The Allegory of Palm Sunday by Seth Nana Baffoe

A week to my preaching appointment on last year’s Palm Sunday 2014, at Bermondsey Central Hall Methodist Church, I was rehearsing the children’s session slot on the Order of Worship when my mind ran over this potential question a curious child might ask: “Why is today described as Palm Sunday”? What simple answer could I give to him/her and the congregation?

Could I simply narrate the story of the day when Jesus, with his disciples and followers, rode on a donkey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pass Over, and was met and greeted by a crowd of people who waved palm branches and shouted ‘Hosanas’ as stated in John 12:12; But would it be the only reason to name this unique Sunday a ‘Palm Sunday? Then another child may ask, ‘Sir, was the Palm tree the only tree found in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’? The obvious answer would be NO. There were other trees such as the sycamore trees (Luke 19:4), Olive trees (Luke 22:39), fig trees (Matthew 11:13) and many others. Why then was that Sunday not named after any of those trees but the Palm (Tree)?

Deeply thinking of this, my mind was thrown back to my country Ghana, where the palm tree stands supreme for strength, durability, power and sustenance among other trees. The Palm Tree is the strongest tree in the universe. No amount of natural forces like hurricane, tsunami, and a violent storm could either break or uproot it. There is a local saying that ‘the mightiest elephant cannot uproot or push down a palm tree’. Its steadfastness is not taken for granted.

The palm tree has multifarious purposes; to mention a few, which are as follows:

The branches and the leaves are used for household purposes e.g. basketry, brooms, mats, fencing, building.

The fruits and nuts are used for food, soup, soap, creams and oils (edible and medicinal)

The distal section of the tree is storage for sweet wine which could be distilled into African gin.

The roots have inherent medicinal properties for curing toothache, malaria and others.

Its fossils produce edible larvae and special tasty mushrooms locally known as ‘domo’.

Economically, the palm industry contributes to the life blood of the nation.

The usefulness of the palm tree among other trees, cannot be underrated.

In his interactions with the people, Jesus used parables and allegories for illustrations to bring meaning and understanding to his teachings, among which were the parable of the sower, the wicked husbandmen etc. Similarly, the Palm Tree allegorically represents Jesus, who is indomitable and unconquerable as compared with any other spiritual or worldly powers. The devil with all its treachery and deceit could not break Jesus down in the desert.

The use of the palm tree also brings in an element of simplicity and accessibility. It can endure adverse weather conditions because its roots are firmly anchored in a source that feeds and firmly supports it. It is the same with the Christ we welcome on Palm Sunday. His strength and power is from the Creator and sustainer of life.

We have just discovered many pluses the palm tree provides to mankind. Similarly, Jesus scores many pluses to mankind. The poet John Newton clearly describes some of the many roles that Jesus plays in the life of believers in his poem “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds” found in H&P 257; SF 322. The third verse reveals these roles more vividly. “Jesus is my shepherd, brother, friend; my Prophet, Priest and King; my Lord, my life, my way, my end…………” God in Jesus has got the whole world in his hands.

As mentioned above, the palm tree branches and leaves provide useful products for household purposes and God in Jesus in the same vein we find love, emotional and spiritual sanctuary, forgiveness of our sins, compassion, and kindness.

The palm tree gives food for sustenance; similarly, God in Jesus offered his body as ‘bread’ to his believers.  Mark ch 14:22 says, ‘While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it and gave it to the disciples, “Take it”’ he said, “This is my body”.

The palm tree produces wine as said above. Symbolically and comparably, the blood of Jesus is a spiritual drink that nourishes the soul and ‘seals God’s covenant’ with believers. Mark 14:24Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them, saying “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant.”

Within forty days, the felled palm tree begins to rot away and fossilize. In death it continues to produce life in the form of edible larvae that transform into colorful beetles. To crown its benevolence to mankind, the fossilized palm tree produces unique edible mushrooms which are like a hot cake for human consumption.

The majesty, authority and power of Jesus nakedly came to life after his death and subsequent resurrection. Indeed it was in death that the true identity of Jesus was realized by his adversaries. Luke 23:47 “The army officer saw what has happened and he praised God saying, ‘indeed, he was a good man’.

Jesus was a healer who made the lame walk, the deaf hear, the leper clean and the blind see; the palm tree has healing property in its roots.

As the dead palm tree produces ‘life’ so did Jesus after his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, send down the COMFORTER, the HOLY SPIRIT to give life to believers.

