Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What the palms lead to . . .

I told my class, "We'll be placing palm branches on the altar next Sunday."

“What is an altar?” one little fellow asked.

I forget if you haven’t been on the planet very long or are not indoctrinated into church talk, some words don’t make sense.

“Field trip,” I said.

We left our seats and trekked out to the sanctuary. I stood in front of the communion rail and altar table with the cross and talked about how we prayed before it. As I spoke, I wondered if these small children with their concrete thinking were ready to hear about all the details of sacrifice, which is much of what the altar is about.

The altar used to be the place where animal sacrifices were made for the sins of the people, but one Friday over two thousand years ago, God provided the sacrifice of all sacrifices, his own Son, to atone for our sins.

When we put those branches down this past Sunday, we were paving the way for what comes next just as the frond-waving crowd did when Jesus entered the city long ago. What came next was the last thing anyone expected. After the jubilant palms came the hard sacrifice.

As we move through Holy Week, we remember what He did. We remember we have what we have because Jesus gave what He gave his life for ours.

As we consider this, we almost certainly hear God calling us to sacrifice. The apostle Paul put it this way, “So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary lifeyour sleeping, eating, going-to-work , and walking-around lifeand place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1 The Message).

He laid down His life for us. Now we lay down our lives for Him.

This reminds me of a hymn we rarely sing anymore, but is probably in my top five, “O love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee. I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.”

For the little fellow in my class and all those who wonder what an altar is for, that’s it. The altar is for sacrifice.

That’s what the palms lead to.

From the beginning of time, it was His sacrifice.
And now, hopefully, ours. 
We remember we have what we have because Jesus gave what He gave his life for ours. click to tweet

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