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Matthew 14:24-33 NET.

24 Meanwhile the boat, already far from land, was taking a beating from the waves because the wind was against it. 25 As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out with fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.” 29 So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Earlier this month, Penny and I went on another big hike in the Uwharrie National Forest. When we decided to take off for the hike, we pulled out our boxes of hiking supplies to pack our backpacks. Every time we do that, we find items that we had forgotten we had in our storage boxes. We dig into the boxes looking for one thing, and we find something else.

Reading the Gospels is like that too. If you want to know who God’s enemies are, you will encounter them in the Gospels. If you want to know about how God works in history, you can find it there. If you are looking for what it means to repent and be a part of the kingdom of God, it’s in there. If you want to know who Jesus is, it’s in there. If you want to know more about his coming back, there’s teaching about that too.

But we have been studying the Gospels with a particular focus. We want to know what Jesus has commanded. He gave his commands to people back then, and they still apply to us now. So, we are taking another look at Jesus’ commands in the context in which they were given.

Sometimes his commands come in long lists within the context of long sermons, like the sermon on the mount. Other times, the commands come within the context of conversations Jesus had with individuals, like the woman at the well or Nicodemus at night. In today’s text, we hear Jesus commanding his disciples within the context of a strange event. Jesus comes walking on water out of nowhere amid a frightening storm at 3am in the morning and the disciples are so terrified they don’t even recognize him.

Jesus’ command coming out of this even is “have courage.” This is not the only context in which Jesus says these words. Jesus had looked down at the paralyzed young man who had been brought to him on a stretcher by some friends. He told that young man to have courage because his sins are forgiven (Matthew 9:2). It didn’t matter what those sins were. What mattered was that the Savior had come, and he was forgiven. Because Jesus was now part of the picture, that young man could know forgiveness and healing.

Jesus had also said these words to the woman with the hemorrhage who had come up behind him and touched his tassel. He said “Have courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed from that hour (Matthew 9:22).

The disciples had also used these words. When Jesus had told them to go get Bartimaeus, they called him and said “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” No matter what your problem is, Jesus is calling you to come to him. You can have courage because there is no problem too hard for Jesus to solve.

When Jesus was teaching his disciples about the future, he told them that in the world they would have distress, affliction, trouble, oppression, anguish, and persecution. But he also told them to have courage because he has overcome the world.

Jesus even told the apostle Paul the same thing. Paul had just testified before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and his enemies were so mad at him that they were plotting to ambush him and kill him. But the Bible says, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). Jesus wanted Paul to know that his mission was not done yet, and no amount of opposition could stop it.

So, when Jesus appeared walking on water and told his disciples to have courage, we can be sure that he wants us to respond the same way when we face unexpected difficulties.

In today’s text, Jesus says it this way: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Every single word of that statement is very significant. Courage is defined by the absence of fear in the presence of things that would normally produce fear. An unknown figure appears walking on water at three o’clock in the morning during an intense all-night storm. The natural reaction is fear. But Jesus says, don’t fear, have courage. Why should the disciples not fear? Because – Jesus says “It is I.” In fact, the words he says are even more significant. Matthew records his words as translated into Greek are ἐγώ εἰμι.

  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the bread of life” (John 6:35).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the light of the world” (John 8:12).
  • Jesus had taught “Before Abraham was, ἐγώ εἰμι” (John 8:58).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
  • Jesus had told his disciples that he was going to be betrayed and crucified. He said, “I am telling you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that ἐγώ εἰμι” (John 13:19).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the true vine” (John 15:1).
  • Jesus had taught “ἐγώ εἰμι the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5).
  • When they came to arrest Jesus, they called out his name, and Jesus said “ἐγώ εἰμι” (John 18:6).
  • Paul, having been struck down on the road to Damnascus, looked up and said “Who are you, Lord?” What did Jesus say? He said “ἐγώ εἰμι Jesus whom you are persecuting!” (Acts 9:5).
  • When John saw Jesus in a vision on the isle of Patmos, he said, “When I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead, but he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid! ἐγώ εἰμι the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17).

