2 Samuel 1:1-16; John 12:9-19; Psalms 118:8-18; Proverbs 25:1-5
NT: “Then a large crowd of the Jews learned he was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, the one he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests had decided to kill Lazarus also, because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus. The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him. They kept shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written: Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt… Meanwhile, the crowd, which had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify. This is also why the crowd met him, because they heard he had done this sign. Then the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”” (John 12:9-15, 17-19 CSB)
Political maneuvering is not something new. It has been around as long as sin has been around. The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus’ increasing popularity and influence and had already decided they must destroy Him to maintain their position and power. But after Jesus very publicly raised Lazarus from the dead, just getting rid of Jesus was not enough. They had to “cancel” Jesus and they had to “cancel” Lazarus whose mere existence now proved that Jesus was no ordinary man. Passover was a celebration commemorating the time when God moved miraculously and rescued Israel from enslavement to Egypt. I imagine that Passover probably stoked the faith of Jews all over the world to believe once again for God’s deliverance. People from all over the region making pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover and the recent news of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead combined to form the perfect storm of faith. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the crowds, filled with hope and renewed faith, began singing and shouting, “Hosanna!” Which means save us now, Lord! God had been their strength, salvation, and song once before… and they had reason to believe that Jesus was God’s strength and salvation come to them once again… and the Pharisees would not have it.
Psalms: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humanity. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles. All the nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I destroyed them… They pushed me hard to make me fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly! The Lord’s right hand is raised. The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!” I will not die, but I will live and proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord disciplined me severely but did not give me over to death.” (Psalms 118:8-10, 13-18 CSB)
After generations of unfaithfulness and idolatry, God disciplined the nation of Israel by allowing them to be conquered by Babylon, taken into captivity, and the temple to be destroyed. Some 70 years later, about 50,000 Jews were allowed to return to the land under the leadership of Zerubbabel. They began rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem and the temple, but were later thwarted by threats from surrounding nations. It wasn’t until some 16 years later that efforts resumed under the ministry of prophets like Zechariah and the grace of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Zechariah’s prophetic word to Zerubbabel was “Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord… You will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of grace!” (Zechariah 4:6-7) Hundreds of years earlier, at the birth of the nation of Israel, the people were trapped between the Red Sea and a charging Egyptian cavalry and charioteers. God moved mightily, made a way where there was no way, and delivered the fledgling nation from utter destruction. On the other side of the sea, Israel lifted up a song of victory and sang, “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” (Exodus 15:2) It is always easier to put your trust in resources that you can see, hear, and touch, than it is to place faith in an unseen God. As real as tangible things may seem, they all have limits. God, though unseen, is more real than the natural world and has no limitations. When we are willing and able to set aside trust in what we see, know and understand, and place our trust squarely on God – He moves on our behalf, gives us the strength we need, and leads us to victory. Through being our strength and our salvation, He becomes our song… He becomes both the subject of our songs and the very reason we are able to sing songs of joy and victory in the first place. Fast forward to today… Much like Israel of old, time and time again, we have forsaken our trust in God’s word, will, and ways and have instead placed our trust and misguided hope in people, political platforms and political parties. We look to government to save us instead of God… and look where that has gotten us. Meanwhile, God searches throughout the world for men and women who will worship Him authentically and place their faith and trust in Him completely, so that He may make them strong, bring salvation through them, and bring glory to His name. Our only hope is faith in Christ and obedience to His word, will, and ways. Allow God to do wonders through you and let Him not only be your strength… but become your song.