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AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED? | The Time is Now–The Great Reveal  | Mark 11 | Pastor Dan Elliott

This message I’m going to be bringing this morning is from Mark 11.  We’ve had a great series so far in the gospel of Mark….And Then What Happened?   This eleventh chapter has some very interesting things in it; I’m calling it The Great Reveal.  I think how gender revealing is a big thing these days.  I’m talking about babies.  I’m talking about when people have babies and they go through all these antics about revealing what the gender of their child is going to be.  It’s often times a big surprise.  I remember when it used to be a cookie with different colored M&M’s on it.  Red was a girl, blue was a boy.  Then it progressed to donuts with different colored jelly in the centers.  I was at one party where they had a cake and when they cut into the cake, you could see the pudding and you could tell if it was a boy or a girl.  Speaking of cake, I think I saw a gender reveal that takes the cake.  I went over to see Terry and Ann Bote and Terry showed me a video of their nephew, David Bote.  David is a third baseman for the Chicago Cubs.  Here’s a video of his gender reveal.   

We go to certain lengths on all these different reveals.  We do things uncharacteristic of us.  I think in Mark 11, we have Jesus doing some very uncharacteristic things as he comes to, what I’m going to call, the great reveal.  I think there’s three uncharacteristic, maybe unpredictable things that he does here.  Let me read Mark 11:7-21  — Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.  Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.  Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting…”Hosanna!  Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!  Blessing on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple.  After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon.  Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.  The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs.  But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”  And the disciples heard him say it.  When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices.  He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”  When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him.  But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.  That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.  The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”

Before we dig into it, let’s have a word of prayer.  Lord, thanks for this word.  I pray you help us to may some sense out of it.  Jesus, thank you so much that you walk on this earth.  Teach us now.  I pray this in Jesus’s name….Amen.

As I look at these events we just read, I see three uncharacteristic, almost unpredictable events that occurred in Jesus’ life, when I compare it to the rest of his life and ministry.  He has this public celebration about himself.  And he hadn’t really done that to this point.  I would say, well, it’s about time.  He had this kind of destructive miracle.  Yeah, I don’t know what to make out of that one.  And then, he had this public display where he goes and makes a public scene flipping the tables in the temple.  In fact, he was kind of like a public nuisance.  If he’d try to do something like that today, he’d probably be arrested.  Of those three events….we really know the triumphal entry, we really know about him cleansing the temple, but that fig tree thing!  That’s a puzzler to me, so I want to start with that.  

Let me just set this—I’m not doing this in chronological order, as you can tell.  I’m taking the middle event where he curses this fig tree.  On Sunday he came through and had this triumphal entry.  The next morning he gets up and he’s going down.  I just picture him coming over the brow of Mount of Olives, coming down and there’s this fig tree.  He’s hungry.  It’s in leaf and it looks like it has lots of fruit.  He goes over to it and finds out it has no fruit.  Then he says those interesting words….May no one ever eat your fruit again!  He speaks to the tree.   You wonder why Jesus did this.  This is uncharacteristic…that he would curse one of his own creation.  Maybe he was kind of hangry, as we’d call it.  Maybe he realized the tree had lost its usefulness so he kind of said, “Okay, I’ll put it out of its misery.”  Or maybe, and I think more so, he might have been having a living parable about this.  I still wrestle with it.

I came across the term “breba fig.”  I had never heard of this before.  Basically a breba fig is really the first fruit that comes out in a season.  It comes out before the season of figs even comes.  Oftentimes a tree may leaf out in June and little figs begin to develop in mid-June to late-June.  The harvest for figs usually takes place at the end of summer.  THIS is time of Passover which is in the spring.  It’s early and Jesus sees this tree and it’s all in leaf.  It looks like it has lots of fruit.  Breba figs are those figs that come out first fruits, right around this time, and they’re actually the fruit that’s growing on, what they call, the old wood or the mature wood.  It’s not the new branches that are growing, the ones that produce the new harvest.  It’s the old ones from last season.  These are kind of leftover figs that continue to grow and they’re suppose to be real sweet and real good.  People, after a long winter, look forward to having these.  

