Worshipping Jesus In the Image of Expectation

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fifteen verses of the eleventh chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find John Mark beginning to describe the week of what has been called “The Passion of Jesus.” As you begin reading this passage of scripture you will find John Mark transitioning within the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from merely speaking unto and teaching the disciples concerning all that He must suffer at the hands of the scribes, the chief priests and the elders to now beginning to speak concerning His passion beginning to unfold. After three and a half years of teaching the people of Israel within Jerusalem and the surrounding regions within Judaea, and after spending three and a half years healing their sick, driving out their unclean spirits, raising their dead, restoring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and so much more, the time had now come for the week of Jesus’ passion to begin within the city of Jerusalem. In the previous chapter we find Jesus together with His disciples traveling and journeying to the city of jerusalem and the disciples being both amazed. As well as afraid at the thought and idea of Jesus not only suffering within the city of Jerusalem, but also being killed at the hands of sinners. What so amazes me about this week within the life of Jesus the Christ is that while it is described as the week of His passion it begins with something unexpected when you think about and consider the events that unfold during the week, and ultimately what would take place on the Friday of that week. When you begin to read and study this particular passage of scripture and begin reading how the events of the week of Jesus’ passion began you will find that the week of His passion essentially and basically began with praise among the people of the children of Israel. How absolutely incredible and intriguing it is to think about and consider the fact that the week of Jesus’ passion began with something quite unusual—although it was something that was altogether necessary. It was and still is necessary for Jesus to be praised, for Jesus to be honored, and for Jesus to be exalted before and among men, however, while that was true of what took place here, it was and would be short lived.

As I sit here and think about and consider the words which are found and contained within this passage of scripture, I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the fact that this week of passion for Jesus would begin with praise and honor as Jesus would rise through the city on a donkey, but how that praise and honor would be short lived. The more you read the words which are found within this passage of scruffier the more you will find and discover the tremendous fact that the week of the passion of Jesus would begin with a tremendous display of praise and honor for the Messiah whom the people of Israel had no problem worshipping. Up until that time the people of Israel had witnessed Jesus healing their sick, restoring sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, causing the lame to walk, driving out unclean spirits, raising the deaf, and feeding the multitudes, and even teaching in their synagogues. There seems to be at the beginning of this week of passion a wonderful display of honor and praise that was given unto and bestowed upon Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that I am convinced that the honor and praise that was given unto Jesus the Christ was not only based on that which He had already done, but also a certain expectation that was placed on Jesus the Christ. I am completely and utterly convinced that what we find within the words of this passage is a people who were willing to worship heir perception and even their expectation of the One whom they perceived to be the long awaited and often foretold about King of the Jews. I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but wonder how many times what we are actually worshipping is not necessarily the true image and person of Jesus the Christ, but how what we are actually worshipping is our expectation of Him. I can’t help but wonder how many times and how often what we are truly and actually worshipping is not the actual person of the living God, but rather our expectation of Him. I would dare say that there are more times than not when what we are truly worshipping is not the person of Jesus the Christ but rather that which we hope and that which we expect concerning Him. What I mean by this is that what we actually worship is an image of Jesus we have created and an expectation of Jesus we have created, formed and fashioned within our own hearts and minds.

