Posted by: Veroni Kruger | July 20, 2021

How Shall I Pray?

We are experiencing times of uncertainty and for some, anxiety.  Repeatedly we are called to pray.  Pray for South Africa, pray for the world, pray…   As we pray for many things and people around us, I believe God wants us to do some serious introspection.  

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them a model prayer which would be good for us to look at.  The prayer is found in Matthew 6.9-13 and Luke 11.2-4.  

The prayer can be divided into three sections.  It is significant that only one of these three is devoted to asking for our needs:  For daily provision, forgiveness for our sins, protection in temptation.  The other two are devoted to focusing on God.  In the first one:  Our Father, that He should be honoured, his kingdom come and that his will be done.  In the third section:  Glorifying God as the one to whom the kingdom, and the power and the glory belong.

The prayer establishes our recognition of God for who He really is.  Correctly interpreted it also speaks to us about our own relationship to God, and how we live our lives. 

Addressing God as our “our Father” recognizes our belonging to Him as his children.  It also recognizes that he is not only our Father, but the Father of all mankind, even of those with whom we find it difficult to associate, or may even be violently opposed to.  “Who is in heaven” highlights the fact that He is far above us in every way.  Yet we know that He is also on the earth, and in fact, lives in each one of us. 

As pious as the opening three petitions may sound, they should inspire us to self-examination:  Before I can in all honesty pray for God to be honoured, I should make sure that I honour Him.  There is something hypocritical in praying that God’s kingdom should come before I make sure I crown Him as king of my life, living under his control.  It’s no good praying that his will be done in the world without submitting myself to his will.  

We find great comfort in confessing the attributes of God expressed in the last section of the prayer.  Yet, once again, we are compelled to examine ourselves.

“For yours is the kingdom” – You are the King – May your kingdom come  – firstly in my own life, then in the people and circumstances about whom/which I am praying.

“Your is the power” – You are Almighty – may your will be done – firstly in my own life, then in the people and circumstances about whom/which I am praying.

“To you belongs all glory” – You are everything implied under “May your holy name be honoured – I honour you for who you really are, not for what you do for me, or what I expect you to do for me.    

Rather than demanding that God should change everything around us, let us ask Him to change us before anything else, and let us become agents of change emanating from our own lives to everyone around us.  Let us be willing agents of change.

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | June 23, 2021

Nothing Endures Except Change

The title of today’s blog post is a quote from Heraclitus (540-480BC).

I my previous blog post I wrote that sanctification is a process that begins when we are born again and continues until we die or Christ returns.  Today I want us to look at the three changes in the life of a Christian.

Being born again is a lifechanging event, literally.  It is so invasive that there are psychologists that declare that a change like we believe happens when we are born again, is impossible.  However, Scripture refers to this lifechanging event in no uncertain terms:  God promises “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36.26).  Paul declares “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5.17, NLT)

These Scriptures certainly speak of a radical change in a person’s make-up. 

Being born again is the introduction to the second change in the life of a believer.  The process of sanctification whereby we are transformed to become more like Christ is not as immediate as regeneration, but even more lifechanging.  Paul speaks of coming to faith in the Lord as having a veil removed.  He continues:  “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  (2 Corinthians 3.18 NLT)

This process is possible when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about the changes necessary to transform us into the image of Christ.  As we recognize the glory of the Lord, and seek to reflect it, the Holy Spirit goes about effecting the changes.  Recognizing God’s glory comes about through reflection on his Word and spending time with Him in prayer.  That is, prayer as meditating on the Word, and seeking to find the will of God rather than trying to persuade Him to do as we wish He would.

The third and final change in the life of the believer is as dramatic as the first two, but will take place in a moment.  

Paul writes:  “… We will all be transformed.  It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.”  (1 Corinthians 15.51, 52 NLT)

John writes about the same event:  Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as he really is.” (1 John 3.2)

John adds advice that seems to be absolutely logical:  “And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.”  (1 John 3.3). This refers to our role in sanctification:  Doing our best to live the kind of life that Jesus would live through us.

