Sacred Encounter – Palm Sunday 3-20-16
Often when we arrive at the end of a journey, we realize it is not what we expected when we planned and first set out.
We find ourselves having to change expectations.
We find ourselves encountering the sacred in silence and suffering.
It is what we do at this time that paves the way for the next season.
As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we are reminded of the Triumphal Entryin Matthew 21, as Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet Zechariah.
The prophet wrote, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (9:9ESV).
The crowd spread clocks on the road, cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road as well. They yelled, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Psalm 118:26) Hosanna in the highest!”
“Hosanna” means “save now” or “save we pray.” It’s an exclamation of adoration.
This was a great time of celebration. It signifies this great celebration at what is the start of the end of a journey. But the end is nothing close to what is expected by the Jewish people or the closest friends of Jesus. The spreading of the cloaks, the palms—this was done to celebrate a war leader – a ruler who would lead through battle.
When the disciples started on the journey with Jesus, they had great expectations.
When Peter heard the plan, he said, “Never Lord.”
Peter:From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”- Matthew 16:21-23 [NIV]
The disciples, though spending a lot of time in fellowship with Jesus, being taught by Jesus, and traveling with Jesus—they also did not fully understand.
The Jewish people: The Jews were eager for the Messiah. He was going to come to save them from the Roman rule so the Jewish people could be back on top. They did not understand the true reason Christ had come. Thought the Christ would come with a sword in hand and lead the people to destroy the Romans.
Instead, Jesus Christ came to bring more than victory over an earthly kingdom, but victory over sin—something so much greater. Salvation. Reconciliation with God.
As Jesus hung on the Cross, it is clear we cannot imagine the pain He suffered. As we read through the Passion in the Bible, we read very little of Jesus speaking. In the Garden He prays to the Father – Not My will but Your will be done. He accepted what lied ahead.
As He hung on the Cross, He suffered silently. He was separated from the Father because He took on all of the sin.
Then He muttered, “It is finished” and took His last breath. The veil was torn. The earth shook. The rocks were split.
Then it was over. Nothing would ever be the same.
The Jewish people:Helped to kill their supposed King. Was this what they imagined?
The Disciples Scattered & Peter denied Jesus three times: Was this ever the plan Peter and the others had in mind?
- Imagine the silence of Peter and Andrew as they returned to their fishing boats.
- Imagine Mary mourning the loss of her baby boy. The suffering and the silence. Things not as expected.
It is in the silence and suffering that we have SACRED ENCOUNTERS.
- When we suffer, we are reminded we are but dust and our dependence is on God.
- When we suffer, we are brought to our knees before our Maker.
- When we suffer, we are able to appreciate the blessings around us and realize what truly matters.
- When we suffer, we are slowed down to find ourselves in the rhythms of our design, to rest and renew.
- We are met with silence. Silence to mend. Silence to grow. Silence to hear – to listen to our Lord.
These are moments of SACRED ENCOUNTERS.
Elijah was on Mount Carmelstanding up boldly for God. Will the real God bring down fire?!? God brought the fire. The followers of Baal paid the price for their idolatry. It was a sweet display of the power of God, the One True God.
But things didn’t turn out like expected. The prophet Elijah was being hunted down. His life was in danger. This was not what one would expect after a great victory. He ran and hid in a cave.
But the Lord was there. During the silence, Elijah was called out of the cave. The still small voice, the breath of God, passed by, a whisper asking him what he was doing (1 Kings 19).
That is a sacred encounter.
After Jesus was crucified and rose, he was met on the road to Emmaus. Two men talking together. The risen Jesus joined them. Their faces downcast, they spoke of Jesus of Nazareth. They were upset. They said they “hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Their expectations were not met. Jesus opened their eyes (Luke 24).
This is a sacred encounter.
Where God meets us during the silence and the suffering and points us forward to continue the journey.
For when we reach the destination, it is never the final destination.
God continues to move. He is alive. There is more to be done.
The disciples returned to their old ways. But that’s not what we are to do when we are on a journey—we don’t return to the same.
There always is a change. Something is always different.
Jesus visits the disciples and makes them breakfast.
Three times Jesus asks Peter to tend His sheep and feed His lambs. He reinstates Peter.
“In his heart a man planshis course,
but the LORD determineshis steps.”- Proverbs 16:9
He provides understanding to the disciples…
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them,
‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,and that repentance andforgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’” – Luke 24:44-49[ESV]
- During the suffering and silence in our lives, we have within us the Spirt of God, the Comforter.
- With power from on high, the Holy Spirit, we venture forward with great expectation.
- During the silence, during the sufferings of this world—draw near to God. He will draw near to you.(James 4:8)
- In the silence, seek His voice. Listen. Watch. Wait. “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” – Proverbs 8:34[ESV]
- During the silence, during the sufferings—praise His great name, knowing this is only a small thing when viewed in frame of the eternal.
- “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18[ESV]
In this darkness
I do not ask to walk by light;
But to feel the touch of your hand
And understand that sight is not seeing.
In this silence
I do not ask to hear your voice;
But to sense your Spirit breathe
And know myself a word of your speaking.
I do not ask for fearless space;
But for the grace to comprehend
That neither you or I are diminished.
In this death
I do not seek to escape from pain;
But embracing loss, to find
The strengthto cross the bridge of waiting.
- Pat Bennett