Anyway, Jesus sees this tree that looks like it’s going to be fruitful, that looks like it’s going to have lots of figs.  He goes up and finds that there’s none.  So he says, “May no one ever eat from you again.”  There’s a verse I want to throw out to you to be thinking about.  It’s found in Micah 7:1-2a —  How miserable I am!  I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat.  Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger.   The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth.  I just threw that out to make you kind of think.  When Jesus went to this tree to find some early figs and there wasn’t anything, but it looked like it was going to be fruitful and it wasn’t.  It looked like there would be some of that early first fruit on those mature branches and there wasn’t anything.  You put the pieces together while we go on.    

I want us to look at that second event that we all know as the Triumphal Entry.  On Sunday, Jesus comes into Jerusalem with the disciples and he orchestrates a celebration.  He instructs these two disciples to go ahead of them and find a donkey.  We know the story.  He gets this donkey, puts his garments on top, he gets on the donkey, comes down the hill from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.  Everybody cheers and says hosanna.  We reenact it many times on Palm Sunday; we love it!  I love singing those songs, “Hosanna,” and waving the palm branches.  But, I will tell you, this is pretty uncharacteristic of Jesus, orchestrating a celebration about himself, and that’s why I think it’s a unique time in the ministry of Jesus.  This is coming to that final week and he’s going to reveal something very important about himself.  

The reason I say it’s very uncharacteristic…..well, we can look through the gospel of Mark and it seems like time and time again he’s telling people to be quiet, he’s telling people not to tell others about him.  In Mark 1:34, it says:  ….and he cast out many demons.  But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.    I think that would be some pretty good PR, to have your enemy point out that you are the Son of God, but he didn’t allow them to speak.  It tells us a few verses later that the crowds were so great, they found him and said, “Everyone is looking for you.”  What did Jesus say?  Okay, that means we’ve got to go to another town.  We’d want to stay there where all the crowds were, but Jesus said no, it’s time to go on then. (1:38)  One time he healed a man of leprosy and sent him on this way with a stern warning: “Don’t tell anyone about this.” (1:43)  Don’t spread the word.  Another time when he’s dealing with a demon, an evil spirit — “You are the Son of God!  But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was. (3:11)   Probably the one that I think takes the cake is when raises the little girl from the dead — Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened. (5:43)   

So, this is a change, this is something unique, something uncharacteristic, Jesus is now revealing himself.  Jesus is doing this great reveal.  He sends his two disciples in to find a donkey he can sit on.  The crowds develop around him and they all start screaming and having a great time together. {Puts Triumphal Entry slide up}  It does look a little like Sunday School, I realize, but I wanted to kind of focus on this donkey and this picture.  It said you’re going to find a colt, a foal, which is really a young, young donkey.  The reason I like this picture is it kind of looks awkward to me.  I see Jesus sitting on this little donkey, his feet are maybe a few inches off the ground.  He’s even a little askew on the donkey.  The folks who were in Jerusalem at the time had been overrun by the Romans.  These folks had seen the Romans enter at different times in ceremonies of celebration and victory.  The generals of the Romans never rode a white donkey.  These always rode a white stallion.  They always rode high and mighty.  They always looked down on the people they had conquered.  Here comes Jesus as a king….but he’s coming very humbly.  There’s some verses in Zechariah (9:9) which really speak to this:  Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you; righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  

Sounds like Zechariah sees this picture of Jesus awkwardly coming in.  A king…but coming in in awkward humility.  But as I look at this picture, I know this is Jesus, this is the Son of God, who’s coming in like this.  This is the Son of God who has AWESOME majesty, yet he’s coming in in awkward humility.  This is Jesus who has sovereignty.  Sovereignty over all things.  He created all things….yet he’s coming in in great submission.  This is Jesus who has full authority and ALL power over ALL things….Jesus, the Son of God….yet he’s coming in in total dependence on the Holy Spirit.  What a juxtaposition when we come to worship Jesus.  I think John faced that same kind of juxtaposition when he was weeping (Revelation 5:5-6) — But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping!  Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory.  He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”  Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered.  The Lion.  The Lamb.  The King. The donkey.  The majesty.  The humility.  It’s Jesus.  He’s making a great reveal and he’s fitting totally into Zechariah’s prophecy.  

