Palm Sunday is the day that Jesus was recognized as King and Lord by the people of his day. Many people had just witnessed him raise Lazarus from the dead and Jesus’ fame was preceding him into Jerusalem. During much of his ministry, Jesus kept a low profile, telling those who he healed to not tell anyone. But after the spectacle of bringing Lazarus back to life, those who were present to witness this miracle were telling everyone of what they had seen. This set the scene that we all think of when we talk about Palm Sunday. We see Jesus riding on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem and being welcomed by sinners who acknowledge him as King and Lord.
Jesus and the disciples were making their way to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Jewish pilgrims were instructed by God to make the journey to Jerusalem three times a year at appointed times. We find this in Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
Passover was a day of remembrance of when God brought Israel out from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The people of Israel were instructed to sacrifice a lamb, prepare a very specific meal, and eat it in haste on the night that God delivered them. On that night, everyone in the city who did not have the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their doorposts experienced the death of their firstborn. Those who did have the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, experienced the Lord’s pass-over of their home and their firstborns were spared.
The Passover meal is a big deal in Jewish culture. Being good Jewish men, Jesus and his disciples were coming into Jerusalem to celebrate this meal with one another as God had instructed them. You can read the entire account of God giving the original Passover instructions to Moses in Exodus 12. On the heels of the Passover meal, the Israelites were instructed to celebrate a festival of Unleavened Bread. That is, to eat no bread made with yeast in it, because there was no time for the bread to rise on the night of their deliverance from Egypt.
Exodus 12: 17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
For thousands of years, to celebrate this week of remembrance, Jewish families remove the yeast from their homes. This may be where the idea of spring cleaning came from. The women of a household will spend much effort in removing the leaven from the home prior to the Passover celebration. To make it fun for the children, the mother would often leave some leaven on the floor in the kitchen for them to find. The father would light a candle and lead the children through the home in search of any remaining left in the house. The children would find it and it would be removed from the home.
Jesus clears the Temple
We all know the story of how Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people put down their cloaks and palm branches before him. But did you know that it wasn’t long after Jesus entered into Jerusalem that he found the temple filled with people buying & selling (to the pilgrims & foreigners at inflated prices). He flipped those tables and cleared it out. This was an example of Jesus removing the leaven from His Father’s house.
Matthew 21:12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”
A house with leaven is a house that is puffed out and full of pride. A house of prayer is a house of humility and communion with God. And we are now the house of God.
1Peter 2:5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
We now must self-examine what leaven is present within our own lives. This is the season to “clean the house”.
How often are we praying and talking with God? Jesus said that his Father’s house will be called a house of prayer. A house of prayer is in communion with Him daily just as it was at the beginning in Eden.
What are we watching? What are we listening to? What are we permitting into our ear-gate and eye-gates?
What things are we allowing into our homes and lives that are unhealthy for our spiritual walk with God?
What have we allowed into our hearts? This is the place where God now dwells. Our hearts ought to be a most holy place for Him.
Which Jesus do we identify with (donkey riding or table flipping)?
The yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
Jesus spoke to his disciples one time about being mindful of yeast in their lives. The context of this conversation was just after He had fed 4000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish. We pick up the story in Matthew 16:14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
The disciples were looking at the natural things, but Jesus was talking about the condition of their hearts. You see, the Herodians were partnered with the Sadducees. The Sadducees were an aristocratic group who saw devotion to God as a key to blessings in life. They were the ones who controlled the concessions in the temple which sold the animal deemed “acceptable” for sacrifice. They were politically minded and believed that fidelity to God produces tangible, personal wealth. On the other hand, you had the Pharisees who were usually theologically opposed to the Sadducees. They were observers of rules and traditions. They would avoid anything they deemed unholy or defiling. Together, the Pharisees and Sadducees made up the Sanhedrin, the second Temple ruling council.
God's Redemptive Nature
We can see how God has instructed us to remove the leaven from our lives in his direction to keep a yearly memorial of how Israel left Eygpt. We also see how Jesus himself cleared the Temple of the “leaven” just before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The point of the unleavened bread was to illustrate that there was no time for the yeast to cause the bread to rise. In Egypt, time was short and the Israelites were instructed to be ready for The Lord. When Jesus cleared the Temple of those selling goods, the time was short. He was preparing to become the Ultimate Sacrifice for all.
Jesus also cautioned about the yeast of the Sadducees and Pharisees, which can be summed up by saying not to be proud. Don’t be too loose with our spiritual walk so to be corrupted by a political self-serving spirit. Likewise, we are not to be so spiritually compliant that we are stuck in the traditions in man to the point where we are missing the Messiah when He is right in front of us. We cannot separate ourselves from the world just to keep it from influencing us.