WORSHIPPING THE IMAGE AND EXPECTATION OF JESUS THE CHRIST! WORSHIPPING THE IMAGE AND EXPECTATION OF THE LIVING GOD! As I sit here this morning I am struck with and by the fact that more often than not when we gather together in the house of the Lord to worship in the presence of the living God, what we might actually be worshipping instead of the true person of the living God is actually an image of the living God we have formed and created within our own hearts and minds. There are multiple times when we gather together in the house of the Lord and instead of worshipping the true person of Jesus Christ, that which we are actually worshipping is an image and expectation of who Jesus the Christ is within our own hearts and minds. There are times when we as the people of God gather together in His house week after week and we engage ourselves in worship, and what we believe to be worship of the true and living God, and yet that which we are ultimately worshipping is not the true person of the living God, but rather an expectation that we have of Him. There are times within our church services and in our meetings when we gather together and we attempt to engage ourselves in worship of Jesus the Christ, and yet what is ultimately found to be present within our worship is actually an expectation we have placed upon Jesus the Christ. In fact, I would dare say that there are times within our lives when we form and fashion expectations which we want and hope Jesus the Christ can and will fulfill and meet, and what we are actually worshipping is the expectations we have placed upon Jesus the Christ. Please note that what I am writing about and that which I am speaking of is in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t enter into the presence of Jesus with some type of expectancy within our hearts and souls. I am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t enter into the presence of Jesus the Christ and not have a certain measure and degree of expectation in that we enter into His presence with our needs, with our burdens, with our concerns, with our struggles, with our battles, and with our weaknesses, and we anticipate Jesus the Christ meeting us where we are and meeting that which we present and bring unto Him. The gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ are replete with example after example of men and women who entered into the presence of Jesus—not only with a need which was burdensome within and upon their lives, but they also entered into the presence of Jesus with a sense of expectation, as they anticipated and even expected Jesus to meet their needs. You cannot read the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and not find multiple accounts of men and women who journeyed to where Jesus was in order that they might enter into His presence and make their petitions and requests known unto Him. Please note and please be aware of the fact that I am in no way suggesting that there shouldn’t be some degree and some measure of expectation within our hearts and souls as we bring our petitions and requests before and unto the living God who sits upon the throne in heaven.

With that particular reality being manifested within this writing I would dare say that there are times when we gather together in the house and presence of the Lord, and we believe that what is needed to charge the atmosphere is expectation. We have been taught and we have heard that sometimes the atmosphere needs to be charged and needs to be activated with and by expectation within our hearts and within our souls in order for the presence of Jesus to truly and fully be manifested among us. We have been taught and have been led to believe that if we truly want to experience the divine presence and power of the living God we need to enter into His presence and enter into His courts with expectation. The truth of the matter is that what we have actually been fed is a line of bull which is a mile long, and have been led to believe something that is entirely false and completely untrue. We have been taught to believe that if we want to activate the atmosphere in our church services and in our gathering together, we need to do so with and by expectation and anticipation. In other words, we have been taught to believe that we need to enter into His courts and enter into His gates with expectation and with anticipation rather than praise, and rather than honor of the true and living God. We have been taught and have been led to believe that in order for the living God to meet us where we are we need to somehow charge the atmosphere with expectation and with anticipation, as if somehow our expectation can and will produce something mystical and magical among us within our midst. There have been preachers and ministers who have appeared before us and have led us to believe that what is necessary to experience the person and presence of Jesus the Christ is in fact our own expectation and anticipation, and that if we want to activate such a reality within our lives and within our church services, our meetings and our gathering together, we need to fully and completely engage ourselves in expectation and anticipation. In other words, it is essentially as though the Scripture states that we should enter into the courts of the living God with expectation and anticipation rather than with praise and thanksgiving. The words of the psalmist in the Old Testament never once stated that we should enter into the courts of the Lord with expectation and anticipation, but rather than we should enter into the gates and courts of the Lord with thanksgiving, with praise and with honor within our hearts before and toward Him.

I can’t help but be reminded of a passage that is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus—one that describes and details the sons of Israel, and the men from among the children of Israel and their appearance before Him. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find something truly intriguing and interesting concerning our coming before the living God, and our entering into His courts and entering into His presence. If you begin reading with and from the fourteenth verse of the twenty-third chapter you will find the following words written and recorded by Moses—words which were given unto him by the living God while He was atop the mountain of God in the wilderness. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular passage in light of that which we have already mentioned:

“Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (Thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty) and the feast of harvest, the first fruits of thy labour, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning. The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 23:14-19).

