Monday, April 25, 2016

If He is Our King

The story of Palm Sunday reveals how easy it is to struggle between declaring Jesus Christ as our King or to betray Him and crucify Him. It is very easy to get wrapped up into calling Him our King and showing Him our devotion, but with just a little pressure from the secular world, we crucify Him. If we really mean that He is our King, then we will choose to stay with Him during Holy Week, and walk along with Him during His final days before His Crucifixion. Ever since the first days of the Church, people who declare Jesus their King would dedicate the days before Pascha with prayer and fasting and devotion. How you spend this week will reveal which side of the wire you choose. Is Jesus your King, or is the world your King?

Hello. My name is Father Athanasios Haros and I'm the Pastor here at the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina, and I'm your host for Be Transfigured Ministries. Here at Be Transfigured, as we say, we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We feature our sermons and our Bible studies and other special events in the life of the Church. We do it to inspire you to join us living a new life in Christ. I hope you'll join us. I'll be back in a moment after this video to share some information about our ministry.

"Hosanna! Blessed it is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" What does this mean for us? In this morning's Gospel this glorious day of Palm Sunday, the Gospel brings us to several understandings of what it means to have a relationship with God. On the one hand we desire to be crowd. We desire to be the crowd that cries out to God, "Hosanna in the highest!" We desire to be the crowd that calls Him our King. On the other hand we many times find ourselves like the elite of those days, who were conflicted because they enjoyed the relationship they had with the political rulers, and their conflict was that if they acknowledged God as King, they may lose some privileges with the government. We find ourselves just as the people in this morning's Gospel, riding the fence sometimes. We desire to call God our King, but when we receive a little pressure from the society, we're not so sure how much of our kind He really is.

Another example. A woman came and poured such a blessed and fragrant oil on His feet it says it filled the entire house with the fragrance. Mary did this because she loved Him and she wanted to show the absolute devotion and commitment to Him as her Lord. The ointment was so powerful it filled the house with the beautiful fragrance. We find ourselves wanting to be Mary. We find ourselves wanting to love God so much that when we bring our offering to Him, it is an expression that fills not only our hearts, but fills our homes with the reality of our love for God. We want to be Mary, but then there's Judas. “Why wasn't this sold and the money given to the poor?” We find ourselves many times listening to the advice of Judas, that it is not okay for us to have an abundant love for God. We find ourselves listening to the words of Judas, that it is better to keep something in our pockets than to give it to God.

Remember the Gospel said that Judas didn't do this because he cared about the poor, but he was a thief. We find ourselves playing that role often times as well. We find ourselves rationalizing in our minds, "I've given too much to the Church this year. I want to save some for my vacation. I want to save some to do a little something nice for my family." And we rob the poor from the opportunity of being blessed by the Church. You see this morning, my brothers and sisters, this Gospel, although it is proclaiming God as King, Jesus Christ as the King of Kings, entering into the city as the victor, ready to claim His Kingdom, we are conflicted. We're not quite sure just how loyal we are to God, just as the people in this morning's Gospel, so we shouldn't feel so bad, so down on ourselves. Then the last words of the Gospel kind of putting the nail in the coffin as it were.

Saint John says that, "They went out to see him" because he had done these things. They wanted to see Lazarus. They wanted to see the proof of everything they had heard. They didn't go out to see Jesus. They didn't go out to love Jesus. They didn't go out to express Him as King. They showed up to see Lazarus. While they were there, there were a few people that loved God and who were waving palm branches. Many of you have received palm branches when you walked into the Church today and you're going to have the palm branches when we have the procession with the Icon this afternoon. Those many people were waving the palm branches because many people did believe in Jesus Christ. As we said yesterday, they knew that only God could create with His voice, life and with just His voice he brought life to Lazarus, and many people believed that Jesus Christ was in fact God, so there was people there.

There was a crowd there, wishing him, "Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel." Like many of us would do, we get wrapped up into the crowd. That's something very easy, that mob mentality. When you're in a large group you kind of get sucked into that energy. That can be a good thing as it was in this morning's story where the crowd was cheering on God. Later this week, that same energy that can be consuming, that same energy that can drag us in, sometimes not even realizing it, is going to cause the people to shout out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" You see, my brothers and sisters, we are riding on a very thin wire. On the one hand we really want to love God and on the other hand we struggle every single day with wanting to love ourselves. We struggle every day with whether or not to put God first or to put ourselves first.

This morning's Gospel, my brothers and sisters, is a moment for us to arouse our senses and to wake up to the reality that we have a choice to make. We can either declare Jesus Christ as our King or we can crucify Him. You cannot ride the wire. You must ride one side or the other. We have a choice to make this morning, my brothers and sisters. Either God is our King or the worldly pleasures are our king. Either we work to please God in our lives and we, like Mary, bring to Him our love and our devotion and our dedication and even our offerings into His Church to show our love for Him, or we can be Judas, where we can pretend that we care about other people, but we really want to just keep the money in our own pocket. That's the beautiful opportunity we have in this morning's Gospel. That has been the message of Great Lent these seven weeks now. Do we want to follow God?

We've heard the message throughout these weeks, way back when if you remember the Publican and then the Pharisee. It was the sinner who acknowledged he had sinned that was justified by God. The message of the Cross, the message of Saint Mary of Egypt which we heard last week. The willingness to give everything up for God and so now we're on the threshold of the most amazing ministry God ever accomplished on the face of the earth, was to unite our humanity to the Throne of God. Beginning today when we declare Him our King, if we really mean it in our hearts, we will be with Him each night this week. If we really mean that He is our King, then we will rearrange our schedules to be with Him tonight and tomorrow and Tuesday and throughout the entire week.

That is the choice that lays in front of us today or we could just be another member of the crowd, going along with the crowd. So long as the crowd is happy, we're happy. If the crowd is unhappy, we're unhappy. We really don't make up our own decision. Whatever is easiest at the moment, we will follow, but following our King is never the easy route. Ever since the first days of Christianity, the followers of Jesus Christ, like you and me, were called to spend time putting everything else in their life on hold. Nothing else is important this week except for coming to Church and spending time with our King, unless we choose to be the crowd that throughout the week will call out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" We may not say it with our words, but we may say it with our actions. We may say it with our absence.

Orthodoxy, my brothers and sisters, is not a religion merely to say that we are members of. It is a way of life and now, this evening, we are beginning the holiest week of our year, the only time where the Church asks us to come together as a family every single night into the darkness of the night so that we can be prepared in our fasting. That we can be prepared in our prayers, that we can be prepared in our offerings to walk with our King every step of the way the next six days. So that when we gather in this dark Church Saturday night we will already know the message that is going to be proclaimed. We will be the ones who proclaim His message of hope and life to the world, if He is our King. Glory to God for all things.

Well, I'm back and I hope this video was an inspiration to you. I hope it helps you live a new life in Christ. Please share our message of hope with your friends and family and invite others to live a new life in Christ. Find more information about Be Transfigured Ministries by joining us on our website at You can also find many of our videos on the Orthodox Christian Network, our partners, at As we say at Be Transfigured, until next week, God bless you and don't forget to live a new life in Christ.

Be Transfigured is a production of the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and presented by the Orthodox Christian Network. Contributions in support of this ministry may be sent to Be Transfigured, 2990 South Cashua Drive, Florence, South Carolina, 29501, or online at our website at

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