IT IS FINISHED: PALM SUNDAY
On Palm Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson began our new series “It Is Finished,” and talked about the importance of Palm Sunday and letting go of the weights and sin that ensnare us. Just as in Mark 11, the donkey was found in the doorway, we often times find ourselves in the doorway of our destiny waiting for someone to untie us.
Hebrews 12:1-4 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We tend to carry weights and hold on to sin that Jesus already took care of. Weights are the things we’ve picked up along the way that could be, but are not necessarily sins. Yet, they ensnare us. When you are ensnared by something, it’s not a trap you’ve set yourself. It’s a trap set by someone else. Have you ever walked into the sin of others? Have you ever been offended at someone because of how they offended someone else? Have you been the result of abuse? Those are entanglements caused by others. Even though there are times where offense may be justified (and in no way do we downplay the pain of abuse), but at some point we must surrender the pain to Jesus so we can walk in freedom. Right before Jesus died he said, “It is finished,” meaning “paid in full.” He’s paid for all of our sin, pain, sickness and anxiety. Therefore, we no longer have to be mastered by it. If Jesus took care of it of it all, why do we still deal with the ramifications of things? Because we are always in the process of renewing our minds. We must ask God to teach our minds to believe His word. By holding on to the sins and the weights that Jesus died to set us free from, we are allowing the devil to win a war he’s already lost. Believe what He says and walk in freedom. It may feel like you are faking it at first, but the more you renew your mind and decide to believe His word over your emotions the more freedom you will receive.
In order to get free from snares that others have set, we have to allow others to untie us. This was the case for the donkey in Mark 11:1-13:
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
First of all, how crazy is it that the disciples just automatically went and stole the colt, no questions asked? That would be like Pastor Jeremy asking two of his staff to go steal the Toyota Prius across the street and if the cops asked them what they were doing they would say, “Pastor Jeremy needs it” and drive off. The significance of this moment for the disciples should be noted. In past situations the disciples would always question Jesus, but at this point they had seen him raise Lazarus from the dead days after his death, they had seen the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and they had seen sickness leave peoples bodies. They had seen the authority Jesus carried, so when He asked them to do something, no matter how crazy it seemed, they did it. There are things that God will call you to do that your rational mind cannot calculate or understand.
When we read this story, we usually see ourselves in the role of the disciples, but what about the donkey? It says that they found him in a doorway. When you’re standing in a doorway, you are in the in-between. You’re not going forward and you’re not going backward; you’re just stagnant. One foot in and one foot out. How often have we felt this way regarding our destiny? As funny as it may sound, that donkey was destined to be in that doorway. He was prophesied about hundreds of years before he got there. His destiny was to carry the Lord into Jerusalem just as it was prophesied. Sometimes to get where we are going we need people to untie us so that we can move forward beyond the things that have entangled us. When the disciples began to untie the donkey some bystanders asked them why they were untying him. The same thing happens to us when we try and walk out our destiny. People start asking, “Why are you doing that?” They try to keep us tied to the in-between. Allow yourself to be untied by people whose goal is to propel you into your destiny. When we live a life untied, we walk out the destiny of God and fulfill prophesies as we do it.
One of God’s main goals for us is that we would bear fruit. All of this was happening in Bethpage, meaning “land of unripe fruit” which is in contrast with Bethany, which means “ripe fruit.” Later on in Mark 11:12-14 it says, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”
Later on, they go back by the fig tree and it had shriveled up. Figs grow on palm trees and unlike other trees, fig trees bear fruit before the leaves are produced so when you see leaves, fruit is expected. Jesus didn’t curse the tree because it was barren. He cursed it because it was faking. It looked like it should be bearing fruit, but it wasn’t. This was just before he went into the temple and saw people using it to sell animals for sacrifices. He wasn’t concerned about things being sold in the temple; he was concerned about the hearts of the people. This was symbolic of the fact that he wasn’t satisfied with the laying down of leaves without the fruit because one day the people are laying down leaves yelling “Hosanna,” and the next they are yelling “Crucify Him!” He doesn’t want the flattery of the leaves; He wants the fruit of our lives.
Allow those around you to untie you and cover you with their love just as the donkey was covered with the disciples’ cloaks. You were never designed to walk this journey alone. Even if you think you are alone, you’re not. We are surrounded by a great a cloud of witnesses watching us glorify Jesus with our lives. Jesus’ death and resurrection enabled us to walk in complete freedom and bear fruit in every season. Only the facade of shame can keep you from your destiny because shame has been defeated. Ask the Lord to match your thoughts with His thoughts and to surround you with people who will catapult you into who you are called to be!