But there’s some other things.  The people were saying — Hosanna!  Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!  Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in highest heaven!   

During Palm Sunday I love this!  We wave branches, we say hosanna, and I’ve always seen this as a great word of worship.  Hosanna.  It comes from Psalm 118:25-26.  One of my father-in-law’s favorite verses comes out of this psalm.  This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.   Kerry said he would say it every morning at breakfast.  She remembers how she’d come in for breakfast and he’d start “This is the day the Lord has made….” and she’d go, “Oh, Dad, I’m so sleepy.”    Let’s look at these verses:  This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Please, LORD, please save us.  Please, LORD, please give us success.  Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD.  We bless you from the house of the LORD.   Do you see the word hosanna in there?  Well, I’ll tell you it is.  It’s translated here “please save us.”  There’s a desperation.  There’s a hope.  The people are proclaiming he’s the Messiah, but it’s not that kind of victorious worship that we do on Palm Sunday, it’s kind of Lord, we need you.  I wonder if I have that same kind of desperation in my worship.  

When I told you all those things about Jesus holding back the crowds from proclaiming who he was or from pushing him too quickly….four days from now, Jesus is going to be talking to his Father and he’s going to be saying, “Father, the hour has come.”  (John 17:1)  I believe very much that Jesus is making the great reveal that he is the Messiah.  

As Jesus comes into Jerusalem in this victorious parade with these palm branches waving, it has a very interesting little verse that’s added here.   Mark 11:11 — So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple.  After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon.   This was the time of Passover and I just want to give you a little bit of background of what Jesus was observing when he got off that little donkey and walked into the temple courts.  Let me show you a diagram of Herod’s Temple.  It took Herod about forty years to construct this edifice called the Temple.  There’s the Court of Women where the Israelite women could go in.  Then there was the Court of Israelites where the men could go.  That’s where the altar was, where sacrifices were made.  There was a tall structure which was the Holy Place, that’s where the priests could go in.  There was a large area called the Court of Gentiles or the Court of the Nations.  Josephus who was a Jewish historian tells us that on Passover, many times, the population of Jerusalem would multiply to almost two million people.  Two million people.  That’s a lot of people!  I wondered what Jerusalem’s population was so I looked it up.  At Jesus’s time the population of Jerusalem was about forty thousand.  Can you imagine how many people came crowding in?  

For Passover, these courts would have been filled with all kinds of people.  They were getting ready to offer sacrifices.  Every family that came had to offer a lamb or a dove to cover their sins.  The animals had to be without blemish or marks.  What developed over the years was that the priest had to examine each sacrifice that was brought.  Many of those sacrifices didn’t pass the mustard so they had to have substitute sacrifices for them.  The priests themselves had flocks of sheep available if they wanted to buy a lamb to be able to offer as a sacrifice.  Many times during Passover these courts were filled with stalls of animals.  The shepherds and other animal keepers were there.  Many of the sheep were from Bethlehem, but they would come to Jerusalem (about five miles away) and have these animal sacrifices available for Passover.  If the pilgrim’s lamb was not acceptable, they would have to buy an acceptable lamb.  Many times those prices were four, five, six times more than what a lamb normally cost.  They had to produce the money and then they faced another dilemma.  Most of the time the money was in Roman currency and that wasn’t acceptable in the temple of the Jews.  They had to use Jewish currency, so they had to exchange it.  So you had tables of money exchangers.  They would exchange it at exorbitant rates.  So the pilgrim got taken both ways:  exchanging money so that it was usable, buying animals that cost a lot of money.   Josephus said that one Passover, the estimate the priests gave was that there were 250,000 lambs sacrificed.  If you can imagine all that cacophony going on in those courts.  Someone made the comment:  If you think about Wall Street and our financial floors and how chaotic and confusing those seem, and then you add thousands  of animals to it, you might get an idea of what the Temple may be like.  