That which is found within this passage of Scripture is further compounded and further explained when you transition to the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, for within this particular chapter we find another reference concerning the children of Israel when they gather together and when they seek to come and appear before the true and living God. If you begin reading with and from the seventeenth verse of the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find the following words which were spoken by the Lord and written by Moses—words which would later be given unto the children of Israel as the law and statutes they were to obey and adhere to. Consider if you will what is written and recorded in this passage beginning with the seventeenth verse of the chapter:

“Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. The feast of unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year” (Exodus 34:17-24).

I have to admit that I absolutely love that which is written and that which is recorded in each of these passages found within the Old Testament book of Exodus, for they bring us face to face with our oftentimes misguided perception of entering into the presence of the Lord. As I sit here and read the words which are found within these two passages I can’t help but be gripped and captivated by the fact that when the Lord instructed the men children to appear and stand before Him three times a year, they were never to appear before Him empty handed. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this particular reality, for it is incredibly significant when you consider the children of Israel and their worship of the true and living God. If you read and study the law which was given by the Lord unto Moses—particularly and specifically concerning the laws of gifts, sacrifices and offerings—you will find that when the children of Israel came to appear before the Lord at the tabernacle which stood at the center of their camp in the wilderness, they were to always come with their gift, with their sacrifice, and with their offering in hand. They were to never enter into the presence of the Lord empty-handed, and they were never to enter into the presence and courts of the Lord without offering something which would be presented unto Him. Each time the children of Israel would come before the living God at the Tabernacle, and later at the Temple, they were to come before the Lord with a gift, with a sacrifice and with an offering which would be brought before the living God. There was to be no one who would come unto the courts of the Lord, and no one who would come to the Tabernacle of the Lord that would seek to do so empty-handed, and without something with which to offer the living God. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of the significance of this particular fact, for it holds tremendous weight when we think about that which is found within our own church services, and that which is found in our own gathering together, and our own meetings. We have been taught and we have been led to believe that when we enter into the house of the Lord we are to charge the atmosphere with expectation and with anticipation. We have been taught that when we enter into the presence of the Lord we should expect and desire of Him that which is found within our hearts, and that which is in our souls. The truth of the matter is that that which we find in Scripture is a completely different picture. Please note that I do believe that there are times when we enter into the presence of the Lord with something that is so burdensome and so pressing on our hearts and souls that we simply can’t do anything but cry out before the living God. There are times within our lives when the need and burden within our hearts is so incredibly great within our hearts and upon our souls that we can’t do anything but simply cry out in desperation before and unto the living God. There are times when we enter into the presence of the living God and enter into His house and are so overwhelmed and so burdened with the needs which are found within our hearts and souls that we simply can’t help but cry out before and in the presence of the living God.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but read and consider the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark and find the people of Judaea and Jerusalem engaging themselves in worship of Jesus the Christ, yet their worship of Jesus the Christ was not necessarily centered upon who He was, but rather their expectation of who they wanted Him to be. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read within this passage of Scripture is nothing more than a display of expectation and the worship of expectation, as the children of Israel did not worship and were not worshipping the Messiah because of who He was, or even because of what He had done, but because of their expectation of who He would be and what He would accomplish among them during those times. At that time Rome was the dominant superpower in the earth, and Rome controlled much of the known world, and this even included Judaea and Jerusalem. When the children of Israel worshipped Jesus the Christ as he entered into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, that which they were worshipping was not Jesus the Christ as a person, but rather their expectation of Jesus the Christ, and that which they wanted and hoped he would do. Can I be bold and honest right here and declare that there is something vastly different between worshipping Jesus the Christ based on who He is, and worshipping Jesus the Christ based on what we expect from Him, and what we hope He can and will accomplish. There is a vast difference between that which we know concerning Jesus the Christ, and that which we actually expect of and from Jesus the Christ. I would like to present you with the words which are found within this particular passage of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is not necessarily worship of who Jesus Christ is, but rather a specific expectation of Jesus the Christ, and that which the children of Israel desired. Beginning with the first verse of the eleventh chapter we find the following words which were written by John Mark concerning the opening scene of the week of Jesus’ passion:

“And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, He sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, Ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? Say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strayed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, the cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, hie went out unto Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:1-11).

