We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a 16-day Christmas devotional series centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season.
We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9-10)
Have you ever found yourself at the center of attention, lauded with praise, and loved by your peers, only to find their backs turned against you the very next day? One day you hit the walk-off homerun and the next you strikeout to lose? You go from the GOAT to a goat in the blink of an eye. Deep down we all know that human approval never lasts, and yet we still yearn for others to find us funny, put together, and worthy.
Of all people, Jesus knows exactly what this feels like.
Near the end of His life, Jesus fulfilled Zechariah’s above prophecy when he rode a donkey (the royal mark of peace) into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and the people praised God, worshiping Jesus like a triumphant King (Matthew 21).
Not even a week after Jesus had been hailed king, the very same people transformed into a mob demanding His death (Matt. 27:15-23). Jesus was adored, praised, and hailed as King, but within days, He was mocked, scorned, and executed.
While Jesus understands the fickle nature of human approval better than any of us, he also promises that he will never stop loving us. We can never fall from his embrace, and God promises to never leave nor forsake his people (Deuteronomy 31:6).
So this Advent season, as we celebrate the birth and anticipate the second coming of Christ, Zechariah’s prophetic description of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday offers hope and helpful reminders for us today.
Seeking human approval is so enticing and yet so futile. Consider Jesus’ question: “How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes only from God?” (Jn. 5:44). When we seek fleeting approval on earth rather than eternal acceptance in heaven, we reveal what matters most to us, and it is harder to believe in Christ. When we crave praise from our parents, laughs from our classmates, and high-fives from our teammates, we place our worth in the approval of others, even though it will only leave us crushed and empty.
But when we put our faith and trust and value in Christ, we can rest assured knowing that He who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey – who days later died on a cross – has once and for all called us worthy. His love for us is unmovable, eternal. And this Christmas, we know and wait for him to return, to fulfill his promise to establish his peace on earth forever (Zechariah 9:10). Like St. Augustine said, “…our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee.”
We are his, and he is for us.
-Where do you find yourself seeking approval from others?
-What happens to us when we seek approval of our friends, family, teachers and teammates?
-What does it mean to rest in God’s approval?
-What makes Jesus’ approval different from others? What makes His Kingdom different from others?
Father God, we thank you for your Word today and Your faithfulness to fulfill Your promises of the past. Help us to lay our unquenchable desire for human approval at your feet, and lead us into the rest offered only by Your unwavering embrace. Amen.
Click here for a downloadable pdf to print and share with your teenagers.
Click here for the entire series as it is posted.