Palm Sunday – Sermon 275

7th January 2019 Off By Derek

Palm Sunday
10.00am Holy Communion
9th April 2017

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



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 –

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 authority – 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 reaching sea level – and still 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 – scary on a bus – unimaginable on foot

when you reach the  summit – the holy city comes into view – and then after comes Bethany and Bethphage and the mount of Olives – and almost at once – you exchange barren dusty desert for lush green growth – its passover time – and its 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 ministry 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 – ‘Look, your King is coming to you –humble and mounted on a donkey – and on a colt – the foal of a donkey’ –

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

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

Most of the crowd around Jesus probably didn’t have a second cloak but they spread theirs on the road anyway- reminiscent of Israel’s Kings of Old – who when they were proclaimed king in defiance of the existing one – spread their cloaks under his feet – as a sign of loyalty –

others would cut branches from the trees- to make a celebratory procession for Him – waving them about – and this too carried ‘royal implications’.

Judas Maccabeus some 200 years earlier arrived in Jerusalem after conquering the pagan armies that surrounded Israel and was welcomed by crowds waving Palm branches.  He was the start of a Royal Dynasty that lasted over a 100 years.

Down they would go – on the steep path to the Kidron Valley – the crowds starting 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 –

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

‘Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord’

‘Hosanna in the Highest’

Hosanna – meaning save us –

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 –

To them Jesus’ entrance into the city was more than a parade – more than a celebration – the crowds were expecting great things to happen – Surely this was the moment – Surely this was the King they were all hoping for –

But within this euphoria of His spectacular entrance into the city – Jesus was also announcing the arrival and the nature of His Heavenly Kingdom – to the people – and Jesus knew it was time for some hard lessons to be taught –

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 she would 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 –

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 commitment – to Jesus – asking us – how ready are we to follow Jesus when faith is demanding – when the going gets tough –

Jesus didn’t come to be enthroned like David or Judas Maccabeus – but to be killed – to die on the cross- so that our sins are forgiven – so we can start again –in our relationship with God – and those around us –

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

Jesus didn’t choose His way – but God’s way – He gave everything for us – so we could receive everything from God –

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

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 promised Him one day – and lost interest in Him the next –

Jesus knows its easy to applaud when you’re part of a crowd that’s 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 long and dusty way of our lives – give 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 us seize the moment – hold up our palms – and follow Him all the way to paradise [heaven]