Saturday, March 19, 2005

Palm Sunday Exhortation

(Matthew 21:14-17) And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Although little children were not highly regarded in Jesus’ day, he always welcomed them as true members of his kingdom and the proper recipients of his blessings. When his own disciples tried to shoo the little children away, Jesus rebuked his followers saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” And then, as if to illustrate what he was saying, he took the wee-ones up in his arms, “put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

And on the day of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus chose the little children to serve as his royal heralds; to announce to the people assembled in the Temple courts, that the Son of David had come to claim his rightful place on David’s throne.

When the Jewish leaders heard the testimony of the little children they were incensed, and inquired harshly of Jesus, “Do you hear what those children are saying?” One can easily imagine Jesus replying with something like, “Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?” But we know for certain that Christ confused and confounded those religious hypocrites by pointing out that although they, as full-grown adults, had read the scriptures that described in detail what the children were doing (and its glorious effects) they still could not understand what was going on. While those little children, who had not read the scriptures, had correctly identified Jesus as the Son of David and were giving him the praises due God’s anointed One.

Jesus actually quoted, with a slight modification, a well know verse from Psalm 8. The Psalmist wrote that God had ordained military might to issue forth from the mouths of babes and sucklings. But when Jesus quoted the verse he said that God had ordained praise from the mouths of babes and sucklings. Which is it you say? Well, thankfully we don’t have to choose. Because according to the Bible, praise is military might, and true worship is the surest path to true victory. A few examples will suffice: Recall that Joshua retraced Abraham’s previous journey through the promised land, conquering with the sword that which Abraham had subdued and secured with altars and centers of worship. Joshua took the great walled city of Jericho with a mobile worship service of sorts, and King Jehoshaphat sent the choir out to battle ahead of his army.

As always, God delights to use the humblest of means to secure the greatest of victories so that He will receive all the praise, all the honor and all the glory when the victory is complete. So please stand with me and and let us sing Psalm 2. And as we sing together this afternoon, listen to the sounds of true praise and military might being sung all around you. Listen for the sound of the little voices, the stammering tongues, the lisping words and the belated amens of the little saints. And by faith, hear the bastions of unbelief up and down this valley crumbling at the sound of their tiny voices, and the very gates of hell splintering as they are battered by the sweet music of their psalms, hymns, creeds and prayers. Listen to their testimony and learn from the lesser, for in some respects they are your greaters.

And if you can’t hear all that, then hear this, “Let the little ones come to Jesus, forbid them not. For of such is the kingdom of God.”

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