(Based on Chapter 7, Jesus’ Words for Teens: Standing Tall, Candice Mary Thomas, © 2021)
“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him.” John 12:12-16 ESV
Just, sinless, pure, and perfect—Jesus was surrounded by crowds. Sometimes they listened well as He taught them how to live and pray: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” [Matt. 7:12] “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy…” [Matt. 6: 9] Once they shouted in adoration: “Praise God! Blessings on the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessing on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” laying palm branches before Him as he rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. [Matt. 21:9, Matt.21:15, Mark 11:9, Mark 11:10, John 12:13] Yet ultimately, many of that same crowd with mob mentality shouted, “Crucify Him!” [Matt 27:22-23]
Clearly, Jesus was loved; and clearly, He was hated. He was respected, adored, then condemned. He was called Holy One of God, Lord…then blasphemer, demon, and criminal. As with us, Jesus felt hunger and suffered temptation; and as with us, He did not desire to endure the torture and crucifixion that He knew (as God) lay in front of Him: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Jesus said, ‘yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ ” [Matthew 26:39]
Through it all, Jesus stood tall, BOTH when He was adored by the crowds and when persecuted by many of the same, being led by fanatical Jewish religious leaders. You may think this was easier for Jesus than for you because Jesus was God.
It is true that Jesus was and is God, fully and completely. “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” [Hebrews 1:3] Other versions, the HCS, NASB, and ESV, use the terms exact expression/image/imprint of God describing Jesus. Jesus definitely is God.
Yet Jesus also was and is man, fully and completely. Don Stewart gives this summary of Jesus’ humanity in his article for the Blue Letter Bible: “When Jesus became a human being, He divested Himself of certain rights as God the Son. This can be seen in three ways. First, He restricted Himself to a human body with all its limitations. He gave up His position when He became a human being. Second, He veiled or hid His glory from the people. Finally, He exercised His relative attributes only by the will of God the Father - never on His own initiative.” 1 So, although Jesus could have reveled in displaying all His mighty powers, putting Marvel characters to shame, He exemplified humility, only revealing His divine nature when it was the will of God.
As God, Jesus could not sin; but as a human, Jesus could if He chose to disobey His Father’s will. Therefore, He was tested, just like you and me: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.” NLT “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ESV [Hebrews 4:15]
Jesus was tempted and tested, yet always stood tall. How? How did He withstand pride when adored; and how did He stand tall under the persecution of Satan, the Pharisees, other religious leaders, mockers, humiliators, betrayers, deniers, and murderers--all without sinning?
Jesus, as the Word and as the Son, knew who He was; He trusted His Father, prayed to Him, then lived in obedience to His Father’s will rather than displaying dependence upon Himself. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a sign of royalty, it demonstrated that He was not coming as a military conqueror but as a humble King of peace; and when He submitted Himself on the cross, He demonstrated living in obedience to His Father, the One He loved and trusted with His life. Humility. . . obedience . . denying self. This is how Jesus stood tall.
1. “In What Sense Did Jesus Empty Himself?” (Kenosis, Condescension of Christ). Don Stewart.
John 8:28 “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am He. I do nothing on My own but say only what the Father taught Me.” NLT
Philippians 2:5-11 “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” NLT
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, when I am being approved of, help me never to be prideful but always remember that what I accomplish is not because of who I am, but who You have made me to be: “for You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb…” Psalm 139:13 Any gifts or talents I have come from You, and the walk I have been growing in through Christ comes from You. You and only You desire all honor and praise!
And when I am being challenged, possibly persecuted, let me stand tall, turning to You in reliance, trust, and obedience. You have promised to be with me through all times; as you care for sparrows, providing for them daily, so also You will care for me. (Matt. 6:26; Matt. 10:29)
Help me always to remember that you are love; You are trustworthy; You are a promise keeper; and because I accepted Your Son as my Savior after He suffered and died for me on that torturous cross, I will one day live forever in Your comfort and peace.
Humility. . . obedience . . denying self. May I always keep Jesus' example in mind, then help me, Father, stand tall, becoming His imitator.
DISCLAIMER: I am just an ordinary woman who loves Jesus, accepting Him as Savior at the age of thirty-two and digging into the Bible ever since. How could I possibly hope to develop a heart relationship with God and trust Him with my life if I didn't know who He is?!
These devotionals are written to help you journey with Christ and grow in your heart relationship with Him. However, it is essential that you examine my words, and those of all other "teachers," with God's Holy Word. Therein lies the source of all truth!
Candice Mary Thomas writes about loving God and loving people! Coming to Christ at age 32 and now in her 70's, Candice knows what a difference it makes living with or without Christ as one's personal Savior.