We learn three lessons about courage from today’s passage. The first lesson is that …

Courage comes from being able to recognize Jesus in the storm (24-26).

The disciples had no reason to be afraid of Jesus. He was their master and lord. They had dedicated their lives to serving him, learning from him, and obeying him. But they were afraid because they did not recognize him when he appeared amid the storm. They were used to seeing him preaching in the countryside. They were used to him healing the sick. They were used to him turning the water into wine. They were used to him breaking the bread and fish to fill their baskets with food so they could feed the crowds.

They had been fighting a storm all night. They had struggled against the wind and the waves. They were wore out. They still could not quite get to land. All they could think about was their own exhaustion and exertion. When they saw someone or something walking on the water toward them, they said it’s a φάντασμα; an entity that discloses itself in a mysterious manner. On top of all they were struggling with, here comes some supernatural phenomenon. So, they were thinking “that’s it, we’re dead, there’s no way we’re going to survive this.”

But this was no ghost. This was not a harbinger of death. This was the lord of life. He was not here to destroy them. He was here to rescue them. And, brothers and sisters, Jesus comes to us amid the storms of life. If we are not careful, we will fail to recognize him too. We can get so caught up in the hurry and hassle and struggle and strain that we can fail to see Jesus.

The second lesson is that …

Courage comes from being obedient through the whole storm (27-30).

Peter at least tried to be obedient. He said, “I can handle this.” He rustled up enough courage to speak to this φάντασμα and tell it: Lord if that’s you tell me to join you out there. Jesus said one word: “Come.”  And getting out of the boat, Peter walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

So far so good. But then Peter got his eyes off Jesus, and he saw that wind that he had been struggling against all night. Courage is not something that is helpful in small doses. True courage does not just begin the fight, it stays in the fight until it’s over. True courage does not just get out of the boat, it stays on the water until it reaches Jesus. When Jesus commanded his disciples to have courage, he didn’t say that because the storm was over. True obedience is obedience over the long haul. It is obedience through the whole storm.

The third lesson is that …

Courage comes from putting our faith in Jesus, not ourselves (31-33).

The text says, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peter had a lot of self-confidence, and that got him out of the boat. But that self-confidence could not get him where he needed to be. He had a lot of self-confidence but a little faith. It was a little faith because it was directed toward the wrong object. He was trusting in his own power to do what Jesus told him to do.

True courage comes from putting our faith in Jesus, not ourselves. It comes from knowing who Jesus is, and acting on his commands, and letting Jesus do what only Jesus can do. When Peter stepped out of the boat, he was trusting in Peter’s little faith. But when Peter thrusted his hand into the air and reached for Jesus, then he was saved.

Every true Christian eventually realizes that deliverance is not going to come from inside. There are no self-made Christians. Our faith is too small. We need a Savior, and only he can save us. The good news is that once we realize this, Jesus is immediately there to thrust his hand in ours and pull us up. He’s not going to wait for us to go under. He’s going to catch us while we are still sinking.

I want to ask you today – what kind of courage do you have? Do you have “I can handle this” kind of courage? It will not be enough. The only courage that will save you is the courage to cry out for the Savior to rescue you. Have the courage to do that today.



Mark 6:35-44 NET.

35 When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. 36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?” 38 He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five — and two fish.” 39 Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full. 44 Now there were five thousand men who ate the bread.

The story of the feeding of the five thousand is a very familiar story to most of us. If you are like me, you heard this story many times as a child growing up. If I recall my Sunday School lessons correctly, the purpose for this story is to teach us to be like the little boy who surrendered his lunch to the disciples. It teaches generosity. I think there are a lot of lessons about generosity in Scripture.

But I want us to step back and take another look at this story today. We have been studying the commands of Christ in the Gospels, and our chronological study leads us to this text today. If we scan the words of today’s text as given to us by Mark, we find that the little boy is not even mentioned. Nothing Jesus says to the crowds is mentioned. The only conversation is between Jesus and his disciples. He has a lesson for them.

