The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
(Psalm 24, NIV)
Good Monday morning, dear ones. Monday of Holy Week, and by some timelines, it was on this day that Jesus cleansed the temple, driving out the money-changers, and by others He cursed the barren fig tree on this day. Perhaps both.
Perhaps in the commotion at the temple, the blind and lame came with their needs, and the children came, too, praising Him anew.
Did any of them really, really, really know Who stood in their midst, Who did these things, deeds compassionate, righteous, and instructive? Not one of them knew that before the week was out, He would take their place on the cross of their shame.
I had a thought this morning about John the Baptist. I hope he will forgive me this (I’ll bet he will!), but one of the things I love most about him is the way Jesus used him as a lodestar. He was, Jesus said, the greatest man who had ever lived, who had ever been born of a woman up to that time. Greater than Moses, greater than David or his son Solomon, greater than Abraham – wow!, greater than Daniel – wow, again!
But, said Jesus, he who is LEAST in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John!
And here is the thing … one of the last things John did before he gave his life was to send and ask the question of Jesus, “are You the promised one, or are we still waiting?”
What? How can that be? John saw Jesus as “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and still he wasn’t sure this was it! He had heard of all the miracles, but he was trying to make certain, this was it!
After all, John’s miracle never took place. He died in prison, at the request of a sultry dancing wench (imagine what that dance might have looked like – no, don’t!) and on account of a powerful man and his powerfully lascivious wife, actually, sister-in-law.
“. . . and blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of Me,” was Jesus’ message to John.
This King of Glory, sending His last words to this man, so great in time and history, and
Here we are.
Great in our faith and the knowledge of the Holy One.
I think of it as a crowning irony that, almost certainly, John himself became one of the least in the Kingdom of Heaven that day, and then he was greater than ever he had been and would have told us so!
Faithful to the end, dying in faith, greater than he could have known, martyred for righteousness’ sake, and
Here we are. Believing. Knowing. Never having seen, we believe. Greater than John the Baptist, anticipating the Memorial and the Celebration of the Resurrection of Christ!
“Lift up your heads, o you gates; be lifted up, you ancient and everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in!”
Do you know someone today, someone for whom the gates of faith have not opened? Someone whose head is bowed down in shame or unbelief, someone whose hands are not clean, neither their hearts pure, whose life is made up of scores of little idolatries and the pain of them all? Pray for that one today, and we will pray for one another, that knowing, we may live in the knowledge of the Risen Christ.