This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, a remembrance of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. It was the first day of a significant week in human history. But the people didn’t know it was the week Jesus would die. For them, it was a time of celebration.
When Jesus rode a donkey into the city, people were excited, joyful, and basically threw a city-wide party. All of the commotion even got the attention of the city’s big wigs. No one, other than Jesus, was looking to the cross and tomb. They were ready for a new reality, a new King and Kingdom.
The gospels tell us about the crowd who lined the streets, the branches and cloaks thrown on the ground, and the shouts of “Hosanna” and praises. Despite all the events of the end of the week, the people gladly welcomed Jesus. I wonder if He would be so gladly welcomed into our cities.
Almost two-thousand years after the events of Jesus’ passion week, how gladly would the people you share life with welcome the arrival of Jesus? Would they be out in the streets, excited and shouting? Or would they rather go about their daily routine, and be annoyed by the traffic jams and commotion?The #Church's job is to represent Jesus in a way that builds hope at the mention of His name. Click To Tweet
It is the Church’s job to represent and declare Jesus in a way that builds expectation and hope at the name of Jesus. I hate to say it, but if attendance in most of our churches is any indication, coupled with the way we live Monday through Saturday, we seem to be doing a better job of making people want to forget about Jesus.
We need to get back to fulfilling the commission of leading people to Jesus, not making them run from Him. Here are 5 Ways to Encourage Our World to Want Jesus Again.
1. Point to what Jesus is for, not against.
Whenever we feel like we have to defend political, social, and religious ideas, we usually put a lot of energy into attacking those who are “against” us. It’s one of the reasons we become known as people who hate, for we keep talking about what we are against. Jesus only responded to His attackers when they came face-to-face with Him. The rest of the time He healed, loved, encouraged, and forgave. He pointed more at how to live than how not to live. Our lives and words should remind people about how Jesus will change their lives for the better.
2. Share Jesus as good news.
I have to admit, as a preacher and teacher, I haven’t always shared a positive word. While there are times when we have to be straight, tell it like it is, and stand for the truth, we don’t have to be negative and harsh about it. We are told to speak the truth in love. Jesus’ words were mostly positive words in the midst of a negative religion. We need to remember to share the good with our news.We have to remember the news about Jesus is GOOD news, not bad, hurtful or hateful news. Click To Tweet
3. Declare the closeness of the Kingdom.
Sometimes we make relationship with Jesus much harder than it needs to be. We want people to fit into a religious mold before we welcome them in our doors. Sounds like something the Pharisees would have said when they saw Jesus eating with “tax collectors” and “sinners”. The Kingdom of God is open to all who believe. We are part of that Kingdom, and we should be welcoming those He would welcome, no strings attached.
4. Run ahead with excitement.
Where did all of those people come from the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem? Jesus didn’t ride under the cover of night, sneaking into the city. But it’s more likely that someone ran ahead of Him and told people He was coming. Being an American, I think of the cry, “The Redcoats are coming,” as both a call to arms, and a warning to duck and cover. I imagine those who went into the city declaring the coming of Jesus were far more excited and encouraged all they could to “come and see.” When you talk about Jesus, which way do you think the people in your circle of influence interpret your invitation?
5. Represent Jesus and the Kingdom, not ourselves.
We will save ourselves a lot of trouble, and the world a lot of headache, if we remember that we are ambassadors of Christ and not the other way around. It is too easy to use the Bible and church as tools to carry out our own agenda. What we really have to do is get our lives in line with the Scripture, and change our lives to fit Jesus’ priorities and way of life.
It’s time we got back to making the arrival of Jesus something worth looking forward to, and something worth celebrating. If the only celebration going on this Palm Sunday is within the walls of our church, we need to evaluate the way we are showing and declaring Jesus in and with our lives.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!
Praise God in highest heaven!”*
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:8-11, NLT)