It says Jesus looked at everything.  I never spent a lot of time thinking of that, except, I was reading Tim Keller and he started stimulated my thinking to ask the question, “What is the purpose of the Temple and what might Jesus be observing as he’s looking at all these things taking place?”  To tell you the truth, I think He’s thinking back to that first temple.  No, that’s not Solomon’s temple.  Yeah, it was the first one mankind built.  But there was a temple before that.  I believe the first temple was the Garden of Eden, where God, man, and woman had a unity together that we long to have.  That’s what the purpose of the temple is suppose to be, where we connect with God, where we come together with God.  Tim Keller puts it this way:  “The story of the temple starts all the way back in the Garden of Eden.  That primal garden was a sanctuary; it was the place where the presence of God dwelled.  It was a paradise…  In the presence of God there is shalom, absolute flourishing, fulfillment, joy, and bliss.”  I kind of picture Jesus walking through there, thinking back, “Boy, what we had for these people.  What the Father, what the Spirit and I had to offer you, the people, and what you threw away.”  I wonder what might be going through his mind.

In Genesis 3, I read these words.  After Adam and Eve chose a different way and chose not to go in God’s way and not to walk in this unity with God, God had to banish them from the garden.  (Genesis 3:22-24)  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.   I’m sure Jesus is looking at that flaming sword.  I’m sure Jesus is remembering how precious it was to walk with his creation, and now he’s seeing this temple and how sad he is to see where it’s come. 

I just want to challenge us with a simple thought:  Remember, the Gospel begins in Genesis 1 & 2.  It does not begin in Genesis 3 where we failed.  It begins with God’s great picture and purpose for us as his creation.  He so much wants to have that unity and that oneness.  Here’s Jesus walking in that temple and seeing what has transpired, what we’ve come up with as far as what a temple should be.  Jesus is remembering back to the original temple, that first temple.

Let me move on to the third event.  We’ve looked at this destructive miracle of the fig tree….interesting.  We’ve looked at this triumphal entry of coming in and people proclaiming “hosanna,” and him fulfilling these Messianic prophecies…riding a donkey, a foal.  Then going in and looking at the Temple and reminiscing about the Garden.  Now we come to what many of us know as ‘The Cleansing of the Temple.’  Let me again set the chronology, because we mixed it up a little bit.  It starts with coming down in the Triumphal Entry, then he takes a look at this temple.  Then the next morning, he’s hungry, the fig tree doesn’t produce any fruit, those mature branches don’t bring the first fruits he’s looking for so he curses it.  Then he goes to Jerusalem and this it what happens.  When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices.  He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.   

We see Jesus cleansing the Temple.  We see his anger coming out.  He’s overturning all these moneychangers’ tables.  All these animal stalls, he’s cleaning out.  John’s gospel even tells us that he makes a whip and he drives the animals out of the Courts of the Nations.  And then Jesus says these words:  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”    

A house of prayer for all nations, but you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.  You know, it’s so easy for me to read that and not let it sink in.  As I was working on this passage, it kind of hit me.  In fact, I’ve always looked at it as saying, “My temple is a place of prayer and we’re going to come together and we’re going to pray for all nations.”  That’s the way I always interpreted this passage.  I actually asked Kerry if she looked at these verses the same way—the temple is a place of prayer and we’re suppose to pray for all nations?  Kerry said, “Well, no, it says it’s a place for all nations to be able to pray.”  You know what?  That’s true.  