Knowing all of this, let’s look at one more time when Jesus spoke about yeast. In the Kingdom we are to be the leaven that influences the world. Matthew 13:33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
In this example, we see that God will gradually influence the world. The Kingdom is a different kind of yeast than that of personal pride. However, it is a yeast of confidence. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about this topic.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
We are to be part of God’s original Genesis mandate, Multiply and Influence.
Adam & Eve were told to multiply and have dominion over the earth Gen 1:28
Noah & family were instructed to multiply and cover the earth Gen 9:1
Jesus’ ascension (Great Commission) multiply and make disciples of all nations. Matt 2816 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Time is short once again today. We need to be ready and prepared for The Lords return. There is no time to be “business as usual” when he is coming back for a Bride without blemish. There is no time like the present for us to prepare ourselves and also influence those around us.
Remove the old leaven
Walk out the Kingdom and be influencers of the whole lump
Celebrate the true Passover Lamb and God’s victory that makes a way for us
Would you like to be used by God to positively impact people around you? As you read stories about Jesus, have you ever dreamed of doing things like he did; encouraging others to live for God, seeing others respond to the message of Heaven, operate in healings and miracles? What if I told you that Jesus made a promise to his followers that empowers them to walk in greater things? Let’s explore this promise and how to walk in inheritance of Jesus’ words.
If the Bible is inerrant and it is the baseline for our theology, then Jesus is the absolute Truth. The things he said and the person he is are the definition of truth. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and nothing about him contradicts them.
Jesus is the Word (John 1). We can trust the word of God, because Jesus personifies the word of God.
The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). When we tell others about the things Jesus said or did, we are functioning in the prophetic. We are also mirroring a job of the Holy Spirit when we testify about Jesus (John 15:26).
Jesus is the Way to the Father (John 14:6). He is the only path to eternal life with God in the kingdom of heaven.
I share these examples of who Jesus is to highlight the fact that we can TRUST his promises. Let’s agree that if Jesus said it, then we can accept it as true. So, here is the promise. It can be found in John 14:2 when Jesus was speaking with his disciples… “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” The context for this promise is Jesus confronting his disciples with the fact that he was leaving this world and returning to the Father.
So, now that we have highlighted the promise I would like to propose some questions for you to think about. Wrestle with these questions and determine for yourself if this promise is worth truly inheriting.
Who is this promise available to? Jesus says that anyone who has faith in him will do what he has been doing. This means that the promise of walking in greater things is available to anyone who believes! It is only limited by those who lack faith.
How to we walk out doing these “greater things” (signs, wonders, miracles, healings)? It is through The Holy Spirit that we can function in supernatural gifting. Jesus actually told his disciples that it was better for them that he return to the Father, so The Holy Spirit would come in his place. It isn’t our own power or ability to heal or release miracles. It is The Holy Spirit at work THROUGH us. All we can do is have faith in Jesus and agree with the words of this promise.
Why were we given such an amazing gift? Well, the truth is that the gift isn’t really for us. Signs, wonders, healings, and miracles are for the purpose of observer. They are evidences that accompany the message of the Kingdom and the gospel of Jesus. Showing the gospel alone does not penetrate the hearts of men. It is the power of God that draws men unto Him (John 6:44).
What shall we conclude from this? Faith in Jesus means much more than being saved from our sin. We certainly celebrate salvation and living victoriously. However, walking in the promise of doing the “greater things” empowers us to live with God’s power on display for His glory. This is the fullness of the Gospel and it is available for you today.
Are you influencing the world or is the world influencing you? I believe that many of us can answer yes to the first question, but how about the second one? How much impact do you have on the area that you live in? Can an entire city become transformed by a single righteous person?
Proverbs 11:11 tells us that “through the blessing of a righteous man a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” We all have a part to play when it comes to making a difference in our community and the lives of those around us. We are all shifting the atmosphere in one direction or another. In order for us to shift the atmosphere in a positive direction, I would like to offer 5 things to remember when influencing positive change:
You are Righteous in God’s eyesonce you have been “born again”
Paul wrote to the Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Father God sees Jesus when He looks at us. He sees a finished work and Jesus’ righteousness, not our own. I believe that when we are in right standing (righteousness) before God that He not only pours out His favor and blessing upon us, but also on those who are in close proximity to us. Maybe that is unsaved family members living in your household or maybe it is a group of people on a plane or bus that you are on. They are all blessed just because you are there, and the favor of God is upon your life. We know from Genesis chapter 18 that Abram pleaded with God for the city of Sodom. God answered Abram in verse 32 saying that He would not destroy the city on account of just ten righteous men. As I look at America and the division that has taken root in this country, I am reminded that there are many more than ten righteous people who love the Lord in this country. There are many people who serve God every day and are walking in love as we are all commanded to do. They are all favored by God and His blessing is also on those around them. God also sees you as righteous and will bless those who are close enough to you to get some of the overflow of His goodness in your life.
