Tuesday, March 22, 2016

God Is Good

Part 4 of the God Is series

Text: Psalm 118

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (Ps. 118:29). 

Getting What's Needed, Not What's Wanted

Five days before his crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. We call this day Palm Sunday. The event itself is known as the Triumphal Entry. [1]

 The excited crowds recited Psalm 118. The psalm says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (v. 25). [2] They wanted salvation from the Romans. But what the people wanted on that day wasn’t what they really needed.

What a Good God Gives

Psalm 118 begins and ends with the following exhortation: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (vv. 1, 29). Because God is good, “all that God is and does is worthy of approval.” [3] But it’s easy to doubt God’s goodness when he doesn’t give us what we want.

God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he always gives us what we need. 

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt. 21:9). “The Son of David” was a messianic title. John writes that the people called Jesus “the King of Israel” (John 12:13). The people also “took branches and went out to meet [Jesus]” (John 12:13). About two hundred years earlier, a Jewish rebel group known as the Maccabees liberated Judea from Antiochus and the Greeks. One of their victories was celebrated with palm branches (1 Macc. 13:51). It’s clear that the people thought that Jesus could be a king to lead them against the Romans. But what the people needed was a different kind of salvation.

We Need Jesus

Psalm 118 says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (v. 22). Originally, the rejected stone referred to Israel, but several NT writers apply this verse to Jesus. [4] Peter declared to the people of Jerusalem,
Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:10-12). [5]
What we needed came at an amazing cost to God. 

Five times Psalm 118 states that “[God’s] steadfast love endures forever” (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 29). We can trust a good God who loves us this much.

The Best Gift

When thinking about God’s goodness, we could list all of the good gifts from God. But the gift of Jesus is really all we need to prove God’s goodness.

[1] All four Gospels give an account of the Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19).
[2] When the people cried out “Hosanna!” they were saying, “Save us!” By the first century it had become a cry of praise to God.
[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 197.
[4] Psalm 118:22 is quoted in Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7. 
[5] “There is no warrant here for the preacher’s favourite comment on the fickleness of a crowd which could shout ‘Hosanna’ one day and ‘Crucify him’ a few days later. They are not the same crowd. The Galilean pilgrims shouted ‘Hosanna’ as they approached the city; the Jerusalem crowd shouted, ‘Crucify him’ (R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, 430).

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