Significance. Not Time Wasting



Pastor Jeremy (00:00):
We're looking at the 21st verse, 21st chapter, the first 11 verses Hear the word of the Lord as they approached Jerusalem and came to bethpage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples saying to them, go to the village ahead of you and it once you'll find a donkey tied there with her cult, by her, untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them and he will send them right away. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet say to daughter Zion, see your king comes to you gentle in riding on a donkey and on a colt the fole of a donkey. The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them, they brought the donkey in the cult and placed their cloaks on them. For Jesus to sit on a very, very large crowd, sped their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road, the crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted hosanna to the son of David, blessed as he who comes in the name of the Lord in the highest heaven. 

Pastor Jeremy (01:05):
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, who is this? The crowds answered. This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. You may be seated. 


Pastor Jonathan (01:26):
Well, good morning everyone. How are we today? Good, thank you. Thank you. There are some other folks with us this morning. It is a joy to be gathered together on this Palm Sunday where we celebrate what is known as the triumphal entry as Jesus enters into Jerusalem the week or so before he will eventually be arrested and tried and then crucified and then looking farther ahead. Of course we know resurrection Sunday, and so I don't ever like talking about the story of Jesus entering into Jerusalem and being arrested and sentenced to the cross without mentioning the resurrection because ultimately the resurrection is what our faith is in. Lots of good people have died for their cause. Jesus is not necessarily unique in that, but Jesus being the son of God, death was not the end of his story. He rose from the grave on the third day and it sits at the right hand of the Father. 


Pastor Jonathan (02:45):
And so that is what we are celebrating beginning this week, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and as we have been journeying through lent, one of the sort of call it a revelation if you will, or an understanding that I have observed in my own life is the awareness that this is the only life that you and I have to live, right? We only get one life and it is this life and a lifetime for us all hopefully will be very long and fruitful and adventurous and joyous. But even those of us who will live the longest, we still only get one time. And for me over the past several weeks as I have been contemplating that, I've been thinking about how I want to live the most joy-filled present life that I am able to live. I want to be the most joy-filled and present husband that I can possibly be the most joy-filled and present Father, that I can be the most joy-filled and present neighbor, that I can be the most joy-filled and present friend that I can be the most joyfilled and present pastor that I can be. 


Pastor Jonathan (04:06):
And I think that's what we recognize too in the life of Jesus. Of course, there were moments in Jesus' life that probably would not evoke certainly not happiness and even challenge joy, but Jesus was present in and through it all because he knew where he was headed. And I think when we understand the way of Jesus and seek to allow the ways of Jesus to be formed in the depths of our lives, then we too can discover what it means to live the most joy-filled, full and present life. And so as much as for myself, I want to jump ahead to the resurrection. Like we said, it is important for us to journey this week with Jesus to the cross. It's important for us not to just jump ahead to next week and celebrate the resurrection because we need to be aware of what Jesus endured during these days. And so for us to do that, I want to invite us to offer this prayer that we might be the most joy-filled and present people in this moment that we have together this morning. So let's pray these words together, prepare our hearts, oh God, to accept your word, silence in us any voice but your own that in hearing we may also trust in your ways through Christ our Lord. 


Pastor Jonathan (05:53):
So during Lent, not only this year but all years during Lent, historically Christians have sought to examine and pray and repent and fast. And we have joined in with that again this year. But we have also been focusing specifically on what does it look like for us to through prayer and repentance and fasting, identify the areas of our lives where things have gone a little bit askew, areas in our lives where we have become unaligned with the way of Jesus. If you drive your car down the road for a certain amount of time, your car will become out of alignment and you have to take it in to have it aligned so that the tires rotate properly and the steering wheel steers properly, otherwise you'll start drifting and rough rides and all of those kinds of things. And so just like our cars need maintenance, we need maintenance in our lives as well. 


Pastor Jonathan (07:02):
And so the maintenance that we endure is not going to the mechanic to get an oil change or a system wash or whatever it is. It is that we would spend time in the spiritual disciplines, time in prayer and fasting and examine and all of these things that we have talked about and promoted here at Journey. And then as we identify or as the spirit identifies these areas in our lives where we have become out of alignment with the kingdom, the benefit of the spirit engagement in our life is that the spirit is also will prune our lives of those things, those patterns that we have identified that are out of sync with the kingdom. I am a novice gardener. I enjoy gardening for about 20 minutes and then I'm done. But we have this beautiful garden, these beautiful gardens all around our house and probably calling them gardens as a little bit hoy toy. 