What we read and what we find in this passage of Scripture is actually quite intriguing and quite powerful, for while it is true that the week of Jesus’ passion does in fact begin with worship and praise, I am convinced that the worship and the praise we find within these passages is actually a false worship, and one that is centered upon expectation and anticipation. The more I read and the more I consider that which is found within this passage of Scripture, the more I am convinced that what we find in this particular instance is not necessarily worship of Jesus Christ and who Jesus Christ truly is, but rather worship of the expectation and anticipation men placed upon Jesus the Christ. If you read the words which the people of Israel cried out when they went before and followed behind Jesus you will get the strong sense that they had a certain expectation of Jesus Christ—particularly and specifically as it pertains to Jesus restoring the kingdom of Israel, and even breaking off and overthrowing the tyranny of Rome. In fact, if you journey back to the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew you will find the disciples themselves asking Jesus if the time had come for Him to restore the kingdom of Israel, and to overthrow the tyranny and oppression of Rome. The more you read the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, you will quickly come to notice that there was this pervasive expectation of Jesus the Christ, and that Jesus would in fact restore the kingdom of Israel, and would restore the glory of the kingdom of Israel as it was during the days of David and Solomon. In fact, there is within the Old Testament a shadow and a type of what would take place during the days of Jesus when Jesus would enter into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey which had never been ridden on before. If you turn your attention back to the first chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings—specifically the latter portion of the chapter—you will find a detailed account of Solomon son of David being appointed as the successor to the throne of Israel within the city of Jerusalem. What’s more, is that when we read of Solomon being appointed as heir to the throne, we find something very specific taking place within the life of Solomon before David his father died and went the way of his fathers. Beginning with the thirty-second verse of the first chapter we find the following words written concerning Solomon and his being appointed as the heir to the throne of Israel within the city of Jerusalem:

“And king David said, Call me Zaod the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah. And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the Lord God of my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and cause Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them” (1 Kings 1:30-40).

That which is presented before us within this particular passage of Scripture is actually quite remarkable and quite astounding, for what is found within it is a picture of the true king of Israel entering into the city of Jerusalem riding upon David’s own mule, being anointed with oil as the next king of Israel, and being accompanied by Zadok the priest, and even Nathan the prophet. Solomon’s riding on David’s own mule, and Solomon entering into Jerusalem with the prophet and the priest is a wonderful and powerful picture, a powerful shadow and a powerful type of what we find within the New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. What we find and what we read concerning Solomon is but a shadow and a type of what was actually written concerning Jesus the Christ, for Jesus the Christ would enter into the city of Jerusalem much like Solomon did riding on a donkey. What’s more, is that there is a particular passage in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah which helps to further shed light on the events which took place at the beginning of the passion of Jesus. If you turn and direct your attention to the ninth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah you will find the following words which were written by the prophet concerning the coming Messiah and the events which we read concerning His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. Beginning with the ninth verse of the ninth chapter you will find the following words: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). Please don’t miss the significance of that which is written and found within this Old Testament prophetic book, for it is this particular verse that serves as the Messianic prophecy concerning Jesus the Christ, and His entering into the city of Jerusalem riding upon a donkey, and riding upon the foal of an ass. There is not a doubt in my mind that given the knowledge of how Solomon the son of David entered into the city of Jerusalem, and given the prophecy that was spoken by the prophet Zechariah, the people of Israel had a wonderful and powerful expectation concerning Jesus the Christ. When they witnessed and saw Jesus the Christ enter into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, a wonderful and powerful sense of expectation must have filled their hearts, and must have filled their souls as they thought and perhaps even believed that the time had come for Jesus to restore the kingdom of Israel, and even for Jesus to overthrow the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire within the land and region of Judaea.

