The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was
on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him,
shouting Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is
the king of Israel! Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a
donkey’s colt. (John 12:12-15)
A martial arts student was eager to achieve excellence as a
practitioner in the field of Martial Arts. Desiring to achieve greater fighting
abilities, the student asked the great high-kicking, fist-fighting martial arts
teacher and movie actor—Bruce Lee, to teach him everything he knows
about martial arts. Bruce Lee held up two cups—a cup in each of his
hands, which were filled with water. He looked masterfully into his pupil’s
eyes and said, “The first cup represents all of your knowledge of martial
arts. The second cup represents all of my knowledge of martial arts. If you
want to fill your cup with my knowledge, you must first empty your cup of
your knowledge.”
Most of us would agree that the greatest yearning􀀃of the human
heart is our yearning to understand our purpose in life. Abraham Lincoln
suffered depression. Once Lincoln was so depressed that his friends
thought he might harm himself. They were committed to watching him
closely and would intervene if Lincoln attempted to hurt himself, but later,
while talking with a close friend, Lincoln suggested that death was not his
best escape, because he had yet to do anything by which future
generations could remember him, and it was for this reason that Lincoln
was determined to pass his Emancipation Proclamation Bill. He was
confident it would be the one thing people would remember him for. It
would mean his life had achieved a purpose.
We all yearn for a purpose. The purpose is the one thing that allows
us to stay afloat in a world which provides currents of challenges that can
wash us away. Even when we don’t realize we’re searching for purpose,
we are. We look for meaning in many of the things we do. We look for
purpose in marriage, in a career, and in our relationship with others. The
apostle Paul says the real meaning of life and the only thing that brings
fulfillment in life is knowing Christ. As the apostle Paul reflected on his
purpose, he said to the church of Philippi,􀀃“That I may know him, and the
power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made
comfortable unto his death.”􀀃
If Christ is to be the focus of your and my life, we must first empty
our cup of the things that contradict this very worthwhile effort, but be
assured that what’s gained in this process is well worth everything that’s
lost, and we must always remember that it isn’t done out of our own
capabilities. In ancient Rome, a military leader returning home was given a
parade to make a triumphal entry into the city. The celebration was
spectacularly done. The parade, which was sponsored by the Senate,
was a lavishing and entertaining propaganda spectacle. It reminded its
citizens of Rome’s glory and military superiority above all other nations.
Julius Caesar returned to Rome after his successful exploits in Gaul
and Egypt, and the parade given in his honor was so grand that slaves
were required to run behind Caesar’s chariot and occasionally remind him
to “Remember you are a man.” Otherwise, so much praise and adoration
from Roman citizens could have easily caused him to think of himself as a
But Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble servant. Jesus’ purpose
could not be defined by pomp as were the conquering heroes of Rome.
Unlike a Roman General, Jesus did not enter the gates of Jerusalem riding
a gold chariot driven by white stallions; instead, he came to Jerusalem
riding on the back of a donkey, but Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing his
purpose would be fulfilled.
Members of the Fair Street-Butler High classes over the years have
ventured afar in search of their purpose. So many of us have entertained a
life of searching for meaning. Some of us are now retired, but purpose
never retires. The purpose, in so many ways, is the formidable source of
our life. It stays with us throughout our earthly journey. There’s no more
critical text than the Bible and no more celebrated teacher, although there
are many others, than Jesus to help us achieve. He encourages us to
become servants, not saints, he helps us to be caring not careless and he
encourages us to love one another, as he has loved us. I pray you will
consider these words, as you continue discovering your purpose.
The Rev. Dr. J Douglas Childers is a member of E.E. Butler class of 1968