Preparing for Worship // July 9, 2017

Preparing for Worship // July 9, 2017

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[This week’s worship preparation was written by Mark Skylling, Uptown’s Pastoral Intern for The Gathering (Young Adults)

Have you ever experienced the calm before the storm? Perhaps it’s the cool breeze you feel while dark clouds are looming on the horizon. Or maybe you’ve seen the lightning and heard the thunder of a powerful storm off in the distance slowly approaching, knowing it will leave everything different in its wake. Our sermon text this week has a similar feel to that of an approaching storm. The life and ministry of Jesus are coming to a climax in Jerusalem, where he will clash with the religious leaders and authorities, and where he will ultimately face the powerful storm of God’s wrath upon the cross on behalf of his people.

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, a number of prophetic images and signs are evoked to display that Jesus Christ is indeed the promised Messiah. Matthew quotes Zechariah 9:9 to demonstrate this very fact, also showing us that Jesus is indeed a different kind of king. He comes riding not on a war horse or a chariot, but “humble and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5). Jesus was about to conquer a power greater than any earthly kingdom or ruler the world had ever seen: the power of sin and death that had enslaved humanity ever since The Fall. Yet his entrance into Jerusalem reminds us how this king “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).

Entering the Temple, Jesus overthrows the tables of the money-changers. This act was no mere spontaneous outburst, but rather an intentional and powerful message sent to all who were in the Temple: One who was greater than the Temple was here (Matthew 12:6). Not only was he here to purify the Temple, but the entire practice of sacrificial worship and religious life was about to be overthrown by Jesus himself.

This week’s passage ends with a barren fig tree, a symbol of the barrenness and failure of the Temple and its sacrificial system which were soon about to be over. As we study this passage and reflect upon who Jesus is and what he accomplished, may it stir our hearts to a deeper love for him, who knew a storm was coming, and yet still willingly went to the cross on our behalf. May we worship him, our true King.

THE WORD

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-22
Sermon: “Wave a Palm Branch, Not a White Flag”

SONGS

Raise Up the Crown  (Chris Tomlin)
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The Christian’s Hope Can Never Fail (Red Mountain)
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Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (Jeremy Casella)
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Song of Preparation: Desert Song (Hillsong)
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Song of Response:On Jordan’s Stormy Banks (Christopher Miner)
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