Hey Jesus!

With Palm Sunday this week, let’s talk about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Remember, this happened just before Passover. Jesus had dinner with Mary and Martha. Lazarus was able to eat with them, because Jesus had raised him from the dead. As dinner was being prepared, Mary poured a fragrance from the Alabaster jar and anointed Jesus feet, wiping them with her hair. Judas took objection to this lavish gift and act of worship. Judas Iscariot, was the one who would soon betray Jesus and was the disciples’ treasurer and embezzler. We see where his heart was. The very next day was when Jesus was to enter Jerusalem. Many people had heard of the story of Lazarus and about the miracles Jesus performed. With this news, they were anxious to see them both. The priests, who were jealous of the attention being taken from them, were plotting to kill Jesus and Lazarus. We see where their hearts lie too. Both the priests and Judas were looking at monetary losses. 

My daughter was teaching her children the story of Palm Sunday and asked her three and a half year old son what the people said when Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding the donkey. He said, “Hey, Jesus!” While funny and cute, and not the answer she was looking for; I think he nailed it more than all the attendees at Palm Sunday then and today. When we truly know “Jesus” and what his name means and stands for, then it is sufficient. ‘At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow!’ (Philippians 2:10) Pray in the name of Jesus, ask anything and it will come to pass… (John 14:13-14 & 16:23-24) Call on the name of Jesus and you will be healed. (Mark 16:17-18) By the name of Jesus, we enter into salvation. (Acts 4:12) 

When my 3.5 year-old grandson said, ‘ Hey Jesus,’ he said a mouthful! Isn’t it just like a child to remind us what’s important? He encapsulated everything Jesus stood for by saying his name. The Hebrew meaning of the name Jesus comes from Yeshua, the first part meaning “God.” YWVH used over 6,800 times in the Hebrew Bible and translated, Lord. The second part of the name Yeshua means deliverer, to save, or rescue. Putting this together, Jesus means God delivers, saves, and rescues, through the Messiah, who bears God’s name. 

So what did they say to Jesus riding into Jerusalem? “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Hosanna was an appeal for deliverance, the rest is the meaning of his name. On Palm Sunday, some of those who were there shouting, were doing so because they caught the fervor of others. It’s okay to catch fervor, but it doesn’t take hold to take on another person’s fervor as it does to have your own, through a personal encounter. When you have a personal encounter with Jesus, you may be the one saying, “Hey Jesus!” and meaning it with as much zeal as “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

Jesus asked his disciples who they said he was. I ask myself who do I say Jesus is? Yes, I revere him, I do not take lightly his worthiness of revere, awe, wonder, or praise, but I also know that he is approachable. He is my ‘Hey Jesus!’ whenever I need him and he is My deliverer today and everyday. He doesn’t expect palm branches or alabaster jars, but I’ll gladly lay them down and pour them out for him. It’s more an attitude of what’s behind the words, than what the words are. Who do I say Jesus is? He is my all. 
Matthew 16:13-20  Let him be your ‘Hey Jesus,’ your all, and your salvation today. 

Investing Time and Honor

As I recently painted the Christmas story, I thought how the wise men heard of Jesus’ birth and desired to seek him out and honor him with gifts. Then they not only honored him, they protected him from Herod, by not telling Herod where he was, because they realized Herod wanted to harm him. They knew Jesus was to be honored. Even though I feel there were more than three wise men, I depicted three of them bearing the gifts of worth, which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were lavish gifts bestowed upon a king of all ages. I want to focus on the fact that they put great effort and traveled many miles to witness that this ruler had been born. They invested time as well as luxurious gifts. They saw that a child had been born that wouldn’t be a typical man, he had a purpose to fulfill. His purpose was far above any purpose you or I have and he drew crowds everywhere he went as he grew older.

But in that same vein, how often do we overlook others in this world that we come in contact with each day and ignore their purpose in life? How many times do we wish we didn’t have to deal with lines in the stores or the person we have to call to arrange some event, reservation, or to buy something? How much time do we give others? Sometimes a simple sentence of encouragement is all a person needs to hang onto to make it through the day. Sadly, a negative phrase or sentence can have the reverse and harsher effects. Or perhaps there’s a family member who we don’t accept? But that person or those people also have a purpose in life, just like Jesus did, and just like we do. It isn’t just to service our needs or be a thorn in our side, God put them on this earth with a destiny. Are we helping them fulfill their destiny by honoring them as an individual? What gifts do we bring to them? I’m not talking physical gifts, I’m speaking of charitable gifts. The gifts we freely give to our friends. It’s easy to engage with our friends, to offer kindness, to fix a cool drink for them or offer food they like. It’s easy to converse, because we have things in common, but what about people we don’t know or haven’t taken the time to become acquainted? Do we leave them with words of encouragement? Or do we leave them wishing they’d never been born? Do we treat them with honor or impatience? We can make or break others. Words can uplift or they can destroy.

