Palm Sunday 2020
This is post #20 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Today’s Lectio Divina: “But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you’ve read Daniel, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you’re working in the yard, don’t return to the house to get anything; if you’re out in the field, don’t go back and get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won’t happen during the winter or on a Sabbath. This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.” Matthew 24: 15-22 (MsgB)
History shows us that Jesus, when He was speaking these troubling words we find in today’s reading from Matthew’s gospel, was most certainly referring to the absolute desecration of God’s Temple that occurred at the hands of Roman conquerors in 70 A.D. God’s people, the Israelites, had been living in the Holy Land for centuries. But in one fell swoop, in 70 A.D., an entire culture was destroyed, scattering Jews to the ends of the earth. Not until 1,900 years later (1947) was there even a hint of any kind of permanent re-settlement in the land God had once given them.
Yet, while Jesus was warning of a disaster that would occur within the lifetime of his listeners, we must also realize that the Master was also foreseeing a troubling time set for those who live at the end of the age. Apparently, right before the second coming of Christ, the world will see trouble, as Eugene Peterson translates it, “on a scale beyond that the world has ever seen, or will see again.”
Yowsers. Now that’s scary, isn’t it?
So, as we discussed last time, every generation since the days of Christ has faced troubling times. And in each generation, there are prophetic voices who cry out with no uncertainty that this current trouble is The Trouble Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24.
Today, we can find well-intentioned people who will tell us that we certainly live in the troubling times Jesus warned about. And folks, I’m not here today to dispute that claim. They may be right.
The monster of desecration certainly seems to be hanging around the doors of the Temple, don’t you think? When thousands of priests are exposed as child abusers, numerous big-name church leaders are found to be long-time sexual predators, and denominational leaders turn a blind eye to hatred and injustice being committed in the name of patriotism, one just might wonder if the desecration Jesus warned of has entered God’s Temple.
But here’s the good news.
Despite all the troubles we might face as we do our best in keeping ourselves faithful to the cause of Christ, know that even death itself can not conquer those who remain with Jesus to the bitter end.
Know that Jesus, our Master, our Savior, our Protector in times of trouble, said this to His friends as well…
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33 (NIV)
So, my dear friends, take heart.
Jesus has overcome, and in Him alone, we too can find hope in these times of trouble.
My Prayer: Father God, in all honesty, the monster of desecration scares the poop out me. It would be easy for me to dwell on that fear and fall into despair, hopelessness, and high anxiety. Yet, Jesus, You didn’t share these troubling things so that fear might prevail. As I lean in toward the Holy Spirit, learning to trust more in God than in my own strength, may the peace of Christ that passes all understanding prevail in my heart today. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions to Ponder: So, where am I susceptible to the monster of desecration? Where have I failed to guard my heart, allowing fear and hopelessness, or self-centeredness and self-gratification to become the marching orders for my day? What will it look like for me to press into Jesus today, despite the troubling times that surround me? How can be an encourager of others as we, together, face the troubling times in which we live?
So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?
Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ.
A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.
Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!
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