Carolyn’s Sermon for Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday – 3/24/13

Palm Sunday

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ, who rides into town to save us. Amen.

Our president was in the Holy Land recently.  Whenever he goes anywhere, there is a big motorcade.  Usually there are officers on motorcycles and then lots of cars with secret service people and the other dignitaries traveling with him.  Often secret service guards jog alongside to watch out for any problems in the crowd.

People know he is coming to town and there is always a crowd.  They stand by the road and wave flags, or hold up signs for the news cameras indicating their political opinions.  The secret service are there watching for problems and dangers.

Many of the security measures that are in place when a US president enters a city were put in place after the Kennedy assassination in 1963.

Think about this for a minute.  Do you believe John Kennedy would have gone to Dallas and ridden in that motorcade if he had know what was going to happen?  I think not.  I certainly hope not.  It just wouldn’t have made any sense.

Jesus had been preparing to go to Jerusalem for some time.  He knew what was going to happen.  He had told the disciples several times that he would suffer and die.  They didn’t believe him and they didn’t understand.  Jesus went anyway.

New Holy Week scarlet paraments and vestments at St. Mark's!

New Holy Week scarlet paraments and vestments at St. Mark’s!

Jesus went to Jerusalem anyway.  He knew what was going to happen and he went anyway.

He also knew the colt would be tied up.  He knew the owners would ask why the disciples were taking it.

Did you ever wonder why the owners willingly let the disciples take that colt?  Did you wonder if maybe Jesus arranged with them ahead of time?  Maybe he had someone go there in advance and arrange for it?  Maybe, but there is another possible explanation.

The expression, “The Lord has need of it” was a familiar expression in Jewish culture.  If you said it to me, it meant that you needed to borrow something I have to help someone in need, especially to help a poor person.  I would be obligated as a faithful worshipper of the Lord to lend it to you.  You would be honor bound to return it.

When we say, “The Lord has need of it,” we say that whenever we help the poor, we are helping the Lord.  Even in his final journey to his death, Jesus took time to remind us that helping those in need is serving God.

Jesus was truly God’s Son.  He understood the mind of God.  He knew what the will of God was for him, that first Holy Week in Jerusalem.

Jesus was truly human.  He did not have some kind of special superhero flesh that would prevent himself from feeling the pain of his torture and death.  He felt everything just as we would have.

In the garden, he prayed that he might not have to endure it.  He was so upset that his sweat was like blood.  We know what it is like to agonize about something bad that is going to happen. We know what it is like to wait.  Jesus knows, too.

Jesus knew he would suffer like that.  He knew he would die a painful death.  He went to Jerusalem anyway.

The crowds greeted him and made a path with palm branches just as we did in our procession. They welcomed him as their king in the name of the Lord, just as we did.

Even as he entered into the city in the Palm Sunday procession, there were warnings of what was going to happen.  Some of the Pharisees tried to tell him.  They tried to get him to calm the disciples and the crowd down.  After all, welcoming him as a king was treason.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing what was going to happen.  He did it in obedience to God, because God really does love us that much.  God loves us enough to send Jesus to die for us.  God loves us enough to send Jesus to conquer death for us.

The passion of Jesus is not an easy story to hear.   It is sad and painful to know that the things that happened to Jesus, happened because of us. We are the ones who shouted “Hosanna” and welcomed Jesus with palms.  We are the same ones who shouted, “Crucify him” a few days later.

The story of Jesus has sad and painful parts.  But those are the parts of the story that save us.  Jesus knew what would happen to him.  He went to Jerusalem anyway.  He loves us that much.

This is the story we welcome baby Josey Dawn into.  We welcome her because Jesus died for her, too.  We welcome her into the whole story of Jesus.  Because he loves her that much, too.  

We welcome Josey Dawn into Christ's family.

We welcome Josey Dawn into Christ’s family.

When she is baptized she will be baptized into Christ’s death.  She will be permanently, indelibly, marked with the cross of Christ.  She will forever bear the sign of God, who loves her enough to die for her.  

Jesus knew what was going to happen when he entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday.  He went anyway.  He loves us that much.

This is indeed good news for us.

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest. Amen.


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