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Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday.

Mark 11:1-11

“A Mismatch between Our Expectations and God’s Answer”

By: Ken Suaer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chatt., TN eastridgeumc.org

Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem just five days before His bloody Crucifixion is one of the stories that all four Gospel writers tell us about.

Everybody remembers that day!

It was a joyful and glorious day.

It was a time of excitement, optimism, and renewed national pride for the Israelites.

What starts with a handful of disciples offering their praise to God turns into a citywide celebration!!!

And if we think about it, we can appreciate why.

After all, the people of Jerusalem had been waiting for something like this for a long time!!!

Their hope was that Jesus would launch a revolution against the Romans and free the Holy city from Roman occupation.

Still, if the truth be told, all of their hosannas couldn’t hide the fact that Jesus is not quite what they expected Him to be.

Most conquering Kings ride into town on a White Stallion—ready for war.

Jesus came on this little colt of a donkey that almost left His feet dragging on the ground.

Plus there was no sword in His hand nor any weapon attached to His saddle.

In fact, Jesus doesn’t even have a saddle, only someone’s old overcoat.

As we watch Jesus entering Jerusalem with friends and followers waving palms, not swords, we see into the heart of God.

And at least one thing is clear: Jesus doesn’t come to us on our terms.

Jesus comes on God’s terms.

Yet, He comes.

And that is a very good thing!!!

The people wanted a prophet, but this Prophet would tell them that their city was under God’s imminent judgment.

The people wanted a Messiah, but Jesus—the Messiah--was about to be enthroned on a horrible, bloody Cross.

The people wanted to be rescued from evil and oppression, and Jesus was going to rescue them from evil…

…but from evil in its fullest depths, not just the surface evil that they could see.

Those who believed in Christ would have their “hearts circumcised” or “changed” inwardly not necessarily their outward situations.

The story of Jesus’ grand, but surprising entry into Jerusalem is a great lesson in the mismatch between our expectations and God’s answer!!!

The crowds wanted Jesus to conquer in the worldly way.

Jesus would conquer through serving, loving and laying down His life to save those who will believe.

The “Hosannas” of Palm Sunday were justified, but not for the reasons the people had supposed.

And to learn this lesson is to take huge steps towards wisdom and humility and genuine Christian faith!!!

Jesus comes as Jerusalem’s King to bring salvation, but salvation means much more than relief from an oppressive government.

Jesus comes to free people from themselves!!!

Jesus comes to free people from self-hatred and selfishness…

…from shame…

…from greed…

…from fear…

…from death…

…from our broken relationship with God!!!

Jesus gives us Life and Life to the full.

But it is a life of humble service and love.

There is a significant little detail that is often overlooked in this story.

“Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.”

Jesus rode into the city on a colt that had never been ridden.

An unbroken colt!!!

Anyone who has ever seen any riding or roping shows has seen what usually happens to people who sit on untamed colts, especially in the midst of shouting crowds!

Can we sense an underlying smile here as the writer of Mark’s Gospel contemplates this little miracle?

It may seem less spectacular than stilling a storm or raising the dead, but it is significant none the less!!!

Jesus is able to take the wild and chaotic and transform it into something manageable.

Jesus is able to take what we may see as a lost cause or a hopeless situation and turn it into a bright, sunny and gentle day!

Instead of being “bucked off” when He sits on the colt, Jesus rides it heroically and peacefully into Jerusalem—even amidst the chaos of people, palms and shouting.

Have you ever felt as if life were a wild ride which was threatening to “buck you off”?

When I look at the events which have occurred and are continuing to occur over in Japan, I come face to face with the fragility of this life, how about you?

I mean, here we are, we go on and make plans as if there is nothing that is going to stop us.

We take it for granted that there will be another year, another day, another hour.

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