Prayer and Sacrifice – by Milton Hook

Nov 7, 2015 3382

triumphal entryJesus is nearing the end of His life on earth. He knows He is just a few hours from death. He approaches Jerusalem on a colt. His followers are loudly proclaiming, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). They are taking their song from Psalm 118. It foresees the redeemer as “the stone that the builders rejected.” At this time the significance of the phrase seems to be lost on the singers. If they continue with the same psalm they will sing:

         The Lord is God,

         and He has made His light shine upon us.

         With boughs in hand, bind the festal sacrifice with ropes

         and take it up to the horns of the altar (v.27 margin).

Do they continue singing the whole psalm? We do not know. It would be prophetic of the sacrifice at Calvary if they do sing all of it but they seem to be focused only on the joy of the occasion rather than any negative suggestions of rejection and death. Jesus, however, knows the reality. While others are rejoicing he is weeping. He can see ahead to a time when His nation will be utterly devastated. And Calvary is also on His horizon. It is both sobering and terrifying for Him.

Significantly, Jesus heads for the Temple, a place of prayer and sacrifice. He finds the precincts overrun with merchants and moneychangers. Worshippers are finding it difficult to concentrate on prayer. The sacrifices and prayers are adulterated with loud bartering, extortion and theft. Jesus is appalled and for the second time orders them out of the premises

Jesus eventually retires to the relative seclusion of the Mount of Olives where He knows He will find privacy for prayer. He is bracing Himself for imminent and ultimate sacrifice. Prayer and the perfect sacrifice are about to become inseparable.

It is that sacred union of prayer and sacrifice that finds its climax at Calvary. Jesus becomes a praying sacrifice. Matthew records something of what Jesus prayed from the opening lines of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It may only be an excerpt of what Jesus said or what was running through His thoughts. There is the likelihood that He continued with the same psalm:

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads….

I can count all my bones…. They cast lots for my clothing….

But you, O Lord, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me….

Future generations will be told about the Lord,

they will proclaim His righteousness.

Many more Christian martyrs became praying sacrifices. Many a Christian on their deathbed prays with their last breath. As they lived they die. Christ’s disciples are urged to engage in a lifelong ministry of prayer and sacrifice.

–­ Milton Hook. August 2015

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