Pastor Jonathan (08:13):
They're really just flower beds. And the reason why they're beautiful is because the person who lived there before us planted them and tended them very well. And since then I have done the bare minimum maintenance in order that the plants will still grow. And so yesterday we were having some people over and we were going to be in our backyard. And so I had long overdue maintenance that I had to do and I got out my pruning scissors and I cut off the dead growth of the past. And as I was doing that, I was thinking that this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does in our lives. It identifies the patterns of our lives that takes instead of gives and prunes those away in order that new life would bud and grow and flourish in us. So today, as we are thinking about Palm Sunday in Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, thinking about what we need to let go of in our lives in order that the fruit of the spirit might be prevalent in its place today, what we are going to talk about is letting go of wasting time in order to grab hold of significance, having the Holy Spirit prune from our lives, wasting time in order that the new life of significance might bud in its place. 


Pastor Jonathan (09:45):
Now, as we talk about this, I need to make a disclaimer and then we need to have a little bit of some definitions. The disclaimer is that this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis and for some reason over the last month or so, this has been a really intense struggle in my life to stop wasting time. I don't know about you, but I am very prone to things just sort of popping up in my path that want to steal my time away from me. And the time that this happens is anytime I'm on my computer, which is a problem because I'm on my computer a lot, and so I have to find ways to keep myself from being distracted, to keep myself from ending up wasting time. And if you've ever found yourself in a situation where you've been sitting, you've been doing something, and then all of a sudden something else pops in your mind and that takes you away from what you're meaning to focus on and you start focusing on something different and then that takes you to something different and that takes you to something different. 


Pastor Jonathan (10:59):
And then all of a sudden you wake come to and you realize, wow, I have wasted like 30 minutes or I've wasted an hour and it's just gone and I should have been doing something different but I didn't. And it doesn't always have to be bad things. Sometimes it's scrolling through your newsfeed or those of us who use social media, we scroll through that or maybe it has nothing to even do with screens. Maybe it's going to do some other kind of activity that is leading you to wasting time. But so this is a struggle in my life. It's not something that I have perfected. It's not something that I would even say each and every week that I stru I, that I am able to achieve significance in my life over wasting time throughout the whole week. It's a struggle for me, and I am wondering if maybe it's a struggle for others this morning too. 


Pastor Jonathan (11:58):
Also though, we need to understand that there is a difference between downtime and wasting time. Now, there's a difference between downtime and wasting time. Sometimes we need downtime. And actually there are times in the scriptures that we read about Jesus where he needed and entered into downtime. And one of the things that we've been saying throughout the season of Lent is that if it's good for Jesus, it's good for us. And so Jesus needed downtime. He needed moments where he was able to silence from all of the things going on in his life. And so we need downtime as well. The difference between downtime is wasting time, is that downtime is a recharging. Downtime gives in our lives, wasting time takes, right? The difference wasting time takes, downtime gives. And so we need to look and examine our lives to determine whether an activity that we are participating in is downtime or wasting time or significant time. 


Pastor Jonathan (13:09):
Now, we could have all of these examples of how much time we spend on screens and how much time we waste doing that, and that definitely is a conversation that we all need to consider. But the reality is, is that we live in a technological world. That is the reality. We need screens to exist today and some of us use them more than others. Just right here in this room on this podium, I have two screens, one for my notes, and one to control. The slides that you see up on one of these screens that we have, we have a screen in the back and a screen in the foyer and screens over here. And these are all serving a purpose. They're not wasting time. They're actually contributing to worship. So technology is not our enemy, but just like anything else, it can be a huge source of wasted time. 


Pastor Jonathan (14:07):
So just like we would any other pattern in our life, we need to consider how we are wasting time with technology, but technology is not our enemy. So as we really jump into this and understand the problem of wasting time, we understand that it is fueled by the sin of sloth and the seven deadly sins, sloth is one of them. It's the time sucker. It's the thing that takes time away from us without any giving in return. So we need to identify the patterns of sloth in our life in order that they might be replaced by what we're calling significance or what is the fruit of the spirit of self-control, right? Raise your hand if you have self-control perfected. 


Pastor Jonathan (15:04):
And none of us have raised our hands, right? Raise your hand if you need more self-control at every moment of your life that defines all of us. And I wanted to offer a confession to you this morning in hopes that this helps. I know that when we're talking about, especially when somebody says the seven deadly sins, it can make us a little bit uncomfortable, right? Because you're talking about sin, but also you're talking about you've got the deadly description in front of that. And so this obviously can be things that we need to uproot from our lives and get away from completely, but there are also moments that are maybe less obvious or things in our lives that we wouldn't necessarily consider sinful but are still sourced from sloth. And so in my own life over the last couple of weeks, I have neglected something that I love to do and that brings so much joy to my life, and that is my habit of running. 


