“A Humble Entry”

Luke 19: 28-40, April 10, 2022

Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard


Palm Sunday

Read Statement of Faith

“Hear the testimony of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as written in the gospel according to Luke, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-eight thru forty.”

Luke 19:28-40

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 

35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 

37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

“Today’s scripture sets the stage for the drama of Easter. Jesus humbly enters Jerusalem through the back gate and is treated with praise as the long-awaited king!”

“A Humble Entry”

Frederick Buechner speaks of the obvious despair and hope that our gospel reading brings to us. “Despair and hope,” Buechner tells us. “They travel the road to Jerusalem together, as together they travel every road we take, ‘despair’ and ‘hope’, in (Jesus) who travels the road with us and for us. Buechner is stating what oft appears to be the harsh truth; a truth which is too hard to speak, yet is there for us to see, nevertheless! What is his reference to despair you ask? Buechner gives his thoughts but what about our own? And is it simply enough that Jesus walks with us? We were not there when Jesus rode into town as the king of the Jews. If we were there, knowing what we now know, would we have marched alongside him as his enemies took names and made notes as to who were his supporters? The ancient supporters had hope as they believed that Jesus would perhaps lead them out of bondage as did Moses. Moses is a big, big hero in the Old Testament as he dared go against Egypt’s Pharaoh despite the odds. Jesus was thought to be the Messiah who would lead them in battle against the Romans and set them free once again. We of our time in history, now realize that Jesus came to save our souls and set us free from our human sin. Yet freedom from corruption, treachery, dictatorships, and atrocities of war wage on – seemly unabated. Yes, today’s lesson does bring both hope and despair to all who fully grasp life’s realities and Christ Jesus’ true mission!

You and me, we have been taught to celebrate Jesus’ Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, even though we know Jesus gave his very life in his battle between good and evil. Likewise, his disciples were scattered and forced to hide out of fear of being condemned as Jesus was! What posture will we take as we enter the fullness of this scripture today! Is it not true, we want peace as much as they did that day! There will be time enough to acknowledge the price that is paid for true freedom! Yes indeed! Let us take this day and join with those who idealistically believed that Jesus would take the pain out of being mortal. Thereby, willingly become involved and fully participating in life’s journey. Is this simply being naïve? No, as life without hope is a futile and pointless quest. No person or persons wish to journey uselessly, ineffective in one’s pursuits and utterly unsuccessful in all the hopes and dreams one cares deeply about. Truly, all of humankind has buried hopes and dreams within at least a part of their inner thoughts. Perhaps buried deep are their hidden desires and wishes for a better life, or at least a better one for the next generation! Yes, we most certainly need to join the parade and wave our palms high in the air ‘singing’ and ‘shouting’ Hosanna, Hosanna!

Hosanna, as recorded on any web browser you search on means: “Please Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success.” (Psalm 118:25) If we but turn to Psalm 118, in its summation, we shall feel even the psalmist’s rendition of praise and adoration for the hope which we all seek after! “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly and is exalted.” The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Surely it was the faithful of Israel who shouted out to Jesus on that historic day as he boldly allowed his humility to lead the procession that fateful day!  Hosanna! Hosanna!

As we look back to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, we must look to the realities that such a show of support and adoration for Jesus would bring. Brian Stoffregen at Crossmark’s Christian Resources opens for us a question. “When Jesus enters Jerusalem, his disciples pray for peace in heaven (and, presumably on earth, which will bring glory in the highest), but his visitation causes a division.” What is this division which Stoffregen speaks of? Is it a division of good versus evil? When is it in our journeys that we must choose between good and evil? Have we encountered moments when we needed to make such a choice? Choosing Justice verses turning away from the truth is a decision which we all are forced to make, if we are willing to awaken to all which goes on in the world we live within. Jesus’ entry is meant to be a celebration, albeit for a short time, as his enemies were looking for an opportunity to be rid of him.

