Series: Easter: This Changes Everything
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Bec Reid
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: John 12:1-19 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The paraphrase by Eugene Peterson (MSG) we read today says, “The disciples didn’t notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about Him matched what was done to Him” (John 12:16). For some time now, I have felt there can be an unhealthy preoccupation with prophetic predictions regarding the future. Generations of Seventh-day Adventists are familiar with a particular end-time scenario heavily emphasized in countless sermons and evangelistic meetings. It is the end-time scenario Ellen White described in her book The Great Controversy. She fully expected these events to unfold in her lifetime. There were even Sunday laws back then! Just like the apostles themselves, and each succeeding generation of Christians, Ellen White firmly believed Christ’s return was imminent. Eventually, she outlined numerous reasons for a delay. I’m not asserting the same series of events could not have been postponed by more than a century. But what if Ellen White’s specific end-time scenario was predicated upon certain forces (religious, political, cultural) present in the 19th century which are no longer aligned in the same manner? My concern is for individuals who feel threatened by any new perspectives.
The religious leaders plotting to kill Jesus had studied their scriptures carefully and knew large portions from memory. They were absolutely convinced Jesus could not be their Messiah. They assumed their understanding of all the messianic prophecies was without error. Certainty can lead to pride and arrogance. It can also lead to disillusionment. Long before organizing as Seventh-day Adventists, many of our own pioneers were certain a Baptist farmer-turned-preacher called William Miller knew exactly what Daniel 8:14 meant and accepted a date set for Christ’s return accordingly. Their certainty led to The Great Disappointment on October 22, 1844. The disillusionment of the Millerites, as they were called, was felt all the more keenly on October 23. Large numbers lost faith altogether.
Humans desire to know the future, but perhaps God did not intend prophecies we read in the scriptures to function like horoscopes or crystal balls. It was only in hindsight that the disciples understood how Zechariah’s prophetic words were ultimately fulfilled by Christ riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Their faith was bolstered by matching prophecies with their fulfilment after the fact rather than knowing exactly what would take place ahead of time. I think all of us will be surprised at how things turn out in the end. Everything will make perfect sense then. In the meantime, if the past has taught us anything, it would behoove us to keep an open mind and hold our prophetic interpretations tentatively.
Recalibrate: It has been said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Do you agree?
Respond: Reflect on how God has led you. Are you able to make sense of past events/experiences now rather than while they were occuring? Are there still others lacking any logical explanation?
Research: Read Austin Fischer’s Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt (IVP, 2018).
Remember: “Because of Lazarus many Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus” (John 12:11, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. He his wife Angie is a schoolteacher on Orcas Island and their three children are really awesome!
Heard of the “horsey ride” game? Play this with your little one today but tell them it has been renamed as the “donkey ride” game. Either let them climb on your back and carry them around for a ride or let them jump up and down on your leg crossed over your knee. Ask them what they think it would have been like to watch Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem. What sounds do they think they would have heard if they had been there?
Remember my blanket from yesterday, the one I took everywhere with me and loved so much? One day, some friends came to our house to visit and when they were leaving their little boy was sleeping wrapped in my blanket and my parents let them take my blanket home and told them to keep it as I was too old for it now. I remember crying for a long time because something I loved had been given away. Do you think you could give up your favorite thing for someone you love?
As soon as Mary began to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair, Judas began to criticize her for having spent too much money on a perfume bottle for Jesus. The Bible, however, tells us that Judas was a thief and a liar and didn’t really care for the poor at all. Here is where it gets interesting: Judas’ criticism points to the fact that the cost of the perfume was about 300 pieces of silver, 10 times the amount he betrayed Jesus for. Huh!
Here is what makes Jesus awesome, even though Jesus was able to read Judas’ heart, Jesus did not call him out in front of everybody. Jesus still loved Judas.
Let’s get real—Have you ever criticized or spoken badly about someone publicly? Have you ever been criticized because you love Jesus? How did you respond?
The people of Jerusalem were shouting, “Hosannah!” Boy, the disciples thought it was hot stuff—Jerusalem was finally acknowledging Jesus and they were His crew, His inner circle, His posse, His “knights of the round table.” It was all pretty amazing for a bunch of backwoods Galileans! Jesus wasn’t that impressed. Jesus knew that Sunday’s cheers would turn into, “Crucify Him!” before the end of the week. Jesus knew the difference between “Hosannah!” and “Hallelujah!” Hallelujah is pure praise. Hosannah sort of means, “What are you going to do for me?” Really. The praise of the people during the “triumphal entry” of Palm Sunday was not as pure as you might think. It makes me wonder how many times I act like I’m praising God when I’m still pretty much focused on what He’s going to do for me. Just something to think about . . .
Bec Reid is a real estate agent within her family business. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and is a part of the Wahroonga Adventist Church community.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.