Now, Jesus had already taught his disciples the key elements of the gospel message. He had already also taught them how to preach the gospel and had sent them out on their own evangelistic campaigns. When he had sent them out, he empowered them to preach, heal the sick and deliver people from demons. Now he has returned to preaching and his disciples had returned to assisting him. In fact, what we see in today’s text came about because the disciples were seeking to assist Jesus in his ministry. Let’s walk through the story phase by phase and try to understand what Jesus is teaching his disciples through this event.

Phase 1 – the preacher runs a little late (35).

It appears that Jesus and his disciples were on a regular schedule for their ministry at this time. They would probably have regular times where Jesus would preach, then possible times for the disciples to go through the crowds talking and praying with the crowds, then if they found anyone needing healing, they could bring them to the Master. It appears that by late afternoon Jesus would wind things up with a final message for the day. Only, today Jesus’ final message just went on an on.

The book of Acts tells us that the Apostle Paul did that once. His final message of the day in Troas went until midnight. He probably would have kept on preaching, but a certain young man named Eutychus interrupted things by falling asleep and falling from the third loft, dead on arrival. Paul stopped preaching and gave the young man a hug, and he came to life again. We preachers tell these stories because chances are we are going to get long-winded someday, so we want you to know we are in good company.

Jesus was doing that. He was preaching late, and apparently had lost track of time. Sometimes we pray as if we are accusing Jesus of having lost track of time.

Phase 2 – The disciples say it’s quitting time (36).

 That’s what the disciples are doing. They are essentially saying Lord (points at watch). Now, to be fair, the disciples knew that Jesus had asked them to join him at that isolated place so that they could rest and regroup. Earlier in the chapter we read that “the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). So, they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place.” So, it makes sense that they would come to Jesus and remind him that they were running out of time to rest. Today was not supposed to be a typical day of ministry. They had gone to a remote spot for a retreat so they could talk over their experiences in their own evangelistic campaigns. But “many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them.” When the disciples and Jesus arrived, they had found a huge crowd waiting with their Bibles and notebooks open, and ballpoint pens in hand. So, Jesus commenced to teach them many things.

But when it got late, the disciples said it’s time for us now. So, they reminded Jesus that it was getting dark, and the crowd had not come with enough provisions, so he should dismiss them so they could go where they could find food. It’s quitting time, Lord.

Phase 3 – “Y’all give them something to eat” (37a).

That’s a literal rendering of the Greek because unlike Yankee English, koine Greek has a second person plural pronoun. He told them “Y’all give them something to eat.”  This is the command. I think this command relates to all of us just as it did to those disciples that day. I think we are often too quick reduce our ministry to the things that we normally do for practical reasons. All the rest is off limits. We figure out our budget for the year, putting in all our pet projects and traditions. We set our calendar. We do what we have done. When we come across a need that we haven’t ever met, we pray about it, and leave it there. What Jesus was doing that day was challenging his disciples to go beyond their own limits. He told them to do something that they could not do. It was impossible.

Phase 4 – no money (37b).

The disciple pulled their pockets inside out. They said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?” Now the silver coin they were talking about was a denarius. A denarius was a day’s wage for a hired worker.  The disciples had done the math. They figured that to feed that crowd of five thousand men, they would have to have worked over half a year – two hundred days. They did not have that kind of money. The disciples were pointing out that what Jesus had called them to do was not practical because they did not have the resources. We should not be too hard on the disciples for coming to this conclusion. Jesus didn’t berate them for what they said. He knew they would come to that conclusion. That just set them up for the next lesson.

Phase 5 – check your supplies (38).

Jesus told his disciples to make an inventory of their lunch boxes. This is where the little boy in the crowd comes in. The first miracle was not the feeding of the five thousand. The first miracle was that of all the crowds that gathered, only this little boy had thought to pack a lunch. So, this is what they had. Five biscuits and two fish. They might could have stretched those rations to feed one family, but it was way too little to feed a crowd of thousands.

