Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 19 2013 - Luke 19:28-48 – Behold your king

What kind of a king is Jesus? He is a paradoxical king; he defies expectations. He is the kind of king who does not come into Jerusalem riding on a war-horse; he comes riding on a donkey. He comes not to crush his enemies with a show of power; he comes in humility to save. Nevertheless, he is a king. The crowd had it right when they greeted him with their shouts, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38). Jesus said that if the crowds had been silent, the stones would have cried out. All creation looks with anticipation for this king.

Jesus humbled himself not only by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey; he humbled himself by submitting himself to the malicious arrest, mock trial and cruel death on the cross that awaited him there (see his words in 18:31-34). For it was only through this death that he would enter into his reign. This humiliation would achieve a greater victory than any warrior on a war-horse. His humiliation, death and resurrection would change the world for ever. The mighty empires of Greece and Rome have disappeared from history; his is an empire that will last for eternity.

But make no mistake, this is no gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Having arrived in the city, he made his way to the temple and there drove out those who were carrying on their self-serving trade in the temple courtyard. That must have taken some doing. Jesus did not do it by asking them nicely to leave. Jesus came to Jerusalem to suffer and to die, but he is not a passive Saviour. He came also in power to cleanse and renew. He came to cleanse the temple that it might be a ‘house of prayer’; a place where people might come to meet with a holy God.

Perhaps we are attracted to the humble Jesus on a donkey but not so much to the Jesus who drives out all that pollutes the temple of the living God. Over the years there have been those who have talked of two levels of discipleship: those who accept Jesus as Saviour and those who go on to accept him also as Lord. But Jesus cannot be cut in half in this way. We cannot have the benefits of his passion without bowing the knee to him and acknowledging him as Lord. We cannot have Christ crucified without also having Christ risen and reigning in our lives.

Jesus came into the world to save his people from their sins. He saves us from our sins not only by suffering their penalty in our place; that on its own would leave us in our sins. He comes to make his home with us – to make us a temple for the living God. And he will not tolerate those things which defile the temple of God. He comes to demolish the shabby hovel of our lives that he might make it anew into a palace for the king.

Jesus comes to us to cleanse and renew. He ‘breaks the power of cancelled sin, and sets the prisoner free’. Are we ready for the breakages?

King Jesus, you gave your life for me, help me to give my life entirely into your hands. Search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Do with me what you will, only do not leave me. Take from me all that is inconsistent with your presence in me. Break me, mould me, fill me, use me – for the glory of your name and for the blessing of others.

Apr 19 2019 - 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11 – Samuel dedicated to the Lord

The books of Samuel narrate the transition from the tribes of Israel being governed by localised judges to the whole nation being ruled by a king.

There are some similarities between the story we have read today and that of the birth of Samson. In both incidents a child is born to a couple who expected to remain without children; in each instance the boy who was born was a very precious child, loved by his parents but dedicated to the Lord from his birth. But here the similarities end.

Samuel's mother, Hannah, was one of the two wives of a man called Elkanah. Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, had several children but Hannah had been unable to conceive. Though her husband loved her dearly, Hannah was taunted by Peninnah year after year for her lack of children and her life was made miserable.

At this time, the Tabernacle, or 'house of the Lord', was pitched at Shiloh and this is where Israelites went to worship and offer sacrifices at festival times. On one such visit, Hannah went to the Tabernacle to plead with the Lord to grant her a son, promising that if God answered her request he would be dedicated to the Lord's service. Like Sampson before him, he would be a Nazirite, one whose dedication to the Lord would be symbolised by his uncut hair.

Hannah's prayer was answered and she gave birth to a son whom she named Samuel. When he was still quite a young child, perhaps between two and three years old, Hannah took Samuel to Shiloh to fulfil her vow. There he was handed over to Eli, the elderly priest who, assisted by his sons, ministered at the Tabernacle. Samuel was to become Eli's apprentice.

As she dedicated her son to the Lord's work Hannah poured out a remarkable prayer of praise to God. She declares that there is no one like the Lord. He is not only great in power but is also gracious and kind to those in need:

He raises the poor from the dust
   and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
   and has them inherit a throne of honour. (1 Samuel 2:8)

It is also a prophetic psalm, ending with the words,

 He will give strength to his king
   and exalt the horn of his anointed. (2:10)

This is a remarkable word of prophecy since Israel at that time had no king. Remember how the book of Judges ended, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit" (21:25). Unlike Samson, Samuel will be a godly judge who seeks to be obedient to the Lord God of Israel. He will be the greatest and last of Israel's judges and will be the one who will anoint the first of Israel's kings. Before his period as a judge is over he will anoint David to be king, the descendant of Boaz and Ruth and ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gracious God, thank you that you hear and answer prayer. You work out your purposes in remarkable ways through the lives of ordinary people. Help us to be serious in seeking your blessing, thankful for every answer to prayer and sacrificial in our devotion to you. May we often be found praising you, for you are the one who "brings down to the grave and raises up." You raised our Lord Jesus from the grave and have given us resurrection life in him. You have raised us "from the dust and" made us "inherit a throne of honour" with Christ our Saviour.

Peter Misselbrook