Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

Matthew 21:6-11 (AMP)

Then the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them, and they brought the donkey and the colt, and placed their coats on them; and Jesus sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road [as before a king], while others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him, and those that followed Him, were shouting [in praise and adoration], “Hosanna to the Son of David (Messiah); Blessed [praised, glorified] is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest [heaven]!” When He entered Jerusalem, all the city was trembling [with excitement], saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

On one end of the city, we have Jesus entering with humility—as the arriving fulfillment of hope. The crowds have been praying and expecting this Messiah sent from God. Jesus is the visible confirmation of prayers received, of disciples faithfully stewarded. Those people in the crowd waved their palms and when they looked at Jesus they knew they were looking at God. They knew they were seeing their future.

On the other end of the city, Pontius Pilate is entering with pomp and majesty.

While Jesus is the visible fulfillment of humanity’s hope, Pilate represents greed and mistrust. That same change they believed in then as they waved their palms is the same change I believe in now. I know, with deep-seated conviction, that Jesus can change people. This is the driving force behind my prayers and the reason I come to worship and lift my voice with praise. I am in a relationship with Christ who can change conditions. I don’t care how much weight I carry, how much pain I’m suffering through, or how much pressure is squeezing in on me. If I can just get to Jesus, then I know change is on the way.

Matthew 21:6-11 brings a different lens to today’s political climate, does it not? We are living in excessively embarrassing times as our political system threatens to weaken this country’s integrity and splinters this American experiment on diversity, plurality, and inclusion.

I must confess—and I suspect some of you are feeling this way too—that I live juxtaposed between severe pain and unbelievable excitement. One look at our fragile world today and you’re looking at the source of the pain. On the other hand, my excitement has never been higher because I know that God can change seasons, people, and conditions. Change is painful, but it is not as painful as staying the same. It’s not as hard as letting change pass you by.

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, a famed British painter and sculptor, was one of the most famous painters of the Victorian era. His first showing was at the tender age of 13, and the Royal Family quickly took notice of his talent, commissioning him to complete portraits. He was even recruited to provide Queen Victoria and Prince Albert private drawing lessons.

He was visiting a family in an old mansion in Scotland. One of the servants accidentally spilled a pitcher of soda water on the wall, staining the wall. The family went out for the day, but Landseer stayed behind and observed the mistake on the wall. He picked up some charcoal, and incorporated the stain into the development of a beautiful piece of art. The family came back to an extraordinary drawing of a waterfall with trees and animals. Landseer figured out how to incorporate the stain into a change until an accident became a masterpiece.

We are all here today, like the crowd waving palms, because Jesus stood before us looking at the stain of sin. He took the charcoal of His grace and painted a picture of what salvation looks like. Salvation put the paintbrush into the master’s hands until redemption turned us into a masterpiece. Just look at what God has made out of a stain.

God’s grace provides strength to meet every challenge and to overcome every weakness. He brings proof that spirituality still works. He shows us a crowd of hopeful, liberated people shouting Hosanna as Jesus approaches—a beloved community welcoming social parity, political integrity, and economic prosperity for everybody. On the other side of the city, we have economic exploitation, political oppression, religious manipulation, and social domination.

Which side of the city are you entering in on?

Only a spiritual life can produce the change we want; it’s the only change that makes a difference. You can change anything in your life without changing spiritually, and the change isn’t going to last. But if you change spiritually, then nothing about every other part of your life can stay the same. Spiritual growth means deeper commitment to His Word, deeper discipline in prayer, and increased intimacy in worship.

2 Peter 1:5-8 says, For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We live in a post-Christendom age, where our spirituality has become diluted, eroded, and fragile. Our spiritual maturation determines our human elevation. Don’t neglect your spiritual growth because everything else is connected to it.

Tell me what you need today, and I have a simple answer for you: grow spiritually.