Palm Sunday – Sermon 252

Palm Sunday

10.00am Holy Communion

29th March 2015

Bible References :

  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Imagine for a moment – that we are in the crowd – waiting for Jesus’ procession to arrive –

 

We’d heard about it coming – and wanted to see who they were all talking about-

 

around us were people waiting patiently – others – less patiently –  children getting increasingly excited – and the mothers trying to keep them calm – a mixture of old and young –  sellers – officials – all wondering what they were about to witness –

 

The noise of the singing sounds in the distance – and the crowds chattering increases – who is this man – will we recognise Him?  Will He really make a difference –

 

There is a swirl of emotions and expectations – to some He was a powerful symbol of the Messiah coming home to his people and city –  for the authorities a worrying  and undermining challenge to their leadership – to those less informed –  it was something to watch and wonder –  a carnival atmosphere and celebration –  but for Jesus and his disciples – it was much more than that –

 

 

Point 1        Journey of a King

 

Jesus began his journey with an ascent to Jerusalem –

 

He would have taken the old road – winding through the hills of Jerico – and the Judean desert –  climbing all the way – halfway up he would reach sea level –  and there would still be the mountain ahead –  hot and dusty – it was the way all pilgrims came –

 

I remember taking that same route – by coach – on a trip to the Holy Land in 1997 – sheer drops on both sides – it was very scary by coach – unimaginable on foot –

 

when you reach the  summit – the holy city comes into view – and then after reaching Bethany and Bethphage – almost at once  – you exchange barren dusty desert for lush green growth –  its Passover time – and it’s the height of spring –

 

But for Jesus – this was to be more than a long walk – it was the climax of his story – his public career and vocation –

 

He knew what lay ahead – and set his face to go – and meet it head on –

 

For Jesus it was to be a Royal occasion – carefully planned and staged – so as to make exactly the right point –

 

the colt he chose – no doubt through pre-arrangement with the owners – would fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 – ‘Your King is coming to you – His cause won – victory gained – mounted on a donkey – a colt – the foal of a donkey’ –

 

like the tomb in which Jesus would lie a week later – it had never been used before –

 

The disciples pick up the theme and – as a form of royal celebration – spread their cloaks on the road before Him –

 

Down they would go – on the steep path to the Kidron Valley – the crowds start to sing that great psalm of praise – that all pilgrims sang on the way to Jerusalem – a song of victory and praise to God – who defeats all His foes – and establishes His Kingdom –

 

Jesus was coming as the fulfillment of the nation’s hopes – answering their longings for a king who would bring peace to earth from heaven itself –

 

But even within the euphoria of His spectacular entrance into the city – Jesus knew it was time for some hard lessons to be taught –

 

His entrance into the city was more than just a parade – more than a celebration – He was also announcing the nature of His Kingdom –

 

Point 2      Journey of Faith & Committment

 

There is a children’s story that many might remember – called the Little Red Hen:

 

The little Red hen lived on a farm and was friends with a lazy dog – a sleepy cat and a noisy yellow Duck –

 

One day the hen found some seeds – and decided to plant them –

 

Who will help me plant the seeds she said: Not I barked the lazy dog! – Not I purred the sleepy cat!  – not I quacked the yellow noisy duck – so she decided to plant the seeds herself –

 

And when the seeds grew into wheat – she asked again  – who will help me cut the wheat? – Not I barked the lazy dog – Not I purred the sleepy cat – not I quacked the yellow noisy duck – so again  – she decided to do it herself –

 

When all the wheat was cut she asked her friends again – who will help me take it to the Mill – to grind the wheat into flour – who will help me carry the sack of flour back to the farm – and bake the bread – Not I … Not I  .. Not I – came back the answer – so again  – she decided to do it herself –

 

And when the bread was finished- the tired hen asked her friends – that all important question – who will help me eat the bread?

 

Immediately there was a change of tone – I will barked the lazy dog – I will – purred the sleepy cat  – I will – quacked the yellow noisy duck –

Me! Me! Me! Said her friends –

 

All too often when we are asked to help or to do something – our friendship and loyalty so often depends on what’s in it for us –

 

And so it was on that first Palm Sunday – as Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowds –

 

Who will welcome me as King – his actions seem to be saying –  and the answer came back – Me! Me! Me! – Who wants to share in the Kingdom of God – and again the answer came back – Me! Me! Me! But just a few days later when the crunch question comes – Who will follow the way of the cross – Not I – said the crowd – We have no King but Ceasar – Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!

 

Palm Sunday is a day that challenges our faith and our loyalty – to Jesus – asking us – how ready are we to follow when faith is demanding – and the going gets tough –

 

In that Palm Sunday procession – Jesus is setting out his stall – making his bid to attract people to his vision of God’s kingdom –  as Paul reminds us – a kingdom of  service – humility- and obedience

 

We all have an opportunity to join in with the King – on that road which leads to life – we can stand back in the crowd – and say Not I – or take the road with Jesus – as He walks the way of the cross with us –

 

Point 3        Journey to a lifetime

 

And – so as the procession reaches us – and we see Jesus walk by with His disciples – what is our response?

 

Will we be like the disciples who made promises by day and fled by night?

 

Will be like some members of the crowd – who cheered Him one day – and lost interest in Him the next –

 

Jesus knows it’s easy to applaud when you’re part of a group that is already giving Him applause – the real test is when we go home  – and try to take on those challenges – that test our commitment to Him –

 

The poem that Paul places at the heart of his latter shows us what we must do and how we should think  – as a follower of Jesus –

 

put God first – and be obedient to Him – take on the weight of the world’s evil around us – and be prepared to die to everything else – to change it –

 

abandon our rights – for the sake of the world – and to take the way of the cross –

 

For Christians – the cross is – the only way that really matters – it tells us who we should follow – and how we are to get there

 

Ending

 

The long and dusty way of our lives – gives us time to – sort out – our motives for following Jesus – but He calls us – not only to spread our cloaks in front of him – but to follow him into trouble controversy –  trial – and death –

In the story of the Little Red hen – in the end she decides to eat all the bread herself –

 

fortunately for us – no matter how we respond  – we have a Saviour – that will never deny us – the food of salvation –

 

Today – we stand on the threshold of holy week – and Jesus has given us an opportunity – to crucify our nature – and to join Him on a new journey to Life

 

Let’s seize the moment – hold up our palms – and follow Him all the way to paradise

 

Prayer                  AMEN