Here He Comes â€¦ There He Goes
April 1, 2007/Palm Sunday
The texts for this Sunday that we call Palm Sunday tell us that Jesus had come into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. According to the Jewish Faith, then and now, there are 3 great Feasts or Celebrations. Passover being one of them.
This feast/festival for which Jesus had come into town caused Jews from all around Jerusalem to come to the city causing the city to grow to over 2 million in number.
This festival was the annual celebration and remembrance of God’s work in delivering the Jews from Pharaoh’s hand in Egypt where they had been slaves for many, many years.
You remember this ancient event. Charleton Heston, I mean Moses approached Pharaoh 9 times telling him to let "my people go" and each time Pharaoh would say no and consequently God would send
Flies into the land.
Livestock were killed.
Boils broke out on bodies.
Hail and locust destroyed crops and
Darkness filled the land
until God was tired of playing games and said to Moses that there would be a final Plague. Every first born son of every Egyptian would be struck dead. Each home that didn’t have blood on the sides and tops of the door frames would be struck with death. But in the Jewish homes, the homes with lamb’s blood placed on the doorframes, God would Passover them, not bringing death.
And so Moses and his people did this. They killed lambs and sprinkled their doorframes with blood. And because Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not, they woke up to dead children. Which caused Pharaoh to release the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. God’s people were finally set free.
This historical event was the reason Jesus and every other good Jew made the journey to the temple in Jerusalem where they would celebrate Passover. They would sacrifice a lamb and eat the sacred meal, reciting this story of God’s mighty hand in bringing their ancestors freedom.
Jesus made this journey every year. When he was a child. As a teenager and as young adult.
Jesus would have made this walked into Jerusalem. But on this journey to Jerusalem for Passover, he did something different. According to our text, he didn’t walk. Rather than walking into town as he had always done, Jesus tells his disciples to get a colt/a donkey and when they get it and bring it to him, he gets on it.
Jesus will ride this colt/this donkey into town.
The logical question is why?
Why would Jesus do this?
Jesus wasn’t old; he was in his early thirties.
Could he be tired?
Could his legs hurt?
Why didn’t he do what he always had done - walk into town?
The answer to these questions, is the reason we celebrate and remember Palm Sunday 2000 years later.
Turn in your bibles to Zechariah 9:9, page 1480. Read verse 9:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt,
the foal of a donkey.
The Prophet Zechariah told of the day when a _______ (king) would come.
A righteous King.
A King bringing salvation.
A King riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
What’s Jesus doing? Why does Jesus choose to ride a donkey and not walk into Jerusalem as he had done every other year?
Jesus is declaring himself to be the people’s King.
Jesus being a Rabbi, knew this scripture.
Many if not most who lined the street that day knew the Scripture as well.
Jesus is identifying himself as the One that Zechariah talked about.
And the crowds got it.
Up until now the crowds following him, listening to him, saw him primarily as a teacher, a healer, a welcomer of the outsider, but now in this action.
When the people, the crowds saw Jesus coming into town riding on the donkey, they see him as their King.
And so they did as their ancestors did, whenever a King rode into town coats and garments were laid in the road. Palm branches were waved.
And the ancient chorus chanted out.
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord? Peace in heaven and glory in the highest"
Matthew, Mark and John record the crowd crying out, "Hosanna," which is a word meaning "Save us"
Put in context, "Jesus save us.
O King bring your salvation.
your release to us."
Now notice something, Jesus doesn’t say a word. Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John record for us a word coming from Jesus’ mouth as he comes into town. He rides quietly and humbling.
Isaiah another prophet, foretold of this day, he writes in Isaiah 53:7, page _____.
"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before his shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Friends this is our God.
He came into town quietly.
He came into town calmly.
He came into town not to fulfill the crowd’s expectations nor to fulfill their hopes.
Jesus would ride into town and then through it.
He would not stop to perform miracles.
No, not this time.
He had come into town to fulfill his role as the new Passover Lamb.
John points this out at the beginning of his book. When Jesus comes out to the Jordan River the day after he has been baptized. John, the Baptist identifies him as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was marked to be a lamb. One who would become the new Passover Lamb.
The one who would be sacrificed; the one who would shed his blood so that you and I could live lives free from the powers that want to hold us hostage.
Free from the oppressive powers.
Free from being enslaved.
Through his role as the Lamb of God, just as God did on that first Passover night, Jesus would bring to those who are His, release and liberation from that which holds them enslaved.
In the time of Moses, that meant the Israelites being freed from their time of slavery in Egypt. For you and me, it could be whatever hold you captive, imprisoned, perpetuating choices that are not wholesome, healthy or good.
On Palm Sunday, our God comes riding into town quietly, humbly speaking not a word, declaring himself to be
The King who brings salvation to the imprisoned.
The King who will bring release to those held captive.
The King who will conquer death and give new life to all who are willing to admit
Their need for a Savior.
This week I had opportunity to hand out four of the homeless lunches that are in our entryway.