Here is where the disciples would be thinking “See what we mean?” Jesus, you need to let these people go get some food elsewhere, because we don’t have enough.

This is where the miracle begins to happen, because Jesus intentionally let the situation get to this point. He is teaching his disciples that when it comes to ministry to others, he is ready to step in with his miraculous power, but he will often allow us to get to the point where we cannot do what we need to do. Remember, the command was “Y’all give them something to eat.” Their excuse was “We don’t have enough.” But Jesus did not command them to first check and see if they had enough. He wanted them to take what little they could scrounge up and start to feed the crowd.

He told them to check for what they had, not to determine whether they had enough. They all knew already that they did not have enough. The question for the disciples was whether they were willing to start something that they knew only Jesus could finish.

Phase 6 – the miracle happens (39-42).

Jesus “directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So, they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied.” Jesus did what only Jesus could do but the disciples did the rest. He literally did not feed a single person that day. He only blessed the meal and distributed it to his disciples. They passed out the bread and fish to all the groups of hundreds and fifties. When a disciple emptied one basket, he would go back for more where that came from. Their resources had given out for a very long time, but Jesus’ resources kept coming.

Phase 7 – leftovers (43).

In fact, Jesus kept giving long after all the people were satisfied. By the time everybody put their napkins over their plates and said “no more” each disciple was left with a basket full for himself. The final lesson the disciples learned that day was that God has power to do all that needs to be done, and more. The Apostle Paul said that God “is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think.” But he also said the power available for such miracles is “the power that is working within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

I want us to think about how we as a congregation can apply the lessons that the disciples learned that day. One way we can do that is to look around us and discover needs within our community that are not being met by anyone else. Then let’s brainstorm. We should not ask ourselves whether we have the practical resources to meet all those needs in our budget. No, we should ask this question: “Do we have the resources and personnel to start this ministry and the faith to let Jesus finish it?”

Jesus performed his miracles as demonstration to prove the truthfulness of his proclamation. He still wants to do that. He has called us to be his witnesses and has empowered us with his Holy Spirit to share his gospel. The disciples learned to demonstrate their care for others and in so doing they proved the power of Jesus Christ. There is a community outside these walls, and it is waiting to see us prove that Jesus is who we say he is. Let’s get our baskets ready!



Psalm 20:1-9 NET.

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in trouble; may the God of Jacob make you secure! 2 May he send you help from his temple; from Zion may he give you support! 3 May he take notice of your offerings; may he accept your burnt sacrifice! (Selah) 4 May he grant your heart’s desire; may he bring all your plans to pass! 5 Then we will shout for joy over your victory; we will rejoice in the name of our God! May the LORD grant all your requests! 6 Now I am sure that the LORD will deliver his chosen king; he will intervene for him from his holy heavenly temple, and display his mighty ability to deliver. 7 Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we depend on the LORD our God. 8 They will fall down, but we will stand firm. 9 The LORD will deliver the king; he will answer us when we call to him for help!

On this wonderful Easter morning, I have chosen for us to meditate on the words of an ancient prayer. Psalm 20 is a prayer for the Messiah. It was written during the time of king David, and successive generations prayed this prayer for his descendants when they came to the throne. As each new leader took charge, the people prayed these words for him. It was understood that from David’s line the Messiah would emerge. So, the people prayed these words in expectation that the king they were praying for might just be the one.

This prayer was particularly important when the king faced opposition or was in battle against his enemies. The people recognized how important it was for them to intercede for their king because they knew that God alone held his future and their future in his hands. Praying for the king was a tremendous responsibility.

Praying for the king was also an opportunity for the people to express their faith. This psalm is roughly split into two parts. One part intercedes for the king, the other part expresses confidence that God will answer the prayer, preserve the king and give victory.

