DO YOU RECOGNIZE HIM 4-9-17

DO YOU RECOGNIZE HIM?

April 16th, 2017

               The last half of the last verse I just read (Luke 19:44), “You did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” is a warning not only to the people in Jerusalem back on the original “Palm Sunday” as we call it; but it is a warning to everyone from that day forward.  If Jesus Christ appeared to you today, would you recognize Him?  Has Jesus truly taken up residence in your heart, or just the Jesus that you have constructed out of your personal desires?  Is He a construct of what you would like the Son of God to be, or the ‘real Jesus Christ’, the one that came to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil – not the one you want to deliver you from whatever it is in your life that you are trying to escape. 

          On that day when the people were shouting “Hosanna” (which means ‘save us’) as they laid palm branches and garments on the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem, they were indeed looking for a Savior.  But the majority were looking for a Savior from oppressive Roman rule, not from their own sins.  The Jewish religious leaders still wanted to retain their power and control over the people, to lay down strict rules that they themselves didn’t even follow.   They didn’t want the Romans – or Jesus – to take that power from them.  If Jesus had come to crush the Roman government so that the Jewish people would only have to answer to them, the Pharisees and Sadducees would have gladly adored Him.  But Jesus had spoken out against those hypocritical slave masters, and though the people did not yet know it, they were already plotting how they might do away with Him.  They did not recognize that Jesus was the Messiah that was foretold throughout the centuries by the prophets called of God.  They memorized entire books of the Bible, and could recite them in their sleep, and yet when the Scriptures were fulfilled before their very eyes, they did not realize it.  Why?  Because they had their own agenda, and the true Messiah didn’t fit into it.  The Messiah they had constructed in their own minds was not this Jesus who came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, dressed in humble attire, and preaching not against the Romans, but against evil, hatred, and hypocrisy. 

          What about you?  What does your Jesus look like?  Who or what is truly God in your heart?  There is a book on the bestseller list called “The Shack”.  I have read the book, but haven’t seen the movie.   While it is a bit ‘off’ on some Biblical doctrine, it is a powerful reminder that God often isn’t who we have constructed in our minds based on events in our life, or the opinions of other people.  God comes to us in ways that are relevant to us, in an effort to draw us to Him, to make Himself real to us, if only we would open our hearts and let Him reveal His true self. 

There is also a video that is circulating on social media about a little boy that packs a bag with Twinkies and apple juice, and goes off to ‘find God’. (Watch it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9N8OXkN0Rk).  He walks all over town trying to find Him, and finally sits down on a park bench next to a homeless woman.  As he pulls a Twinkie out of his bag, he looks over at her sad face, and offers her a Twinkie.  She gratefully accepts it with a smile and a “Thank you!”.  He then offers her a bottle of apple juice as well.  Once again, she thankfully accepts it, and the two of them share a special bond, exchanging laughter and smiles.  Before he leaves her to go back home, they exchange a warm hug.  When he gets back to his house, he tells his mom, “God is a woman, mom, and she has the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.” In the next scene, the homeless woman, now full of joy, tells a friend, “I just ate Twinkies in the park with God. He’s much younger than I expected.”

We can all help someone who needs the real Jesus, not the God they have constructed in their minds, or the God they deny even exists because they don’t like who they think He would be if He did exist.  1 John 4:15-17 says, “If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.”  Are you just like the true Jesus, the one who came to earth as a humble servant, and gave His life to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil?  Do you love others as He loves you?  If you do not, then you still have not met the real Jesus.  And if you yourself do not have Jesus in your heart, you cannot reveal Him to others. 

So this morning, take a hard look at your faith.  Is God just some impersonal maker of rules, someone you to try to appease by being good?  Or is God someone who loves you more deeply than anyone else ever could?  Is Jesus just a prophet or a good man who might or might not have worked a miracle or two?  Or is he the eternal Son of God who came to earth to save you so you could spend an eternity loving and being loved, full of joy and free from the curse of sin – starting the very moment you first believe with your heart?  Is the Holy Spirit some sacred mist or warm, fuzzy feeling - or a real person who wants to be part of you and fill you with hope, love, joy, and the power of God?  All three persons of God love you, and are beckoning to you today.  Do you hear their voice?  Have you answered God’s call?  Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”  Just as Elousia in ‘The Shack’ invited Mack to come meet God, and just as the little boy offered the homeless woman a Twinkie, Jesus has extended an invitation to you.  He would like you to open the door not only of your home, but of your heart, to Him.  He would like to be your friend.  I promise you He will be the best friend you ever had, or will have.  He will be a forever friend.  Amen. 

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

The children learned to sing "Alleluia" by Jerry Sinclair, and then passed out palm crosses and a poem to everyone.