Monday, April 18, 2011

Palm Sunday Sermon

Matthew 21:1-9 (ESV)
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!"
Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest! These are words we sing so often. Sunday after Sunday as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate his coming with these words of the Sanctus, mixing the praise of the cherubim in Isaiah with the cheer of the crowds on a Palm Sunday so many years ago. The king comes to his people, he comes with salvation.
Oh Jesus is a strange king. Like no other king, like no earthly king. He rides a donkey. The Roman Soldiers nervously watching the stirred up crowds, might have thought they were watching some farce, a great gag, a mockery perhaps even of their own Caesar, or Pontius Pilate. Could you imagine if our president were to begin his presidency with an inauguration parade where he rode in anything less stylish than a Cadillac? Perhaps showing up in rags. Oh forget it, our society has become so informal, we think it respectful when the President meets foreign dignitaries in the same clothes he wears to play a game of golf. But let it be known this was not the case at this time. And a King would rather have walked than ride a donkey. To see crowds cheering a king who rode on a donkey would have been perplexing, to say the least. Perhaps as those soldiers a few days later taunted and beat Jesus as king of the Jews, they felt they were doing nothing but carrying on the same scene they witnessed just days earlier.
But the crowds knew who he was, they knew that Jesus had been sent by God. It was this same Jesus who just day’s before raised Lazarus from the dead. Not a girl who possibly could have been just sleeping as Jesus said of her, but a man dead 3 days. They knew. This was from the Lord, this man was who he had said he was, He was the promised Messiah, here was their king. Oh and they knew the prophecy, even if perhaps they did not know the meaning entirely. They knew why Jesus was riding a donkey. This wasn’t a prophetic fulfillment Jesus had no control over. I mean that if Jesus were not God, it would be highly unlikely that he would have any control over the fulfillment of other prophecies concerning him. The boy could not choose to be born of a virgin, or to be born in Bethlehem, or to flee to Egypt, or grow up in Nazareth, he could not control how many bones would or would not be broken as he hung on the cross. But his one he did choose to fulfill and he was sending a message.
Jesus would ride into Jerusalem in triumph, to the cheering crowds, on a donkey not as a mockery, but as a signal to the crowds that yes he was the one, he was their long expected king. In riding the donkey he made this claim of himself. He claimed to be their messiah, their king.
Of course, the people knew that, but they did not know all of what that meant. Paul warns Titus of Jewish Myths, and not to be sucked into them. They are ever prevalent. They never died with Jesus, and somehow they were even given new birth in the church. Satanic distortions of scripture. If you want to know what the majority of the Jews believed concerning their messiah, you only have to read the Left Behind Series, or listen to Hal Lindsay, or watch Jack Van Impe, should you happen to be suffering from insomnia. In short, they envisioned nothing more than an earthly kingdom and an earthly salvation. They envisioned a return of Solomon’s kingdom the Zenith of Israelite Empire, but perhaps even multiplied by a hundred for its glory. Evil would be suppressed, justice would reign. Israel would dominate. They envisioned a Millenium, in other words.
In fact it is the theory of many if not all pre-millenialists and post millenialists, that that is what Jesus was coming to do on Palm Sunday, but his plans were frustrated by the Pharisees, and the cross was nothing but plan B. That only after a rejection of the Jews, did Jesus plan on the cross. This despite so many of his statements that week, when Peter lops an ear off, Jesus tells him that if he wanted a battle he would pull down legions of angels. When Pilate asks him if he is king, he says my kingdom is not of this world, if it were my people would be fighting.
But that is just it, the donkey. A liability if ever there was one on a battle field. Jesus rides in on a donkey humble. He comes not for war, the domain of earthly kingdoms, nations that must rage against nations. But he comes on a donkey proclaiming peace, to set captives free from waterless pits. He comes to grant peace through forgiveness, and salvation. And this he does even today as we hear his voice in the confession of our confirmand’s Mike and Emily, who today confess their faith with this congregation, and join us in the celebration of Holy Communion.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep Your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

mollo said...

Tell your confirmands we send our congrats!