Deeds of Power
“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ Tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’
They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’
They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their clothes on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down to the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
‘Blessed is the king who comes in the
name of the Lord!’
‘Peace in heaven and glory in the
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’
‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'”
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover. Passover, at that time, was the most important yearly Jewish festival, where the Jewish people all gathered in Jerusalem, at the temple, and remembered and celebrated God’s mighty act of freeing them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. So, thousands of Jewish people are in Jerusalem for the week and an impromptu parade begins (maybe we would call it a flash mob) as Jesus approaches the holy city.
But who are the people greeting Jesus on this first Palm Sunday?
People who just happened to be on the road into Jerusalem at that time?
Jesus’ friends and relatives?
High officials welcoming Jesus into the city?
No (but some of them are there).
Luke, in the above passage says the people who came to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, were, “the whole crowd of disciples.” (Verse 37)
That means that this whole crowd of people who are greeting Jesus and lining his path as he rides into the city, who are throwing their clothes at his feet so that he has a smooth ride, are believers in Jesus, followers of Jesus. So, now, the question is, how did these people become followers of Jesus? Well, Luke says, in that same verse, “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” So, these disciples had seen Jesus do mighty things, in the Greek language, one translation for what Jesus had done is “deeds of power,” and they became his followers because of these miracles. So, maybe they had seen Jesus heal someone who was blind, maybe they had seen Jesus heal someone who could not walk, or maybe some of these people had actually been healed by Jesus, themselves. That would be a pretty big motivator to take Jesus seriously.
How did they respond to these “deeds of power” that Jesus had done among them?
They go out of their way to find Jesus as he comes to celebrate Passover. They meet him and greet him and praise him as he rides into the city, and they take, maybe, their outer robe off and they throw it in the road so that Jesus’ donkey can walk over it. Why did they do that? Why did they throw their clothes onto the ground so that Jesus’s donkey could walk over their clothes? Well, it is an act of praise, an act of extreme praise. It seems that they felt so highly about Jesus that they would, literally, take the shirt off their back, and throw it down on the ground so that his donkey could walk over it.
We sort of brush by this. Maybe we have heard this story since we were kids and we just chalk it up to those unusual followers of Jesus, who even throw their clothes on the ground. Or possibly we have just heard it so many times, that we don’t think about it anymore. Whatever we think, I do not think that we give much thought to this high act of praise, of throwing clothes on the ground so Jesus’ donkey could walk over them. But, when we think about it, throwing your outer robe on a dusty, dirty road and then having a donkey and other people walk over it, would probably ruin, or at least badly damage that robe. I doubt that those people who threw their robes down were thinking they would ever get them back.
In addition, clothes were very expensive and valuable back then. There were no mechanical looms back then, no huge clothes-making factories, there weren’t even sewing machines; all clothes had to be made by hand and they were expensive and valuable. Poorer people may have only had one or two sets of clothes, total.
For instance, the Bible says in the book of Exodus:
“If you take your neighbor’s coat as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his coat is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in?” Exodus 22:26-27
So, these people, these disciples, were making a very great gesture to Jesus, they were giving up or risking something of great value to show Jesus how important he was to them.
This of course, brings up a sticky question, what are we giving up or risking for Jesus, this week, or any week? Are we making a gesture of praise to Jesus? Are we giving up something of value to show Jesus and the world that Jesus is our God?
–our free time?
–our discretionary income?
Do you also notice that Jesus does not try to stop his disciples from throwing their clothes down on the road in front of him? He does not say, “You don’t need to do that.” Or, “thank you, but no.” Jesus seems okay with this very great demonstration of praise and thanks. Do you think that Jesus wants us to “waste” our resources on him? That seems to be a possibility.
But, right now, you may be saying to yourself, something like:
“those people back then threw their clothes on the ground because Jesus had cured them from leprosy or he had given them back their eyesight, if Jesus would solve my problems, I would give up my stuff also.”
And you might also say:
“Jesus does not live on earth anymore and there is a lot of suffering going on here and no one helps us with that, at all. I will give up my stuff, when Jesus helps me with my problems.”
But, what if I told you that Jesus is still doing “deeds of power” nowadays? What if I told you that even though Jesus does not live on this earth anymore, he is still doing wonderful things that changes people’s lives dramatically? How would you respond? Would that change how you feel about Jesus?
In addition, what if I told you that Jesus wants to do “deeds of power” for you? Right here in Sonoma, right here in the 21st century? Would that make this Palm Sunday different for you? Would you then do what those first disciples did?
–would you search out Jesus and go to him, even if you had other, very important things to do?
–would you praise him publicly?
–would you throw something of great value at his feet to show him that he is number one in your life?
Well, I, myself, have personally experienced “deeds of power” done by Jesus; in Sonoma, in the 21st century. I have seen how Jesus can and will heal a person from problems, big problems, that plague them. And, this Sunday I will discuss and describe those “deeds of power” which I have experienced. So, if you are wondering if Jesus can act in your life, if you are wondering if Jesus will help you with something that troubles you, please come Sunday.
And, we are providing the Palms!