Monday, March 21, 2016
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“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.” God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says, “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.” Isaiah 42:1-9(NLT)
Isaiah’s prophecy is a sobering thought for people who cheered Jesus into town on Palm/Passion Sunday. The expectations of Jerusalem having a strong leader who would kick the Roman government occupiers down the road were high, and caused great joy and celebrating. That celebrating also got the attention of heaven.
God had flatly said through the prophet, that Messiah would not come (the first time) as a warrior. Another prophet, Zechariah told them what to expect:
Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt. Zechariah 9:9(NLT)
They got the rejoicing right; they even saw him riding on the donkey; they entirely missed the humble part amidst their nationalistic pride of clamoring for a powerful leader who would “make Jerusalem great again”. Isaiah’s prophecy said to look for a Messiah who would be “righteous and victorious,” but God declared he would be gentle, and not even “raise his voice in public”.
It’s hard to imagine any leader today seeking election to high office without a limousine caravan, swaggering fanfare, cameras rolling, bands pounding out the beat, and selfies taken with adoring followers by the truckload, followed by speeches thundering out promises of doom to the enemy and prosperity around every corner.
By contrast the leadership of Jesus was to the blind, lame, hungry and those in prison. That in no way compares with what passes for “leadership” in capitols around the world. Yet, that may be a good thing, so that, in the end, we can still see the contrast between what God declares, and what man thinks he declares.
Did you hear about the mouse and the elephant that were good friends? They came to an old wooden bridge across a river. The mouse was afraid of heights, so he scampered up on the elephant’s back and crawled in behind his left ear flap so he couldn’t see down. When they got safely to the other side, the mouse emerged from his hiding spot and looked back at the old rickety bridge shaking and swaying, and declared:
Wow…we really shook that old bridge! WE, smiled the elephant?
We humans play-out our plans for glory, fame and prosperity a little like a mouse, claiming we have done great things. And we do so in plain view of a God much bigger than an elephant; a God who is really in charge, setting up governments – and taking them down. It is amazing what arrogance and presumption we have standing in full view of a God who assures us He will not share his glory with anyone.
Holy Week demands we take a step back from so-called earthly glory, and take a hard, sobering reality check, so we can see true glory, the kind that isn’t fazed in the least by praise, bluster and poll numbers.
It’s important to come aside and pray this week. A week of quiet, calm and reflection is good preparation for the reversal of the crowds on Good Friday. Going from “hero” to “zero” because you didn’t meet the expectation of the crowds is a distinct possibility.
Just ask the candidates who have dropped out so far.