They have spent three years with Jesus and they saw miracle after miracle. They left everything to follow Jesus.
With palm branches in their hands they shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13).
They thought, “Surely Jesus is our King and our Messiah.” They thought, “This is our moment to bring in God’s kingdom and it’s about to happen!” They thought, “Finally we’ll get rid of these pagan Romans!” Their moment of victory had finally come….so they thought.
Then Jesus started saying things like, “Where I am going you cannot come.” John 13:33. “Peter, you’ll deny me three times.” John 13:38. “Behold, the hour has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave me alone.” John 16:32.
All their confidence turned to total confusion. Why? Their plans were different from God’s plans. Think about this….every day we work toward a goal. We strive to improve ourselves. We go through training to be more equipped. We raise our kids to be wiser. We work hard to make a living. We are paying off our debt. We all have goals. We all have our own plans.
We think we are on track with the Messiah. We think this is God’s will for my life. We think our plans and our performance is the same as God’s, and we’re ready to wave palm branches because victory is right around the corner! We serve an awesome God! He is so good….so we think.
But then all of a sudden something turns our hope and excitement into total confusion! The unthinkable happens! We lose our job. We’re told we have cancer. We’re told we can’t have biological children. My house burns down. My child dies before me. We all have trials that leave us asking why? Things were going so well. I was reaching my goals! We were about to bring in the Kingdom!
And we think, “This is not the way it was supposed to go! I was supposed to walk my daughter down the aisle on their wedding day! I was supposed to die before my child! I worked hard to get this degree and now I have no job! God, what are you doing?”
Well, God isn’t going to set up His kingdom; instead, He’s going to die on a cross! That was beyond the disciples’ understanding. It wasn’t until after the resurrection and even after the coming of the Holy Spirit that they fully understood. What made them understand? The Gospel!
The Gospel completely dispels the darkness of sin and the confusion of our minds. The Gospel is our hope! The Gospel says, “God rescued us from sin and death! And we can have peace even in the most difficult situation that makes no sense.”
We think having money in the bank, having well behaved kids, and having good health is what will bring us happiness, but Jesus teaches us that real happiness is found only in Him.
Happiness is found in repentance over sin, trusting in Christ to be our Savior, being filled with His Spirit, showing mercy to others, hungering for His righteousness, and turning from idols like self, materialism, unbelief, and pride.
We think we know what’s best, yet God’s plans confound the wisdom of the wise. But our problems are not our problem. They are reminders of the solution. The Gospel is the solution!
Our problem is sin. We can’t save ourselves. We need Jesus. For only Jesus can satisfy the wrath of God. Only Jesus can forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Only Jesus can give us eternal life. Only Jesus is good.
But our problem is we think we’re better than we really are. Our problem is we think we know better, we deserve better, and we think we can solve these problems ourselves. We think, “God, if You would only listen to me, I would have told You how to do things!”
Jesus could have stopped Lazarus from dying, but He waited to come to him. Lazarus had already been in the grave for four days by the time Jesus got to Bethany. Talk about confusion. Why did Jesus wait knowing He could heal him and knowing how much pain Mary and Martha would feel?
Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Her plans wasn’t God’s plans. God’s plans made no sense to her. She was living by sight, but Jesus was living by faith. Then, we see a glimpse of the heart of God, Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” John 11:32-37. Don’t miss this point: Notice, some saw the love of God and the grace of God even in tragedy, even when things didn’t make sense, but others doubted Him.
Some saw the great love of God, but others saw no hope. So when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, some believed, but others plotted to murder Jesus. Our sins murdered Jesus. Our doubt murdered Jesus.
Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, and he allowed Martha and Mary to go through confusion and pain so that they would believe! Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” Gen 50:20.
God allows us to go through trials so that we may believe! Problems exist not to destroy our faith, but to build our faith. But what makes the difference is; will we trust Him even when it doesn’t make any sense?
Jesus told His disciples that He will go to Jerusalem, be killed, but be raised on the third day. And Peter took the sinless Son of God aside and said, “This will never happen to You!” Don’t we say the same thing when God’s plans don’t way the way we think they should go?
