The Rescuer.

Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Palm Sunday, which at the time of writing is drawing close, is a time when Christians celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Royal city, the city of David when crowds flocked to welcome Jesus as a King, the one who will rescue them in a crisis, the crisis of invasion and oppression. The crowds flocked to welcome Jesus and cheered him on, throwing branches and cloaks in front of his humble donkey, because they have hope that he is the one that will save them from a life of restrictions, from a life of suffering, from a life of occupation. Our own close history of WWI and WWII tells us of the horror of occupation and the freedoms that are lost. The people rushed to Jesus because he would rescue them and save them from this horror.

Graham Kendrick’s Palm Sunday hymn is often sung.

Make Way, Make Way.

We are today in a different type of crisis in a free society. Most of the world is experiencing the horrors of the Coronavirus Covid-19. We have all been touched by its impact as the personal stories of those who have suffered and lived and those who have suffered and died and those who have cared for them, come to our attention. We cannot come together in a crowd to bring ourselves to the living Lord Jesus in our Churches and homes, or come together in support, we are distanced from one another, in order that this virus will not be transmitted and its impact is minimised and the battle won. But we can of course come together in prayer.

Many people in times of crisis, just like the crowds on Palm Sunday, will turn to Jesus Christ, this time in prayer. Those words sometimes become quite familiar “God if you exist…..then hear my prayer”. But the Christian will pray in the powerful ‘name of Jesus Christ’ because we know that God exists and that Jesus, his son, came to live with us, to die in shame on a cross outside Jerusalem, as payment for our sins, and to come to life again, so that we all may know him and know God and nothing gets in the way of knowing his love. Jesus’ triumphant journey into Jerusalem, the Holy City, wasn’t one of being crowned as King, but something much deeper, to bring people back into a living relationship with God, our Father, through knowing and believing in Jesus his son, and asking to be filled with his Holy Spirit. Our wrongs, evil in the world, the impact and effects of viruses, even death, cannot get in the way of knowing God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit and partnering with him in prayer to bring healing upon a broken world, a brokenness we are all experiencing at this time.

Lou Fellingham’s worship song ‘Christ in me’ tells us of the King who has come and rescued and saved us and is alive to hear our prayers.

Psalm 40 has these words.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever. For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonour who desire my hurt. Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.

Perhaps our prayers could be:

Lord Jesus Christ, our King, rescuer, redeemer and saviour, we thank you that you know us and that we are able to receive your love. We seek your holy presence at this time of world crisis.

We bring to you the wrongs in our life and turn from them and turn back to you, forgive us, cleanse us and heal us. Help us to live differently, in humility, loving you, our neighbours and our world. May we know you afresh in our lives.

We bring to you our anxieties and concerns and worries at this time. Let your peace and assurance descend upon us.

We bring to you our thanks for all those who are at the front line of fighting the Covid-19 Coronavirus, may they know your blessings, protection and healing. Bring them the resources they need and may they know your presence with them. May we know your mercy and this virus be eradicated.

We bring to you all who are suffering at this time, may they know strength, courage and your everlasting grace.

We praise you and give you thanks for those good things in our life, may we live in a sustainable way.

We bring these prayers in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

About Rivers of Living Water

Retired Vicar
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