Just like Psalm 118 that we looked at last week, this psalm is also prophetic because it always had the Messiah in mind ultimately. That is why it is appropriate for us to look at this psalm as we remember the events that we celebrate on Easter. The conflict that Jesus endured on Holy Week, his trials, crucifixion, death and resurrection, they are all foreshadowed by this ancient prayer.

When the people of God prayed for their king:

They were confident that God would answer his prayers and theirs (1a,9).

Our Lord went to a garden called Gethsemane. He told his disciples that he was deeply disturbed, even to the point of death. He asked them to stay with and pray with him. He knew what he was going to face that day. He prayed to his Father that somehow, he would be spared from this ordeal. But he knew that he would have to face it. He came into the world for this battle, and he would do battle.

He came back to his disciples and found them sleeping. He was disturbed by their indifference. He urged them to stay awake. For generations, the people of God had been praying for their king and this was the very event that the prayer of Psalm 20 predicted.

Jesus prayed alone. He found solace in this one thought. “Not what I want, but what the Father wants.” “My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.” Jesus got his answer. His battle was not to keep him from the cross. His battle was for the courage to endure the cross.

Ultimately, you and I are the winners. By taking up his cross, Jesus answered our prayers. None of the blessings of God are available apart from that sacrifice. The LORD will answer us when we call to him for help because his Son became the bridge. Between us and our Holy God, there was a deep chasm, an expanse wider than the sky. Our sins kept us from reaching Almighty God. But Jesus bridged the gap. Now when we call on God, he will answer.

They were confident that God would protect him from his enemies (1b, 4).

The Davidic king would have enemies, foreign and domestic. He would have foreign kings who opposed his dominion, and local enemies who wanted to take his throne. The people prayed for God to make the king secure.

Jesus had enemies in Caesar’s palace, in Herod’s palace, among the council of elders, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. He even had an enemy among his own disciples. He was the rightful ruler of all, and yet he faced opposition. During the week of that final Passover, the opposition gained ground. It was only a few days between the shouts of Hosanna and his triumphal entry and the shouts of “Crucify him” at his trial.

God had protected his Son all the years of his life. He protected him from being put to death by Herod the Great’s slaughter of the children. He protected him from being killed by the inhabitants of his own hometown when they turned against him. Jesus knew that none of his enemies would keep him from accomplishing his Father’s will.

They were confident that God would send him help and support him (2, 6, 7).

The people prayed for God to send the king help from his temple, the earthly symbol of his divine presence. They were confident that God would intervene for him from his holy heavenly temple – and display his mighty ability to deliver.

During his earthly life, angels attended Jesus and were always available to him. Jesus felt that support all during his life, but he appeared to question it as he was dying on the cross. People overheard his praying to his Father and saying “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” He was quoting from another psalm – Psalm 22. That psalm ends like this one – on a note of confidence in God’s accomplishment. When Jesus said “it is finished” it was not a declaration of his defeat. It was a victory cry because God had accomplished on the cross what none of us could ever do. He paid the price to redeem us from our sins. Jesus saw ahead into the empty cross, the empty tomb, and all of the empty tombs and graves to come.

They were confident that the king’s ordeal would end in victory and joy (5).

They prayed “we will shout for joy over your victory; we will rejoice in the name of our God!” The had looked ahead to the Messiah’s coming, the Messiah’s battles, and they saw the Messiah’s victory. They heard shouts that were even more glorious than the shouts of Hosannah. They heard the shouts of victory over death.

Listen to these words of the Apostle Paul: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

On Easter, we celebrate our Lord’s victory over death. He came out of that tomb after three days’ rest never to sleep again. He conquered that which was unconquerable. He didn’t survive death. He overcame it. And because he lives, we also will live.

On Christmas, we celebrate a promise fulfilled – when Christ came for the first time. On Easter, we celebrate another promise fulfilled – Christ’s victory over death. We also celebrate a promise yet to be fulfilled when Christ will come a second time – in victory. His empty tomb is a symbol of that unfulfilled promise.

