Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday 2010

Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-9
Bror Erickson

[21:1] Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth-phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, [2] saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. [3] If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." [4] This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
[5] "Say to the daughter of Zion,
'Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.' "
[6] The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. [7] They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. [8] Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. [9] And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:1-9 (ESV)

Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Perhaps some of you remember starting lent with this reading, or a parallel text of Jesus riding in to Jerusalem, And perhaps you wondered why that reading wasn’t saved for Palm Sunday. The Festival half of the liturgical year is like one big flashback remembering the course and events of Christ’s earthly ministry capped at both ends with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
There is quit a bit of importance in all this. Palm Sunday the day engrained in so many of our heads since child hood when we would get palms and make them into crosses, perhaps fan the entry of the crucifix with the palms, Christ coming to his people, Christ entering Jerusalem. Some churches save them until ash Wednesday and burn them to make the ashes for that day. And when they hand out Palms at Church, you know that next week there are going to be candy eggs hidden all over your yard. It kicks off holy week. I should say something here about popular, perhaps even secular celebrations of Easter. This last week I saw an advertisement for some charity run on Easter morning. On that one I had to think, Really? I must live in Utah. Who decides that Easter Sunday is a good day to have a 5K? I’m sure the charity is worth every cent it earns, but I think that possibly it could encourage the skipping of church on another Sunday. Which is bad enough that that always seem to be for a Sunday morning. So many fast running pastors never get known on the running circuit, It is a conspiracy against guys like me I know it. I could be a contender.
But for the most part I like these secular celebrations. They keep the holiday alive in the culture. The people may not always know why they are celebrating this day or that, but they have to celebrate them. And then they have to find out the answer to why. It’s pretty rough being the only kid on the block who doesn’t get an Easter basket. It makes parents think twice about being Jehova Witnesses. And Mormons may not recognize Easter very much, but they end up celebrating it often. These more or less secular celebrations are perhaps more like guardians of the holiday, and defenders of the faith than most anything else we have at our disposal. Christmas and Easter, Palm Sunday, give grandparents more opportunities to innocently share the faith with grandchildren than any thing else. Kids are going to ask why they are decorating eggs. Why grandma is giving them a palm? Why do we put a tree in our house in the middle of winter? Some say it distracts the kids from the true meaning of these holidays. I don’t think that is true. It think more often then not it draws there attention to these days, and reminds us that something special happened on them. Which is why the world cannot stand to have Christmas displays etc. Palms on Palm Sunday are one of those things that engrain the holiday into the hearts of children. Never sure why that is, but it is.
And the meaning of the day is this is the day that Christ rode into to town to claim his throne. The people yelled hosanna, screamed and shouted Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The same song we use to greet the coming of out Lord Sunday after Sunday as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Hosanna, Save us! That is what it means. The people knew they were greeting their savior, the one who would save them. And they cheered him on. Save us, Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! And however messed up their thoughts were concerning the way in which this would be done, they were right in knowing this is what he came to do. They were right in knowing that Jesus was the Messiah, the one who would save them.
Save them he would as he claimed his throne. But the throne to be claimed would not be the one sat upon by Herod, and controlled by Pilate. The people had enemies of which they knew nothing consumed as they were by the goings on of the political world, hoping for that day in which the Romans would be defeated. But Jesus had other plans. Not an earthly king, he rides in on a donkey fulfilling prophecy and driving home a point with the extreme irony. I am not your earthly ruler, but your king of kings, and savior. I do not come to make war with the Romans. I do not come to set up your millennial kingdom with the apparatuses of war. I come to save you from your enemies who are not of flesh and blood, to defeat sin, death and the power of the devil once and for all, and to bring you peace. Peace. Peace he brings, so he rides in on a donkey, a harmless, preposterous donkey, a beast of burden, already carrying in Christ the burden of our sin, as he makes his way to a rough cut wooden throne, where he conquers our enemies once and for all. Today the final leg of his earthly journey his earthly ministry, The events of which shape our faith like no other, begin in earnest. The people who greet him as their savior, will soon see their salvation hanging from that throne, hanging from the cross, and then will see their salvation once more risen from the dead. And in that resurrection he brings us peace, knowing that Just as death has no hold on our Lord and king, so it has no hold on us either.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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