Sunday, April 1, 2012
Lead me to the Cross
Psa. 50:14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
Psa. 50:15 Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Psa. 50:23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
to those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God.”
It's Palm Sunday morning and we prepare our hearts for this Holy Week, not really understanding what lies ahead. We are invited, together with the Psalmist, to offer ourselves as a sacrifice before God. He doesn't want our stuff -- he doesn't need it! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -- he doesn't need junk from us. What he wants from us is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. We are to give him credit and praise for what he does for us. We are invited to call on him in the time of trouble and distress. He is the one who delivers us so that we can give him the glory. The salvation of the Lord is revealed through our thanksgiving.
On Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people appeared to give him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. But was that really what was going on? Was this a time of genuine praise of Jesus Christ, glorifying him for what he had done, or was it really a selfish praise, hoping for something in return? The people who had gathered had a very specific idea in mind when it came to their salvation. How could they turn on him so quickly? Because he didn't meet their expectations -- because it was all about them, and not about him. They didn't want God to be glorified, they wanted Jesus to meet their personal goals. They wanted him to be a political leader who would overthrow the government and change their state of affairs. Instead, the journey that began that Palm Sunday began to unravel their entire paradigm of salvation, and by the end of the week they could not offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, instead they were willing to kill him.
It's time to examine our own motivations for serving him. What kind of a Palm Sunday spectator might I be? Would I be lining the streets cheering him on, because of what I think he might be able to do for me? Or, am I willing to simply praise him for who he is? Am I willing to follow him with a heart of thanksgiving and gratitude throughout the entire week, knowing that the journey ends at the cross? On that first Palm Sunday so long ago they had no idea that the trajectory that had begun that day would become transformational to the entire world. However, for that transformation to occur, Jesus would have to die. For his message to be spread he would have to ascend and send the Holy Spirit. For them to be his messengers of the "good news" to a needy world, the political structures would have to come against them and they would lose their homeland and become refuges throughout the known world of their day. As they spread out as a result of their persecution, they took the gospel of Jesus Christ with them and the world has never been the same. However, the path is strewn with sorrow and suffering, and Jesus asks us to participate in this sacrifice with him, allowing God to be glorified in and through us.
May we offer God a true sacrifice of thanksgiving today, a thanksgiving which we must understand will lead us on a journey to the cross.
Lord, may my life be a testimony of you and your faithfulness, no matter where life may lead. Amen.