All my hope is in Jesus, not the expectations I have, but in Him. Life may have come            crashing down upon you. Life is difficult and being a follower of Jesus doesn’t make it            any easier. But don’t reject Him, there is nowhere else to go.


Today is Palm Sunday, celebrating Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

This week is known as passion week. Four days Jesus will teach openly in the Temple courts, telling people of the kingdom of God. This Thursday is called Maundy Thursday, on which we traditionally celebrate the Last Supper. Then, of course, there is Good Friday, the day Jesus is executed. You may not know it but there is some question as to how this day become known as Good Friday when something horrific happens on it. If you trace back the word games I think we should be calling it Holy Friday, Sacred Friday or Passion Friday, I guess we’ll leave this up to the linguists to decide. Finally, a miracle happens, the one we call Easter.

Let's read of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, for there are stunning coincidences between the events of that day and the events of every previous Passover observed in Jerusalem. There is also a message to you and me about Jesus not meeting our expectations.

Matthew 21:1-11 (MSG)
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: "Go over to the village across from you. You'll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you're doing, say, 'The Master needs them!' He will send them with you."
4 This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion's daughter, "Look, your king's on his way, poised and ready, mounted On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal."
6 The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, "Hosanna to David's son!" "Blessed is he who comes in God's name!" "Hosanna in highest heaven!"
10 As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, "What's going on here? Who is this?"
11 The parade crowd answered, "This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee."

Are you ready for the “rest of the story?”

It's Passover time.  Jerusalem is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve,  Lake Havasu during Spring Break,  commuter traffic on the 405. Passover is the festival that commemorates the tenth and final plague rained down on the Egyptians,
the horrible plague that took the life of the first-born of every household. Except for the Hebrews. Moses gave them specific instructions for what they could do to avoid the bloodshed coming to every door.

On the night before plague came knocking, the Hebrew people were instructed to choose a perfect lamb and sacrifice it. The lamb’s blood was to be “painted” with a hyssop branch on the door posts of their home, marking it as a place of faith in the one God. Wherever the angel of death saw the blood-splattered doorposts,
the home was “passed over” and the firstborn spared. The directives God gave to Moses for the people were a “perpetual ordinance.” In other words, the Passover ritual was to be observed by every Jew every year forever.

Its just a coincidence that the blood shed on Calvary’s cross moves us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

Once the Temple had been established as the only place of official sacrifice for Israel, every observant Jew within 50 miles made the journey to Jerusalem to offer their Passover sacrifice. And then there were the pilgrims who came from all over the Roman world. The population of Jerusalem swelled to easily ten times the norm, as whole clans made their way to the place where they could offer their annual sacrifice to God. In so doing they remembered the gift of deliverance from slavery that God had made possible.

Passover is about deliverance from slavery. It's just a coincidence that this Passover is about delivering us from sin.

The shepherds around Bethlehem were charged with raising and caring for “perfect and unblemished” lambs that would be acceptable as sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple. This was a year-round charge, for the Temple opened and closed every day with the sacrifice of a lamb. But at Passover, the demand for these animals was at its peak.

“Perfect” Passover lambs were carefully “cultivated” by these Bethlehem shepherds. After they were born, when they were most fragile and vulnerable,
those deemed “perfect” were carefully wrapped, “swaddled,” and set aside in a safe place, like a stall or a manger, so they would not be stepped on and injured.

A lamb, wrapped in swaddling clothes, put into a manger, in Bethlehem . . . sound familiar? I’m sure it's just a coincidence.

The Passover lambs had to be obtained by the tenth of Nisan (the first month in the year of the Jewish calendar) in order to be ready for sacrifice on the fourteenth of Nisan, the night before Passover. This meant that a huge “parade of the lambs” took place just before Passover (“the first day after the last Sabbath before Passover” aka our “Palm Sunday”) in order to get as many animals as possible through the “Sheep Gate” on the north of the city for families to purchase.
The Sheep Gate was the passageway by which animals were brought in from the countryside for sacrifice.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, enters through the Sheep Gate The Sheep Gate, just a coincidence.

According to Levitical law, the lamb had to be in the hands of the family four days before it was to be sacrificed. During these four days, the lamb was to be petted and played with, given special attention and food. The lamb was to be “loved” as a member of the family so that its sacrifice would be heartfelt and meaningful to those offering it to the Lord. The one who offered the lamb as a sacrifice had to lay his hands upon the animal as it was slaughtered, signifying both that they loved their lamb and that the lamb was dying for the sins of that family.

It will be four days until Jesus is arrested. Just a coincidence

In the wake of all these carefully raised lambs, Jesus entered into Jerusalem. He rode not on some grand war-horse, but on a “young donkey,” a symbol of wisdom not of warfare, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He enters on a never ridden donkey, traditionally the first use of any animal designated a special sacredness. (Num 9:12; Duet 21:3; 1Sam6:7)

Mark 11:8-10 (MSG)
The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!

