Apr 10 2022 Palm Sunday - How to have Peace
10th April 2022
Luke 19:29 29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 "If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say, 'The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them.33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" 34 They said, "The Lord has need of it." 35 They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.37 As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting: "BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!“ 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40 But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!" 41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 "For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."45 Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 saying to them, "It is written, 'AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,' but you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN."
We will be looking at Luke’s story of Palm Sunday
Lord, we do need You. You have forgiven us of our sins. You are the God of peace in a world that needs peace. We need peace in our hearts. The world needs peace. There is a lack of that. We ask for peace in Ukraine, praying for those who are suffering there – we pray that the violence would end. We pray for peace in each of our hearts. You are the source of our peace.
In the ancient Roman world, if a king or ruler was making an official visit to a city, there were protocols that would be followed. What Jesus does – He, as He enters Jerusalem, enters with similarities of how a king or ruler would enter on an official visit, but there are some significant differences. He does this – the whole Palm Sunday thing is purposefully planned, although He didn’t control the crowd’s reaction – He was trying to make a point.
The biggest difference – He came in on a donkey (humility and service) – as opposed to a white horse (power and conquest). And that is what I talk about every Palm Sunday. I also recently discovered that the donkey is a symbol of PEACE – and we learn that PEACE plays a primary role in Palm Sunday and in Luke’s gospel.
The other thing I recently noticed – Luke’s account of Palm Sunday is very different from the other three gospels. One of the most significant ‘omissions’ – there are NO PALM BRANCHES! Someone should have told him – LUKE! This is PALM Sunday!
37 the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully… 38 shouting: "BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!“
What is missing? Hosanna! We have a banner back here – with Palm Branches and the word Hosanna – And Luke had omitted both of them!
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!“
We could go back to the beginning of Luke’s gospel – and there is this baby being born and shepherds in the field and the angel says – On earth, PEACE among those with whom God is pleased! And the last week of his life begins with these words – PEACE in heaven.
This is no coincidence. There is something important that Jesus has to say.
In between 37 and 41 – the Pharisees tell him to tell the disciples to be quiet…
41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
Then he goes into the destruction of the temple. This is the issue that Luke wants to focus on. Luke probably wrote at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. In the midst of a violent, chaotic time in their lives – what it looks like to be people of peace in a violent world.
Now what Jesus is telling the people of Israel – you had your opportunity for peace and you didn’t understand it and lost it. They rejected Him as the Messiah – that was their opportunity and they either didn’t see it or rejected it.
As a result of that rejection – Jesus looks forward to the destruction and collapse of the nation of Israel, gone for almost 2000 years.
In the churches – there would have been Christians and Jews living together – and He is teaching them about this peace – which is different from the nation of Israel, as Israel would be revolting against Rome, and Jesus was teaching turning the other cheek and peace that is alien to the world. Peace that is based on loving one’s enemies is foreign to everyone’s way of thinking.
Rome – had plaques about the Peace of Rome (Pax Romana) – but how did they do it? Through power.
As I searched through my Bible programs, I was shocked at the role that peace plays throughout the Bible! Especially in the New Testament
I teach a lot on grace, love, faith, service, and humility – but how often have I taught about PEACE? (Well, you have to on Christmas Eve – you know, peace on earth!)
And I did some research and there are so few books on peace. There are all kinds of books on grace – but the ones on peace are about pacifism – like, can a Christian serve in the military?
But there are four aspects of peace that need to be proclaimed.
God is often referred to as the God of Peace.
Peace is a core aspect of the character of God. It is foundational to the nature of God. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Peace. So it is core to the person and the work of Jesus.
It is also a core characteristic of the gospel! And in the bible, it is a core characteristic of the church community.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
First aspect of peace? Having peace with God. Reconciliation – having our relationship with God restored through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.
Until Christ, we were enemies of God – but we were reconciled through the death of Jesus. Romans 5:10
Peace with God is foundational to all the other forms of peace. Without peace with God, there will be no peace in our world. They have not been able to achieve peace because humanity cannot have peace with one another until humanity has peace with God – and when we have peace with God, we can enter into peace with one another.
The second aspect of Peace – it is a core characteristic of the gospel.
Ephesians 1 – reconciliation with God – through 2:10 or 11 – then in Ephesians 2:14 he makes a switchover to talk about peace in the church.
Ephesians 2: 14 For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who made both groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross
So then, in chapters 2-3, God brought people together in peace through the cross – and then in Chapter 4 – peace and unity in a diverse community (the church) – and then in 5 – family relationships – and in 6 – he talks about spiritual warfare….
Peace peace peace warfare! Then He says these words:
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (Eph 6:15 NAS)
Peace is core to the gospel. The gospel is about our reconciliation with God, but the gospel is also about our reconciliation with one another! How often have you shared it that way? Not often, I’m sure, but Paul certainly does.
Third – the Church – the Church community needs to be a place and community of peace in a world of conflict, violence, and animosity.
Luke wrote this biography of Jesus – but He is also writing a theological letter of those who are following Jesus – and they are living in a time of conflict and animosity – and He is teaching them to follow Christ in this time of conflict and animosity.
Romans 14: 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit… 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
What is going on – there are big arguments between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians – and this was core conviction stuff where they had strong opinions – deeply held convictions – and he says -
Romans 14: 17b but righteousness (justice) and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit… 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
This is what the kingdom of God is about. What we need to do – to pursue peace. One way to do that, Paul is saying, is asking what disrupts peace in our context? Then don’t do them! The things that disrupt peace are not the kingdom of God! They may be important and things we have strong convictions about. Some churches are charismatic – some are not! That is fine! Some are nonviolent pacifists! Some are not.
But what Paul is saying – focus on the things that matter – and so many of those other things do not matter.
I would describe our biggest need in this world – when it comes to these kinds of things – there is an attitude that needs to change. People think a certain kind of Christian is the only kind of Christian.
A Christian that only thinks a certain way about things are the only people who can be considered Christian. But since the church existed, there are Christians that have disagreed about so many different things – yes, we must agree on the personhood of Jesus Christ – and His work on the cross – read the Creeds – it does not take long to list the things that really matter!
Paul is saying – outside of the gospel and the person and work of Christ – we should never allow whether you eat this or that (for us it is small – for them it was huge) to bring strife and division.
Peace is not passive.
To be a person of peace, we have to be active – it takes a lot of work and activity to produce peace in a community. If we are passive, there will always be a destruction of peace.
1 Thess 5: 13 Live in peace with one another.
All of the epistles have problems with people not having peace. Even Philippians – there is that little phrase – tell those two leading women to have peace with one another.
Learn to live in peace with one another. This is so desperately needed in the church today.
As Christians – we are in the world and need to live at peace with other Christians as well.
14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, (peace does not mean that there is not time for confrontation or correction)
And some of you say Yay! But how do we do that? How do we correct and confront? With encouragement, help, and patience:
encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
That is what it means to live for peace.
The final aspects of peace: We need to learn to possess internal peace…
Be anxious for nothing… then he says -
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:7 NASB)
This is all about relational conflict and finding peace!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Col 3:15 NASB)
We think about having peace in our hearts when we make a decision – and that is fine, but the context of this is relationships and conflict!
Internal conflict creates external conflict.
We live in anxious times. Many of you probably don’t watch the news anymore because you are just done with it! We live in an anxious, divided time. Social media – some of you are done with that! Political division – some of you are done with that!
We all need to improve in resolving internal conflict – we need help – maybe from God, a friend, or maybe it is professional help.
Any measure of peace must start internally. Let's pray...