"Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy."
On Sunday, March 29, AD 33 (our best guess for a date), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. While we would normally think of a beast of burden as a sign of poverty or humility, it actually referenced a well-known Jewish prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. The Jewish people longed for the future king who would one day come riding into town on the foal of a donkey and set them free.
But I don't want to focus so much on the Old Testament prophecy as I do the response of Jesus' disciples when he rode into town. Luke 19:37-38 says "As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'”
The apostle John tells us that believers will be shouting praises to Jesus for all of eternity (Revelation 5:9-14). Here, on this dusty Jerusalem road, the disciples recognized Jesus was the King of kings who had come to free them of their spiritual bondage. He healed leapers, raised the dead, and gave sight to the blind. As he rode, they could not help themselves and broke forth in spontaneous, individual praise. First one cried out, and then another "Blessed is the King!" Others cried "Hosanna to the son of David" (Matthew 21:9). Still others cried "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (John 12:13).
Do you shout to the Lord? Do you, with a loud voice, verbally cry out with spontaneous praise? Are you like the leper in Luke 17:15 who, after realizing he had been healed, "praised God with a loud voice"? Or has something silenced your praise? Has something robbed you of confident, joyous, vocal worship of your King?
Sometimes the "robber" is other people, as was the case with the crowd in Jerusalem. According to Luke 19:39, the Pharisees didn't like the fact that the crowd was shouting praise. It didn't seem proper or 'reverent'. It violated their traditions. And they really didn't like the things they were saying about Jesus, and they tried to get Jesus to put a stop to it. Jesus responded by saying "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40).
The very stones would cry out!
In other words, Jesus will make sure someone...someTHING cries out praise.
How many times have you refrained from joyous and unrestrained worship of the King because you were afraid of the reactions of those around you? I know I have.
This last Sunday we tried a little experiment. Immediately after a powerful time of musical praise to the Lord, I asked the Body to stand and individually shout out praises to Jesus.
All at once.
Some of you might be thinking, 'You tried this at Grace Chapel?!' Yes we did. Sure, it was a little awkward. No one was really sure what do to. Some were not even sure we were allowed to do this. It probably made a few mad. Most were good-natured enough to give it a go, in our own white, conservative, somewhat Mennonite way. Our congregation thought the result was a little funny.
OK, they thought it was really funny.
The experience gave us an opportunity to laugh at ourselves, and, more importantly, experience a little bit of what these New Testament disciples experienced along the road to Jerusalem. And what the Old Testament saints experienced in the days of David (1 Chron 15:28; Ps 20:5; 98:4; 100:1), Solomon (Prov 11:10), Asa (2 Chron 15:14), Ezra (3:11), Isaiah (Isa 12:6) and Zephaniah (Zeph 3:14-15). And what the leper experienced when he discovered he was healed. And what all believers will experience for all eternity in Heaven. Brief though it was, this Sunday morning I fought back years of joy from hearing God's assembled people shout out His praise.
What is robbing you of shouting out to the Lord? I'm not talking about church worship service. I'm talking about the heart and mindset of the lame man in Acts 3, who after he was healed "entered the temple...walking and leaping and praising God" (v.8). This was a man who didn't need a worship service to shout praise. He didn't care where he was...his heart was overflowing with thankfulness and praise and it just had to come out.
So, to return to the question, what is robbing you of shouting praise to the Lord? What is keeping you from doing this at work? At the local community ballpark? In the grocery store?
Sometimes the robber is our own inhibitions. We just feel a little goofy getting all "Jesusy" and bringing 'praise language' into our everyday conversations.
Sometimes it is emotional pain. We are so overwhelmed by our circumstances that we become depressed or bitter. Then, like the Pharisees, we tend to despise others who erupt in Christ-exalting praise.
Often it is the fact that we are losing the daily battle to sin, which has robbed us of our joy. There is nothing to shout about, because we've lost sight of the fact that Christ has saved us from our sins.
Whatever the reason, Jesus is the solution. Look to Christ, the long-awaited King who has arrived on a donkey. The Savior has come. If you are in Christ Jesus, you have been set free.