Home Page  My Blog  Books  Videos  Other Writings   Photography  My Church's Web Site  Bio Information   E-mail me
My novel
Kathryn's Fountain
 Now Available!

 Click HERE to go to
Kathryn's Fountain Home Page 

Now available to order online at
Cladach Publishing  Amazon  Books A Million Borders   Barnes & Noble
or at your favorite bookstore

“Developing a Character Like Christ's”
Part 6:
"Living to Bring Glory

to Our Heavenly Father”

Based on Luke 19:28-40 and Selected Texts
Delivered on Palm Sunday, April 4 & 5, 2009
by David J. Claassen
Copyright 2009 by David J. Claassen

            If there were one parade I could witness in person, it wouldn't be the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, California or the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York; it would be the Palm Sunday parade in Jerusalem.  A mini version of it is held every Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, when Christian pilgrims retrace the route of the original parade.  Diann and I walked the route when we toured the Holy Land as a gift from you, the congregation, for our 25th wedding anniversary over 12 years ago.  That experience was wonderful, but I'd like to be able to watch — and even be a part of — the original Palm Sunday parade, which we often refer to as Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
            It was near the end of Jesus' physical life here on Earth.  Within days He would be crucified, but on this day, a Sunday, Jesus was being honored by a huge crowd of people who were following Him into
Jerusalem.  Jesus had sent His disciples to bring a donkey for Him to ride to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.  The historical text of the gospel of Luke states what happened next: “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37)  They shouted phrases such as “Hosanna!  Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13)
            What I like about Palm Sunday is that Jesus finally got some of the recognition that He so deserved.  The people who were part of the parade for Him that day misunderstood why He was going to Jerusalem — He was going for His crucifixion, not His coronation — but He still deserved the honor and glory they gave Him.  When the religious leaders told Jesus to quiet the crowd, He jubilantly replied, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)  In other words, this time of giving Him honor and glory had to happen!  Jesus more than deserved the glory He received.
            If you think about it, glory was one of the major themes of the life of Jesus, and it reached something of a high point on Palm Sunday.  Today’s message is the last of a series of six messages about “Developing a Character Like Christ’s.”  It's clear from observing the life of Jesus that it was glorious.  The whole idea of glory played a major role in His life, and His life can have a glorious impact on ours!  That's why I've titled this message “Living to Bring Glory to Our Heavenly Father.”  

Jesus' Life of Glory
Few people would argue that Jesus deserves honor and praise; no human being has more renown and greater distinction than Jesus has.  Even people who don't profess to be Christians will usually give Jesus this much.  When you talk about giving someone honor, affirming that the person is worthy of praise and is an individual of renown and great distinction, you're talking about giving glory to that person.
            “Glorious” is one of the many words you could use to describe Jesus.  At His birth the angelic choir sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, . . .” (Luke 2:14)  Jesus Himself said of His second coming someday in the future that “They will see the Son of Man [His favorite nickname for Himself] coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
            One of Jesus' disciples — the apostle John, who spent three years living with Jesus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — said about Jesus at the beginning of his gospel, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came down from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
            Of course not everyone saw Jesus’ glory, as John put it.  In fact, most people didn't see it; to most He appeared to be an ordinary man.  He had to eat, sleep, bathe, and occasionally go behind a tree or a rock, if you get my drift.
            The disciples realized that Jesus was unique, though they didn't fully comprehend some things about Him until after His resurrection and ascension to heaven, when He was more fully glorified.  Even while they participated in Jesus' glorious entry into Jerusalem, they didn't grasp the full implications of what was happening.  John, who was one of them, wrote, “At first his disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.” (John 12:16)  Only in hindsight could they fully appreciate how glorious Jesus really was!
            Jesus was no self-promoter; in fact He said on one occasion, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.  My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” (John 8:54)  What would you think of a person who goes into a trophy store and buys a trophy for himself to put on display?  Not much, I suspect!  Jesus didn't glorify Himself, but the Heavenly Father gave Him glory.
            One such time was when Peter, James, and John were invited to follow Jesus up onto a mountain.  While they were there His glory was, shall we say, de-cloaked.  Jesus was standing before the three disciples in His heavenly glory, talking with Moses and Elijah, two Old Testament characters who had been dead for centuries.  Luke wrote about that event: “Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” (Luke 9:32)  Peter, one of the three who were eyewitnesses to the event, wrote in his second letter that we have in our New Testaments, “For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'” (2 Peter 1:17)  Jesus had glory like no one else has ever had.  He lived with a profound sense of the Heavenly Father’s giving glory to Him and of Himself living in such a way as to give glory to His Heavenly Father.  That should have a great impact on our lives! 