On the temple grounds was this huge court called the Court of the Nations or the Court of the Gentiles.  It was made for the Gentiles to be able to come and to pray and converse with God.  This challenged me because I wondered, “Man, is there some racism in my bones?”  Yeah, I guess there is.  I kind of have this ‘We/They’ mentality.  I kind of see the Temple as for me to be able to pray for everybody else instead of realizing the Temple’s for everybody else to get together WITH me and we commune with God.  The Temple is not suppose to have anything hindering all of this world coming together.  I have to admit, for me, I want that Temple to open up to what God’s purpose would be.  I bring up another simple little point:  Remember, the Temple is where we connect with God and with all His people.  

I’m sad when I think about Sunday mornings, because I think someone said that Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours of the week.  We kind of worship God with people we like like us.  Instead of coming together with the world before God.  I’m challenged as I think of that temple and I think of what the mess was that Jesus saw and how He cleaned it up and how He overturned those tables.  You know, it wasn’t forty years later that the temple was destroyed, but Jesus did an amazing powerful work and it’s found in 1 Corinthians 3:16 — Don’t you realize that all of you yourselves are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  {We are the temple.  We are God’s place.  We are the temple of God.}  God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.   That’s a challenge to me, folks, because I realize that I’m suppose to be a welcoming person to people that are very different than I am.  

At this point, if we hadn’t had all this stuff with coronavirus, I would probably be making this shameless plug for a seminar we were suppose to have tonight called “Fear, Facts, and Faith.”  This centers on the whole immigrant and refugee situation.  We’re not going to be able to have that tonight, but we’re going to try to have it again sometime.  We’re postponing it until we get through this time in our lives.  But I need to hear about that and I hope you realize you probably do too.  Somehow we have to ask ourselves how do we really make our home?  How do we make South that welcoming place for people that are different than us?  How do we make ourselves, our hearts, welcoming for people that are different than us?  How do we make room for others?  Not just for where we’re comfortable, but maybe where the rubber meets the road and it gets a little uncomfortable.  I’ll leave that with you.  Think about it.  

We’re coming to the end.  Jesus, after overturning those tables, goes back out to Bethany.  The next morning, he and his disciples start coming back towards Jerusalem and we read these verses:  The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi!  The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”  I kind of picture the disciples and Jesus coming down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem and here’s this dead fig tree.  Peter brings this up and he’s amazed.  I previously shared a verse from Micah, now let me share a verse from Hosea 9:10-11a  —  The LORD says, “O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert.  When I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season.  But then they deserted me for Baal-peor, giving themselves to that shameful idol.  Soon they became vile, as vile as the god they worshiped.  The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird…”  When I see what Jesus has done to this fig tree and when I see in the context of these verses in the Old Testament, I almost see, wow! here’s this fig tree that looked like it was fruitful, had all kinds of fruit, and when Jesus got there, there was no fruit at all.  The fruit was suppose to appear on the mature branches, the old wood, I guess you call it, and there was nothing so He did away with it.  

Then I saw Him overturning the tables in the Temple.  The Temple that looked like it had so much fruit, that it should be producing so much closeness to God and yet, all it was producing was commerce, so He cleansed it.  I see a parallel and I expect Jesus just to kind of rake the situation that was going on there.  Yet Jesus says:  Have faith in God.  He turns to his disciples and they’re saying, “You destroyed this fig tree.  Wow!  Look at it!  It withered from the ground up.  What a miracle this is!”   And Jesus says, “Have faith in God.”  Then he goes on to say these words:  Have faith in God.  I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,” and it will happen.  But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  

It was funny, as we were talking about this passage, we were with some friends, and he shared how when he was a kid, he remembers standing in front of a window and praying that a tree across the yard would move.  He prayed earnestly and prayed earnestly and it never moved.  He’d just read this verse, but he started questioning.  Let me say that this is not a verse about how to become a wonder-worker.  This is a verse to say how do we have faith in God.  How do we have faith in the God who can do wonders?  But how do we have faith in Him who we know will do what is best?  How do we have faith in God?  I wrote down that our faith is not meant to force God to do anything.  No.  Our faith is meant to allow us to surrender to God who can do anything and trust Him.  To trust Him to do what’s best.  

