There is much more to the act of celebration than to escape from your problems for a while. Jesus encouraged praising and celebration as He entered Jerusalem, yet He knew well what He was there to do.
What is the Purpose of Celebration? Is it an escape from the pressures of life? Is celebration merely to “let off steam” or to let your hair down and relax? Or, is it an acknowledgment of accomplishment, blessing, or God’s Goodness?
John 12:12-13 (NLT) The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!”
The Triumphal Entry a few days before the Crucifixion. Jesus was very clear on what was about to happen. I am pretty sure I would have been very melancholy. But, the kingdom dictated that this was a triumphant moment. The King of Jews had come in peace, riding a donkey, not a warhorse. He came to die for them, not judge them, or condemn them.
John 12:3 (NLT) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
Learn to Prepare
A Personal Sacrifice. Mary’s gift was so costly. Judas valued it at a year’s wage. Likely it was a gift or heirloom that was Mary’s. It was clearly very highly treasured. She sat at his feet. Mary was unconcerned with the judgment of others. She had watched him eat at Martha’s table, and could see her brother who was supposed to be dead, but there he sat, talking, laughing, and engaging with the disciples and Jesus. She had to do something. She couldn’t do nothing.
Have you ever had God so deeply touch you or impress you that doing nothing was no longer an option? But Mary knew it had to be worth something. It HAD to be costly. It was completely misunderstood and judged and that didn’t matter to her. We need to learn from Mary, that what you do for Jesus is for Jesus. Not the critics. Nothing is too much for Jesus. No distance is to too far. No sacrifice is too great.
Luke 19:37 (NLT) When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.
Learn to Praise
Praise and Celebration are about what God has Done. God’s hand has guided our lives. He has pursued us throughout history. His power and His love have sustained us. The more difficult things become, the more clear that reality comes into focus.
If you would like to learn to praise, you must learn to be a noticer. Learn to notice God’s hand in the everyday. Learn to praise him for it.
Embrace the Opportunity to Praise. There is something about the triumphal entry I do not really understand. Even though the people didn’t get it, praise was the right thing to do. Jesus could only be the Messiah who the Father wanted and the people needed. He could never be what they wanted. He knew they would turn on Him quickly. That’s what makes this so interesting. He knew they were praising in ignorance, but still welcomed it, encouraged it, and even defended it.
Learn to embrace a moment of praise or even an excuse to praise. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Everything doesn’t have to be alright even. Praise is what is important.
So, instead of spending all day looking for reasons to complain, how about looking for opportunities to praise. God enjoys it, even if we don’t understand it.
Luke 19:41-42 (NLT) But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.
Learn to Pray
What does Grief have to do with Celebration? We can never truly celebrate because we never choose to let go of what can never be. It was too late for Jerusalem. Their course was established. It would be another 35 or 40 years, but what was coming could not be stopped. We must eventually learn that the problems of our world, including our political and social problems, are caused by our rejection of God.
There comes a time to grieve what has been and will be lost. I know that sounds like the opposite of celebration, but it’s vital to celebration.
Proverbs 14:13 (NLT) Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
Until grief heals, its pain weighs upon everything. The best way to heal from grief is to feel it, acknowledge it, and release it. This is something the Father wants for you. He wants you whole and hopeful.
Luke 19:46 (NLT) He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
So Let us Pray. What if EVERYTHING in your life is a product of your prayer life? Not only the things you ask God to bless you with but your connection with God. Your responsiveness to God. And, your relationship with a God who adores you and wants you to experience life through His goodness and power. Your prayer life IS your life.
Let’s pray. What’s hurting you? What do you need to release? Thank God for His care, His blessings, His love for you and His goodness to you.
Let’s praise. Let’s commit to stop looking for a reason to complain. We can find a reason to praise! In fact, what if we began to look for an excuse to give God praise?