All four gospels record the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what is traditionally called Palm Sunday. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) use that event as the starting point for the daily chronicle of Jesus’ words and actions leading up to His arrest, death, and resurrection. John, who no doubt knew what the other disciples had written, chose Jesus’ entry on a humble donkey’s colt as the introduction to Jesus’ message to the disciples on the Thursday night meal described in John 13-17.
In riding a donkey, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. For John, Jesus exhibited the same kind of humility on Passover night, when He humbled Himself to wash His disciples’ feet. This act of humility also stood in sharp contrast to Roman rulers, who rode large steeds to demonstrate their power and authority. Jesus also rode the kind of animal that Israel’s King David rode and presented to his son Solomon to ride (1 Kings 1:32-40).
The Old Testament is clear that the God of Israel did not want Israel depending on horses for their military security (Psalm 20:7; Isaiah 22:18; 31:1; 36:9; 37:24). Though written after Solomon’s reign, the Isaiah passages point out the connection between horses and chariot. They were the ancient equivalent of trusting in Apache helicopters, the M-1 A-2 Abrams tanks, and aircraft carriers. Horses represented dependence upon human prowess rather than dependence upon God. Sadly, Solomon soon ignored the Lord’s admonitions about depending upon horses for security and built stalls for his growing army of horses and chariots (1 Kings 4:26).
These thoughts on the donkey’s colt lead me to reflect on the mission and vision of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. We must plan, strategize, be financially responsible, but we must never misplace our trust. We must never forget that Jesus is the Head of the church and the IPHC is part of His body that He has called to serve in our era of history. But when I think of the peoples’ response to Jesus–laying palm branches in the donkey’s path, paving the way for the king’s entrance to Jerusalem–I wonder about us. What are the “palm branches” the Lord has given us that we need to lay at Jesus’ feet as we recognize and worship Him as Lord?
First, our mission statement, developed over twenty years ago under the direction of the late Bishop James D. Leggett, remains the focus of the Lord’s call to us as a movement, “The mission of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church is to multiply believers and churches, discipling them in worship, fellowship, and evangelism as we obey the Great Commission in cooperation with the whole body of Christ.” Our mission statement provides some key guidance to the IPHC as we do the work of the Kingdom, orienting us to see believers and churches grow around the USA and around the world.
Second, in 2013 the Holy Spirit gave us Isaiah 54:2, 3 as a clear expression of our corporate identity within His global church. We are called to be “A Place of Hope and A People of Promise.” Through our 124-year history, Isaiah 54:2, 3 have been prophetic verses to us about God’s promises and our role in this sin-stained world.
Third, in 2017 the IPHC accepted the challenge for the Lord to expand His presence through us as we committed to Arise 2033. The goal of having an IPHC congregation or house church in 75% of the USA counties by 2033 is a great challenge. So is the goal of having an IPHC presence in 150 nations by 2033. But we remain committed to the core principles of what it means for us as a movement to evangelize and disciple people in every nation.
I am thrilled at the efforts of Evangelism USA related to church planting. We’ve heard similarly exciting news from World Missions. Discipleship Ministries is providing new, free resources–such as The Journey and Rooted–to help churches and believers grow in Christ. These are answers to prayer. I ask you to join me in praying for much fruit from these efforts. Pray, too, for IPHC church planters and for the Lord of the harvest to call and send hundreds more! Even in times of national crisis, the Holy Spirit sends evangelists and pastors to other nations. This is what is occurring in IPHC Ukraine even as I write this.
Finally, I am grateful for the seven Core Values of the IPHC: We prayerfully value Scripture, Pentecost, Holiness, Christ’s Kingdom, Every Generation, Justice, and Generosity. Each year from 2014 to 2020 we focused on one of these values.
As we enter Holy Week on this Palm Sunday, I hope you will return to this site daily as I will be writing about each of our core values in view of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, and Savior of the world. May courageous humility characterize us as we arise to follow Jesus.