There is one further passage that I would like to draw your attention to, for I am convinced that it brings this entire reality of worshipping the god of expectation and anticipation to a head within and before our minds. I am completely and utterly convinced that the worship and the praise which we find written and recorded within the New Testament gospel of Mark is actually a worship and praise of expectation and anticipation, and not actually worship of Jesus the Christ and who He truly was. I am convinced that the worship which we found within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark is actually a false worship that was centered upon an image of Jesus which the people of Israel had formed and fashioned within their own hearts and minds. I am thoroughly convinced that what we find on this particular day—while on the surface it does in fact appear to be genuine and authentic worship—is actually nothing more than the worship of expectation and the praise of anticipation. THE WORSHIP OF EXPECTATION AND THE PRAISE OF ANTICIPATION! The people of Jerusalem and the people of Judaea were okay worshipping and honoring Jesus the Christ when they thought He would meet and fulfill their expectations and their hopes and desire for the Messiah, but when they realized that He didn’t enter into Jerusalem to reign and to conquer but to suffer and die, they quickly changed their song and their tune. What would begin with worship and honor of a Jesus whom they believed would meet their expectations and fulfill their desires and hopes for the Messiah would quickly turn to animosity, hostility and vehement anger towards a Jesus who didn’t meet their expectations, and didn’t fulfill their anticipation and desire. In all reality, that which we find here within this passage of Scripture is nothing more than worshipping Jesus Christ in the image they had formed and fashioned within their own hearts and minds. What we find here within this passage is a wonderful and powerful warning to us within this generation, and our attempt and our desire to worship Jesus the Christ according to our own image of expectation and our own image of anticipation which we have wrongly placed upon Him. WORSHIPPING JESUS IN THE IMAGE OF OUR OWN EXPECTATION!

Please note and please be advised that it is truly dangerous for us to form and fashion a particular and specific expectation of Jesus the Christ, and then to proceed to worship Jesus Christ according to that image and according to that expectation. There is something truly dangerous, and even intoxicating about worshipping Jesus according to the image of expectation, and yet I am convinced that such a worship is both deadly and dangerous, and can and will lead to disappointment, and ultimately offense with Jesus. The children of Israel found themselves worshipping the God who had delivered them out of their Egyptian slavery and bondage, yet they worshipped that God in and according to the image they themselves had made. Their worship did appear to be genuine and sincere on the surface, and yet it was nothing more than a false worship that centered upon the image they themselves had formed and fashioned concerning the living God. Oh that we would read the words which are found in this Old Testament book of Exodus, as well as the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark and recognize the tremendous danger—not only of worshipping God in the image of our expectation, but also thinking and believing that we can enter into His courts and enter into His presence with expectation and anticipation alone rather than thanksgiving, rather than praise, rather than honor, rather than worship, rather than sincerity and truth. Oh that we read this particular passage and recognize and understand that the atmosphere does not need to be “charged” with expectation and anticipation, nor does the atmosphere need to be “activated” with and by expectation and anticipation. I would dare say that such ministers and such leaders who preach and promote such realities are doing nothing more than simply encouraging a worship of Jesus Christ according to the image of expectation and anticipation which can and will be placed upon him within our own hearts and minds. It is a dangerous game we play when we think and believe that we can somehow activate the atmosphere with expectation and charge the environment with anticipation, and that somehow that will bring about that which we desire, and that that will somehow call and bring Jesus to action within and among us in the house of the Lord. There is a danger in worshipping God in the image we have made, and there is a danger in worshipping God in the image of expectation, for such a worship can never and will never bring and offer anything before and unto Jesus, and will always expect and never give. Away with the preaching that promotes a worship of expectation and anticipation and one that never delights in the person of Jesus the Christ, and one that never enters into the courts of the Lord with thanksgiving, and one that never enters into the presence of the Lord with something to offer and to give unto Him. Oh that we would worship Jesus the Christ according to the image of who He is, and not according to the image of who we think he is, and according to the image of who we want Him to be and hope He will be.

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