Paul gives us benchmarks by which we can measure our own transformation:  “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  (Galatians 5.22-23) 

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | June 9, 2021

The Normal Christian Life

Now that we have gone through the exciting times of Easter and Pentecost, we are “back to normal,” whatever that means.  “Normal” in the life of God’s people is sanctification.  Sanctification is not being perfect.  Rather, it is a process that begins at regeneration and continues till the end of our lives or the Second Coming of Christ, whichever comes first.     

Without mentioning the word sanctification, Jesus pinpoints the source where sanctification happens:  the heart.

“A healthy tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a poor tree bear good fruit.  Every tree is known by the fruit it bears; you do not pick figs from thorn bushes or gather grapes from bramble bushes.  A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

(Luke 6.43-45)

The semantic focus in the use of terms for “the heart” in the Bible is clearly the deeper and more intimate feelings and emotions.  It is the causative source of a person’s psychological life, out of which everything we do is determined.  The heart is the center of a person’s intellectual and emotional make-up.

It is the fountain of everything in our behavior

That is why the great commandment is to “love the Lord your God with your whole heart.” (Matthew 22:37)

To live a sanctified life, we need a transformation of the heart.

Some problems we may encounter along the way:

Jeremiah says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17.9).

We often find it hard to truly know our own heart. 

The heart is the receptacle of all disappointments, disillusionments, discouragements, and hurts of all our years – they say we never really forget anything!

We often get so caught up in things of our past that we don’t focus on what needs to change now. 

We go wrong when we think we have to be like someone else.  Actually God wants you to be yourself but dedicated to Him.

Submission to God does not mean we become mere shadows of ourselves – it means we dedicate all our uniqueness to Him.

THE GOOD NEWS:  GOD CAN CHANGE THE HEART

He sees our inner person. 

“I am he who searches people’s feelings and desires” (Revelation 2:23).

He shows us where we should change

By his Word

Hebrews 4.12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” 

By his Spirit

 John 16.13 – He will “guide us into all truth”, also about ourselves.

Through circumstances

One translation of the events surrounding King Hezekiah says God allowed him to be tested, so that Hezekiah would know everything that was in his heart.

God can also change our heart.

Ezekiel 36.26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” 

2 Corinthians 3.18  “We … are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory….”

GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE A CHANGE OF HEART – DO YOU?

Romans 8.29 “God …. predestined (us) to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” – that means to be like Jesus.  And when He appears, He will instantly change us to be like Him! (1 John 3.2)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | May 19, 2021

What is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit?

The internal work of the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer.  Whereas in the Old Testament persons received a special anointing for a specific task, in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is the permanent indwelling presence of God Himself.  This is the result of receiving the Holy Spirit – see John 20.22 and my previous blog.

There is also an external aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit.  After the event described in John 20, Jesus commanded the disciples to “stay in Jerusalem until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49)  This being “clothed with power” was fulfilled in the dramatic events on Pentecost and subsequently. 

Acts 2.1-4

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Further in Acts the inner work of the Holy Spirit was complemented by visible manifestations. 

This is what Paul was referring to in Ephesians 5.18:

BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

What then is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit?

The accounts of events in the book of Acts describe the following visible manifestations of being Spirit-filled.  The believers became powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ.  There were dramatic signs such as the phenomenon of tongues on Pentecost and other signs e.g. healings etc.  

But what was the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit in people’s lives?  AND what will the evidence be in our lives?

1.         Motivation for the work of witnessing to Jesus

Acts 1.8 is fulfilled

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1.8 is a promise, not a command.  Therefore even under persecution Acts 8.4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

2.         Boldness

Think of Peter in Acts 2, 4.29, 31.  The Jewish council were surprised.  “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4.13)

3.         Gifts of the Holy Spirit

All the gifts 1 Corinthians speaks of:  word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, wonders, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues… 

4.         Fruit

1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5.22:  Love, peace, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. 

Being filled with the spirit is as comprehensive a revelation of God’s power as is possible for a human being to experience

Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?

