Summary: A Palm Sunday sermon calling people to true worship by excitedly anticipating and then really meeting our gentle king.
Dare to Worship Again – “Up From The Grave” Lent 2003
John 12:12-19 April 13, 2003
On the way home from church one day, a family was complaining about the service they had just attended: “The music was sure awful today,” said the mom. “Yes, and I thought that young half-bald preacher would NEVER stop talking,” replied the dad. After a brief pause, they heard the voice of their daughter from the back seat: “ya, but you must admit, it was a pretty good show for a dollar…”
Almost to Easter – Where is Your Focus?
That little joke highlights for me much of why we don’t experience the power and presence of God as much as we might like – in both our lives and our worship experience. It is because our focus is often in the wrong place, it is because we get caught up in what we like or dislike or think should happen, instead of simply seeking God. Instead of living daily in step with Him and listening to hear His voice in all the areas of our lives.
Today is Palm Sunday, as we experienced earlier through the leadership of our children. It is the beginning of the most significant week of our faith – the week where we walk once again through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is not a normal week! It is an important week!! The most important week of our faith. Where is your focus this week?
The whole point of my sermon today is to invite you to worship God fully, today and over the next seven days – to allow Him to refocus you and your family on the thing which is of primary importance: your relationship with God. To encourage you to make this week a time of celebration of the death and resurrection of our Lord.
I want to challenge you to take the first part of this next week, today through Wednesday, to concentrate time personally with Jesus – however you like to do that, just you and God spending time together. If you’d like a bit of guidance, start in John 12 (which we are going to look at in a moment) and read a bit each day to the end of John. And then to take the second half of the week, Thursday through next Sunday, to participate in corporate worship experiences: there is one in your bulletin every day beginning with next Thursday. That might sound like a lot, but it isn’t really much compared to what Christ has done for us – and I know that God will speak to you and allow you to experience Him.
Not Just About The Future:
But I don’t only want to talk about the coming week, but also about right now. Let’s invite God to speak to us through His Word this morning. pray
It is a scene of exuberance, a scene of worship, a true New Testament picture of a festival in all of its facets. John records it for us: (read)
The annual festival of Passover was underway and as a result, pilgrims had come to Jerusalem from all over the country. This was the biggest festival of the year, more significant than the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup Finals, and so Jerusalem was packed. But there was something a little different going on this year – some news about the prophet named Jesus. John begins the story with the crowd in Jerusalem, who (vs 12) “had come for the Feast [and] heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.” When they hear that Jesus is coming, they get excited and run out to meet Him. We discover the reason for their excitement in the previous chapter: Jn 11:55-57 – “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?" But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.” This brings me to point #1:
1. They were expecting Jesus
Do you hear the sense of expectation in the people? They couldn’t wait to meet Jesus, His possible arrival was what everyone was talking about. Why such a big deal?? Because He made a difference. His presence changed things – people were healed, people were encouraged, people were taught and challenged, people had hope. Because Jesus was there.
If we bring that into today, we find the exact same thing. When we meet Jesus, we are healed, we are encouraged, we are taught and challenged, we have hope. Do you expect that? As you sit down to pray, do you expect to meet Jesus? As you come to church each week, do you expect to meet Jesus? He expects to meet with us.