Rev. Matthew Koerber
Today is Palm Sunday. A reminder of how quickly Jesus would rise and fall in public opinion. On Sunday, he entered Jerusalem to a hero’s welcome and the fanfare of celebration. By Thursday, he was betrayed, abandoned, condemned. By Friday the crowds call out – “Crucify him!” And they did. When Jesus did not turn out to be the king they expected, their opinion changed in a hurry.
For Paul, the same sort of startling transformation happens in reverse. When we first meet Paul (“Saul” as he is called by his own people), he is observing the murder of Stephen, approving of the execution. But on the road to Damascus things change quickly. He set off on the journey to capture and persecute the church, but when Jesus revealed himself to Paul – he is knocked to the ground, stunned by the revelation of Jesus as the risen Lord. He had to change his mind in a hurry. Jesus was not the sort of king that Paul had been expecting. He didn’t expect the savior of the Jewish people to endure suffering and crucifixion. He didn’t expect a king who was willing to serve others sacrificially – at the cost of his own life. When Paul reoriented his understanding of the Messiah around the risen Lord Jesus his life would also change dramatically.
In conclusion, these three chapters are full of great confusion about the identity of Jesus. The crowd in Jerusalem rejects Christ’s messenger (Stephen) as the generations before them had rejected the other prophets. Simon the magician thinks Jesus is someone he can use to advance his own personal agenda. The Ethiopian eunuch can’t figure out how to interpret the suffering servant themes of Isaiah 53. And Paul (Saul) needs a heavenly correction to grasp the identity of Jesus. Notice, the role that the Holy Spirit plays in highlighting the identity of Jesus. (v.55) “[Stephen] full of the Holy spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” The Bible does not tell us that this is literally how every person will be filled with the Spirit, but the difference in our experience from Stephen’s is only in degree. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would “glorify me” (v. 16:14). Like a spotlight that shines on the theater stage, the Holy Spirit works to magnify Jesus, the main character in God’s redemptive drama.
Reflect: Do you see Jesus as both the risen Lord and the suffering savior? Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would open our eyes to see the glory of Christ!
Connect: Jesus explained the role of the Holy Spirit on his last night with the disciples.
John 16:14-15 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.