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Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

Palm Sunday,

March 24, 2002

“Come on In”

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

INTRODUCTION: Psalm 118 has long been associated with Palm Sunday. Verses 26-27 say, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord...with boughs in hand, join in the festal procession.” It is a Messianic Prophecy which was fulfilled in Matthew 21:9. It unfolds on the day when great crowds of people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

(Matthew 21:9)

Psalm 118 is one of 6 Psalms (113-118) called the Egyptian Hallel Psalms which were sung at the Feast of the Tabernacles and during the Passover. They are songs of praise and thanksgiving for God’s great deliverance. The Feast of the Tabernacles was a 7 day feast commemorating the years of wandering in the wilderness by the Israelites before they eventually got to the Promised Land. It was sometimes called a feast of booths where they lived in temporary shelters. They praised God for delivering them from their enemies. Psalm 118 ends the Great Hallel which was sung at all the feasts and this would have been the hymn sung by Jesus and his disciples at the last passover in Matthew 26:30.

How can we relate to a Psalm that was written at least 500 or more years before Christ entered the scene? How can we identify with the Psalmist of Old? How can we relate to the people in the New Testament who waved palm branches and shouted “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord?” Does it say anything to us today? If so, what?

1. What the People Desired: The people we are reading about in Scripture all wanted something just as we do today. They had different priorities and were focused on something just as we are today.

Beginning in verse 19 the psalmist desires admission to the sanctuary of God when he begins by saying, “Open to me the gates of righteousness.”

The crowd wanted someone to bail them out of their problems. At passover time the Jews were looking for a Messiah. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey you might be surprised at how many gathered to lift up his praises. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” By shouting this and waving the Palm Branches, a symbol of Jewish Nationalism, they were saying, “at long last here comes the one who will set up an earthly kingdom. They were ready to follow such a leader and ready for God’s mighty acts of salvation. The word HOSANNA meant, “SAVE, we pray”--originally it was a prayer for help. “O Grant us salvation!”

But Jesus never intended to set up an earthly kingdom to bail out the crowds. The crowds that cheered that day just as quickly joined the mocking and jeering crowd. They were a fickle group that turned their backs on Him as he continued on toward the cross. He KNEW what his mission was, but it never quite got through to them in spite of what he told them. The next day they were probably out looking for another popular hero who would save them from the Romans. Jesus was the one who came to save--but not in the way they expected.


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