Love to the Uttermost: Holy Week with John Piper : Day 2
Seeing the King on Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday. We picture ourselves welcoming the King into our city and into our hearts. He tries to make his intentions known by coming, not on a great stallion, but on a lowly donkey, meek and humble.
I wonder how many here look upon this lowly Servant-King and feel that this is just a thin veneer, and that beneath this lowly exterior there is a terrible power and authority which is just waiting to burst out against you if you slip in any way. I wonder how many feel that it is not really the deepest pleasure of this King’s heart to serve his people and meet their needs.
I wonder how many feel that he’s riding this donkey of lowliness as a kind of camouflage. And once he gains a foothold, he will throw off his rags, pull out his sword, and storm forth to do what he really loves to do, namely, judge and destroy. Of course, some will be saved—the few who somehow could please him. But that is not his heart’s desire. He is basically angry—always angry. And the best we can do is stay out of his way, and maybe, if we keep the rules well enough, we could sneak by him when he is in one of his temporary good moods.
God’s Deepest Delight
Jesus is at pains to help you not feel that way about God. And I want to draw your attention to one verse, namely, Luke 12:32, because every little piece of this verse is intended to help take away the fear that Jesus knows we struggle with, namely, that God begrudges his benefits, that he is constrained and out of character when he does nice things, that at bottom he is angry and loves to vent his anger.
Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. It’s a verse about what kind of heart God has. It’s a verse about what makes God glad—not merely about what God will do or what he has to do, but what he delights to do, what he loves to do, and what he takes pleasure in doing. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
The phrase “good pleasure,” is a verb in Greek: “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “It pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” In other words, God is not acting in this generous way in order to cloak and hide some malicious motive. The word “good pleasure” utterly rules that out. He is not saying inside, “I will have to be generous for a while even though I don’t want to be, because what I really want to do is bring judgment on sinners.”
The Lord’s meaning is inescapable: God is acting here in freedom. He is not under constraint to do what he doesn’t really want to do. At this very point, when he gives his flock the kingdom, he is acting out his deepest delight. This is what the word means: God’s joy, his desire, his want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight, is to give the kingdom to his flock.