Summary: This sermons breaks down the meaning of Easter, using Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday illustrations.
Jesus was going on up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethpage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples into the next village and told them they would find a donkey and they were to bring that donkey back to Him so He could ride it into Jerusalem. They found the donkey and brought it back to Jesus where they threw their cloaks over it and put Jesus on it. Then, the procession started on its way to Jerusalem. Let’s pick this up by reading -
‘As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowed of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Today is Palm Sunday; the day Jesus rode that donkey into Jerusalem. It is also called Passion Sunday. What is the difference? Palm Sunday focuses on the parade of followers Jesus had as He rode the donkey from the Mount of Olives. It focuses on the leafy branches put before Him on the pathway leading into town. And this was to show that they knew He was the king. Of course, they were expecting an earthly king, and Jesus was the Godly king.
Passion Sunday focuses on what Jesus went through during the last week. When we hear the word “passion” we tend to think of a feeling. For instance, the passion of young love; when a young man can only think of that particular young lady. In the original Latin, “passion” is “passio”. Its original meaning meant the suffering one goes through. Mel Gibson’s movie, “the Passion of the Christ” reflected that original meaning. Translated, it was, “the Suffering of the Christ.”
I would hope you come back tonight, as we will cover these areas more in-depth, but now I would like to talk to you about what started today, what it led to next week, and what that led to that impacts us today - Palm Sunday; the cross; and the resurrection.
Next week is the traditional Easter Sunday. It is a time when we acknowledge what Jesus did for us, taking our sins and enduring our punishment – all so that we would not have to. For most of us, we concentrate as much as we can on Easter during Easter, but quickly start concentrating on other things once Easter is over. And we do not bring our full concentration back to the cross until the next Easter.
And so, I thought we would take time today to turn our attention back once again to the cross. Many people read about the Triumphal Entry and then quickly gloss over the cross, and then spend the rest of their attention on the empty tomb or the ascension. It is well that we do look at the entry Jesus made into Jerusalem, and it is also very needed to see the empty tomb for what it really meant.
But we must realize something very important. None of these things mean anything without the cross. It is the story on the cross that ties the beginning and the ending together to make the story complete. It is at the cross where we find the real meaning of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. It is at the cross we find the real meaning of love.
So, I would like to talk about Easter now, and I chose to do this in a format that will, hopefully, bring insight and realization into our mind’s eye today. We are going to discuss just what Easter stands for.
“E” - STANDS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN
I think the perfect example of showing how we all need to be encouraged rather than continually being discouraged is shown in the story of how a little boy wanted to play darts with his dad. He said, “Daddy, I’ll throw them and you just say, ‘Good job!’”, okay?
In ROMANS 15:4, Paul states,
‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.’
1 TIMOTHY 6:17 tells us,
‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.’
These verses tell us that we can be encouraged through the Scriptures and we can have hope in the Lord. But we must remember that the only way we can receive this encouragement and hope is through Jesus Christ, as our Savior, and that will keep reminding us of what Jesus did for us on the cross.