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Preparing for Easter

The kingfisher sits motionless in the tree outside my sister’s home.  The beautiful colors glimmer in the sunshine. Suddenly, he dives into the field and up to the tree again with a worm in his mouth. That devoured, he sits quietly again. The skies here in New Zealand are alive with birds. Clouds of sparrows erupt from the country roads as we drive by. Paradise ducks fill the fields where the maize has just been harvested for cattle feed for the winter. Magpies that are considered a nuisance are everywhere—Myrnas with their jaunty, cocky nature tend to be even more disliked! But the birds have so much to teach us about life and what matters. Maybe it is the freedom that flying offers. The invitation to just be who they are, fulfilling their God appointed place in creation.

For us as Christians, this time of the year invites us into a time of contemplation of the journey of our Master into Jerusalem and the fulfilment of His purpose here on earth. This Sunday we call Palm Sunday—with a focus on celebration. I invite you to read slowly that amazing story, (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19) and then follow Jesus in the week that follows. It seems so much of His teaching is concentrated in that week.

This is our God. His focus was on fulfilling Scripture, walking the walk that would take him to his death. Every step had purpose.  Marvel with me as you read Jesus’ words to the disciples about where to find the donkey and its colt, and then the owners allowing them to take them. Can you put yourself into the crowd, imagine being there as Jesus gently rode the donkey into the city? Throw down your cloak? Cut down a palm branch? Can you see the expression on His face? Shout with them, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9) All the way into the city of David.

Who were these crowds that welcomed him with their shouts and their cloaks? Had they followed Him from Galilee where up till now most of His teachings and healings had taken place? When asked by the astonished crowds in Jerusalem, “Who is this? “, their response was “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:11) It amazes me that they still identified Him as being from Nazareth. That reminds me of Nathaniel's question years earlier, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  (John 1:46) Were they afraid of saying they considered Him the Messiah?

There is so much that happened in the week that followed, up until the crowd was shouting, “Crucify Him!” What changed in that time? Sit quietly as you slowly read these passages, and then on into the chapters that follow. Open your mind and your heart as you journey with Jesus through this amazing week, and allow the Spirit to show you new insights into Who your Savior is.

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