the “Triumphal entry”.

The “Triumphal entry” happened a week before the resurrection. It was one of the few times where Jesus allows people to see him as the “king”. It’s one of the few times that the people seem to really “get it” who Jesus is.

But we’re about to see that when Jesus presents himself to the people “in triumph” as “the king”, “the messiah” he does it in a way that’s totally different than the way any of human would.

What do we humans do when they’re at the top?

We want people to respect us and look up to us. We want buy the things to prove (pretend) we’re different and better than everyone else. We want to be treated differently and given attention and admiration.

When I think of how a human would enter a town on his day of triumph I think of this scene from the move Aladdin…

Show clip from Aladdin – Prince Ali.

When a human wants to show that they’re “somebody” we put on a show of all that we done and all that they have so that people will envy us. We want other people (and ourselves) to know we’re above everyone else.

But Jesus comes to us he come in a completely different way. It’s so different that it reveals he’s not just a man, he’s God.

And the way he comes to us teaches us some things about life and about who God is.

Listen and see Jesus’ triumphal entry in Matt. 21:1-11

1 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 "Go into the village over there," he said, "and you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them here. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will immediately send them." 4 This was done to fulfill the prophecy, 5 "Tell the people of Israel, F109 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey's colt.'" F110 6 The two disciples did as Jesus said. 7 They brought the animals to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. F111 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting, "Praise God F112 for the Son of David! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!" 10 The entire city of Jerusalem was stirred as he entered. "Who is this?" they asked. 11 And the crowds replied, "It's Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Look at v. 4-5 again.

" 4 This was done to fulfill the prophecy, 5 "Tell the people of Israel, F109 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey's colt.'" F110

One word describes the way that Jesus made his triumphal entry: humble. Jesus didn’t enter the town with thunder sounding, lighting flashing and angels singing. He didn’t come do miracles and showing his powers.

He just came riding in on a donkey! That’s it!!!

We have a Lord who comes to us in humility. You’re about to see that there is so much that this can teach us in this simple act.

I’ve been wondering…

Why didn’t Jesus come with all the fanciness of a king? I’ve thought about this and it’s made me realize some amazing things…

First, he didn’t come to prove his glory. He knew who he was. He had nothing to prove. He knew we’ll all see his full glory one day and every knee will bow when we see him!

Even if Jesus wanted to, think about how funny it’d be for Jesus to try and show his greatness with the little lesser things of our planet that rulers use like jewels, robes, animals, and mansions.

In heaven angels will bow down and worship him! We’ll see things so much greater there, than anything on earth we think is great and awesome will be a joke to us there!

Jesus didn’t come with the fanciness of a king because that wasn’t why he came. He didn’t come to prove himself.

His whole purpose in coming to us in the incarnation was to come to us in a way that we could understand. He came to us to show us he understood us and he came to show us he was approachable.

Commentator Andrew Clarke says this about why he came with humility, “This entry into Jerusalem has been termed the triumph of Christ. It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice. He is coming now meek, full of kindness and compassion to those who were plotting his destruction! He comes to deliver up himself into their hands; their king comes to be murdered by his subjects, and to make his death a ransom price for their souls!”

Jesus came to show us what he (God) thinks of pride and how he thinks of humility.

Adam Clarke also says, “Jesus is continually humbling himself, to show us how odious pride is in the sight of God: but in his humility he is ever giving proofs of his almighty power, that the belief of his divinity may be established.”

Have you ever thought about how much God says about humility and pride in his word?

2Sa 22:28 - You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.

2Ch 7:14 - if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Lu 1:52 - He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

Think about how God tells us in his word what he thinks about pride and humility…

Humble yourself, so that God doesn’t have to!

Eph 4:2 - Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

James 1:9-12 - 9 - The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Prov. 3:34 - He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

James 4:6-10 - 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." F8 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

1 Pet. 5:6 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Ask church a question: Do you hear God’s opinion of pride and humility in these verse? What do you hear God saying in these verses? What stands out to you?

The other reason I think Jesus came in humility was to show us how we should live! Think about what a huge lesson this is!

In Philipians. 2:5-7, Paul tells us this…

5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. 7 He made himself nothing; F5 he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.

