“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased.”
Matthew 21:15 KJV
The religious folk saw the wonderful things Jesus was doing: healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, preaching hope and demonstrating unconditional love. The children were following Jesus in the temple, celebrating and shouting out praise to Him. The things Jesus did made people really happy; it gave them hope and lifted their spirits. But the religious (legalistic) folk weren’t too impressed; in fact, Scripture says that they were “sore displeased.” It seems that they were baptised in lemon juice and unable to enjoy anything – even the miracles that Jesus did. The religious leaders were never impressed with anything Jesus said or did. Their default was misery. They couldn’t see the glass half-full or half-empty. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath – think about this – Jesus did good (very good) in completely changing a man’s life by bringing complete physical healing to his body, and the religious were upset because he did it on the Sabbath. They were more interested in the outward appearance of things than they were concerned with the heart. God is the complete opposite: He is more concerned with the heart than the outward appearance and actions (1 Samuel 16:7) because He knows that if you have the heart, you have the man and his actions. But if you have the actions and appearance but no heart, there is a disconnect. It’s hypocritical. Religious, legalistic people don’t want you to be happy - they want you to look and act right. And when anyone rejoices and celebrates (even if it’s because of a breakthrough miracle) they are “sore displeased”. Religion doesn’t want you to be happy. Jesus does.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Psalm 122:1 KJV
We should be glad about going to church and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ, receiving the Word and worshipping together. Church should be the happiest place on earth because the happiest people on earth (who are the church) have gathered together. Outsiders should be drawn to it because we’re enjoying it so much. And yet (sadly) for most people it’s either “I was mad…” or “I was sad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord”. Christians often feel obliged to go to church, and they don’t expect to have a good time because they probably haven’t had a happy experience in church before. There are two possible problems here: the individual might need to change their perspective and attitude about their church, or the church isn’t being done the way Jesus would do it. Generally, church isn’t known for its joy, and some people even think that it’s sacrilegious to smile and laugh in church. If it were a sin to smile and laugh in church, I’d be dead. When I preach and minister in church I like to have a good time, and I want people to enjoy it, too. Yes, I preach some hard truth which brings correction, but I am not trying to beat the people and make them feel bad. No! That’s Old Covenant; it’s condemnation (which kills and cannot produce life [2 Corinthians 3:6]). The New Covenant message of the Gospel is good news. When we share it with others it should and must sound good and make them feel good, even if it reveals that they are wrong and need to change. It’s the message of God’s unconditional love and grace and therefore will always lift people up and bring restoration in their lives. It will communicate hope and minister life. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds, they introduced the Gospel saying,
“Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you—news that will make everyone happy. Today your Saviour was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Luke 2:10-11 ERV
If this good news that we have is preached properly it will result in making people happy because it is “good tidings of great joy” and it is for all people (no one is excluded). When we know the true Gospel is results in joy. When we share this message the way Jesus would, it will also result in great joy. When we focus on the message of God’s unconditional love and grace, and on what we have in Christ, we cannot be sad. It will always give us a reason to shout and celebrate, no matter how bad the circumstances of life may be. The things that we experience here on earth is only temporary; our freedom, love, acceptance and joy in Christ is eternal and nothing can change it.