Day Thirty-Five of Lent
April 9, 2019
By MB Discipleship
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Psalm 113:3-4
The poetry of the Psalms can help move our hearts to wonder and to worship. Here, we read the Psalmist expressing God’s majesty; God is worthy to be praised from the East to the West – everything from horizon to horizon acts beautifully when it praises the name of God. God’s glory is exalted over all nations across time, no matter how grand, innovative, or powerful; God’s glory transcends the wonders visible through the Hubble telescope.
God spun the universe into being, watches over the birth and end of stars and galaxies, and became flesh, dwelling among us, as John 1 says; as Eugene Peterson paraphrased, God “moved into the neighborhood.”
The beauty and tragedy of Palm Sunday is that the citizens of Jerusalem were celebrating Jesus, and rightly so; but they were celebrating him because of what they hoped he would do, which was to free Jerusalem and the surrounding nation from the power of the Roman Empire. When we read this Psalm, we read of God who is worthy of worship and praise. So the people of Palm Sunday are responding rightly to Jesus; responding rightly, but for the wrong reasons.
It is possible to praise and worship God but to do so because of what we think God will do for us. What a painful reminder! But as we head toward Palm Sunday, which introduces Holy Week, we come face to face with the many ways humans can fall short. Sometimes we do the right thing for the wrong reason.
Have you ever approached God thinking that God will do something specific for you? When you attend church, or give charitably, or extend hospitality, do you do so expecting God to benefit you in some way? It was understandable for the people of Jerusalem to want a leader for an uprising who would challenge Rome’s occupancy of the region. But Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was about so much more than the politics and government of the time; the people simply couldn’t see that in their desperation for immediate political freedom.
If we worship God expecting God to give us what we want in the immediate circumstances, we may be disappointed – because our focus is on the wrong thing. If we worship God because God is good, because God is love, because God is holy and powerful and just, we are not only worshiping God, we are submitting to the reality that sometimes God is doing bigger things than we can see today – and that how we benefit may be secondary to the redemptive work of God creatively transforming human lives.
*Do you follow Jesus? Do you worship God? Why?