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

What about our family? Are we esteeming them or do we bring them words of derision? Do we act happy to see family members we haven’t seen in a while, or do we act like they’re a burden? Is it their character flaw that we see, or is it our own shortcoming that gets brought out when we’re around them and makes us feel exposed? I’ve been around people like this and I had to reassess myself and make adjustments in my own attitude because there was nothing wrong with them, it was their shining example that shone on my lousy attitude. Once I corrected, things were so much better. I was able to see that my outlook was the culprit in the relationship and they’d done nothing wrong. I was just offended that they had exposed my weakness.

Another weakness some of us have is in giving and receiving. When and if we buy gifts for family birthdays or for Christmas; do we purchase the first thing we see, or do we put thought behind it and buy things to honor the recipient? Because a gift given without love, is a gift without life. It would be better to offer love, and be empty-handed than to offer a gift given without love. It’s equally bad to give a gift only in recompense for a gift they’ve given. People know when gifts are sincere and when they are not. They also know when strings are attached, neither are correct. We should give expecting nothing in return and we should give from the heart, not out of duty! When we rush out at the last minute to compensate for another person’s gift, it isn’t heartfelt. I personally would rather leave empty handed and be genuinely thanked for a gift I’ve given than to be given a gift that I don’t need or won’t use, because there was no forethought by the giver.

Can you imagine the wise men buying things along the way or in a rush for Jesus? Or can you imagine them coming back to remind him one day about the gifts they gave and asking him for a favor or some compensation? Yet how many times do people do this? No, their gifts were given from a pure heart, with respect and honor. They were offering and worshipping a baby who had never given anything to them, but they knew the relationship they invested in would give them great rewards. Think about that for a minute… the wise men were investing. How many of us invest these days? Whether it be time, love, kindness, sincerity, or honesty; what do we truly and freely give?

We only get out of a relationship what we put into it. If we dismiss a person as insignificant then they will be insignificant in our lives. But if we see them as valuable and worthy, they become valuable and worthy, even if only to us. You only get what you expect, nothing less. And sometimes it has nothing to do with the other person and more to do with our perception and acceptance of them. Jesus can only be Savior to those who accept him as Savior. But the clerk at our local grocer or our family member will never be cherished if we don’t value them. Let’s try to at least offer kindness, acceptance, honor, and humility to those we come in contact with each day. And in this season of giving, with family members around, let’s go out of our way with them by putting their needs above ours. Give gifts of love, honor, and respect. Show them they’re of value and have a purpose. If we are following the Holy Spirit, this should come easy by evaluating them through Christ. He didn’t hold any sins against them and neither should we.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Hearing from God

I may get people riled up, but I hope it’s with enthusiasm for the things of God and not annoyed at what I say. Have you ever heard someone say that God doesn’t speak to man? Which one of us is interpreting the scriptures incorrectly? Because, In my view God speaks to me every time I listen.

When man was hiding in the Garden, didn’t God call out to Adam & Eve? God talked to man then and he does now. Didn’t God talk to Noah about the ark and to Moses about the law? Didn’t he give Solomon wisdom and give David songs and psalms? Didn’t God speak to Esther about her people through Mordecai? And didn’t he speak to Elisha & Elijah? What about the virgins with oil? Or weren’t the writers of the Bible divinely inspired? What about the disciples? (They had Jesus Christ!) There are countless people and ways in the Bible that God speaks, why would he stop speaking and become silent? Why would a God who created man for fellowship quit communicating with us?! In 1 Corinthians 2 doesn’t it say the Holy Spirit will give understanding and all spiritual revelation to us as we study the word? If that isn’t God speaking to me, then I don’t understand my native language. I don’t need a priest or minister to interpret the Bible for me either, because I’ve been given a divine interpreter to translate parables and the truths of God. It’s the Holy Spirit – or God himself.

And if you’re incensed by my last statement. I’m only a part of a body, just as anyone else who believes in the redemptive power of the blood. We are joint heirs with Jesus. To carry that thought further, we need each other. We are joint heirs of a body of believers who each have a purpose in life. We each have certain strengths, unique to each individual, but it takes many members to make a whole and get the job done. We shouldn’t be focused on what others are doing or if their position in life or ministry is better, but whether we are doing what we do best and doing it well. There should never be any jealousy in the body!

Can you imagine how your own physical body would work if one day your eyes were mad at your ears for hearing and they quit focusing? How would you see? Or what if you feet decided your hands had it better and they decided not to move? How would you walk? When our body functions properly and healthy, we can see and hear correctly, we walk upright and with dignity, a spectacle of beauty. Just think of those who overcome insurmountable handicaps physically, they find ways to make things work, which is beautiful also, but they’d love for their whole body just to cooperate the way it should! God designed the church body to fit together like a healthy physical body. When we work in unison and allow each to do their part, we are a great team, a fully functional family. We are not a dysfunctional one, like so many have grown up in, but the perfect family God intended. When we recognize our position and the strength of others, it is then we are hearing from God, we are plugged into his will, we are the Ruth’s of today. Ruth was the one who heard from God, his companion and friend, and she was beautiful to look upon. When we function as a body, each doing our part, we are companions to God, fully serving him, hearing from him, and we are beautiful to look at in the eyes of God and others who believe.