Saturday, March 17, 2018

PALM SUNDAY 2018 A MESSAGE FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS



Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields, Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is thecoming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!' (Mark 11:8-10).
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14 King James Version).
It's an interesting exercise to look at history from the vantage point of experience. Very often hindsight proves foresight to be absolutely wrong. Consider the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War. It is generally agreed by experts that Hitler could have conquered Britain -and perhaps won the war - if he had ordered his planes to bomb the British ships evacuating the allied forces. Instead, he had the German forces concentrate on bombing and strafing the beaches, and casualties were comparatively light.
You can't accurately judge an event on the day it occurs. This certainly was true of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.
Look with me at the event described in Mark's Gospel, chapter 11.
For the disciples, this truly was day of triumph. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, his followers had seer their Master rebuked, opposed. despised, thwarted, discredited More recently, the religious lea of the day had sought to kill him.
But now the populace were acknowledging him as the Messiah. They were strewing palm branches in the way, as would befit the Son of David. They were shouting; `Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' (v 9).
Surely, the Twelve saw this as the beginning of a political administration in which Jesus would be king and in which they would hold cabinet positions.This was a foretaste of the Glory they would share with their Lord.
But if the disciples viewed the entry into Jerusalem as a great victory, we can safely assume that Jesus saw it quite differently.
To begin with, he already was the King of Glory. At his birth, all the angels had worshipped him. Of his own volition, and because of his great love for mankind, he Left the heavenly realms. For their sakes he had become poor. The acclamation of the crowd, or the Lack thereof, would not make Jesus king nor take away his royalty.


The entry was not what it seemed to be. The disciples saw the palm branches, but Jesus saw the cross. The disciples heard the joyful shouting, but Jesus read the hearts of the people. The disciples saw the present, but Jesus saw the future.
So what does this story say to us today?
It may say to us that some of the seemingly victorious experiences that come to us are really poverty stricken. Like the church in Laodicea, we may discover that our riches are really worthless (see Revelation 3:17).
There is a temptation for officers (pastor), having preached what they consider to be an excellent sermon, to leave the worship service elated. There is a temptation, having done a good deed, to feel proud and self-righteous. There is a temptation to mistake a rousing gathering for success. We must always be careful not to equate a victory celebration with a victory.
Triumphs are not achieved in ticker-tape parades. Victories are won only in battle. Flag-waving and cheering and enthusiasm do not constitute defeat of the enemy.

In our Salvation Army life we like to take part in great meetings where there are big crowds, happy music, excitement and inspiration. But there is a danger that such meetings may be palm branches and cloaks strewn in the way, while the real victories are won in a small Sunday holiness meeting or in a midweek prayer meeting or in a Sunday school class.
And what is true of the corps (local church) is true also for the individual. Spiritual victory comes not in celebration but in combat. Spiritual victory comes not in fanfare but in fighting.
If it is true that some of our seemingly victorious experiences are not victories at all, it is equally true that some experiences that appear to be defeat are preludes to victory. Salvation Army literature is full of stories of brave men and women who snatched victories from the jaws of defeat.
Every officer knows Gethsemane experiences; every officer may at some time feel betrayed; every officer faces his or her own Catvarys. But it is in just such experiences as these that we find strength and grace to conquer.
Let us, then, go from victory to victory in the strength of him who thanks be unto God ... always causeth us to triumph in Christ' (2 Corinthians 2:14 King James Version).


COMMISSIONER ROBERT E. THOMSON LIVES IN RETIREMENT IN PALM HARBOR, FLORIDA USA 




COMMISSIONER ROBERT E. THOMSON 
A CAUSE TO TRIUMPH


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