Summary: The change in the people between Palm Sunday and Good Friday shows clearly the fickleness of sinful mankind compared to the steadfastness of God, who never lets us down
SERMON – Palm Sunday 2011
The steadfastness of God compared to the fickleness of man
What is Palm Sunday all about?
First of all about palms – palm branches – big fronds,
torn from palm trees to be laid down on the rough surface of a road
that would be more like a dirt track than what we would call a ‘road’ today.
Palm Sunday is about the ride into Jerusalem
that Jesus would make
for the last time in His natural life.
Palm Sunday is about the entrance of a Holy man into the Holy city.
Palm Sunday is about people praising and cheering,
happy and expectant,
but Palm Sunday is also about the steadfastness of God
compared to the fickleness and shallowness of mankind.
When I was a boy, I had a friend who was a member of the Boys Brigade.
Their motto is SURE AND STEADFAST.
My friend was a BB, but he wasn't steadfast.
Sometimes he would be friendly and want to play with other boys;
but usually he would only play with them
if they played the game HE wanted to play,
and if he didn’t win, he was upset, and in a bad mood,
until he got bored, and it suited HIM to play with someone.
Everything had to be the way HE wanted it,
unlike God, my friend wasn't a steadfast friend.
The dictionary definition of Steadfast is:
fixed, unwavering, determined, regular, and stable.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a lot of this around these days.
We shouldn't be surprised
because that's the way people have been since the beginning of time.
When God created Adam and Eve He placed them in the Garden of Eden
and told them they could do anything, everything they wanted,
except eat the fruit of one tree.
For a while they steadfastly obeyed God;
then they gave in to temptation, and ate the fruit of that one tree.
I'm sure we could all could give examples
of times when people we have relied upon for years,
suddenly let us down.
And I'm sure that if we are honest
we'll admit that we have also let other people, and God, down.
The Old Testament has many names and titles for God,
which help us to understand something of the nature and character
of our infinite, immortal Creator;
such as El Shaddai, Almighty God, Adonai or Lord,
and Jehovah Jireh, the Provider,
but one of the words that appears many times throughout the OT,
which describes God perfectly,
is CHESED, which is translated as STEADFAST.
CHESED means God is:
STEADFASTLY morally perfect,
STEADFASTLY merciful, and
STEADFASTLY honest in His dealings with man.
The Boys Brigade tries to get boys to be like this,
STEADFASTLY holy, just, generous and honest,
and while my friend wasn't STEADFAST in all these things,
he wasn't a bad lad; maybe 60% steadfast; 70% steadfast on a good day,
but God is perfect and 100% STEADFAST for 100% of the time
in His love for us,
and that's how He wanted His chosen people to be.
The Jews in Jesus' time should have been a STEADFAST people.
They had had the Law for 2,000 years;
had been waiting for their Messiah for 1,000 years;
and had been waiting for someone to deliver them
from the Greeks and Romans for over 100 years,
before Jesus came riding into the Holy City of Jerusalem on a donkey,
in clear fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.
If it had been on TV News
we would have seen the Jews jumping up and down in the streets,
smiling, clapping their hands
and waving palm branches
before placing them down in the road
like a red carpet before a V.I.P.
We would have heard them shouting Hallelujah, Praise the Lord,
Hosanna in the Highest, Jesus Christ Superstar,
and generally rejoicing,
on that first Palm Sunday.
But it didn’t last, because only a few days later
they would turn from best of friends to worse of enemies..
Whereas on that Sunday the Jews in Jerusalem shouted
"Praise him, praise him"; ‘Roll out the red carpet’;
only five days later on the first Good Friday
they shouted "Crucify him, crucify him!".
They wanted a Messiah, a man sent from God,
but He had to be a warrior Messiah who would save them from the Romans;
but not the sort of Messiah God sent Jesus, to be.
God came into this fallen world in the Person of Jesus,
to be a spiritual Messiah;
a Messiah who would save them, not from the Romans,
but from sin, the devil, and a lost eternity.
And because Jesus did not live up to their expectations,
they had God’s Son executed.