Summary: Palm Sunday - Part 4 of a series based on Mel Gibson’s film "The Passion of the Christ." Portions of this sermon were derived from sermons given by Sermon Central designed with the same intent.
“Experience the Tears of a King”
Glitter, Glamour, Gossip. The Three G’s of the Hollywood red carpet treatment.
If you tuned in February 29th to the 76th Annual Academy Awards®, you got your fill of these “three G’s” as celebrities walked the Red Carpet on their way into the Kodak Theatre to be entertained by emcee Bill Crystal. The E! Network began its coverage of the Oscars at noon, offering six hours of buildup to the arrival of the stars for the ceremony. Thousands of fans, sat gawking all day long in specially constructed stands to catch the action. And why?
It’s likely that there’s no more profound explanation that that they wanted to see how low Selma Hayek’s neckline plunged or whether Russell Crow is really the “hunk” he’s described to be. And after Annette Benning in 2001, and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2002, they may have wondered who would be doing a pregnant duck-walk to the podium this year.
Those who were watching on television were glued to the tube for a glimpse of Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kate Hudson and others.
Flashbulbs popped and the paparazzi shot pictures for the covers of all the glossy magazines.
And people actually enjoy this stuff!
The fact is, tons of fans get a thrill out of watching their favorite stars on the Red Carpet, and the Academy Awards show has become the most-watched television event in the world, drawing nearly a billion viewers. A billion! About one in every six members of the human race is glued to the TV on the Oscar night.
Glitter, glamour, gossip. Seems that people just can’t get enough.
Not that it’s anything new. Think of today, Palm Sunday, as a sort of pre-show for Holy week. A major event was under way, a Passover Festival that drew about 2.5 million pilgrims to Jerusalem. Many had heard that a “superstar” was coming to town and so they gathered outside of Jerusalem to catch a glimpse.
That’s where our story picks up today. Jesus is on his way into Jerusalem when he is met by the crowds. In order to really understand the significance of the event you’ve got to understand that entrance processions were a familiar scene. Typically a king or a military hero would enter the city escorted by his conquering army. The procession would be accompanied by hymns and acclamations of the greatness of the king or hero. And the elements that were used during the procession would depict the authority of the ruler. As soon as the person who was being honored would enter the city they would perform a ritual such as a sacrifice in the temple whereby the ruler would symbolically appropriate the city.
By riding into the city and accepting the praises of the people and following the pattern of a typical entrance procession, Jesus was setting the stage for something to happen.
Can you imagine the excitement of the people? It’s hard for us to understand, but the Jewish people were an oppressed group of people whose country was being ruled by a foreign government, the Romans. But their history of oppression went much farther back than Jesus’ time. These people had been oppressed and enslaved before and had long been hoping for and awaiting the arrival of one who would reunite them and overthrow this foreign government and bring the rule of their people back to the city of Jerusalem again. They had been disappointed before as rebellions and attempts by leaders had failed.
But maybe, just maybe this Jesus was different. They had been thinking this all along as he healed the sick and raised the dead. Maybe he was the one. And now as he entered Jerusalem it seemed that their hopes just might be fulfilled. This was a moment filled with possibility. In fact this was a moment on which the wheel of history would turn. Either God’s Kingdom would be established on this earth or the people’s hope would be shattered.
And so they give him the red carpet. All the glitz, and glamour, and gossip that we are accustomed to at the Academy Awards were surrounding this day… along with a hope that this may be the man who would save them from their misery.
Everything seemed just right until Jesus appeared and the people realize that their hope was riding on a borrowed donkey. A donkey! The Royalty of that time would have been riding a beautiful powerful stallion. A horse that represented victory in war. But a donkey? And a borrowed one at that? What a kind of King would ride a donkey let a lone needing to borrow one?
A different kind of king. While Jesus allowed and even encouraged the people to sing his praise, he was clearly identifying himself as being different from any earthly king. And he was different. An ordinary king would not have associated with the kind of people Jesus spent all of his time with. An ordinary king would have had the most upstanding citizens as his advisors and would have surrounded himself with greatness not with a ragtag bunch of the lowlifes of society. The fact of the matter is if Jesus had come today, chances are that none of us would have been among those closest to him, because for the most part Jesus’ followers were those whose lives were a total and complete mess and who were suffering and oppressed by those around them. Something was drastically different about this King.