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Acts 8:26-40

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’m thinking about Philip.  Per a Heavenly angel’s command, Philip intercepted an Ethiopian in a chariot on the Jerusalem to Gaza road.  Philip helped him understand Scripture and then baptized him.  After they left the water, God teleported Philip to another place called Azotus.  If Philip and the Ethiopian were at Gaza when God made Philip disappear, the NIV Study Bible says that would be roughly 20 miles away.  Teleporting Philip over about 20 miles?  I wonder what Philip was thinking.  Maybe it was a memorable thrill ride that he described to others on Earth.  And it’s possible that he could have told/can tell his teleportation tale to others in Heaven.

 

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John 12:12-19

Mark 11:1-11

I hope that someday in Heaven, the scene is recreated of Jesus going into Jerusalem on an unridden colt surrounded by a crowd wielding palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna!”  As you read this account you can feel the excitement.  I wonder if the new colt tossed its head in reaction to the frenzied crowd.

As I went shopping this afternoon for palm branches, I wasn’t feeling the world’s excitement.  I went to three different stores and although there were plenty of pink rabbit planters and neon-colored polka dot plastic eggs for Easter, there were no palm branches.  I came home empty-handed except for a bag of popcorn that looked good.  I was surprised since Palm Sunday is this upcoming Sunday and Easter is the week after that.

As I got in the car, I turned on a Christian radio station and heard the words of Sidewalk Prophets’ song, “Help Me Find It.”   I had to smile.

Mark 11:1-11

When Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, they came to the Mount of Olives.  According to wikipedia, the Mount of Olives used to have olive groves all over the slopes.  I like to think that the olive groves were there when Jesus came.  Maybe He and His disciples ate olives there before the rest of the trek to Jerusalem.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_of_Olives

As I read today’s Scripture in English, I wondered what praise Jesus, who spoke Greek, would have actually heard as He rode the colt to Jerusalem.  My Bible says, “Hosanna!”  I looked up the Greek word for Hosanna, and although I don’t think this computer has the characters to type the written word for Hosanna, I can at least type a pronunciation which is very close to the English word.  In Greek, it is pronounced, “Osanna, ” without the “H” sound, and with the last syllable accented.

So, today, you can praise Jesus in English, Greek, or in whatever language you speak.  Happy Palm Sunday!

Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-45, Luke 2:8-40

Jesus’ mom, Mary, had out-of-the-ordinary experiences before Jesus was born, but also after.  When she found out from an angel of God about her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she went to her house and greeted her.  Elizabeth let her know that when Mary greeted her, the baby inside her leapt.

When Jesus was born, shepherds came the same day after the angel encounter to Bethlehem to see Him.  I don’t think Mary or Joseph would have known any of the shepherds.

Eastern wise men came, worshiped the child Jesus in a house (Matt. 2:11), and gave gifts including gold.  The Reformation Study Bible (Sproul) says, “Jesus was no longer in a stable (Luke 2:7).  This visit was some time after the birth (v.1), perhaps a year or more (cf. v. 16),” and, “The “Magi” were not kings, but priests or court advisers…They were probably from Mesopotamia, the region of ancient Babylon, although other locations east of Palestine have been suggested.” Mary (and Joseph if he was there) were probably amazed to see the wise men with their gifts and hear their story of the star.

When Mary and Joseph brought their son to Jerusalem, a righteous man named Simeon blessed them.  An elderly prophetess, Anna, gave thanks.  Since Mary (and Joseph) were from Nazareth, they may have not known Simeon or Anna.

Of the people above that either knew of or saw Jesus as a baby or as a child, Mary probably only knew  Elizabeth.  It seems to me that Mary might have expected the unexpected.

Luke 2:8-20

The last thing we know about the shepherds in Jesus’ birth story is that they were praising God.  The angel had told them that a Savior, Christ the Lord had been born.

Since the shepherds were so excited about Jesus, I wonder if they sought updates on Him.  Maybe they were even present for Jesus’ celebratory entry to Jerusalem.  Going from Bethlehem to Jerusalem would be about six miles.

Even if the shepherds weren’t at Jerusalem during that time of praise, they’re surely in Heaven praising Him.  As we head into the New Year, let’s share the past and likely current enthusiasm of the shepherds for Jesus!

Nehemiah 12:27-30, 40-43

Luke 2:8-20

In Nehemiah, the people celebrated Jerusalem’s rebuilt wall.  God gave them joy and their rejoicing could be “heard far away.”

In Luke, the angel came to the shepherds to tell them the “news of great joy,” that Christ the Lord was born.  Shortly after the angel finished speaking, “a great company of the heavenly host appeared…praising God…”

I’m guessing that the heavenly host that came to praise God were even louder than the celebrating people in Nehemiah.  God deserves our rejoicing and praising.  He gave us joy through Jesus, the perfect gift.  So, rejoice greatly for Him!

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