I’m preparing to preach this week for Second Sunday Celebration and it happens to be Palm Sunday. The biblical story is pretty well known – you can read about it in Luke 19. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, after the fashion of a King arriving in peace. The people celebrate by putting on a royal welcome. They praise God, wave branches, put their robes on the ground ahead of the donkey, and they say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The Pharisees tell Jesus to tell the people to be quiet. Jesus warns, “If they are silent, the rocks will cry out.”
Let me reflect on that a bit. The people who were welcoming Jesus so enthusiastically knew some things about him – but there was a lot they didn’t know. They knew he was a prophet. They hoped he’d be their king – and it seemed to them he was declaring himself king. But there was a lot they probably didn’t know. They probably didn’t know he was the Son of God. They probably could not believe that he was God in the flesh. They didn’t know that he was about to die on the cross to take away their sins. They didn’t know he was going to be resurrected. And here’s something I think is even bigger: Most did not know him on a personal level.
But they did know God was up to something wherever Jesus was. They knew that when it came to Jesus, God was close at hand, active, and real.
I believe that has a lot to do with why they were shouting. God was close and they had to speak up. In Jesus, they had something worth passing on, even if it meant making a spectacle of themselves. Even if it meant getting in trouble with the political and religious authorities.
I don’t know how well you know Jesus, but you very likely know more about him and know him better than they did. What do you know about Jesus that excites you, that makes you want to “shout”? If so, you have something from Jesus worth passing on. What is it? Follow on question: how will you share it?
In the first ten verses of I Thessalonians, we read about a group of Christians who were able to pass along something good about Jesus. They received God’s Word when they heard it and they were successfully passing it on. Not only did they hear the Word from Paul, they saw the Word demonstrated in how he lived his life among them. They imitated Paul. They did what he did. Paul learned it from Barnabas – who learned it from Peter – who learned it from Jesus. They passed it on to people in their city and beyond.
Let me reflect on that. Paul gave them something to pass on. First, he demonstrated God’s grace, love, and power. He did God’s works. And he taught them something to believe. He taught them God’s Word. And he showed them how to live it out. He showed them what the Bible calls, The Way. And they were able to do it. They demonstrated God’s Works, shared God’s Word, and lived out God’s Way.
This pattern would repeat itself and continued on. Eventually what they passed on turned the world upside down. Many people learned God’s Works, Words, and Way. And that changed everything. God’s Works, Words, and Way brought light into darkness, gave hope to hopeless, reversed the curse of sin, and led people into life. The gates of hell collapsed against the great force of God’s love, grace, and power working through ordinary people. *History recounts this (and in an era when some suggest that our faith is a force for injustice and intolerance, we should be informed enough to say otherwise).
Now, here’s the connection: If you know something of God’s Works, Word, and Way, then, by golly, you definitely have something worth sharing. How are you sharing it?
I’m convinced we can share it – that you can and I can – and your church can and so can ours. And maybe you are already. But most church folks I know aren’t intentional about sharing. But empowered by God’s Spirit, I know we can do this. We can pass on this thing we’ve been given that is so worth sharing. That’s why we, at FCMC, are starting missional communities. It puts us in fellowship with people doing the Works of Jesus, creates an environment for learning the Words of Jesus, and allows us to recover living the Way of Jesus. And that’s also why were getting people in discipleship huddles. We’re also gaining experience with **specific tools that are helping share what us pass it on. That’s how we’re going to do this. Generally speaking that’s our plan.
Alright – what’s you plan?
* A few recent books that give an idea of the impact of the Christian faith.
- Water from a Deep Well by Gerald Sitzer (like history text with lots of stories)
- The History of the Christian Faith by Tony Starke (more scholarly)
- Who Was This Man by John Ortberg (inspirational, but backed by heavy scholarship)
** Tools that we are finding helpful
- The Alpha Course
- Experiencing God
- Missional Communities. We like what we’re learning from 3dm here. Verge network has great stuff, too.
- Life Shapes – for use in Huddles – Connect with 3dm (weare3dm.com) before diving into this.
- The Tangible Kingdom – great curriculum.
- Oh, and regular exposure to good preaching helps, too.