Imperfect praise

Imperfect praise

Luke 19: 37-38, 40.

“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!…“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

They praised God for the miracles they had seen. The greatest of these miracles was the recent raising of Lazarus from the dead, but they had seen much more.

Using Psalm 118 initially in their praises according to the other gospel writers, Luke then writes of them using Messianic phrases in praise of Jesus. These 2 phrases are so interesting!

The first one, “Blessed is the king …” is taken from Psalm 118 v 26. But the people in Jerusalem change the words from ‘Blessed is him …’ Jesus is indeed king!

The second one, “Peace in heaven …” is significant in that when Jesus was born the angels declared ‘peace on earth’ (Luke 2:14). Here coming into Jerusalem the sound rising to heaven is that of the peace of heaven because by the end of the week, Jesus will have paid the price to end the separation between God and man.

Did the people know the significance of these phrases and their praises? NO. Did that matter to Jesus? NO “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Imperfect praise.

The next time someone has a go at the musicians and singers in the worship team. They are not good enough. They are too loud. They are not singing the right songs. They are singing too long! Remind them that Jesus accepts imperfect praise. He will take it even from stones!

There’s one more thing about the imperfect praise of these people.

They were praising Jesus for his miracles.

However, the gospel writers all make it clear that there seems to be a heavenly agenda throughout. That was to hide the understanding of those miracles from those who saw them. In the sovereignty of God most of the teaching, parables and miracles were hidden from even his own disciples. In Luke 8:10 quoting from Isaiah 6, Luke writes, “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’

They see the miracle of the bleeding woman but they miss the point that Jesus was overturning the cultural stigma attached to woman and their ‘uncleanliness’.

They see the provision miracles of water into wine and the feeding of the crowds but they miss the significance of them pointing to the great heavenly banquet that awaits us.

They see the blind man seeing, the deaf man hearing, the mute man speaking but miss the fact that Jesus has come to open our self-centred eyes to others, our stubborn ears to obedience and our intimidated silence to speaking words of truth and love.

Imperfect praise.

That God would temporarily harden the hearts of His people to who He really is in Jesus for the sake of the expansion of the gospel to the Gentiles (which the apostle Paul understands fully) is amazingly gracious!

There was false honour in laying down the clothes on the road and imperfect praise of shouts of Messianic declarations but Jesus received it all.

The new convert with all their brokenness still to be healed may look like the last person to be singing praises to God in Church.

The gender confused person with their hands in the air in worship of God may be a hard picture to take for some in the Church.

You, today, with a mind confused, fearful of the future, a complex past and a present that is not what it seems at all. You, a sinner, directionless, rocking in a storm of life, wondering if it is worth it. You can raise a joyful song of praise to God in a loud voice. It may not sound good and it may be so very imperfect. But you can praise Him. He is waiting.

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