This is not an unreasonable question, because the solution is clear:

John 7.37, 38
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ ”

Jesus, whom you know, is ready to fill you with the Spirit who already dwells in you as a believer. 

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | May 12, 2021

Did You Receive the Holy Spirit?

That was the question Paul asked the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19.2).  As we approach the day of the year when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is a question we should contemplate anew.

Most people associate receiving the Holy Spirit with the dramatic events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost.  However, according to the Biblical account, there was another event before that day when Jesus invited the apostles to receive the Holy Spirit.  John describes how that happened in John 20.19-22.

Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples after his crucifixion took place on the evening of the day He rose from the dead.  The disciples had lived with Jesus for three years in the period before He completed the work of salvation for humankind by his death and resurrection.  Now they were about to witness the appearance of the resurrected Jesus.  They had believed in Him before (not always, and not always with equal conviction).  Now they were about to be given the first opportunity to put their trust in Him in the manner that many people would do afterwards, that is, as their saviour.  They did not know it yet, but this would mark their transition from being mere followers of Jesus to being born again. This would transform them into children of God according to the New Covenant.

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, regeneration was impossible. The death of Jesus was redemptive in that it satisfied the requirements for eradicating the condemnation of sin from people’s lives. The resurrection of Jesus was the means whereby the new life could be received. This new life is what enables us to be born again. The disciples were the first to experience this, and that is why their experience on this night of wonders is typical of all who come to believe in Jesus.

After the usual Hebrew greeting (“Shalom!”, or “Peace be unto you!”) the Lord proves to them that it is really Him, by showing his wounds.  

The disciples recognise Jesus, and this leads to the second pronouncement of peace.  Two things are important here.

The recognition of Jesus by the disciples constituted their acceptance that He was, indeed, the One whom they knew, who had died and risen again. This is what every would-be believer is confronted with.  Who is Jesus?  This is the crucial question in the Christian faith and therefore also the crucial question that every person must answer.  The disciples’ reaction of being “overjoyed” indicates their acceptance of Him as the Christ.

The immediate effect of their acceptance of Him is the peace that Jesus gives. The second pronouncement of peace cannot be taken to be a repetition of the usual Hebrew greeting.  Rather, it is the first time that the peace of God which is the result of being reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, was given and received. All believers through the ages still experience that.

The pronouncement of peace is followed by a commission (“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”). After this, Jesus breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This was the first occurrence of the Holy Spirit being given to believers. Before, He had come upon persons when they needed some special anointing with power for a specific task. That was the only manner in which He could operate in the Old Covenant. Now, with the disciples having been born again, it was possible for the first time for the Holy Spirit not only to empower people but to become an indwelling presence in their being.  

Some have said that this pronouncement of Jesus was merely prophetic and that it pointed to the event that would take place on the Day of Pentecost. There is, however, no linguistic evidence for such an interpretation. Nor is there any need to interpret the event as anything but a simple speech act on the part of Jesus. In saying it, He did it! In that moment, the disciples received the Holy Spirit.

It was the fulfilment of the prophecies regarding the change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  From coming upon people periodically, He was now going to live in them.  Ezekiel 36.27 states it as a promise:  “I will put my Spirit in you.”  This is the privilege of everyone who comes to faith in Jesus Christ, and is born again.  So characteristic is it, that Paul later states the converse:  “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8.9).

This does not detract in any way from the event on the Day of Pentecost.

The question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” is answered by the answer to another question:  “Have you accepted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?”  If the answer is “Yes”, you may rejoice in the truth that God now lives in you by his Spirit.

Happy preparation for Pentecost!      

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 21, 2021

God’s Resurrection Power in Us

I promised in my previous blog that I would write on the practicalities of ensuring that the resurrection power of God works in me as a born again believer.  As with so many aspects of our lives as Christians, the truth about this is so simple that many find it impossible to accept.

It all starts of course with accepting the Lord Jesus Christ.  “Accept” here means accepting Him for everything He really is;  Saviour, but also Lord of lords and King of kings.  Implicit in this acceptance is the acknowledgement of our own hopelessness without Him, and our inability to save ourselves.  It includes confessing our greatest sin, that of believing we belong to ourselves, and therefore have the right to decide the course of our own lives.     This is what Paul refers to as “being crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2.19 and 20). 

