Exaltation Before Darkness

Posted on 03/24/2013 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

I have a friend that goes to school with me! Her aunt isn't doing too well. The doctors believe that she on her death bed basely! Pray for her for a speedy recovery! Thanks for praying!
- Leibwachter Resident

please pray my RL parents will stop fighting and being mean to eachother
- AvaSzcevanski Resident

My prayer is to thank God through Jesus Christ that the damages to my savings account and my Pay Pal account will be fixed. And I pray that I get my compensations soon and easily. So that I can use my two account again.
- PaulGoldstar Rookstown


JOYFUL JOYFUL

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.


MIGHTY IS OUR GOD

Mighty is our God
Mighty is our King
Mighty is our Lord
Ruler of everything

Glory to our God
Glory to our King
Glory to our Lord
Ruler of everything

His name is higher
Higher than any other name
His power is greater
For he has created everything


I WILL BLESS THE LORD AT ALL TIMES

I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
be in my mouth



*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Well, today is what we call Palm Sunday, the day on which Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, or, as we call it today, the Triumphal Entry.

Let's read this account, and then we'll talk about it. And I'd like for us to read it from three different Gospel accounts so we can get a fuller picture, from Matthew, Luke, and John.

Matthew 21:1-11 (NKJV)

1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me.
3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them."

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!"

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?"

11 So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."

Luke 19:39-40 (NKJV)

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

John 12:16 (NKJV)

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.


Okay. First of all, Jesus tells the disciples where to go, exactly what they'll find there, what to say when questioned, and what the questioner's response will be. A little bit of prophecy. Of course He was God, so that shouldn't surprise us at all. God knows everything that will ever happen, even though it hasn't happened yet. And this is a fact that's been watered down by our science fiction ideas about time and time travel. After all, it really sparks the imagination to think that we could poke through to other points in time. But I don't believe that's reality.

After all, Jesus never suggested that someone's time for Salvation was going to be tomorrow, or next week, or next year. And while He COULD have said that, since He alone knows with 100% certainty exactly what will happen when, we read the following in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV):

2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

And in Hebrews 4:7 (NKJV), speaking of the Sabbath day of rest, which was traditionally something in the past and future:

7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

So TODAY is the day of rest, to rest from YOUR OWN works and to do the will of God; and NOW is the acceptable time, NOW is the day of salvation.

Not tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn't exist yet, and it never will; for after midnight tonight, we will still be in the day called "today," and we will still call the time "right now."

So Jesus performed a bit of a miracle here. He knew where someone was going to be, what they were going to be doing, and how they would respond. Now, arguably, He could have simply known in the present moment the plans in the man's heart, and the condition of his heart that would cause him to let them borrow his property. But regardless of the details behind the scenes, this was something the average person among us simply could not do today; well, at least not without hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Of course God's ability to see perfectly into the future that does not yet even exist is a topic for another time, and it's a pretty amazing part of His all-knowingness, or omniscience.

But either way, we can plainly see that God fully knows your heart. And He not only sees beyond the confines of time, but He also knows WHY you will do what you have not yet done, and that is because of the condition of your heart.

So if you're not doing the right thing today, it would be foolish to think that you will start doing it tomorrow. The condition of your heart has brought you to the place in life you are right now, and unless your heart is changed, you will continue to do the same things, react in the same ways, and enter into the same kinds of relationships. And we can thank God that, if we just keep asking Him to change our hearts, He will. Amen?

So Jesus sent His disciples to get the donkey and the colt. Then they laid their clothes on them, and set Jesus on them.

Wait a minute... Was Jesus the great-great granfather of Evil Knievel? Was he stunt-riding the donkeys into town? Well, that's a question many skeptics have posed. But the donkeys aren't the only "them" that are mentioned here. They laid their clothes on the donkeys, then they set Jesus on them -- on the clothes. Okay, problem solved. Matthew simply didn't have a Christian writer's group who could proof read his writings. He was simply writing what happened, instead of trying to write a novel.

So Jesus rode on a donkey. Why do you suppose He chose that mode of transportation? Well, traditionally, when a king rides into the kingdom he has conquered, if he rides in on a donkey, that means he is coming in peace. But if he rides in on a horse, you'd better run and hide, because he's planning to wipe out his enemies.

On this day, this Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into town on a donkey. He was proclaiming peace, the peace that His death and resurrection would bring, as it says in Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV),

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

He was declaring the peace whose price He was about to pay. But then we see Jesus in Revelation riding on a white horse. He's coming to wipe out His enemies and to establish His kingdom on earth.

