Tag Archives: Greatness

Palm Sunday: laying out the green carpet

Welcome! We trust that you enjoy your time today at St Augustine’s. We’d love to connect with you in some way if you are up for it. Feel free to chat to me after the service, or to contact me using the contact information on the pew sheet.

Today is Palm Sunday and we remember the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. In our Lent Bible Studies we looked at this recently in Mark 11. It is often called the “triumphal entry”. Why do you think this is?

There was certainly a big crowd. Many people spread out their cloaks on the road. Others had cut leafy branches (or palms) and laid them out on the road. So Jesus had a kind of ‘red carpet’ welcome, although it was more likely a green carpet!

In addition to what they did, it is important what they said. In Mark 11:9-10, the people called out a range of things. The first was “Hosanna”, which is a term of praise. But it literally means “Oh save us!” It is actually a cry for help, addressed to Jesus.

The second cry is “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. This is God’s envoy. And to say that he is blessed is to speak with great admiration for him. It’s an expression of great honour.

The third cry is “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” David was promised an eternal kingship for one of his descendants, and to associate Jesus with that kingdom is to say this is promise-fulfilment time. Hopes are high for this man. Not only are they treating him as king, they are suggesting that a new, eternal reality is dawning.

The fourth cry “Hosanna in the highest” implies that heaven is watching on. The angels are participating in this praise of Jesus the One come to save.

And yet… he is riding a donkey, not a king’s warhorse. This is a fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9, which promised that Israel’s king would be … lowly. This means he is simultaneously victorious and humble.

How do you view Jesus? Humble and weak? Victorious and judgemental? Neither of these pairs reflect the Bible’s value system. In the Bible, humility is connected with strength, not weakness. And victory is given (by God), not snatched by superiority.

So this Easter, let us grow in our admiration for Jesus, seeking to know him as he truly is. After all, there is much to draw us to him!

 

Greatness apart from achievements

It is our great pleasure to have you with us at St Augustine’s today… welcome, and please let us know if we can be helpful to you at all. Our intention is to demonstrate the grace and kindness of God to each other and to those who are new among us, as He has demonstrated it to us.

As many of you are aware, I was in Sydney this past week, and it turns out that while I was there I was able to attend a memorial service for an old friend of mine, Mike Ovey. Mike passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in January in London, and a funeral was held back then. But on Monday this week at All Soul’s Langham Place in London, a memorial service was held for about 2000 people. A video recording of this service was sent to Sydney so that a smaller group of us could also participate from this side of the world.

Why the multiple events? Who was Mike? He was the principal of Oak Hill Theological College in North London, and one of the sharpest minds in church leadership in the world today. But for me, Mike’s loss is not about his status or his achievements; it’s about who he was and the contribution he made to my life.

Mike was gentle and kind, and always had time for people, especially those in difficulty. He was a great conversationalist, and always interested in what the other person had to say.

I had the privilege of spending a semester in one of his classes in 2004 on the Doctrine of God. And I can truly say that this course turned my whole understanding upside down. I believe that the information and learning we gather about God ought to turn us to praise and wonder – this was what I took from Mike.

Mike was also my youth group leader when I was in Cambridge as a high-schooler back in 1989. Mike was a funny guy who didn’t take himself too seriously, and we warmed to him straight away. But the whole time, his great desire for us was to see us grow in our knowledge of our maker and redeemer.

There are certain people in life who leave a lasting and deep impression on us for all the right reasons. I am deeply thankful to God for Mike and the person he was and the impact he had, despite his shortened years.