Dear Savior, today we join our voices with the angels in heaven, the saints surrounding Your throne of grace, and with all our fellow Christians throughout this world in praising You! Thank You for being our Savior! Thank You for being our King! Thank You for being our Friend, our Brother, the Giver of Eternal Life! Yes, Jesus, thank You, thank You, thank You! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ONLY KING WHO HAS TRULY EARNED ETERNAL THANKS AND PRAISE!
TEXT: Matt. 21: 1-11
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
One simple word can speak volumes. In God’s Church one word can encapsulate the whole meaning of an entire day. If I say “incarnation” you think of Christmas. If I say “resurrection” you think of Easter. Ascension goes with heaven. Pentecost is synonymous with the Spirit. And Palm Sunday is all about praise.
All of you know the basic facts of Palm Sunday. That is, one week before His resurrection from the grave and five days before His death on the cross Jesus entered Jerusalem as a King! He came riding on that humble donkey while the growing crowd cut palm branches, waved them in the air and shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Yes, they praised the Son of God, just as we’re doing today. In Luke’s parallel account of this, we’re told that some of the uptight Pharisees told Jesus, “Rebuke your disciples!” They thought this outpouring of emotion was unseemly. But Jesus replied: “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Yes, the Savior of the world is worthy of praise, of shouts of joy and thanksgiving. And if human beings fail to honor His glorious love, well, He’ll compel rocks and boulders to praise Him!
So, what does all this mean to us today? Simply this:
GOD NEEDS YOUR PRAISE
I know you’d all agree that we need God-especially His forgiveness and love-because if you didn’t believe that you wouldn’t be here this morning. But what about the reverse, what about God needing us? Let’s go back to creation. Question. Why did God create us in the first place? Answer: to give Him praise and glory. Question. Why did God create us to praise Him if He didn’t want and/or need such praise? Having someone praise you in heartfelt sincerity fills you with joy, doesn’t it? Well, this is why God created humans and why He wants our praise this very day-to make His joy complete.
I believe that this truth is clearly evidenced in the Bible when we examine the angels and saints in heaven. In Revelation chapter 4, we’re given a glorious picture of heaven. We’re told that there are 4 special angelic creatures who surround God’s throne and day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Additionally, we’re told: “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever (that’s Jesus Christ, by the way), the 24 elders fall down before him and worship him. They lay their crowns before His throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” In short, God created angels and humans to praise Him. He wants our praise. He needs our praise. For heart-felt praise fills His heart with joy!
True praise cannot be coerced. If you force your child to say “thank you” for a gift it has little meaning and gives no joy. But if they come up to you out of the blue and say: “Thanks for being my mom or my dad!” Your heart swells with joy. The key ingredient in genuine praise is free will. God originally created both angels and human beings with such a free will-because He wanted us to chose on our own to honor Him. After Satan fell by exercising His free will in the wrong direction, God confirmed the holy angels in their free will. They chose to stay with God. They chose the pathway to true happiness. And God graciously confirmed them in such joy. Meanwhile, humans also exercised their free will in the negative, too. Adam and Eve chose to dishonor God by disobeying Him. But instead of confirming us in such sadness and grief forever, God provided a way out. He sent Christ, His Son, to be our Savior. He sent Christ to become our Brother and to exercise His will positively on our behalf. Christ became our sin and shame. He died for our sin and shame. But because He was sinless and shameless in and of Himself and because He acted in pure love for us-God restored to us the ability to praise Him from the heart. Yes, through faith in Jesus Christ we can carry out the purpose for which we were created-to praise and honor our King of glory!
Praise and happiness go hand in hand. Think about it. Unless you’re a hypocrite when you’re cheering your child or clapping for them at an honors banquet your heart is happy. If you’re focused, truly focused on praise, at that moment in time it’s impossible to be sad, angry, upset, or depressed. Joy is overflowing. My friends, that is what God created us for. That feeling and sense of fulfillment fully describes the life of the angels and saints in heaven.-Joy overflowing. Likewise, when we live out the meaning of Palm Sunday, when we praise and thank God from our hearts, such joy will banish our fears and tears, too.
You and I need to praise God. Praise provides the meaning to our lives. And God needs your praise for His joy to be complete over saving us in love. That is why God moved those souls on that first Palm Sunday to shout their hosannas. That is why if they had shut their mouths in silence, the stones themselves would have cried out. Since there is no higher calling in life and no greater honor in the universe than in praising God-how can any of us ever be silent, apathetic, or neglectful again? Yes, praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen