Summary: How do we look at the fickle crowd? can we join in their worship?

Concordia Lutheran Church

Passion Sunday, March 28, 2010

For this purpose He came to this hour!

John 12:20-43


As we, like the crowd, cry out Hosanna, may we realize the depth of Christ’s passionate love for us, His people, which will drive Him to the cross, for the joy laid before Him!

Frustrated at the Blindness…

The miracles – they don’t believe

The voice

Those that believe won’t confess

What will it take for them to believe and confess?

This day, the church festival we call Palm Sunday, has frustrated me as long as I can remember. I picture the crowds laying the palms, and their jackets on the road, crying out praises as Jesus rides on to die, and my frustration grows.

I hear them shout their Hosanna’s, and their praise of God and of His Christ, and my discord grows. I get angry. The gospel said they came out because they had heard of what He had done, and they gather and worship.

I cannot stop the frustration as I consider what it says in verse 37 of our Gospel reading, “Though he had done many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him”

They hear the voice from heaven, testify to the glory of God that has been, and the glory that is about to be revealed, and they don’t get it.

The end of our gospel tells us that even among the authorities, the rulers of Israel, there were men who believed, yet wouldn’t confess, and my frustration grows.

This day is an enigma, it perplexes and troubles me. Because I know that despite their praise, which Christ is due, they will kill him. They will call for His beating, and torment, and they will answer Pilate with the horrible words, Crucify Him.!

How can I celebrate alongside those who are blinded to what the very salvation they cry for in desperation will cost? Can I join in their worship, their praise of God?

Don’t they see His Passion?

The heart troubled?

Perhaps it is because in hearing the story year after year, the paradox of Palm Sunday becomes so real. We hear the gospels talk of Jesus setting his face towards Jerusalem. We hear His lament over the children of Israel, wishing that for once He could gather them as a hen gathers is chicks. We see that passion here, as we hear John recount,

“27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”

I hear those words echo in my mind, as I watch Jesus our Master ride the colt down the mount of Olives, and then up the hill towards Jerusalem’s gates. “But for this purpose I have come to this hour!” And I wish the crowd would realize it.

I sometimes wonder if we realize it, truly realize it today…

Don’t they hear His teaching?

The seed must die

The Messiah must be lifted up

If they would only hear what He is saying to them. Even in this passage, he talks of the need for the seed to die, that it could bear much fruit. He talks of needing to destroy his life, that we could have life eternally. He talks of being lifted up – and the crowd all to well realizes he is talking of death, for they comment,

We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?

They grasp so much, and they grasp so little…

It leads me to wonder about us. Are we like the crowd singing praises, happy and cheering on the Messiah, not realizing that we need Him to physically go through the torment of Good Friday?

I think that is the purpose of these days we spend in Lent. To help us remember the need. Robert Webber wrote of it this way,

During Lent we are called on to look at our own deadness and to act on it. In this week we look at the juxtaposition of death and resurrection. We are called not to remain dead but to be raised to newness of life, to new birth, to a fresh and new encounter with Jesus. Some of us are spiritually dead because our faith is purely intellectual. We believe the right things. We adhere to the creeds, the confessions, and the doctrines of the church. But there is no life in us, we simply acquiesce to the tradition for tradition’s sake. We believe that we believe, but we know that is not enough. Others of us are dead because we have a total lack of feeling. We are not moved by the worship of the church, by song and prayer, by Eucharist and festivity. It is there, but it isn’t real, it doesn’t touch us in the inner recesses of our being. And we feel cold, numb, and dead.

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