The month of March has been all about patience and the theme of waiting. Do you think God models the idea of waiting past our wants, our plans and our schemes for the good things God is doing? The Gospel of Matthew repeats an idea about this over and over. It is the idea of fulfillment.
The basic Scriptural concept of fulfillment is that God is in the business of completing everything ... yes, everything! God has an overarching plan that He desires. Most of God's plan is a temporal juggernaut that has been predicted and will be fulfilled. God's fulfillment happens in God's time and we cannot do anything to effectively alter it. But there is that part of God's plan that is fluid. Wesley said it well. God has a plan that invites all people to the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. That choice is available to all. Some will choose Jesus. Some will not. That part of God's plan is offered by a loving God to everyone, but it is our free will to choose to love God with all our hearts.
In Matthew Jesus does the things He does to fulfill God's perfect plan. In our story of Palm Sunday Matthew 21 says (verses 4 and 5) "This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet, 'Say to daughter Zion, see your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" There is so much to this little verse!
The prophecy was from Zechariah 9:9. The original prophecy took place around 587 BC. Over 600 years later Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey as a living, breathing fulfillment of this prophecy. God is patient and God's prophetic fulfillment takes place when God desires ... not when we desire. This should alert all of you who keep hearing we are in the end times. While I see all sorts of events that might indicate this, God will bring an end to things in His good and perfect time ... don't get impatient!
There are two phrases in this prophecy I want to highlight. The first is "your king comes to you." Has your king come to you or are you still searching? Lots of people are searching for a king. They, like the people gathered on that 1st Palm Sunday, want a great political and military leader that will wipe their version of evil, injustice, sin, wrongness and oppression off the face of the earth. While most of us want that, we have different definitions of evil, injustice, wrongness and oppression. Every election cycle, some are happy and some are not, while the evils of the world seem to roll along pretty unaffected by the party in power. Go figure? Maybe this happens because our 'kings' are different than the King God sends us. Maybe God has in mind a King of a different realm ... a more powerful and permanent realm ... a more REAL realm. For, in truth, that day the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords did ride into town on a donkey!
The other phrase I want to highlight is an unpopular one ... "gentle and riding on a donkey." I could preach about the symbolism of the foal of a donkey. Jesus clearly isn't coming as a warrior ... Jesus clearly is coming in peace ... Jesus clearly isn't overtly threatening the Roman authorities or the Jewish hierarchy. The Prince of Peace is clearly doing something different. As His Kingdom, in its greatest power, is spiritual, so is His mission that overcomes 'authorities and powers' that are spiritual. Death ... evil ... hatred ... political posturing ... deceit ... betrayal ... the powers that lie behind structures of oppression (maybe you can add more) ... are all on Jesus' list as who/what He opposes. He opposes them with peace, truth, Godly authority and with His very life, laid down against all of these things and for people like you and me. It is a power we mostly don't and can't understand because we choose to live in the non-eternal realm of this world. Jesus, in His very presence that day, shouts peace, love, sacrifice and submission to the Father's plan. And all the while, the crowd shouts Hosanna one day and crucify Him the next. I wonder if Jesus was asking then, and still asking now, "when will the people called by my name learn to live in my kingdom?" Good question. Randy