Indeed ‘Palm Sunday’ allegorically reveals the greatness of Jesus to mankind and it was the day when the Kingship of Jesus revealed itself to the world. John 12 :15; Luke 19:38

Jesus Christ is accessible to the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the child and the adult. Come , let us all join in this celebration on Palm Sunday, let us wave the palm branches to welcome the long expected Messiah, who is our Lord and Saviour.

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What does your signpost say?

A signpost is a board displaying a sign to direct something. A human signpost displays human characters, attitude and behaviour to society, environment or organisation one finds him/herself. Every signpost says something or gives information to the person reading and it directs you to where one is going.

A signpost can lead you astray or lead you to your destination safely. This reminds me of when I was coming to UK and the person who was supposed to meet me at airport couldn’t make it and had to give me directions from airport to a destination we were to meet. When the person was giving me directions on the phone from Ghana, he repeatedly told me to follow signs or signpost in order to arrive safely. This means signpost play a vital role and serve as a good communication tool in our daily lives.

Jesus Christ did something in Matthew 16:13-20 when he came to the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, ‘Some says John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. If we study this passage very well, we will find out that, Jesus might have heard something about himself and wanted to be sure. He might also wants to do self assessment to know what people say about him or what His human signpost tells people. This means that people might have said lots of things about Jesus Christ which the disciples knew but did not tell Him. This normally happen to us that our friends might have heard something about us whether good or bad but will decide to keep it. This is because we may not listen or brush him/her off but there is the need for us to do what Jesus did in our lives.

Beloved, have you ever assessed yourself the way Jesus did? Or have you asked yourself or friends this question before? “Who do people say I am”? Can people/friends say that you are not a gossiper, liar, an adamant person or you don’t have any adjective to your name, you don’t backbite people or you like litigating, you downgrade or disrespect people? These are just few examples for you to ponder upon. Again you can choose to ask your own husband/wife or any family member as Jesus did with his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am? Or how do you assess my human signpost? If you haven’t done this before, I will entreat you to try this and be a doer of the answers you will get.

Beloved our human signpost which is our attitude, characters, behaviour, actions/inactions, words etc can be a hindrance for someone to worship God or come to Bible studies and even participate in any church activity. There is the need for all of us in church leadership- Reverend Minster, Steward, Pastoral Secretary/Leader, Local Preacher, Organist, to ask ourselves the question- what/how do people say/see us? In our daily activities, in our going out and coming in people are reading us and we are writing our autobiography. Our our lifestyle be it good or bad is conveying messages to people.

Finally , beloved, in the Lord, let us do our possible best to live a life worthy of emulation so that we can use our human signpost to evangelise. Thank you and stay blessed.

Bro Emmanuel Edmund

Haven’t you heard the news?

Haven’t you heard the news? What news? That’s how it begun when two friends on the road to Emmaus ended up having meal with Jesus without them knowing. They only got to know the stranger’s full identity after he had left them.

Eavesdropping
Having Jesus eavesdropping people’s conversation is very interesting. He still listens to our conversations. Mind what you say! What are you talking about on the road, on the phone, or writing online? Would such conversations attract Jesus to draw closer like he did to Cleopas and his friend? (Luke 24:13-35) Do you and friends/relatives talk about Christ?

Missed opportunities
Talking to strangers is a very challenging thing to do in our world today. It’s a strange world, but could that stranger be your “messiah”, a partner, or relative? Many of us have missed great opportunities by strict don’t talk to strangers policy. Imagine if Cleopas and his friend have ignored the “stranger”, and heard later that the person they ignored was Christ? How can we follow Christ’s example– talk to strangers and in the process share the Good News? Do you remeber this statement?…….. For I was a stranger and…(Mt 25:35)

Share it
And what did Cleopas and his friend do when they realised they have met Christ? They told everyone about the risen Christ.
What have you been doing since you met Christ? Make Christ known. There are several ways you can share Christ- by words and action.

Bro Felix Adoko Otabil

For more of Felix’s article click here

 

 

 

The Easter thing

What’s your opinion about Easter? Are you one of those who believe its time to eat more chocolate eggs? Or you’re one of those who don’t believe in Easter celebration because there’s no date in scripture for its celebration? If you’re a Christian what does Easter mean to you? As a Christian, Easter means the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can boldly say that Jesus Christ died and on the third day, He woke up again and He is sitting at the right hand of our father God Almighty.

