I read recently that the job of the church is to know Christ and to make Christ known. I like that, both for how succinct it is and for how true. And we can all agree with that tidy equation, but when it comes to living it out we find a great difficulty in moving beyond the "knowing Christ" aspect to the business of "making Christ known." Every year I preach on the Triumphal Entry, an important biblical event recorded in all four of the gospels. But what I actually preach on each year is the Triumphal Approach, strictly speaking. To be fair, that's where all the drama is: the borrowed ass, the angry Pharisees, the delirious crowds with their shouts and branches, a dusty road paved in clothing sacrificed to the dignity of a shabby king.But we are drawn to the place outside the walls where the long time disciples intersect with those who've been drawn out of the city to meet him. We like that place. That's a safe place where almost everyone loves Jesus and agrees about him. That's a place where the shouts of "Hosanna!" get lost in the crescendo of praise.But the point of the Triumphal Entry is not that we lined the road in exuberant worship. The point of the Triumphal Entry is that he used that road to enter. The cloaks got picked up and dusted off. The palm fronds withered and blew away. The stretch of road from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem was empty again and twice as quiet after all the clamor.And the party outside the walls didn't follow Jesus into the city. Inside the city it was harder, louder, more crowded. But he was triumphantly in.
"And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, 'Who is this?'"
Too often we practice church like we're all about the Triumphal Approach and lack any appetite for the Triumphal Entry. But no one ever erected a war monument to commemorate a beautifully designed and pleasantly arranged military encampment, complete with pretty uniforms and colorful pennants. The monuments are reserved for the battles that were fought in service of great causes.Years from now I don't want people to say of us that we had a lovely church or even that we really knew Christ. I want them to say of us that we made Christ known, that we took him through the walls of the indifferent city and that when Jesus went into our town, "the whole city was stirred up, saying 'Who is this?'"
Call to Repentance
Hebrews 12:22-24 (page 1878)
Call to Worship
Psalm 24 (page 862)
Jonah 3 (page 1438)
Hebrews 9:24-27 (page 1872)
The Perpetual Approach
Matthew 21:10 (page 1532)
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog