Praising God (Palm Sunday)

Based on a sermon from 10th April 2022

I’m sure that you have been in a situation like this…

Imagine that you are sat around a table with good friends, a mix of children and adults, that you haven’t seen for a while.  You have so much to tell about what has being going on in your life.  You start to talk, but one of the children interrupts, “I have something to say.”

“Just a minute. When I’m finished,” you reply, and you continue sharing what God has done in your life.  Then another adult starts talking, sharing how they have seen prayers answered in their life.

“Is it my turn yet?” the child who interrupted earlier asks. “Because I want to tell you about my report.”

“We’re almost done,” one of adults says.  The child lets out a big sigh and rolls their eyes!

Eventually, it is their turn. “Finally!” they exclaim. “I’ve been waiting forEVer,” and they launch into an enthusiastic explanation of their school report and what they had discovered in their recent project.  Had they not talked at that point, they would have burst in, unable to contain themselves any longer.

Have you ever felt that way with God?  Unable to contain your praise because of all He’s done?  Yet, often what God has done in our lives is so completely worthy of praise, that we don’t notice it, and we miss the opportunity for sweet worship with God in His Throne Room.

Palm Sunday is a day of praise, and we’re now entering the week of Easter, Holy Week.  As we journey with Jesus we begin with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus loved the city of Jerusalem, and every year He would go into the city as a visitor, participating in the annual Passover feast.

On this occasion as Jesus entered Jerusalem, He did not come as a visitor but as a King to many.  So here we have Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on a colt of a donkey.  The response was amazing; the crowds were celebrating.  They were laughing.  They were cheering.  They were having a great time.

They were shouting,  

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ (Matthew 21)

‘Hosanna!’

‘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!’ (Mark 11)

 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ (Luke 19)

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

What does Hosanna mean?  It’s a Hebrew expression meaning “Save”.

What does blessed mean?  The word blessed is from the Greek word makarios, which means to be happy or blissful, but it also means a self-contained happiness.  This word has the idea that our happiness is independent of our circumstances.  It is self-contained, meaning that regardless of what is happening to us externally, we can be truly happy internally.  We can be genuinely blessed as followers of Jesus Christ.

This is what the crowd were feeling and experiencing and knowing deep in their knower!  That Jesus saves, and regardless of their circumstances they were truly internally happy.

When we’re experiencing such emotions there can sometimes be someone who questions why we are so happy.  It’s as if they have a bucket of cold water ready to throw over us!

If the Pharisees in the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem to such adulation had a bucket of cold water, that is what they would have done to the crowd, thrown it over them!

They said to Jesus:

“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:39-40).

But what did Jesus mean by saying “the very stones would cry out “?  Now, it wasn’t that Jesus was saying the stones would actually come alive and shout with conscious praise.  But it’s not that God couldn’t cause stones to cry out.  In fact, God uses creation in amazing ways in the Bible.  Remember when Jesus breathed His last on the cross, the earth quaked.  Rather He was saying,

“Don’t you get it? They have to praise me.  They have recognised the significance of me riding into Jerusalem on a never-before-ridden colt, what it really means, and they cannot contain their joy!”

There was great joy in the atmosphere.  The proper and only response was to praise Jesus.  No matter how hard the people could have tried to suppress it, eventually it would have burst out in an uncontrollable way because the presence of God was so powerful and tangible that they just couldn’t help themselves.  They were experiencing a time of “freedom”, of renewal, praising God with heart, body, mind, soul and spirit.

Even if, … no, especially if, you are going through a rough patch, find the reason to praise God.  Then praise Him with all you have left in you, and see if it doesn’t make you feel better, and watch how God will start to work in your life.

What has God done in your life that is worthy of praise?

Living thoughts

This is your opportunity to spend time alone with God.  The more time you spend with Him the more you will get to know Him as He reveals more of who He is to your heart, soul and spirit.  This time will be personal and wholly unique to your faith journey with Him.

Read again the two passages from Scripture: Psalm 118:1-2 & 19-29 & Luke 19:18-40, and let them speak to you afresh in light of Jesus’ joyful entry into Jerusalem.  As God speaks to you why not write down in your journal, what you sense God is saying to you.

The benefit of writing down your thoughts helps you to check them against Scripture, and then plants them more firmly in your heart and mind than just simply thinking on things.

When you can’t not praise God

Enjoy this time with the Lord. Reflect on or journal about the following questions, listening for what God has to say to you.

1. What if you don’t feel like praising?  Some days life is so hard that praise is the last thing we want to do. We feel like we have little to be thankful for.  Although the two are closely intertwined, praise can be distinguished from thanksgiving.  Think of praise as saying back to God who He is.  “I praise you for your faithfulness. I praise you that you are holy and true.  You are my rock and my salvation.”  If you’re struggling to praise today, open up your Bible or Bible app to Psalm 147 and read it out loud.  Let it remind you who God really is.

2. Go ahead and give thanks!  What are you thankful for today?  Take time to quieten your soul and spirit and let God bring to mind the things He has done in your life.  Do any surprise you?  Thank and praise God for all He is and all He is doing in your life and the lives of people around you.

3. It’s time to get your worship on!  Choose one or all of the songs to listen to on YouTube, or come back to these songs throughout the week.  They have the power to lift your spirits!

  • Holy, holy, holy is the Lord (Anon)
  • This Is Amazing Grace (Phil Wickham)
  • The One Who Saves (Hillsong)