Paul tells us we should take the hint from the way Jesus lived and copy his attitude. Paul’s telling us to humble ourselves!

Have you ever thought about this?...

Sooner or later in life you will be humbled. You don’t get to choose whether it happens. You only get to decide HOW it happens.

You have three choices of how it happens:

1. You can let others humble you.

2. You can let God humble you

3. Or you can humble yourself.

I’d rather choose the third choice!

There was once a time where Jesus taught a lesson about humbling our selves like this…

*Luke 14:7-11

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Do you see what happens when we humble ourselves? Others will lift us up!

There’s a story about Booker T. Washington that shows how true this is…

A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth.

Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman.

Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested.

When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.

The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

Do you know what else will happen when we humble ourselves?
People will be attracted to us.

Humility draws people to you. I can’t stand conceited people – even if they’re good at something. It’s one of my pet peeves. It turns me away from them, but humility is attractive it draws people to you. People will be more attracted to you.

Think about how impressive it is to meet some important famous person and see how humble and approachable they are. It makes them worth talking about. It makes them stand out!

Think about what happens when we don’t humble ourselves…

When we’re prideful we forget our need for God and others. Ps 10:4 -In his pride the wicked does not seek him (God); in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Pride makes us think we can do it all on our own. Then what happens?

The book of Proverbs gives us some hints…

Pr 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Pr 29:23 - A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

Pr 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

D.L. Moody said it just simply this, “Be humble or you'll stumble.”

William Barclay tells the story of Paedaretos who lived in Sparta in ancient Greece. A group of 300 men were to be chosen to govern Sparta. Though Paedaretos was a candidate, his name was not on the final list. Some of his friends sought to console him, but he simply replied, "I am glad that in Sparta there are 300 men better than I am." He became a legend because of his willingness to stand aside while others took the places of glory and honor.

Ga 6:4 - Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,

There are two other things to see from this story

This was a fulfillment of prophecy. This was one of the many prophecies Jesus fulfilled as proof that he was the Messiah. Last year I told you think in a talk I called, “Prophecies Of The Passion” I told you this…

Professor Peter Stoner (1888-1980) who was Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College until 1953, and Chairman of the Science Division of Westmont College from 1953 to 1957 calculated the probability of one man fulfilling only a handful of the over 300 Messianic prophecies.

In 1944, he published his research results in Science Speaks: Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible. Stoner concluded that the probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the specific prophecies was one chance in 1017 (one followed by 17 zeros). How about one person fulfilling just 48 of the over 300 prophecies? Stoner calculated these odds at one chance in 10157 -- way beyond statistical impossibility! 1

Later, the American Scientific Affiliation gave Stoner's work their stamp of approval!Alright so back to the idea of one man fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies..

Do you want to know how large the number l017 is (a figure with 17 zeros) is? Stoner gave this illustration… Imagine covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars to a level of two feet deep. The total number of silver dollars needed to cover the whole state would be 10(17). Now, choose just one of those silver dollars, mark it and drop it from an airplane. Then thoroughly stir all the silver dollars all over the state.

When that has been done, blindfold one man, tell him he can travel wherever he wishes in the state of Texas. But sometime he must stop, reach down into the two feet of silver dollars and try to pull up that one specific silver dollar that has been marked.

Now, the chance of his finding that one silver dollar in the state of Texas would be the chance the prophets had for eight of their prophecies coming true in any one man in the future.

Palm Sunday was one of the many proofs that he was the messiah. And it was proof of who/how our God is (humble).

One more thing I see in this story that’s a little too real and close to home

We praise and then we turn from God later. Talk about Palms turning to ashes.


Have you thought about how funny and ironic it is that humans who have every reason to be humble try to pretend they’re something/somebody?

And God, who has every reason to be prideful, comes to us in humility?

Thinking about this moment from Jesus’ life has really made me realize that humility is such a godly way to live. Humility is the God quality. When we’re humble we’re living like Jesus!

As we think of Palm Sunday, and get ready for Good Friday this week, let’s remember Jesus’ example of humility.

Let’s look for areas where we’re prideful and ask God to help us humble ourselves, so he or others won’t have to!

Let’s pray…

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