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CHURCH TALK: The reason for the season

Friday 5 November 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features

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CHURCH TALK: The reason for the season
The moment when Jesus was celebrated with the laying of coats and palm branches as He entered the city of Jerusalem. PINTEREST/ 21110427

I mused over our recent celebrations in Aitutaki regarding the arrival of the Gospel and I wondered if we had overlooked something? By Pastor Paul Kauri.

In Matthew chapter 21 an event is recorded of a moment when Jesus was celebrated with the laying of coats and palm branches as He entered the city of Jerusalem. Today it is commonly known as Palm Sunday and is usually celebrated the Sunday before Good Friday.

Today I’m referring to the scripture reference, (knowing full well that it is way ahead of its usual time of celebration) not because of the festivities of Palm Sunday, but because of ‘WHO’ was celebrated in Matt 21.

I want to draw out some points between this first Palm Sunday, when Jesus arrived at Jerusalem, and our national celebration of the arrival of the gospel of Jesus to our shores 200 years ago, first in Aitutaki and two years later in Rarotonga.

The first point is this – Jesus came riding into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey.  

For two reasons this detail is important:

Firstly, it was common practice that when a King conquered a city, they would ride into that city on a horse. Even the book of Revelations tells us that when Jesus returns in the last days to take back all who are his and deal permanently to his enemies, He’s coming back on a White horse. That will be a terrifying and fearful day for those who do not know Christ, and a day full of awe for those who do. So, it was interesting that Christ entered on a donkey.

Secondly, (and I think this is the key) this was the indicator of the prophecy spoken by Zechariah 9:9 “Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

It is interesting to note that the people recognised the moment and the man as he rode into the city on a donkey, for this reason they laid palm branches ahead of him, that’s like the Hebrew Red Carpet treatment! Every Jew would have known Zechariah’s messianic prophecy. They were waiting for Him, eagerly expecting Him, generation after generation waiting, looking. And after all that Jesus had done healing the sick, raising the dead, leapers clean, lame walking, deaf hearing, they recognised what was happening when they saw him entering the city on a donkey. That’s why the crowds hailed Jesus as their king shouting,“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9).

However the Pharisees did not recognise the moment despite recognising Jesus, and demanded he rebuke his disciples, but Jesus did not, instead insinuating that even the rocks recognised him and would cry out!

The second point I want to draw out is the people praising Jesus outside the city, as Jesus was on the road making his way into the city. Matt 21:9 says that as the people followed him, they were “shouting”.

This word ‘shouting’ is the Greek word “Krazo” it means to ‘scream out’, ‘shout loudly’, ‘cry out’. In other words, there was quiet a commotion going on outside the city as Jesus was entering on his donkey, it was crazy outside!

However, as a result of this crazy welcome outsidethe city, we read in verse 10, “the WHOLE CITY was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?!’” to which the reply was, “This is Jesus!”

I’ve considered how blessed we have been as a nation since the pandemic broke out and the world has been rambling to figure out what to do. In 2020, when the reality of this global issue was taking hold of the world, we had the Cook Islands Games, which served as a great distraction from the demoralising news and its focus on Covid. It also gave us something healthy and great to rally together, as a nation. It was a great morale booster.

In 2021, as the world slips into the new segregation of ‘Vaxed’ and ‘UnVaxed’, the Cook Islands unite to celebrate 200 years of the arrival of the Gospel of Jesus. We are blessed indeed.

What does this seemingly irrelevant muse over our nation’s celebrations have to do with Matt 21? Let me try and connect the two.

It’s another two years before we celebrate the arrival of the Gospel of Christ to Rarotonga and talks are already underway to have another Cook Islands Games in 2022. One might call that déjà vu, regardless, they are great events to look forward to.

I mused over ‘Who’ the Jewish people celebrated.

I mused over the effect that their “Red Carpet Treatment” of Jesus had on their city.

I mused over what has been in our nation, and what is to come.

I mused over our recent celebrations in Aitutaki regarding the arrival of the Gospel.

And I wondered if we had overlooked something? I wondered if, in all our preparations over a great event if we missed it? I heard Papeiha’s name, and John Williams name, and with good reason as these were the men God used to bring the Gospel to our people.

A good budget was sent to Aitutaki to help celebrate the moment, the local media called it the ‘Celebration of the arrival of Christianity to the Cook Islands’, and from all accounts I heard it was a great celebration – well done to all our people of Aitutaki, Ministry of Culture our Cook Island Government, Religious Advisory Council and all the organisers involved. Even one of our own local AOG celebrations re-told the journey of the gospel, through the southern group and eventually into the northern group and the names of those who were on the boat, including the name of the boat itself! It was very enlightening and full of fun. Yet the Name that mattered most was ominously quiet.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem, they laid out the red carpet for him, the people SHOUTED His Name – it was crazy, caused quite stir in the city. They recognised the moment and celebrated The One who came in the Name of The Lord by shouting Hosanna, which means ‘Oh Save Us’. We sure could do with some help in these strange times.

I wonder if the emphasis will be different in 2022? I wonder if we will hear His Name above all other names? I wonder what our celebrations will look like and who’s name will resound around our shores? Time will tell.

One final muse … the sound of their ‘Krazo’ celebration stirred the whole city. I wonder, if in two years’ time, our celebration can stir the other Pacific nations to find hope in the Name by which all people are saved. I hope so.