Summary: Prepared for Palm Sunday 2010 but also focusing on the Cross and beyond, this sermon affirms the fulfilment of prophecy on ’Palm’ Sunday and suggests that Jesus was fully prepared to fail in the eyes of the world, as he knew God would ultimately vindicate
About six years ago a friend of mine said, “The trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.”
Jesus was in his early 30’s and he was heading towards Jerusalem (19:28). Three years of ministry had catapulted Jesus into the limelight. He taught with authority (Luke 4:32). Sometimes he healed physical illness (4:39). Sometimes, aware of a person’s faith he would tell them their sins were forgiven (5:20), much to the annoyance of the religious leaders (5:21). Jesus sat down to dinner with agents of the occupying army and with sinners, again upsetting the legalistic religious men (5:30). He healed a man on the Sabbath (6:10) – the Jewish Day of rest that runs from Friday evening until Saturday evening – and that really began to annoy the muttering, grumbling, grumpy old men of the religious establishment.
Jesus was really upsetting the apple cart. He was far too radical. He was going against everything they had ever known. The Synagogue wasn’t like it used to be 30 years ago when Jesus was a ‘nipper’. He was doing it all wrong; and the Bible says those legalistic religious people ‘were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus’ (6:11).
Jesus was reaching out with compassion to the sick, to the lost, to the trouble makers, to the prostitutes, to the young people, and the grumpy old men of the Synagogue didn’t like it one bit. I have some Vicar friends who are reaching out to the lost, to the trouble makers, to the troubled, and to young people, and because their methods are different, and because they are ‘changing things’, changing the way the Church operates, grumpy old men (and just occasionally grumpy old women) are furious, and they have begun to discuss how they might get rid of their Vicar. Please do pray for them!
The trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.
Jesus was forging ahead. Literally in verse 28 of our Bible reading we are told that Jesus ‘went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem’ (19:28). He was leading the way, even though an order had been issued for his arrest! In John’s gospel – one of the books telling us the story of Jesus – we learn that the religious leaders were looking out for Jesus, waiting for news of his whereabouts so that he could be arrested (John 11:55-57). He was a marked man, and yet Jesus was putting into action a plan he had hatched earlier. He was not going to be deflected from the path God had for him – the path to Jerusalem and confrontation.
Jesus tells two of his disciples exactly what they need to do, where they need to go, and what they need to say in order to obtain a donkey for the journey.
Jesus was well prepared. The password had been pre-arranged. ‘If anyone asks you why you are untying [the donkey] tell them the Lord needs it’ (Luke 19:31); and when they went for the donkey that is exactly what happened. The donkey is handed over by the owners (19:32-34) without further question because Jesus had prepared the ground.