Summary: Where do we stand in the crowd on Palm Sunday? Are we a part of the fickle majority, the convinced minority, the 12 disciples, the critical Pharisees or other people who opposed him?

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

Palm Sunday

March 20, 2005

“Choosing to Live By God’s Agenda”

John 12:12-19

INTRODUCTION: Are you aware that year after year we hear or read this story and miss what God is saying to us about our personal life? Within this story is the truth about why many of us are struggling and missing out on life. We want to be happy, to love and be loved, to be fulfilled, successful and to develop to our fullest potential; but the way we often live, we never seem to quite come up to that ideal. Why is this? The Palm Sunday message contains some answers for us.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt that day, things were shaping up for a showdown. The crowds went wild shouting, “Hosannah!” and waving Palm branches.

“Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

Various types of people lined the streets--the fickle majority who followed him for what they could get, the small convinced minority, the 12 disciples, the critical Pharisees, and other people who opposed him.

Psalm 118:26-27 speaks of this triumphal entry by saying,

“The Lord is God, and He has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”

This Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled on that day as they honored him and called him king. But their agenda was completely different from what His was on that eventful day. The people were looking for a powerful earthly king who would have immediate results in getting them out of the mess they were in. They envisioned an earthly, political kingdom. They envisioned a powerful king. But Jesus rode into town on a colt, another indication of his humility.

The people didn’t understand Jesus’ mission even though He tried to tell them over and over again. They just didn’t get it. They couldn’t grasp what He was trying to tell them probably because they didn’t want to--they had their own agenda. The mission of the people that day was fickle and short term whereas Jesus lived for eternity--a long term salvation of the world--then and in the ages to come. What a contrast between their selfishness and his selflessness.

Jesus knew that in order to help people, He could not live for Himself and do as he pleased. He said many times in Scripture how He wanted to only do the will of the Father who sent Him. Some Scriptures indicating this are John 4:34 in which Jesus said, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work.” Even when things got tough, He continued to say, “Not as I will but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). As he got closer to the crucifixion He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” As he prayed this, he was going through much anguish where his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. and yet He continued to look at the big picture and continue to move toward the cross.

TRANSITION: So what does all of this have to do with us? Palm Sunday is about whether we are going to be in charge of our life or whether He will be in charge. Palm Sunday is about the “long look” toward the cross and its meaning for all humanity. Jesus could face the cross because He knew what the end results would be. When we are living by His agenda, we may not know about tomorrow, but we know who holds tomorrow. We can face the unknown tomorrows because of this fact.

Many people are hesitant to live by God’s agenda for fear of what it will require of them. There is a fear that the cost will be too great of a sacrifice. Teenagers feel that if they choose God’s agenda over their own, they will miss out on fun. There is a fear that God might ask us to do something we do not want to do. People are afraid that their careers will not go well if they live according to God’s agenda--that they will not be able to get ahead. We drag our feet and say, “Maybe some day I will really commit my life fully to do what God wants me to do.” But the years roll by and we never get around to it.

There was a man who was going to work for the Lord when he retired. He and his wife had been busy doing their own things for years and never had much time for church. When he was 65 he was going to retire and work full time in some kind of Christian service. Then about the time of his retirement, he had a stroke and his health rapidly deteriorated. He was unable to fulfill the things he wanted to do.

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