Let’s share something in the Bible in John 19:30; 20:11-18, Matthew 27:50; 28:5-6, Mark 15:37; 16:6, Luke 23:46, 24:5-7. All these gospel writers testified the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and because of this that we are saved today. Beloved I believe our Lord Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into Hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven; And sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. And if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile; we are still in our sins. Christ’s resurrection is the central teaching of Christianity.

According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, if he wasn’t resurrected, then Christianity is a complete shame; all who believe in Christ for salvation are still in their sins and to be pitied if Christ was not raised. For those of us who are believers, the resurrection is extremely important. If Christ was not raised, we have no hope. Paul confirmed that, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20) and concludes that: “Death has been swallowed up in victory, O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55). The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate reassurance to all believers that death has finally been defeated. We will all be resurrected, just as Christ. Once you understand that Easter is a celebration of the defeat of death, we will finally understand why we celebrate this holy day.

Easter is also reflecting about ourselves i.e. committed sins, attitudes, characters, behaviour, depiction of our human signboard etc and asks for forgiveness where we fall short. It is also a time to bury all our sins and differences with Christ Jesus and rise up as a new leaf. Christ Jesus forgave the sins of the soldier who nailed him to death and even the other thief as well and so we need to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is one key thing in Easter and as Christians, we need let this be part of us. Beloved if we can forgive ourselves and let bygones be bygones, then we need Christ Jesus in our hearts in other to do this.
Jesus Christ died because of you and me. The Bible says in Hebrews 3:7 and 15 that if we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit today, we should not harden our hearts. Beloved lets open our hearts to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ and allow Him to live in our heart this Easter and renew our relationship with Christ. Happy Easter and remember God loves you.

Emmanuel Edmund

Characteristics of my church

If my church was a retail store, it would have the following characteristics

  1. John Wesley was credited the founder. Now you know which church I am talking about.
  2. It was established in the 18th century after it branched out from another establishment.
  3. The “store” was first established in England and spread across the world
  4. It would be classed as the Protestant Christianity “business”
  5. It’s slogan would be “helping the poor and average person”
  6. Common “product” in all our “stores” is music in the form of hymns. The founder and his younger brother, Charles contributed a lot to this “product” and would wish we keep that tradition.
  7. Our “brand” had major impact in Britain in early decades
  8. These days the “brand” name isn’t as popular as in the past
  9. In England most “customers” are mainly older generation
  10. Profit margin is generally good
  11. Some of our “stores” are used by other “retailers in the same business”. This contribute lots of income in most of our “stores”
  12. Most of our “check-out and line staff” are of older generation
  13. We rarely do any “advertisement”
  14. Our circuit reps meet quarterly but very little time is spent talking about our “customers”. Most time is spent talking about maintaining our “stores” and “managers homes”
  15. Our District reps also meet at least twice a year but is mainly debating on policies and procedures which has little impact on our “customers”
  16. Our “managers” spend more time in their offices than on the “shopping floors”
  17. Most of our “stores” are open for business for a maximum of two hours on a typical shopping day. Actual “sales” last for about an hour.
  18. Most of our “products” are the same all year round
  19. The “modes of selling” in most “stores” are the same as in the 70′s
  20. In England some of our “stores” are closed down or merged. Some of the “stores” closed down are re-branded as pubs under new management
  21. In some “stores”, “customers” will come check the “product”, read the labels and would not return
  22. It is encouraging to note that most of our “stores” in other countries are doing very well.
  23. Our “brand” has about 70 million “customers” worldwide

Any ideas how we can improve the image of our “store”?

Felix Adoko Otabil

For more of Felix’s articles please visit http://kobinaotabil.wordpress.com/

Where are you seeking wisdom?

When the queen of Sheba, also referred to as the queen of the South (Matthew 12: 42) a woman of great wealth, beauty, and  power, heard about king Solomon’s reputation, greatness and wisdom which had brought honour to the name of the Lord, she travelled twelve hundred miles with her entourage, from her home in southern Arabia to Israel to see for herself, “the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, and to test Solomon with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1).

On camel’s back, the Queen of the Shebeans travelled with her entourage; she carried with her, gifts of gold and spices and precious jewels. She made this long and difficult journey all because she was more interested in the divine wisdom which only comes from the Lord and not human. The Queen was rich and powerful in her own right, with countless advisers, counsellors, kingmakers at her disposal, yet she was wise and humble enough to seek additional wisdom from the wisest man of her day. A search which brought the Queen to confess and recognize not only Solomon’s divine wisdom and wealth, but also the LORD God who is the source and giver of wisdom and truth.