Why should we expect Jesus to come back and give us eternal life? We should expect it because Jesus has always set his heart to doing one thing: his Father’s will. He said “Now this is the will of the one who sent me — that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father — for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:39-40). He went to the cross and died because it was his Father’s will. He is coming back to raise the dead and give them eternal life because it is his Father’s will.

Imagine the joy that the disciples had when they saw their risen Master, heard his voice again, and realized that he who had been dead was now alive. Now, imagine the joy that all of us will experience on that day when our Master returns to complete the next phase in his Father’s will. He said, “a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out — the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Everyone will be raised and judged. Some will be forgiven and experience eternal life. Others will be condemned and face the second death. Some will experience victory and joy; others will face defeat and permanent death.

That means that Easter is either a promise or a threat. God’s will is going to be accomplished. The man who came out of that tomb is coming back to bring us out of our graves. He is doing that because God is going to make everything new. For the king’s enemies, that means that they will be defeated and die forever. For the king’s loyal subjects, that means that they will be granted new life forever.

You and I can take part in our Lord’s victory over death. He has given us a choice. He has invited us into his eternal kingdom. If we are wise, we will accept his invitation. It is an invitation to eternal joy. It is an invitation to join him in his victory party. Those who refuse his invitation are unwise.


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Psalm 118:19-29 NET.

19 Open for me the gates of the just king’s temple! I will enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the LORD’s gate — the godly enter through it. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me, and have become my deliverer. 22 The stone which the builders discarded has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing! 24 This is the day the LORD has brought about. We will be happy and rejoice in it. 25 Please LORD, deliver! Please LORD, grant us success! 26 May the one who comes in the name of the LORD be blessed! We will pronounce blessings on you in the LORD’s temple. 27 The LORD is God and he has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God and I will give you thanks! You are my God and I will praise you! 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his loyal love endures!

Today is Palm Sunday – that special day each year when we look back and reflect on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem for what we now call Holy Week – the week of his death and resurrection.

I wanted to spend some time in today’s passage because it was a Messianic Psalm. In fact, it appears to be the Messianic Psalm that also served as a prophecy of a special time that was going to come in history, the day the Messiah would come to Jerusalem.

People memorized this song, sang it and chanted it as a reminder that someday God would send his own king to deliver his people. When Jesus prepared to arrive in Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, the people broke palm branches and spread their clothing on the ground. They were giving him what we now call the red-carpet treatment.

Listen, and you will hear them singing and shouting. Do you know what they are shouting? They were shouting Hosannah! Do you know where that word comes from? Let me share it in Hebrew: ANA YAHVEH HOSHIYAH NA ANA YAHVEH HATSLIYCHAH NA!

For those who don’t know Hebrew, I was just quoting Psalm 118:25. “Please LORD, deliver! Please, LORD, grant us success!” The psalm had become a prophecy and a way of pleading for God to send his Messiah to deliver his people and give them success.

Today I want to share seven elements of the prophecy of this psalm that are found in today’s text. I want to share what this prophecy meant to the people who had been singing it for generations before Jesus came. I also want to share how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy of the day of his triumphal entry, and how he will fulfill it completely at his second coming.

You also might need a little help understanding what is going on in the psalm because it tends to jump around between the three main characters. The three main characters are the LORD (Hebrew Yahveh) who is God. The second character is the coming Messiah. The third character is the people of God who are waiting for the Messiah to come to Jerusalem.

The first prophetic element in today’s text is…

The LORD’s gate (19-21)

At some time in history, the Jews expected the LORD to open the gate to his temple and his Messiah would enter it and take up his place as king. They would sing and chant these words on momentous occasions. They would dream of the day when wrongs would be righted, debts paid, and sins cleansed. This psalm had become associated with Passover because just as the LORD delivered the believing Israelites from the destroying angel in Egypt, they believed that the coming Messiah would enter their city and bring new life with him.

