What a contrast between the two Sundays; what a turn around in six days. From absolute exhilaration, for gloom and despondency. The Palm Sunday crowd were full of enthusiasm, for Jesus was to be their King who would restore their fortunes. He would bring in the messianic kingdom of David, and shatter the yoke of the domineering Romans. This was to be their moment of glory and freedom.
They were going to live again in the glories of the Davidic kingdom when they were the centre of the world. They would have prosperity and fortune.
As they cut down the palm branches they were already thinking what this new kingdom could do for them. Maybe a bigger house, more money, a better job, certainly better clothes and a more respected position in society. As they waved the palm branches they were planning how much their improved life would be for them.
The Palm Sunday crowds were only thinking of the benefits to themselves when Jesus would be the new King, who would usher in this new age of prosperity, riches, success, wealth, boom times and abundance.
But Jesus had no intention of being their ‘santa claus’ or ‘genie’ who would grant their wishes. Today it breaks Gods heart to see this attitude so prevalent among his children. “What can Jesus do for me?” This ‘health and wealth’ gospel is consuming Gods children who should know better, for the finger of Satan has reached deep into their hearts and minds with this seductive gospel. These shallow Christians have been ripe ‘fodder’ for the irresistible temptation of security, wealth and prosperity.
We who are reading this blog do not want to be part of this crowd.
Easter Sunday paints a different picture of Jesus the ‘suffering servant’ promised and predicted long ago, most notably in the suffering servant chapters in Isaiah. This is the true Jesus; this is the true mission of Jesus. Jesus went about preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. While he was preaching and teaching of his Kingdom, he made it so plain that to be part of this kingdom, one had to deny self and take up their cross and follow him. There is no shadow of doubt that this has nothing to do with the ‘health and wealth’ gospel. Jesus made it very clear with these words – “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Be careful you ‘name & claim’ it believers for you well loose your life!
To be part of Christ's kingdom one has to do away with self, do away with ‘what is in this for me’ thinking. It is said of Jesus in one of the first hymns of praise of the early the church that he –“made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! This is all about denial of self for without such a mind set we will not see God nor will we find favour with God.
God is tired of our whining and complaining that our life is too tough. Do we think that we students can be better than our teacher? Consider these words very carefully –“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
On Easter Sunday Jesus died and rose again for YOU. Out of his love for YOU he died and rose again. Why? So that we can lay up treasure in heaven; and this is how we treat such a sacrificial gift. Shame on you; get down on your knees you double-minded people and repent of the prosperity gospel that is ruining your life in Christ. How dare you treat God like a ‘vending machine – pop in a faith prayer and out drops your wealth and health fix.
God’s judgement is on this gospel movement for they preach another gospel that Paul did not preach. Be warned, for these greedy pasters and teachers who are dressed as wolves in sheep’s clothing are tearing the sheep apart and scattering the flock of God. Jesus warned us when he said – “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." For it is upon these false teachers and their followers that Gods judgement is coming,for it would have been better if they had not known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to have turned their backs on it.
I thank God that he has promised to supply all our needs. We are rich when we have his peace and can live without fear all the days of our lives in holiness before the Lord!
Let us not be of the Palm Sunday crowd but align ourselves with the faithful few who having denied all; believed on that Easter morning and followed the risen Christ in humility and child like faith.