There's another interesting thing about the donkey, and that is that it had never been ridden. There is a rabbinical tradition that no one should ride the animal on which the king rides. That's just another confirmation that Jesus was indeed riding into town as king, and He was riding into town that day to pay the price for your peace with God.

And what did the people do besides sing His praises? Well, it says they spread palm branches and their cloaks in the road. That's what they did for king Jahu in the Old Testament as they recognized him as king. And here was Jesus, being recognized as king and praised as the One who had come in the name of the Lord.


Then we jump over to Luke and pick up the story at the place the Pharisees come in on the scene.

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

It was predestined from the start that this day would come, as God established His plan of salvation to save us from our sin. And God had ordained that, on this last Sunday before Jesus would suffer and die, the people would sing His praises, celebrating His royalty as He entered their city as the King of Kings proclaiming good tidings of great joy, and the peace for which all mankind desperately seeks. And if these people had somehow been forced to remain silent, the stones would have cried out. God declared that He would be praised on that day, and praised He would be.

Reminds me of Philippians 2:10-11 (NASB)

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God said it will happen. And it will. No ifs, ands, or buts. Case closed.

And finally, in John 12:16 (NKJV), we read this:

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

You see, the disciples were probably thinking that things were finally getting really good. I mean, Jesus had healed countless people, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. But now He's riding into town like a conquering king bringing peace, and, except for the religious leaders who were totally clueless anyway, the people are singing His praises, and welcoming Him like they would welcome their new king. Finally Jesus would bring down the oppressive Roman government and His Kingdom would be established on earth.

They did not understand these things. Not yet. So it must have come as a real shock when everything went South, and Jesus ended up hanging on a cross in agony and shame.

But today, on that Sunday, Jesus was being exalted. He was receiving His exaltation before His time of great darkness; and yet, in that time of darkness, was His moment of greatest glory. And we'll talk about that next week.


You know, I think we tend to look at things the same way the disciples did. When things seem to be going absolutely perfectly, and we think that all our troubles are behind us, it can be devastating when we realize that the darkest night is right around the corner. But let's not forget how that night ended.

That's why I like to remind myself that EVERYTHING in my life is a blessing. ALL the circumstances and situations in my life are either good or good in the making. And I can say, from a genuinely thankful heart, "Thank you God for all these blessings! I have nothing but blessings on every side!" Are they all pretty? Are they all easy? Are they all God's idea and His hand? No. But God's not done with them yet. They might have been sent for evil, but God is using them to bring about marvelous good. And the timing is perfect, because it's God's timing and God's way, so if it takes a really long time to work out for good, I should be genuinely thankful for that perfect timing God is taking to finish creating whatever wonderful gift of amazing love He is making just for you, and for me.


Okay, so Jesus rides into town as a conquering king proclaiming good tidings of peace with God. And next, we see Him mourning over the city, because they have missed their time of visitation.

Remember what we read in 2nd Corinthians and Hebrews? NOW is the acceptable time. TODAY is the day of Salvation. God is here TODAY. He is here with you RIGHT NOW. Don't miss your day of visitation because you're waiting for some sort of tingle, or for the right song to play, or for someone articulate and moving to speak. Instead, learn to recognize Jesus in every moment, in every situation, in every "now" of your life. He's there with you through it all, and He is weaving fabulous blessings out of every moment, every thread, of your life.

Is your time of visitation at work? At the store? While you're driving? While you're stuck at home? While you're in the hostipal? While you're having fun? While you're feeling miserable and alone? Well, Jesus is there -- He has promised to never leave or forsake you, but to be with you 'til the very end. So those times are moments of visitation. And just like this beginning of the events that would lead Jesus to Calvary, your moment of visition may be when the road ahead is darker than you've ever seen. But it is a blessing in the making, something for which you should give thanks, for Jesus is there.

Don't miss your time of visitation. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. And give thanks!


Let's go ahead and close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to IM one of us. Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and I hope to see you next week as we continue today's discussion by taking a look at what happens next.

After this time at the altar, you're all invited to make your way to the fellowship room up the stairs to your left where we'll meet in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

But for now, you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, and let's just take a little time to let God's word and today's discussion sink in and take root.


Lord God, thank you for speaking to us today. Thank you that your word is sharp, alive, and full of power, and that it accomplishes that for which it has been sent.

I ask Lord that, as we reflect upon the Scriptures we've read today, we would put our own problems into perspective, and we would learn to give you thanks from a truly thankful heart for all seasons, all things, and all times.

And we thank you for hearing us and for meeting with us here in this place at this time.

Thank you Lord.

Amen.