Christian history tells us of the battle to come – was only begun as Jesus paraded in from the back gate of Jerusalem, riding on a lowly colt. The obvious, is the joy filled supporters who waved Palm Branches in support of Jesus’ work, verses those who would shout “Crucify Him” when asked to choose between Jesus and Barabbas – at his mock trail! How many pieces of silver would it take for us to turn against truth, righteousness, or justice? Which crowd are we willing to stand in and then speak out on behalf of the innocent? Who among us would dare to identify themselves as Judas, willing to betray the man Jesus? Surely, we all shall answer that we are with the believers who waved ‘Palm Branches’ as Jesus entered, and we woke up in distress when we found he was to be crucified. Is there division in the ranks of humankind! Absolutely!

As we continue to ponder the meaning of a triumphant parade on Palm Sunday, let us consider all that goes into making an event a celebration! As clearly the parade that day was eventful enough that it got recorded in the gospel accounts of Jesus as he enters Jerusalem! When we, you, or I, when we want to create a celebration there are plans that need to be put into place! The Disciples had to acquire the colt for Jesus to ride on. It is worth noting here that the scripture tells us “Jesus instructed the Disciples” as to what was needed, and he also told them where to get the colt and how to explain to the owner ‘who’ needed to borrow the colt that day. Then there was the decision as to which gate Jesus was to enter the city by. ‘Did they know of the formal military parade coming in the front gate that day?’ Possibly they did, either way, when planning an event, like a parade, it is a good idea to check these kinds of details. It would have been a very different event if they had sought to have Jesus’ parade coming in the front gate ‘alongside’ the Roman soldiers, or would Jesus’ precession have gone ‘first’ or would they have him ride in on the colt – behind the Roman soldiers?

Do you see the problem?

The details really are important.

Most see Jesus’ humble entry, by the back gate, as a symbolically powerful contrast to the Roman soldiers marching in the front gate, with all their pomp and circumstance. Their leader rode in on a mighty stallion! And what about the waving of the palm branches? I know personally, getting the palm branches for our Sunday service each year, is something, someone, needs to plan and get helpers to cause the plan to be implemented! Same goes for the clocks which were ‘thrown down’ to make the ride into Jerusalem less dusty for Jesus. Without the first cloak being thrown on the ground in front of Jesus, would the others have initiated the gesture on their own!? The details are always so important in any level of celebration!

We are having a coffee hour after our Easter service next Sunday. There is a note, I believe in the bulletin about it. It is part of the plan, to make everyone aware so that many will stay for fellowship and enjoy some of the lovingly prepared foods and such. Thank you, to our organizer, and those who plan to contribute to the eats and such! Likewise, there are many in our midst who are planning to share an Easter dinner with loved ones. To do so… someone, will need to plan a menu, buy the ham, turkey, or roast, and prepare all the fixings.  Yes, celebrations take planning.

Plans to celebrate a beloved employee’s time amount us these past five plus years will – take some planning. Made more difficult due to the fact she is now in Paris France, where Mariana, our beloved Music Director has been planning our weekly music, which fits so well into the rhythm of each Sunday’s liturgy, based on our sermon topics and the Christian calendar of Sunday events. Then the weekly choir rehearsals conducted via zoom: at six PM local time, but at midnight in Paris! How do we say “Thank You Mariana” for your musical expertise, your conducting skills, your compassion, and energy that has kept us on track these years; especially these last two years as we dealt with the confinement of the pandemic! Thankfully, we did get the gift of your solo’s, your duets, and the quartets, you put together. Then there was that harmonious group you put together with participants from around the world on several continents.  It seemed like they were standing side by side as you directed them. 

Thank you, Mariana. Thank you for enhancing our times of worship in so many ways. God bless you and your music ministry. If you were here, we would surely have baked you a cake with your name on it at least! Thank you for sharing your time and talent with us. We have been blessed to have had you in our midst – as together we shared your love for praising God through music.  

As we acknowledge and celebrate Mariana’s ministry of music among us, we also celebrate the ministry of Jesus as he came to experience our humanness and shared our joy and our sorrows. Palm Sunday is a time when Christians from around the world gather to acknowledge and celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, while celebrating as those early followers did: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna! Hosanna!”

Amen!  

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