Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Philip Gulley, a Quaker pastor, wrote a book that is one of my favourites called Front Porch Tales. I have always found the stories in it to be down to earth and spirit lifting and I want to share one with you now.
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: "Go over to the village across from you. You'll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you're doing, say, 'The Master needs them!' He will send them with you." This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion's daughter, "Look, your king's on his way, poised and ready, mounted On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal." The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, "Hosanna to David's son!" "Blessed is he who comes in God's name!" "Hosanna in highest heaven!" As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, "What's going on here? Who is this?" The parade crowd answered, "This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee."
It’s was a time of great joy and enthusiasm and praise. Waving palm branches, yelling “Hosanna!”, following Jesus as He made His way into Jerusalem. Can you picture the celebration? Can you hear the joyous cheering, see the smiles on people’s faces and the laughter in their eyes? Can you feel the exuberance of the parade? If you can’t, try to remember when you were young and witnessed the Santa Claus parade. It was a day of happiness and generosity and cheer. People believed in Jesus!
But what would have happened if Jesus hadn't continued? What if Jesus, knowing that He was riding into Jerusalem didn’t mean His conquest, but rather His death – what if He decided not to continue the journey forward? What if He came to the end of the parade route, quietly slid off the donkey and said, “Well that’s it folks. My job is done now.”
Colossians 3: 1-2 (The Message)
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
I want to tell you a story of Robbie Risner. Risner was an army general who was captured in the Vietnam war and forced to live in a POW camp, called the Zoo, in Hanoi for seven and a half years. Dirt carpeted the floor. Rats scurried beneath a vented grate. Cockroaches roamed the walls and crawled over sleeping prisoners. The only source of light peeked through three holes near the fifteen-foot ceiling. The cell offered no bunk, no chair, no table and no way out.