I. We Know God Most Clearly Through His Son Jesus
“In the past God has spoken to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of heaven.” – Hebrews 1:1-3
Progressive Revelation: Our fullest vision of God only comes when we look to Jesus – God the Son. Jesus himself tells us so.
“The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” – John 12:45
II. The Unexpected Answer To Our “Why?” Question
Where is God in all of this?
The direction this King is riding – this King, who is God on a donkey – is moving toward the danger, so that we could become secure forever.
The “hope that is an Anchor for our souls” is the reality that God came toward the brokenness of the world to deal with our rebellion and sin; to make a way toward New Creation – that all hurts would one day be healed.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, be we also glory in our suffering because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:1-5
The promise that God is here with us in the pain is what we actually need. You are not alone. I’m not alone. We hear this word for us again: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
Our Response: We choose to worship today. Raise your “Hosanna”.
III. The Crying King
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.”
This city – in fact, this world – that Jesus looks over is deeply broken. That’s the whole point of why he rides into the city.
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” – Luke 19:41-42
“…what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” – John 12:27
Courage doesn’t mean “I don’t have any feelings of fear” – it means that there is something you are driven by that is greater than your fear. Jesus, on Palm Sunday, he is troubled in soul. He knows what it feels like to be facing real fear – and yet, and yet, his aim to glorify his Father even in and with that trouble he regards as greater than his fear.
IV. Good Grief – Lament
The Christian faith gives us language of praise and lament – all mixed together. Not one to the exclusion of the other – but both/and.
God’s shoulders are big enough to handle your grief. And it is real grief that many are experiencing in this time.
Some Suggestions for Grieving During This Time:
1. Let yourself grieve.
You’ve lost a lot. Acknowledge that. You and/or your family are losing out on a
lot of things/experiences/events/security. Grieve how you want to: make art;
write; journal; talk; sob; hobby; sleep; join an online support group or forum.
If you find you are grieving self-destructively, ask for help.
2. Let yourself grieve, but don’t indulge in self-pity. Or, if you really have to, set a time limit on it. In my experience there is absolutely nothing helpful that comes from feeling sorry for yourself.
3. Ask for help if you need it. No one can read your mind. You’ll find someone who is happy to help. You are not weak if you ask for help. You are wise.
4. You are not your job. This one takes time to process. Be patient with this one if you have lost your job or are temporarily removed from it; it’s hard to lose what seems to be part of your identity.
1. Guided By God’s-Word: Psalm 42
Take a moment to sit with your real grief, and bring it before God:
“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long “Where is your God?” (v.3)
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (v.5).
2. The Grief is Real – So is the Praise that Accompanies It
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:5 and 11
Where is God in all of this? Palm Sunday answers it. Yes, in the waving branches. They point to a reality – that Jesus really is the King, that he really does deserve all the praise, and that the rocks would cry out in praise if the people stopped.
But it is also in tears of King Jesus, crying out over the brokenness of the world, and especially when those he came to rescue will not receive the peace he offers.
Where is God in all of this? God is riding toward the pain – troubled in soul, but going still, for you.
Life Group Discussion:
1. Take a few minutes to just check in with your group. What have been some highlights from this week? What have been some challenges?
2. We looked at Romans 5:1-5 in our message. Read it together. How does that message challenge you or comfort you (or both!) during this time?
3. In his message, Pastor Dave noted that in Jesus, God experiences suffering in real ways – he weeps over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus will endure real pain when he goes to the cross, and therefore is “troubled in spirit”, yet he presses into this suffering anyways. This relational, emotional experience of God does not, however, deny what theologians call the “impassibility of God.” Divine impassibility does not mean that God is “unmoved” by human suffering, but that God is not forced or manipulated into feeling grief, but rather, out of his own love God chooses to experience grief. God suffers, but his suffering does not come upon him in the way ours does; his suffering is “foreknown, willed, chosen by himself, and not involuntary surprises from outside,” to quote J.I. Packer (“What do you mean when you say God?” Christianity Today 30 (September, 1986).
- How does the doctrine of divine impassibility – the reality that God’s suffering is chosen – actually highlight God’s love? (See also Romans 5:8; John 10:17-18)
- What does it mean for you to know that God has voluntarily chosen to let himself undergo the suffering of the cross?
- What might that say to your current experience during our time of crisis?
4. Psalm 42 includes the taunt “Where is your God?” How has that been your question, or the question of those around you? How, based on the message from Luke 19, is God answering that?
5. Read Psalm 42 together
a. Take a few moments to name the ways you are grieving during this time. Share them with your group.
b. Take a few moments to then give praise to God Use this reflection to guide and direct your time of prayer together. Also, take time to remember those in our community who are suffering, in need of encouragement, or in need of continued stamina and courage (I think of healthcare providers and other essential service workers).