Pastor Jonathan (16:13):
My ideal day begins with waking up early, spending time in prayer and drinking coffee, and then going for a run. If that is the way that I start my day, almost anything else can happen for the rest of the day, and I will be content, and I know that about myself and I love it. Running for me reduces my stress and anxiety. It, it cleanses my mind of all negative thoughts or negative energy or whatever. But for the last several weeks, I have neglected doing it and I wish that I could really pinpoint the reason for it. It just, it's a lot of different things combined, and I am doing everything that I know how to do to muster up enough self-control to stop saying no to something that I absolutely need to be a part of my life. And I wanted to tell you that to of course point out a struggle that I wanted to be honest with you about, to make sure that you know that this is not something that I think that I have altogether. 


Pastor Jonathan (17:20):
But also at the end of our message this morning, we're going to have a moment to identify something in your life that you need to do something significant in your life that you need to do this week. So mine is going to be running, so next time you see me, you can ask me how if I did the significant thing in my life, and I'll hopefully tell you absolutely I did, and maybe you'll be able to tell me the same so that, but this is the whole reason why we spend time in examine and prayer and why we do it together so that we are able to do it on our own. This is why the disciplines are important to us because we need to have an awareness of the things in our lives that are helping us be the best versions of ourselves and the things of our lives that are leading us away from that. 


Pastor Jonathan (18:18):
And these disciplines are present in the life of Jesus. And as we just said a few minutes ago, and as we've echoed all throughout the season of Lent, if it's good for Jesus, it's good for me. And so we need to remember that one of the most remarkable things about Jesus that I think we don't talk about necessarily enough is that how purposefully he lived, how purposefully he lived. If you read through the gospels, Matthew, mark, Luke, or John, you will see this throughout the stories of Jesus, that his life was lived intentional, purposeful. Jesus did not do something just sort of do anything in his life haphazardly or without purpose and significance. Now, Jesus is also God, so we have to understand that when we're talking about him, which is why he is worthy of our worship and our devotion, he's not just an extremely self-disciplined individual, he is God, right? 


Pastor Jonathan (19:27):
So we have to understand that distinction between Jesus and ourselves. But when we are aware of this, we can follow in these same footsteps as well where we learn to live as significant of lives as we possibly can. Jesus intentionally constructed his life to fulfill his purpose, and that is what we are celebrating today on Palm Sunday, if you read through the gospels, you read Jesus constantly telling his disciples that we are headed to Jerusalem and the reason why he is headed there, he knows what is going to happen when he arrives, but he does it intentionally because that is what he knew had to be done. And so as a result of Jesus' resolve, we celebrate his RI arrival into Jerusalem where he was welcomed as king, right? We read this story earlier of Jesus entering into Jerusalem. We know about him going and sending his people up before him to bring him a cult to ride in on. 


Pastor Jonathan (20:46):
And as he enters into Jerusalem and the people are waving palm branches and putting them on his feet and shouting Hosanna, there is a question that is asked, and the question is this, right? Who is this? Right? Who is this person that all of these people have gathered along the sides of the streets and are waving palm branches and shouting, Hosanna, who is this and why is this happening? The response is the crowds answering, right? It's not just one person asking another. It's this sort of buzz around the city who is this remarkable moment that has captured the attention of all of these people? Who is this? And the crowds answered This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, right? Jesus is the one who saves. That's what his name means. Now, this is truly remarkable. 


Pastor Jonathan (21:59):
Jerusalem at the time is a Roman occupied city. Roman occupied cities had one king and one Lord, and it was the same person, and it was not Jesus. It was Caesar that is where their allegiance was. Jesus shows in to this Roman occupied state in which Caesar was Lord and king, and he comes in the midst of these religious leaders that had labeled him a heretic and had aligned themselves with the Roman rulers against Jesus. Yet we see the crowds of people proclaiming him as king. This is an occupation type moment where one kingdom comes into confrontation with another kingdom and only one of them is able to endure. Because if Jesus is king, then what's also true is that Caesar is not if Jesus is king. What's also true is that the religious leaders are not, they may have authority and power in their own kingdoms, but Jesus is the king over all. 