On Sunday night, our family gave two to a homeless man in Seattle
On Monday, Deb and I gave two to a lady standing by Taco Bell in Mount Vernon.
I didn’t have time to ask about their situation. Their sign indicated that "Anything would help" and so with our church’s effort, we passed out 4 lunches, two to each of them.
I’ve replayed this mental tape numerous times this week and replayed it in light of our text for today.
These 2 homeless people, standing on the side of the road were in need. Their circumstances in life were less than ideal. I’ve got to believe that they didn’t aspire as teenagers to become a person standing at a stoplight begging for food or money. And yet there they were.
There they are.
Hungry, desperate, humiliated, standing there in great need. And watching as car after car, family after family pass them by.
Hoping and I’ve got to believe praying that if one of them would simply stop and help it would be of great value to them.
Their situations and circumstances were dire.
They were looking for outside help
For someone coming down the road.
For someone riding through town.
Someone who would notice them and their silent cry -
Help me - Save Me
Anything will help.
I had a hard enough time at a Pastor’s Conference this past fall holding a sign that said,
Need a ride to the airport.
I can’t imagine the distraughtness of each sign bearer.
The heavy heart as they wait and watch each car come and each car go.
Crying out for help.
What so fascinates me about the crowd in our Palm Sunday text is that they were so willing to stand on the street corning and along the curbs yelling help me
Hosanna - Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord."
What sticks with me as I’ve read and re-read this text and played this scene in my mind is that the people were willing to admit their need for a Savior. They knew they couldn’t save themselves. Though they had food, clothing, $ enough to travel to Jerusalem to the Passover feast, they still could admit and recognize that they needed this King.
They had been hoping that one would come.
They had been taught that one day a King would come down the road.
And on that particular day it happened, he came, he came.
And they were willing to yell out - Help. Help us. Save us, O King.
We are a people that want to believe that the stories of our lives will have happy endings.
We are a people who have hope that if we work hard enough, save enough, exercise enough, or develop some plans then our life will have a happy ending.
We believe that Jesus will be that happy ending.
And so we wait for him to come riding into our lives.
We wait for him to approach or come near. He is the Grand Marshall of the Life Parade and we await his coming to release us from our captivity.
Our own imprisonments.
Our own perpetual sins - envy greed, lust, economic injustice, addictions, etc. Waiting and wanting him to fix us and our troubled spouse, child, neighbor or friend. But if we are honest, when he does come. Though he is King, He often seems to go right past us. Our prayers unanswered.
He rode silently.
He rode into town and kept on going.
Though the people had hopes, I’ve got to believe they were hoping for more from Jesus, this one declaring himself King.
We, like them, become disappointed with Jesus when he doesnâ€™t come to help us with our goals and our plans for how he could save us. But Jesus came, friends, not to help us with our plans but instead to fulfill his Fathers.
And it is for this purpose
This reason that Jesus came to be and make the way for us to go to the Father Some along the Palm Sunday parade route I’m sure were hoping Jesus would stop and heal their child, but he didn’t. He was and He is more determined to make and the way, so that all of us can be free.
Once Jesus was done with the parade, the religious teachers tell Jesus to hush the crowd up. Jesus’ reply, "I tell you - if they keep quiet the stones will cry out."
What’s Jesus saying? From the depths of the earth, from the depths of every person comes the desire, the longing, the craving to be saved. To be rescued. To be free.
This longing can’t be hushed.
This desire can’t be silenced.
All of creation seeks life and hungers for it. On Palm Sunday, we recognize this and admit this and join with the crowds affirming our own need for God to save us.
We stand. Anything will help Lord.
Anything will help
But Jesus rides on by. Seemingly not coming to our aid.
In doing so, he is not passing you and me by.
He isn’t giving us the cold shoulder.
He isn’t ignoring us, but instead he is becoming the Passover Lamb.
The Sacrificial Passover offering.
Who chose to die for you, spilling his blood so that upon your and my dying we will be redeemed and set free.
Jesus’ words -In this life.
-In this world you will have trouble.
-I will not rescue you from everything.
-I will not always enter into your plans or wishes for me.
My plans, my agenda, my mission is larger.
In this world you will have trouble, but take heart he says I have overcome the world.
And it is this truth.
This reality that in and of itself gives you and me the ability, strength and courage to trust in our God even when he seems to pass us by, leaving us along side of the road in our miserable condition.
Take heart Christian alcoholic struggling with the demons.
Take heart Chronically ill Christian struggling for life.
Take heart Anger filled Christian.
Take heart Prone to cheat and lie Jesus follower.
Take heart all of you who are enslaved by desires that you know aren’t good and holy.
Take heart disappointed, diseased; let down and anxious ones.
I’m not leaving you behind
I’ve not forgotten about you.
I’m on a mission that will bring to you release.
Take heart for I have come to overcome the world.
I am the Passover Lamb, who will spill his blood so that not one of you will ever pass away. Amen