This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day that the church celebrates Jesus’ arrival to Jerusalem.
Prophecies have foretold this day for centuries; the day when Jesus presented himself as Messiah to his people. Ultimately they rejected him as their Lord and savior. They were looking for another type of messiah, someone who would bring them the freedom they thought they needed. And someone who would bring about that freedom in the manner in which they thought they needed it. The people in Jerusalem didn’t like Jesus’ message of repentance and grace. They did not like the message of the Kingdom of God. The message that Jesus brought was offensive to them, and eventually, Jesus is killed. They didn’t understand that God knew them and knew exactly what they needed whether they understood it or not.
John 3:16 is a very familiar verse to many of us. It tells us that God loved the world in exactly the way that the world needs to be loved – by sending his one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins so that whoever believes in him would have eternal life. But many of us, like the people in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus disagree that this is the way in which we need to be loved. The message of Jesus is no less offensive to our culture today than it was to the culture 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.
Most in our society believe that they “do their best” to be morally good people and that, if there is an afterlife, when we get there God will accept us because he loves us and he will overlook or forgive the bad stuff we did. We think he owes this to us because, while we know that God calls us to be perfect, “nobody is perfect”. We lower the standard so that we can meet it. We tend to grade ourselves on a curve and as long as you are somewhere in between Hitler and Mother Teresa than you have been “good enough” and God will accept you. So the idea of a bloody cross being the only way to be accepted by God seems to be a bit unnecessary. Heaven is something that we are entitled to because God loves us and will ultimately forgive us.
The major downfall in this line of thinking is that many of us don’t want to acknowledge the gravity of our sin or the magnitude of the God whom we have sinned against. Unlike us, God does not change his standard. He does NOT grade on a curve. Jesus got an A+ and the rest of us have failed. But we don’t actually believe that we are that bad. We don’t believe that our sins are enough to condemn us to an eternity apart from God in hell. We don’t believe that there is nothing we can do to get back in God’s good graces. This is a hard truth but this is exactly what the Bible teaches.
But the message of the Bible is that God still loves us. He loves us in exactly the way we need to be loved, by sending his own Son Jesus to die on the cross to die for our sin.
Band for the Week Was:
- Jon Hathaway – guitar + vox
- Brent Francese – vox
- Christie Gould – vox
- Alex Dellapenta – guitar + vox
- Jon Pritchett – guitar
- Scott Wenger – bass