It implies submitting fully to the Lordship of Christ, to be committed to praying in sincerity “Let your Kingdom come, let your will be done.”   

As I said before, we need to seek the Lord with all our hearts.  Jesus refers to this as “being thirsty”.   Matthew 5.6 in the Good News Bible correctly describes those who are thirsty as “those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.”  Jesus continues to say:  “God will satisfy them fully.”

So where will the power be coming from?  I recall singing with great gusto as a young boy “Let the fire fall just now, Father hear us call, let the fire fall just now.”  As we sang, I expected the power to fall from the sky.  But in my experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, I felt a surge of power coming from within myself.  It was literally the experience Jesus was talking about when He said to those who were thirsty:  “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7.38)

The Holy Spirit is the power of God.  He dwells in the believer.  So it is only logical that the power of God will spring forth from within the believer.

At this point you may ask “But why do I not always experience the fulness of his Power?”  An illustration my father frequently used to explain this may be helpful.

Whether a glass is full of water, or half full, if one would ask “What is in the glass?” the answer would be “water.”

God’s Spirit lives in you, whether you continuously experience the fulness of Him or not. 

There are some practical things we can do to ensure the fulness of God’s work in us.   It is a bit like a garden hose.  There may be an ample supply of water in the faucet.  The hose itself may be in good condition and securely connected to the faucet.  But one little kink in the hose may be obstructing the flow of water.

“Kinks” in our connection to the source of God’s power may be things like unforgiveness, materialism, selfishness, lovelessness, unconfessed temper, lack of self-control…

The more we can get rid of any obstruction in our “hose”, the more freely the power of God will flow through us.

The good news is that the Holy Spirit Himself has one overriding purpose, and that is to make us more like Jesus.  So as we continue to sincerely seek the Lord, He will be working in us, with us,  to ensure all blockages are cleared.                            

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2021

Jesus Christ has risen indeed! So what?

Before I address the above question I want to state categorically that I truly believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.3 and 4:

… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Apart from the witness of the Bible as well as other documents, I believe the following facts confirm the truth that He rose from the dead.

1.         The Church that came into existence as a result of his resurrection continues to grow after two thousand years, in spite of tremendous and sometimes even violent resistance.  In fact, the more hostile the environment, the more vigorously it grows.

2.         The Book that was written about Him, is still a bestseller, in spite of countless attempts to destroy it.  The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book and is bought by more people than any other book. 

3.         Millions of people all over the world declare that He is alive.  They do not base this on “evidence” that can be questioned or challenged, but on personal experience of his life in them.  “I know He is alive, because I spoke to Him this morning”, is what many people say.

4.         Even those who reject Him cannot forget Him.  Every time they use his name in profanity, they are confessing that he is a reality, albeit one they do not like, or whose existence they try to deny.  Why don’t they say “Barak Obama!”, or “Jacob Zuma!” or “Donald Trump!”?  I think it is because Jesus Christ is the greater reality.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith.  But what does the 

resurrection mean for you and me?

It is the basis of our own regeneration.

Peter writes:

“3 … In his great mercy (God) has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1.3-5)

Resurrection proved that the power of God can work in the body of a human being to bring

new life.  Paul states with confidence:

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  (Romans 8:11, NLT)

The Holy Spirit is not just waiting to impart divine life on the day we are resurrected from the dead.  He is living in believers today and is already imparting God’s power to those who accept it. 

What can I do to ensure his power works in me?

Leviticus 9 tells how the people of Israel received a full revelation of God’s glory.

Moses tells the people to follow God’s commands, “so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” (Leviticus 9.6)

Sure enough:  When they had done what God commanded, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.” (verse 23).  “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” (verse 24)

The commands of God in Leviticus 9 were all about the sacrifices God required for the people to experience his glory.  Thank God, Jesus is our perfect sacrifice through whom we have redemption from our sins and the privilege to experience his resurrection power.  The first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.  