2. Guard your heart and mind in Jesus
Do not allow yourself to become distracted by the negative. If the enemy of your soul can get your focus, then it becomes easier for you to entertain or partner with a divisive spiritual climate. Though there is a great deal of focus placed on turmoil by the world culture, there are many good things happening every day all around us. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, anything that is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things and The God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8
Though there is a great deal of focus placed on turmoil by the world culture, there are many good things happening every day all around us.
It is too easy to focus on the polarizing issues of the day and either resign to either a hope-deferred mindset or engage those who do not agree with you in a combative mindset. In America the political spirit has many people (even many Christians) taking sides and opposing those who do not agree with them. The onslaught of political ads during election seasons has become an overwhelming barrage of mud-slinging that produces more of “putting down” the opponent than promoting a candidate’s actual agenda. People are quick to side with those who hold similar views and throw their Christian beliefs aside when engaging the opposition of their political affiliation. Now having said that, I am about to throw some real gas on this fire. There IS a racial and social divide in America. I am sensitive to the fact that there is no doubt the presence of social injustice at work in this country. However, we see all too often where the fires of divisiveness are being stoked by what is shown on TV, talked about on radio, or read about in the news. I see protests for racial, social, and gender equality happening to raise awareness for a cause. In some cases, it inflames the passion of those who do not agree with this form of protest to the point that you wouldn’t even know that they were Christians by reading their posts on social media. The fact that I am even writing this likely has different people responding differently internally, based on their view of what is “right or wrong” in their own eyes. Guard your hearts and minds, beloved. Do not get distracted or engage the trap to pin us against one another.
3.Have a heart for Reconciliation
“God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 1 Corinthians 5:18
We do not need to land on one side or another when it comes to public opinion. Extend grace toward those who do not agree with your views, just as God has extended undeserved grace to you. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 18:21-35. When we make the conscience decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are giving up our right to voice an opinion on who is right and who is wrong. Doing so would be us operating out of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Jesus bled, died, and rose again so that we wouldn’t have to live out of that tree. Instead of partnering with the divisive spirit that is working towards tearing relationships apart, Christians should be rising above political, cultural, and social differences to walk in unity with those who might think differently than them. This does not mean that you must agree with those who oppose your views. There are certainly some non-negotiables to the faith that cannot be ignored. However, Christians should absolutely be motivated by love and not by being “right” concerning their view on a matter. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of tearing one another down.
Being right or wrong doesn’t make you any more or less powerful of a person, but walking in unity with others will always release power. In Genesis 11:6 God Himself says “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this [building the Tower of Babel], then nothing they plan will be impossible for them.” Unity is key to changing the atmosphere in your community. It works both in positive and negative influence.
4. Walk in a Mindset of Hope
Proverbs 13:12 says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Why would you ever want to agree with the hopelessness that you see in today’s news cycle? Stand on the promises of God and remind yourself that God is not capable of lying. Followers of Jesus should be a company of people who live their lives longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled. Jesus himself is a promise fulfiller! Now, the promises of God are a whole other subject that can be discussed at a different time. But you should know what God’s promises are, and you should celebrate when you see them being fulfilled. The second half of Proverb 13:12 says “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Living out of this tree is the gift of God when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. Believe for the greater outcome and see the best in others. Learn to view others through the lens that God sees them through. This may be difficult at first, but it is key to being an agent of change and walking in a mindset of hope.
5. Focus on the one in front of you
So, can one righteous person transform an entire city? I don’t know, but what I do know is that we can all carry personal revival in our hearts. If you have ever been around someone who carries a faith for revival you would agree with me that what they carry is contagious. One person can influence one person and so on. When you begin to believe for something together with others in agreement, there is power released in the spirit. Influence those who are in your sphere of influence and God will grow that sphere. Be a positive influence on those who God has placed around you.
Remember that you are righteous in God’s eyes. Guard your heart so not to be caught up in the things of this world that entice and distract you from your purpose. Walk with a heart of reconciliation and a mindset of hope, seeing the best in others. Be a positive influence on those who God has placed around you and He will cause a “ripple effect”. Being a difference maker starts with a single person who is willing to make a difference. Nothing is impossible for God so imagine how we can collectively transform our cities by coming together in this common purpose. Look around; those around you are already being blessed.