This morning, we’re continuing our message series, “Hearing God.” So far, we were challenged on the foundational issue of hearing God’s voice; identity. Hearing God’s voice has far more to do with who we are than what we do. We learned that we first must be His sheep and the importance of transitioning in our relationship with Him from master/servant to friends.
We also learned a practical way to test, “Is that you, God?” If it is God’s voice, it will agree with the Bible, agree with God’s character, and produce the fruits of the Spirit.
Each week, we’ll start with this reminder that Jesus gave us found in John chapter 10. Please repeat after me:
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
I am His sheep
I hear His voice
I won’t recognize a stranger’s voice
Although God can speak to us in an infinite amount of ways, there are some which are more common than others. We learned about dreams and visions and how they are often followed by another way which God speaks; a change in our circumstances. We also learned last week about how God speaks to us through nature; His creation.
This week, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, we’re learning how God speaks through people. God’s desire has always been to be in relationship with mankind created by Him in His image. One of the ways in which He remains relatable is by choosing to speak through people.
The Bible stands as evidence to this. Every word was authored by God, but written by men as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Although God’s intended truth and meaning is recorded, it is done so within each person’s cultural context, personality, and their individual circumstances. Even though it was written by over 40 men, it still carries the same overall theme and message further confirming that it was the Holy Spirit who was the true author.
In the Old Testament, God chose men and women known as prophets to speak through. Even beyond this, He chose a single family whom became the nation of Israel to host His presence and to be His people who would represent Him to the rest of the world.
In keeping with His patient, gracious, and merciful nature, God chose to reveal His will and His plans prior to implementing them through the prophets. When they chose to disobey Him, He would warn them through the prophets before exiling them as a form of discipline. His desire was that they would seek after Him above all else and nothing drew His people back to Him like exile.
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
Prophets were people chosen as God’s messengers who were given His revelation to pass along to others. God spoke through them. God still speaks through prophets today, but has also chosen to pour out His Spirit on all His people enabling us all to prophesy.
Paul emphasized how important this gift is amongst the spiritual gifts and urged that we all seek after it.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5
1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
God still speaks to us through people today. Of course, God has also given us the gift of Himself, the Holy Spirit, so that we can test and discern what God is saying and what people are saying on their own.
Jesus reminded us of the importance of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as how important prophecy is.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Whether some realize it or not, we gather together on this traditional holiday of Palm Sunday to emphasize the value and importance of prophecy. Jesus could have easily just walked right into Jerusalem, endured the cross, and raised on the third day and still have fulfilled His purpose for which He came. However, He chose to very carefully follow His Heavenly Father’s will each step of the way. By doing so, He fulfilled over 300 prophetic words spoken of His coming; all signs to confirm that He was the Messiah, our savior.
Palm Sunday is one of those fulfillments given in a prophetic word from Zechariah as well as the Psalms.
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus chose to send out his disciples to retrieve a colt of a donkey that His Heavenly Father had prepared for Him in order to ride into Jerusalem simply to fulfill prophecies spoken of Him. As we celebrate this holiday, we not only celebrate Jesus, our King, but we also celebrate prophecy itself. Jesus was sure to carefully follow His Heavenly Father’s will, revealed by the Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus when He was water baptized so that every prophecy would be fulfilled about Him.
Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
God speaks through people. It is important for us to remember this so that we don’t fail to hear His voice. It is very easy for us to look at the person through whom God is speaking through and to turn a deaf ear to Him. We must remember to look beyond the person and our feelings toward them and allow the Holy Spirit within them to speak to us, confirmed by God’s same presence within us.
Peter reminded us of this very thing as he apparently was experiencing this same challenge. The gospel that He preached was apparently being misunderstood and misinterpreted as simply a story and not an experience.
2 Peter 1:12-21
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
It is easy for us to disregard prophecy simply because of the person through whom it is given. However, we should be careful not to do so. After all, it is not the person that we are denying, but rather, we’re denying Jesus Christ, Himself. We’re deafening our ear to His voice and denying the fact that God speaks through people. We are even given this warning:
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
For sure, none of us should desire to quench the Spirit, but rather to eagerly desire and passionately seek after Him.
This morning, we celebrate Palm Sunday, we celebrate the triumphal entry of our King Jesus. We celebrate the prophetic words of God, which are certain and reliable; they will never fail. We close with these words of King Jesus which He said after reminding us of His final triumphal entry into the new city of Jerusalem.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Let these palm leaves be a reminder to us how God speaks through people. May they remind us to lay down our opinions, pre-conceived mindsets, and our choice to hearken our ears to listen to God as He speaks through people. May they be symbolic of our plea, “Come, Lord Jesus!”