Why was she seeking divine wisdom – Divine wisdom enables us to be tolerant, accommodating, humble, caring, loving, and  above all going the extra mile for the sake of others. Queen Sheba was impressed by both Solomon’s words of wisdom and hospitality (1 Kings 10:4ff).

Are you seeking divine wisdom?  And where are you seeking it? Do you see the need to make a ‘long journey’ as the Queen of Sheba did to obtain wisdom? What personal price would you pay in order to obtain wisdom? Scripture exhorts us to get wisdom and understanding, virtues needed in this present life for peaceful co-existence.  Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment.  “If you prize wisdom, she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will honour you.  She will place lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown” Prov. 4:7–9.

Having arrived in Jerusalem, and seeing the magnificent splendour of Solomon’s house, the entry way to the temple, the extent of his riches and wisdom, she was overwhelmed and so was compelled to praise Solomon’s God and shower Solomon with extravert gifts of gold, spices, stones.

Every woman who seeks wisdom from above is a woman of grace and beauty. Many will rise up and call her a woman of worth and Proverb 31:28 tells us that her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all’.

How and where are you seeking divine truth and wisdom?

FLORENCE ACQUAH TAYLOR

Let us rise up and build (Nehemiah Story)

Nehemiah was the king`s cup bearer, one of the king`s most trusted confidants. One day, Nehemiah`s brother and some men came to visit him from Judah, and he enquired from them how those who had escaped the exile were faring in Jerusalem. They told him that people were in great distress and disgrace, and that the wall of Jerusalem is also broken down and its gates are burned with fire.

Nehemiah was sad, wept and fasted for many days and prayed to God on behalf of his people, confessing their sins and asking for pardon. One day when Nehemiah was before the king, serving him wine the king detected that all was not well with Nehemiah so he asked Nehemiah what was the matter. Nehemiah told him about the condition of his people and the broken walls of Jerusalem.

“What do you request” the king asked. Nehemiah prayed a quick prayer before answering and said “Please send me to Judah, the city of my father’s tombs that I may rebuild it”. God being so good and because of the short prayer(s) Nehemiah prayed, the king consented to Nehemiah`s request and resourced him to embarked on the mission of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Beloved have you seen the power of prayers and what prayer(s) can do? As Christians our greatest weapon is prayer(s) and the Bible also says we should not cease praying and we should pray always wherever we find ourselves. Beloved when we care enough to pray about an urgent issue, God often listen and gives us the vision and the ability to work on the issue to His glory. This is what happened to Nehemiah and his concern about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

When Nehemiah got to Jerusalem he took three days to survey the city, moving alone at night to survey the broken walls. After the survey, he called his people and shared his vision of the rebuilding of the wall with them, and invited them to “Come let us build the walls of Jerusalem”. He also shared with them how the hand of God had been with him for the work. The people then spontaneously responded by saying “Let Us Rise Up and Build” and the Bible continues, “So they strengthened their hands for the good work”.

Beloved God often places His people in strategic position in order to accomplish His purposes. Each one of us has been put in a certain strategic position at home, in the workplace, in church, in society etc. in order for God to accomplish His purposes. Beloved where has God placed you in order to accomplish His purposes? What position and responsibility do you hold that might be useful to bring about good?

. In Nehemiah 10:32-39 says they (People) took upon themselves the obligation to give yearly to support the service of the house of our God. The people also built the wall of Jerusalem according to the strength and resources of every family (Nehemiah 3). The questions now arise;

In the context of your worship, what have you been giving regularly to the house of God as an obligation? What have you pledged to do yearly as your obligation to the house of God?

Beloved, remember it is in giving willingly and joyfully that you receive bountifully.

Nehemiah and his people didn’t get it easy when building the wall of Jerusalem. When they built the wall of Jerusalem to some height, they got opposition of enemies (Nehemiah 4). Beloved whatever we will do, we will get an opposition of enemies. One thing we should all know is that we cannot please everybody no matter the situation, but don’t give up when you get one.

Nehemiah 2:18 says that “I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good……… and they said “Let us rise up and build”. Then they set their hands to do this good work”. Beloved Let Us Rise Up and Build our, fellowship, church, homes, communities etc. and together, we can make a difference. God bless you and stay blessed.

Bro Emmanuel Edmund