Pastor Jonathan (23:32):
Now, here's a little bit of a spoiler alert, which I don't think this will come to a surprise to anyone, but this reception that Jesus receives upon entering Jerusalem does not last, right? They crown him king and shout hosanna and lay palm branches at his feet. But eventually that changes. We flip forward a few chapters and the crowds that are again gathered, but they're not gathered to proclaim Jesus as the one who saves. Again, they are gathered at after he is arrested at his trial. And just like when Jesus enters into Jerusalem and the buzz around the city is, who is this? There is another question asked about Jesus. Only it's asked from Pilate, who is the governor of this area given authority by Roman rule, and as they bring Jesus before him, he asks them this question, what shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Messiah? 

Pastor Jonathan (24:47):
Just as remarkable as it is when Jesus enters Jerusalem and they crown him as king with their palm branches, this is a really remarkable question. Pilate is saying, this is Jesus who a few days ago, you all were proclaiming as king, right? And I'm sure that when once words spread around to the different areas of the Roman empire that this person had come in who was not Caesar and proclaimed as king, I'm sure that there was some people breathing down pilot's neck to try to figure out what in the world is going on there? Who is this person coming into town claiming that people are proclaiming to be a king? And so he's saying like, you are the same people who gathered on the streets and made this assertion that this was your king. This was the one who was going to save you. Who is this person? They respond to his question, but they don't answer it, right? They respond to his question, crucify him, right? This isn't, this isn't who you say that he is. Just crucify him. Give him the death of a criminal pa. Ask another question. Why? What crime has he committed? And they respond, but don't answer again, but it's louder and more intense. Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him. What changed in these few days that had these two wildly different responses? It certainly wasn't Jesus that changed, right? 


Pastor Jonathan (26:51):
The crowd, what I believe changed is that somewhere along the way, just as the buzz was about Jesus arriving into Jerusalem was contagious. So it was also contagious. The realization that Jesus wasn't going to rule as the earthly king, but as the heavenly king on earth simply put, the people became more impressed by the kings of the Earth than they were the king of the universe. There was more power and opportunity for them in being good citizens in Caesar's Kingdom than in following the way of Jesus. Now, this is the dilemma that we have been wrestling with over the past few weeks, and we would be foolish to believe that we are not prone to be deceived as were those that were there 

Pastor Jonathan (27:59):
That we read about in scripture. And so I want to offer a couple of questions for us in order to help us recall where our lives are out of sync with the kingdom of God and where we are in sync. Here are just a couple of questions if you want to take a picture of it or write it down, or maybe we can send 'em out to you as well. But here's the first question. In what areas of my life am I tempted to conform Jesus to fit the ways of brokenness that I have learned? Okay? So you and I, all of us have learned ways of brokenness, right? We have learned the ways in which the world as we know it works. And in many ways, those ways that we have learned are contrary to the way that the kingdom of God works. And we are often tempted in our lives instead of to form those ways that we have learned that lead to brokenness, to conform those to the way of Jesus, we are tempted to do the opposite of that, to conform the ways of brokenness or to conform the ways of Jesus into the ways of brokenness. 


Pastor Jonathan (29:19):
And so then that's where this second question comes in. And what areas of my life am I seeking to conform the ways of brokenness that I have learned to sink with the way of Jesus, through the transformation of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was indeed crowned as king. And that never changed, right? Just because the crowds turned on him, they never took back the fact that he was indeed the king. His crown was not of golden jewels, but his crown was that of holiness. The fruit of self-control is present in Jesus's life, not just as he enters into Jerusalem, but all of his life. And that's what fueled his journey to the cross. So the question for us today is, will we learn and trust Jesus enough in our own journey and in our communal journey in holiness, and will we seek significance in our lives? So I want us to take just a minute this morning and think about this. Maybe when we talked about it a little earlier, something already popped in your mind, but I want you to prayerfully consider this question, what is the significant action you need to take this week? What is the significant action that you need to take this week that will help you move from wasting time to 


Pastor Jonathan (31:15):
Living significantly? Take a moment and consider that Jesus. Today as we celebrate your entry into Jerusalem, we may think of the entry also into our lives and the way in which you set us free and gave us so much joy and hope. And I think just as when you entered into Jerusalem and somewhere along the way the crowds began to change, oftentimes we are tempted to settle back into patterns which take instead of give. And so, Jesus, we invite today, your Holy Spirit into our lives to help us identify the areas where maybe we have been distracted, or for some other reason have just been out of sync, and that as you identify us, those that first of all, that you would remind us that your grace is greater than any struggle. And also as we seek to live according to your ways more fully each day, that you would give us the strength we need in order to achieve that in all areas of our lives. Jesus, we pray all of these things in your name and for your sake, amen.