Shouts of Praise
As I was sitting in church on Sunday, my pastor (who happens to be my man) was asking the question, “Are we committed, or casual in our faith?” He took us to Luke’s Gospel where the Triumphal Entry of Jesus was described. You remember the scene. The disciples placed their garments on the colt and they “put Jesus on it” according to Luke 19:35. He was then paraded through town with the shouts of “Hosanna” ringing in everyone’s ears and palm branches waving. Most believing that this was the moment that all their troubles would be over. Their Messiah had come and He was going to show ‘those Romans’ who was boss. The expectations of the people were different from the reality of what God’s plans were in the moment.
Oh, I’ve been there, haven’t you? I’ve been in situations where God came and you knew it, but He did not come in the way you expected. You might have thought you had the best solution, but God chose another way.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus went right from the parade to the Temple where He proceeded to clean out the filth. Instead of Jesus dealing with the government, as many expected, he dealt with the sin in the congregation. The people expected Him to gather a crowd to take over the Roman occupation, but He dealt with the sin “in the camp”. That was not what they expected and it drove a wedge between them and their Savior. Where was the excitement in repentance when they were craving a war?
We forget that II Chronicles 7:14 says if GOD’S PEOPLE will humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways healing will come. We forget about our own sins while seeing others’ sins so clearly. Who wants to deal with their own sin when it is so exciting to deal with another’s?
The Scripture tell us that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem as He approached it because the people did not receive Him for Himself. They received Him, but only as long as He did the expected thing. As long as He was healing the sick and making blind eyes see, they were on board with His ministry. They accepted that He was their Messiah. But, when He started to throw out their profits, things got dicey quick. When He chose to pray instead of to march, they were mystified. Their attitude changed towards Him. Their attitude changed so much in fact that a few short chapters later, they decided to crucify Him. They didn’t want to bear the embarrassment of a Messiah who wasn’t what they expected.
Have I done that? Have I stopped telling people about Jesus because my expectations have not been met in some way? Have I held back my all because I think He should be a God who does what I think is best? When He doesn’t do as I’m expecting, do I turn my back on Him in some area?
Luke 19:37 tells us that “the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen.” Why were they rejoicing? Were they rejoicing because He was their Savior? Were they rejoicing because He was and is a good God? No, the Scriptures tell us that they rejoiced because OF THE MIRACLES which they had seen Him do.
When the crowds were shouting, “Hosanna” was Jesus cringing a little knowing that their heart was not truly His? Their shouts were for what He could do for them, not for who is was and is.
Does He cringe when my praise is empty? Do I praise Him for what He is doing and not who He is?
The Scriptures in no way imply that Jesus was appalled at their worship, or lack thereof, but it does pose the question. It causes me to remember the times when someone has given me a compliment or helped me with a task, but I KNEW that their intention was not for my good. Did I really want their help? Did I really want their empty praise? Does God really want mine?
I’m left with many questions this Easter season. I’m left with questions about my expectations of Jesus. What if my expectations are not His plans? Isaiah 55:8 assures me that His ways are NOT my ways and His thoughts are NOT my thoughts. Am I resting in the fact that His direction is always better than mine? Can I rest in the fact that He is good no matter what a circumstance looks like? Can I rest in the fact that He is sovereign and in complete control? Is my shouts of “Hosanna” a desirous sound to God, or an endurance? When He hears my cry of “Hosanna”, does He cringe a little, knowing that in the next breath if He doesn’t act like the God I think He should be, I could turn on Him? Is my faith so shallow?
I pray not. I pray that as He molds me into the beautiful creation that He has designed for my life that I will co-operate fully, worship Him wholly and participate effusively in true worship of my Savior and Lord. I pray that as he hears my shouts of “Hosanna” that He will be pleased knowing that He will stay God in my heart, that He will stay King, that He will stay Savior.
May our shouts be filled with true worship this Easter Season.