As children of God we should seek the Lord with all our heart.  He will surely reveal Himself to us in this life, and one day in all his glory.

I will write on the practicalities of this in a future blog.  

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 7, 2021

Jesus Christ has risen indeed! So what?

Before I address the above question I want to state categorically that I truly believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.3 and 4:

… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Apart from the witness of the Bible as well as other documents, I believe the following facts confirm the truth that He rose from the dead.

1.         The Church that came into existence as a result of his resurrection continues to grow after two thousand years, in spite of tremendous and sometimes even violent resistance.  In fact, the more hostile the environment, the more vigorously it grows.

2.         The Book that was written about Him, is still a bestseller, in spite of countless attempts to destroy it.  The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book and is bought by more people than any other book. 

3.         Millions of people all over the world declare that He is alive.  They do not base this on “evidence” that can be questioned or challenged, but on personal experience of his life in them.  “I know He is alive, because I spoke to Him this morning”, is what many people say.

4.         Even those who reject Him cannot forget Him.  Every time they use his name in profanity, they are confessing that he is a reality, albeit one they do not like, or whose existence they try to deny.  Why don’t they say “Barak Obama!”, or “Jacob Zuma!” or “Donald Trump!”?  I think it is because Jesus Christ is the greater reality.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith.  But what does the resurrection mean for you and me?

It is the basis of our own regeneration.

Peter writes:

“3 … In his great mercy (God) has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1.3-5)

Resurrection proved that the power of God can work in the body of a human being to bring new life.  Paul states with confidence:

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  (Romans 8:11, NLT)

The Holy Spirit is not just waiting to impart divine life on the day we are resurrected from the dead.  He is living in believers today and is already imparting God’s power to those who accept it. 

What can I do to ensure his power works in me?

Leviticus 9 tells how the people of Israel received a full revelation of God’s glory.

Moses tells the people to follow God’s commands, “so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” (Leviticus 9.6)

Sure enough:  When they had done what God commanded, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.” (verse 23).  “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” (verse 24)

The commands of God in Leviticus 9 were all about the sacrifices God required for the people to experience his glory.  Thank God, Jesus is our perfect sacrifice through whom we have redemption from our sins and the privilege to experience his resurrection power.  The first step is to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.  

As children of God we should seek the Lord with all our heart.  He will surely reveal Himself to us in this life, and one day in all his glory.

I will write on the practicalities of this in a future blog.  

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 31, 2021

You and Holy Week

We have just celebrated Palm Sunday (see my previous post).  Now we are in what is called “Holy Week”, the week that approached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.    

A.        HOLY WEEK IS ALL ABOUT JESUS

Some people think it’s all about us – our sin: the power of it, to have caused the death of Jesus.  Of course our sin played a role in it, but it wasn’t the major theme.  To make our sin the major theme, can lead, in a perverted form, to the glorification of our sin.  That, in turn, serves to glorify our flesh.

In the events of Holy Week, Jesus is the main actor:

  • He arranges the procession into Jerusalem with the instructions to his disciples to fetch the donkey
  • He curses the barren fig tree and makes it wither
  • He cleanses the temple
  • He teaches fearlessly in the temple
  • He is the centre of attention when He is anointed at the banquet in Bethany
  • He hosts the Last Supper
  • He comforts his disciples
  • He struggles in Gethsemane, while the disciples are sleeping
  • In the midst of the excitement of the raucous celebration of people welcoming Him to Jerusalem, He weeps over the city.
  • He lays down his life of his own accord, and takes it up again – John 10.17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

He is not the victim of our sin, he is the Initiator and Perfector of our redemption.

Holy Week is all about Jesus:  

  • His love for us – that he died for our sins.
  • His strength – to resist the power of the Jews, of Rome, and of Satan.  
  • His revelation as the Son of God
  • His death and his resurrection

B.        THE PARTICIPANTS

If the few days between Palm Sunday and Easter (someone referred to these days as “seven days without sunlight”) were considered as a democratic process, Jesus lost the elections:

*          His own disciples were unable to support Him in Gethsemane.