You may say to me, so what’s this bit about the mountain?   Telling the mountain to go jump in the lake.  Here’s the setting:  Jesus coming down the side of the Mount of Olives.  Jesus by that fig tree.  Jesus looking across the valley toward a mount.  It’s called the Temple Mount.  Kerry and I had the opportunity of being in the Holy Land, two years ago, and we saw this Temple Mount.  I can just imagine…it took Herod forty years to build this temple, and part of the reason was he had to build a mountain to be able to put the temple on.  He had to build a mountain so he could make those huge courts.  It took years building these reinforcing walls, filling it with dirt and going higher and higher.  On top, he built the temple.  I see Jesus looking across there, because look what Jesus says:  You can say to THIS mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea…”   I almost hear Jesus saying, “You can say to all this religious tradition….you can say to all these rituals and relics….you can say to all these things you put your hope and faith in….go jump in a lake!”  Your faith has to be in God.  When I say that, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not doing away with miracles or anything like that.  I think we have a wonder-working God, but our faith is in Him, not in our faith producing those things.  So another simple little reminder:  Remember, our faith is in the ONLY God who can do anything.  Our faith is only in Him.

As we bring this to a close, I see Jesus, who’s had this great reveal.  He’s set the stage.  He says to his Father, “The hour has come, the time is now.”  I’ll go back to the Garden where this angel is placed with that sword that flamed, that kept people from going back to that Tree of Life.  Ever since that time, people, in order to come into the presence of God, had to basically have something go under that sword.  They had to provide some kind of sacrifice so that they could enter into the presence of God somehow, some way.  Jesus knows he’s coming to be that final, full sacrifice.  He’s going to go under that sword for each and every one of us….and He did!  And in going under that sword, four days from now, being hung up on that cross, going through that excruciating time, separation from God Himself…being the Son of God, He made that way open for us to be able to come in to His presence.  In fact, I would say, He made that way open for us to be able to come to that Tree of Life, because we now have eternal life because of Jesus Christ Himself.  Boy, can you see Jesus, that victorious Messiah, coming down the Mount of Olives on a humble donkey?  Coming in with peace, grace, righteousness, justice, mercy.  And He’s calling each and every one of us to step into this new life that he has created for us, to be able to bring hope and change into this world.  To be able to not fall into the rituals and all the regulations and the hopes of just religious foolishness.  But instead, to walk a life with Him.

I’ll just say in closing, we are in some very unique times.  I can’t remember a time in my life when we’ve had to close public places, where we’re fearful of a virus that could come and we have no idea where it might be.  It would be so easy to fall into that fear.  But I hear those words of Jesus, “Have faith in God.”  Jesus is saying to each and every one of us today, I’ve already taken the sword for you.  Now bring yourself to God Himself.  There’s one little thing he adds on the end of there:   If you’ve got a grudge against somebody, forgive them, so that God can forgive you.  It would be so easy to get caught up in trying to change systems and to be upset at everything, yet Jesus said don’t be upset, try to understand why they’ve gotten to where they’ve gotten.  Instead, take my grace and my peace with you into this world.  I challenge you, don’t live in fear, live in faith.  Live in faith in the amazing God.  Live in faith of the full work of Jesus Christ.  Live in faith of knowing that the Holy Spirit lives within you.  You are his temple.  

Let’s bow our heads.  Father, I thank you for this time.  Lord, I don’t know who’s watching this right now, but, Father, I just ask that you be so real to them.  Lord, may we know your strength and your hope and your power, and Father, may we not sink into fear, but help us instead to stand on faith.  Faith in you, the Hope of Glory.  We love you.  We give you this time.  In the name of Jesus…..Amen.