Jesus did come for the purpose of bringing deliverance that day, but the deliverance he brought would cost him his life. On that day when he rode into Jerusalem, Jesus said that the time had come for him to be glorified. They didn’t understand what he was talking about. So he told them that a grain of wheat has to die and be buried in the ground before it can produce a crop. He was predicting his death and resurrection, but he was also predicting ours. That is why he said if anyone wanted to serve him, he must follow him. Christ is going through the gates of the old Jerusalem to die. We will follow him through those gates. But we will also follow him into the new Jerusalem when he returns – to live again and never die again.

The second element in this prophecy is…

The LORD’s cornerstone (22)

The image of the prophecy is the building of the new temple. Jesus was the stone that the builders discarded which has become the cornerstone. Nobody expected such a rough character as this man from Nazareth. He wasn’t even from Judea. He was a Galilean. For a while, some listened to his words, and some were amazed at his miracles. But when it came to a vote, they voted now on Jesus.

But the song the people had been singing said that God was going to do something in spite of what the world wanted to do. Isaac wanted Esau, but God wanted Jacob. The Israelites wanted Saul, but God wanted David. The crowd shouted for Barabbas, but God wanted Jesus. When the dust is settled, and the world looks upon the mighty monument of the new eternal temple where God resides forever, they will see this Jesus, discarded by the builders but used by God. He is the building block that was rejected, and he is the cornerstone of a whole new world.

The third element of this passage’s prophecy is …

The LORD’s work (23)

The people singing and chanting Hosannah that day were expecting a great work of God. They were looking for a miracle. They had been singing about that great miraculous time for generations. They said “This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing!” But what was the work that the king came to do in Jerusalem that week? He cursed a fig tree. He cleared the marketers out of the temple. He pronounced woes against his enemies. He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. He was betrayed by Judas. He was arrested and tried, and crucified. But wait. There’s one more thing. We cannot afford to miss the most amazing thing that Jesus did. He rose from the grave. “This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing!”

When our Lord returns to completely fulfill the prophecy of today’s text, he’s going to open our graves. He’s going to fulfill his promise to give us a life that will not end. Amazing!

The fourth element of this passage’s prophecy is …

The LORD’s day (24)

It bothers me somewhat that was are always singing about the day that the Lord has made but we sing it out of context. The day that the worshipers in Jerusalem sang it, it was clear what day they were singing about. One day you and I will sing those words again and the day we will be singing about will not be an ordinary day. It will be the day our king returns to take up his throne and restore the world he created. That will be the day!

The fifth element of this passage’s prophecy is …

The LORD’s king (26)

The psalmist predicted a coming king. The people waving Palm branches were welcoming that king. One day the same king is going to break through the clouds for you and me. Be ready brother. Be prepared sister. Get your Palm branch ready to wave. Welcome the LORD’s king as your king. Oh, but understand. If you cannot welcome him into your life today, he will not welcome you into his eternal life then.

The sixth element of this passage’s prophecy is …

The LORD’s offering (27)

They sang “The LORD is God and he has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar!” They knew all about bringing offerings to the LORD, but they sang about God delivering them with his offering. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy because he is God’s own Son, and he was offered as a sacrifice to redeem us from sin.

And, finally, the seventh element of this passage’s prophecy is …

The LORD’s love (29)

This is CHESED — God’s loyal, covenant love. His faithfulness to his own word, to his covenant. God promised a king would ride into Jerusalem on a colt. That promise was fulfilled that day. But his entry into Jerusalem was itself a prophecy. The Gospel tells us that the king is coming again. The same God who brought Jesus back to life is going to restore the whole universe when the king goes through the gates again.

Do you know this God? He knows you. He knows you are a sinner, but he still sent his Son to die for you. He knows you often fail him, but he has a plan for you to succeed forever. He knows you have nothing to offer him, so he has already provided the perfect offering. He knows you have bad days when all you can do is complain but he is preparing a day in which you can only be happy and rejoice.