*          Judas betrayed him.

*          All the others ran away, deserting Him – one even ran away naked in his haste to get away from the embarrassment and danger of being associated with Jesus.

*          Peter denied even knowing Him.

*          His own people delivered Him to be crucified, preferring a criminal above Him.

*          The (puppet) king of the Jews (Herod, the antithesis of Jesus, true King of the Jews) selfishly sought a miracle from Him and then gave up on Him when Jesus did not oblige.

*          The political and judicial authority of the day (Pilate, Roman governor) made a rather feeble effort to save Him, and then gave in to the demands of the ecclesiastical authorities to have Him crucified. 

*          Creation:  The sun was darkened.  Mere personification?  I think not.  In a manner we cannot comprehend, creation acknowledges the position of Christ:

The sun became dark when He was crucified

There was an earthquake when He rose again – Matt 28.2

*          In the end, everyone turned away from Him.

Luke 23.48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 

There is another process apparent which is faithful to reality:

*          When everybody deserted Him, a few “who knew him”, stayed with Him.

Luke 23.49 “But all those who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Matthew adds some more information:

Matt 27.55 “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”

C.        THE EVENTS OF HOLY WEEK DEMANDED A CHOICE

Jesus always demands a decision, and this became even more important as the dramatic events around his crucifixion unfolded.

Everyone deserted Him!  The crowds who had celebrated his entry into Jerusalem, and even his disciples.   

When all deserted Him, Luke 23.49 says there were only few that stood with Him.  It is important that Luke mentions the fact that the few “were all those who knew Him.”  That may be the key to their perseverance:  That they were in a personal relationship with Jesus.

This week again, as we celebrate Holy Week, Jesus demands a decision.

Do you know Him?

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 24, 2021

What Are You Celebrating on Palm Sunday?

 

Sunday March 28, 2021 marks a very important event in the church calendar.  It is celebrated world-wide as Palm Sunday.  It is the beginning of what we call Holy Week, which is the approach to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Luke describes, along with the other Gospels, the events when Jesus entered Jerusalem in a victorious procession, in Luke 19.28-40.

“After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. ‘Go into that village over there’ he told them. ‘As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’  So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ And the disciples simply replied, ‘The Lord needs it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. ‘Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!’ But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, ‘Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!’ He replied, ‘If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!’ ”

WHAT HAPPENED ON PALM SUNDAY WAS A PROPHETIC EVENT 

Palm Sunday is the fulfilment of one prophecy and the foreshadowing of another.

1.         The fulfilment of prophecies in the OT regarding the return of the King to Jerusalem

In Zechariah 9.9 the prophet calls out:

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and having salvation,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

In Zechariah’s prophecies, this is the beginning of the restoration of Jerusalem, leading eventually to the consummation of the kingdom of God.  After prophetic words exhorting Israel to repent, and describing judgment and salvation, Zechariah turns to eschatological themes of the unfolding of the kingdom of God, and how that affects Israel and Jerusalem.

In the prophecy in Zechariah 9.9 Zechariah sees the beginning of that process.  

The return of the King of Israel to Jerusalem is fulfilled in the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday.  By this, Jesus is identified as the Messiah, the anointed King who has come to take up his position.  

2.         Palm Sunday is a foreshadowing of the return of Christ in power and glory.

Zechariah also looks ahead to the second coming of Christ, when He will return to Jerusalem as the King not of the Jewish people only, but also of the whole world.  This event is described in Zechariah 14.9:

“The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.”

Revelation 19.11-21 provides more details of that day.

“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  6 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

WHAT ARE YOU CELEBRATING ON PALM SUNDAY?

Let us praise God for the joy of Palm Sunday, and welcome the King of  kings into our hearts and lives.  Let us also look forward with joyful anticipation to the fulfilment in the Second Coming of Christ.  

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Alexander F. Venter

Live a life of love just as Jesus loved us...

Attempting Authenticity

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Martha Elizabeth Kruger

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