Summary: Consider the players and their thoughts on that first Palm Sunday.
Sermon by Donald R. Hart – Antioch Christian Church, Pittsburg, Missouri – April 1, 2007
(All Scripture passages are from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
PALM SUNDAY MESSAGE
NOW I SEE
Text: John 12:12-16
One of the eye clinics in the area that specializes in cataract surgery advertises on TV and ends their ad with this catchy little phrase – “I will tell everyone I see”. We understand that this is a play on words, but the idea of having better vision is clearly conveyed by their ad.
We well understand there are times when we see something, but really do not see it. It happens all the time in traffic situations – a person looks both ways, but somehow just didn’t see the approaching car.
This same thing happens to us mentally as well. We read something and do not really get it, but sometime later we re-read it and the “light goes on”.
Jesus knew this happened in spiritual things as well. He told many parables – great stories from life built around the experiences of his hearers, but they did not always catch the spiritual significance they contained. Even his disciples at times missed the point. Jesus told the story of the sower and the seed to which his disciples asked for a fuller explanation. He then addressed the fact that the people had missed the point as well. He then quotes a passage from Isaiah which speaks about people seeing, but not perceiving and hearing but not understanding.
Notice Matthew 13:14-15
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
"’You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
On another occasion Jesus was aware of the disciples missing a point and we read in Mark 8:17-18a -
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
We need to remember that when we read about the events in the Bible we are looking with 20/20 hindsight – they were only living it one moment at a time and thus did not know “the rest of the story”. That is the case in our text with the story of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the subsequent events that followed. We are told in verse 16, “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.”
What was really going on that first Palm Sunday and on into the week that followed? What was it they didn’t understand until later – “after Jesus was glorified”? Today in this message I would like to consider some thoughts about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and about the week that followed.
I. THE PRECEPTIONS
We may go to certain events and we begin to form a perception about what is going on, only later to see that we were wrong. However, sometimes we do catch the drift of things, but that was not the case on this first Palm Sunday event.
A. THE DISCIPLES
We can only imagine what the Twelve Disciples were thinking about during all of this? I would suspect the key word would be “power”. For three and one-half years they had heard the Master speak of a coming kingdom and even they had gone through various villages preaching the same. And now here it is! Triumphantly he is riding into Jerusalem – the crowd that surrounds him is shouting “Hosanna” which means “save now!”
From time to time they had argued as to what positions they would hold in the coming kingdom, to which Jesus would rebuke them, but somehow what he told them just didn’t compute with them. In the excitement of the moment they completely forgot about the teaching of becoming like a little child and he who would be first must be servant of all. The only thing they could see was that Jesus is now coming to power – and they were going to be a part of it.
I don’t know if they were giving each other “high fives” or not, but inside they were in a heightened sense of anticipation and they just knew that Jesus was coming to power. I wonder if after the crucifixion and after the church was started on the Day of Pentecost, they ever shared with one another as to how far off they were with their perceptions of Jesus coming to power?