The crowd wave palm fronds at the procession and cry “Hosanna,” both signs of nationalistic fervor. It like yelling USA!  USA!  Palm fronds had long been used in Israelite national symbolism, and the cry of “Hosanna” which means “give salvation now” (from Psalm 118:25) was a cry for immediate national deliverance.
Written in the Apocrypha there is a passage in the book of the Maccabees that reveals to us that when the enemy was defeated the people greeted the leaders of the revolt in the very similar way as they on this day are hailing Jesus. 
(1 Maccabees 13:51 and 2 Maccabees 10:7 ) 

I’m sure its just a coincidence.

It was the expectation that the Messiah would come, from the line of David, and like Moses lead the people to freedom, in this time, overthrowing Roman Rule,
and raising the nation of Israel to world power status. Jesus the deliverer from Roman Oppression.

Before Jesus entry that day as the procession of the lambs made its way to the Sheep Gate, the chief priests and scribes watched carefully for the most perfect of the perfect lambs. That would be the one they would pick for the symbolic sacrifice of the Passover Lamb which would be the last one slain and bring Passover to a close. The Passover Lamb was always slain on Passover Eve, between 3 and 4pm.

It will be between 3 and 4 that Jesus will die on Passover Eve.
Mark 15:34 (MSG) John 19:28-30 (NIV). Just a coincidence.

In crashing the parade of the lambs, Jesus was presenting himself as the true Passover Lamb, the one who would take away the sins of the world.
But the Chief Priests and Scribes did not choose Him. They remained clueless of Jesus true identity.  Yet all the signs were there before their eyes. They refused to see. Nor did they consider the seven coincidences.

By Friday Jesus had not fulfilled the expectations of the masses. He is rejected.
His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor but of lowliness and servanthood.
He conquers not nations but hearts and minds. He is victorious not by force but by love. He was not what was expected.
John 1:10-11 (NIV)
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We can have wrong expectations of Jesus. He tries to help us. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). “In this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Life is difficult and being a follower of Jesus doesn’t make it any easier.

The way the gospel has been preached over that last 60 years in America there is a false understanding that if you become a believer everything will be good because God has a perfect plan for your life. Now when you hear God has a perfect plan for your life the temptation is to think living the American Dream. Prosperity and with-it health, and a great family and good friends. Bad things happen to other people, but not you because God loves you. Since God loves you and is all-powerful, and he is in control, then everything will go your way.  We are told that there are over 6,000 promises in the Bible that are like blank checks that we get to fill out when we need them to cash in on the blessings of being one of God’s children.

Life is challenging, there is always something to deal with, but we manage to muddle through. Of course, we have heard about trials and testing. Things God sends to help mold us and shape us in the image of His Son, but we think that such things will never be devastating. He’s the good shepherd who takes care of His sheep.

We don’t take seriously the threat of a spiritual enemy who wants to devour us, destroy our faith, defeating us, so that our subsequent behavior makes God look like a liar. We think that we have a hedge of protection growing all around us keeping out the really bad things that can happen to other people. With these thoughts, we greet Jesus as He enters our lives with the same exuberance as that crowd in Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday Morning. But just like the people in Jerusalem that day, when Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations we reject Him. When Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations we become disillusioned.

I battled with this during 2011 and 2012. To a lesser extent, I still deal with it. I had some false expectations about God. The same ones as I mentioned and more. My world fell apart. People I loved torn out of my life. Dreams, hopes, and plans, now just ashes. This can’t be happening. I ranted my rage at the impotent God who did not care for all that I had entrusted to him. I can’t stress enough the importance of the 3rd spiritual habit of a disciple, fellowship. Because I practiced this discipline before the storm, I had dear friends who listened to my complaints, witnessed my struggle, and loaned me their faith. Their patience and God’s long-suffering,
afforded me the time, not to reject Jesus but instead reject the expectations I had of how life should be for a follower of Christ.

My list of expectations is rather short now.

I expect that God will walk me through life, the grace and provisions I need to be more than a conqueror will be supplied. (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:19; Romans 8:37)

I expect that one day I will look back at the terrible times and consider them rather insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) 

I expect that life is difficult and being a follower of Jesus doesn’t protect me from the unpleasant, unwanted things life can bring your way. (Matthew 5:45)

Here’s the good word for this Palm Sunday. When Jesus doesn’t meet your expectations, Reject your expectations.

All Hope is in Jesus

All my hope is in Jesus, not the expectations I have, but in Him. Life may have come crashing down on you. Life is difficult and being a follower of Jesus doesn’t make it any easier. But don’t reject Him, there is nowhere else to go.


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