Jesus then said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man!” Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus came to overcome the world! But when our trust is in anything other than Jesus alone, there’s total confusion.
Jesus promises us peace but we’re too busy being prideful or having a pity party. We’re too busy taking matters into our own hands. We trust too much in the idols of our heart. Our focus is on the wrong thing and wrong person. Our sin is blinding us from seeing the good news. Our eyes should be on Jesus, but instead, like Peter, we look at the terrible waves and we think, “God can’t help me, there’s no hope!”
But Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
For a moment, forget about your problems, think about who Jesus is. He lived a perfect life. He suffered and died on a cross for you. He took your punishment. He rose from the dead. He sent His Holy Spirit to comfort you, encourage you, fill you, and teach you. He gave you His Word to read and study. And He’s given you a church where you can worship Him. He is so good even when things don’t go as we would like.
He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Heb. 13:5. He said, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave me alone.
Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:31-33.
In this world, you and I will have lots of problems, painful problems, but the gospel is the ultimate hope, for Jesus says, I have overcome the world! In other words, your pain and problems are temporary, but My power and My grace is greater than anything this world can throw at you.
Because Jesus defeated sin, Satan, and death we now have an eternal living hope! Because Jesus is alive, we will never die! Our biggest problem has now been solved! Life is not about the here and now, it’s about Him! Life isn’t about us, it’s about Him!
Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32.
God is for us! Jesus will never leave us, even in our darkest night! We’re not orphans! God will never desert us!
So be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world! Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I think our problem is we focus too much on our problems and not enough on His grace. We say we can’t understand these problems, but the reality is, we are not understanding His amazing grace, for if we understood His grace, we would know the peace of God even when our heart is breaking.
If we got a glimpse of God’s grace and the heart of God, our doubts and fears and frustrations and worries and confusion would melt away like ice on a beautiful summer day. They would vanish like a shadow with the dawning sun.
Read these next verses carefully, for I believe it is the key for us to experience His grace, His power, and His peace even during times of tribulations.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:9-10, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. (Ever been there)? But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (Your problems exist not because God doesn’t care, but to cause you to trust in Him, who raises the dead)!!! He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Cor 1:9-10.
Have you set your hope on Him, even when your problems make no sense? My favorite verse says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov. 3:5-6.
Whatever is breaking your heart, whatever has you worried, whatever is leaving you in total confusion, know that our God is in control. His resurrection power is able to give us life! His grace is sufficient, and no matter how difficult a situation may be, God cares, God loves you, and His grace is amazing!
We need to repent of our unbelief, and then we need to rest in His amazing grace! Turn from the doubt, and turn to the Savior! We need to pray with total dependence and total confidence in Him!
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:5-7.
There’s a song called, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. Here are some of the lyrics to that song:
“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name! Sing like never before, oh my soul, I worship Your holy name!
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger. Your name is great and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find!
And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come. Soon my soul will sing your praise unending, 10,000 years and then forever more!
Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name! Sing like never before, oh my soul, I worship your holy name!”
Despite our problems, our prayer needs to be, “Lord, forgive me for my lack of faith, and help me to remember that no matter what happens today, you’re already there – ready and able to give me sufficient grace.
Help me to remember the gospel, that I’m a sinner. I’m a weak, broken, jar of clay, but Lord, You’re the Potter, You’re the Creator of heaven and earth, and You sent Your only Son to rescue me through Your death and resurrection!
I am now Your child, and You’re my Father! I have a home in heaven, but until I get there, help me to live each day trusting You and obeying You. If it’s a bad day, may I trust You. As I trust You now, may I trust You at the end of this day as well because You are worthy!
You are a loving God who is rich in mercy, and despite my many problems, I can find 10,000 reasons to praise You! In fact, even in death I’ll praise You! Though my heart fails me, You Lord never fail! You are my Rock and my Redeemer! Therefore, I will sing like never before! Thank You for Your perfect peace!”
And all of God’s people said….Amen!
Love, Pastor Doug – MadeToFish.com