Enjoying God's Glory
We’re born with an instinctive desire to be amazed.  That's why we like watching a magic show, a sunset, a rumbling volcano, and a soaring eagle.  We yearn for something beyond the ordinary.  The great Christian thinker, speaker, and writer C. S. Lewis said in a sermon that he preached in Oxford, England in 1942 and later published in his book The Weight of Glory, “We remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.” (p.6)  Life becomes a search to satisfy our deepest need, which is to experience something transcendent, and we look in all the wrong places.  Lewis stated earlier, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.” (p.2)
            Do you know what Jesus' heart’s desire is for you, who have chosen to be His and to follow Him?  It's recorded for us by the apostle John, in a prayer Jesus prayed for us: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24)  Just think — Jesus wants us to experience the thrill of seeing Him and being with Him in all His glory!
            I thought about that when I was with my dad when he died in a nursing home in Aplington, Iowa.  He had suffered for years from a debilitating stroke that left him speechless.  After a time of hospitalization we took him to the nursing home.  Sitting in his wheelchair only hours after arriving there, he had a “spell.”  I was standing by him as he sat in his wheelchair, and my brother and I lifted him out of the wheelchair and laid him in his bed.  Over the next hour his condition grew worse, and we knew that he was dying.
            My mother, my brother, Diann, and I were there the whole time.  I held his frail upper arm.  His breathing became more shallow and the breaths came farther apart.  Just when we thought he was gone, he took another breath.  Finally, we waited but there was no more breath.  What amazes me is that at some point — the exact moment unknown to me — Dad left that small room in the Aplington, Iowa nursing home and found himself incredibly alive in the amazing, glorious presence of the Lord in His heaven!  Dad had entered glory, and we were left holding the body!
            The apostle Paul wrote of this experience, “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
            This is what we have to look forward to, but what about in the meantime?  How should we view our remaining time here on Earth?  In view of experiencing God's glory in heaven someday, we should be living today for God's glory here on Earth! 

Living for God's Glory
The apostle Paul put it quite clearly: “. . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)  It's interesting that God has all glory, yet we can give Him glory by the way we live!
            Watch a dog show or a horse show where the master puts the animal through its paces.  Some of them obey their masters, and some don't.  Those who do follow the master's commands amaze us.  We point; “Look there!” we say.  There's a wait and then an announcement: “The winner is . . . !”   A trophy is handed to the . . . dog or horse?  No, to the master!  The master then reaches out and expresses affection for the beloved animal.  Both of them receive glory, but the master gets the trophy!
            We give glory to God by seeking to be His people, to live as He would have us live.  Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
            Much of life is ordinary, but when we live with our focus on our glorious God, seeking to live for Him and please Him, everything is different.  Picture the seemingly mundane jobs of, say, producing individually wrapped mints or printing monograms on dinner napkins or packaging little packets of sugar.  They’re ordinary tasks, but if each of those mundane items was stamped with the words “The White House” and they were destined for
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you’d be thrilled by your job.  Folks, we're supposed to do everything — all of our living — for God the Father.  Jesus did that, and if we do that, too, it will make all the difference in the world!  Our lives will be glorious, with the emphasis on the glorious part!
            Here's a benediction for our lives: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

My Photo of the Week