Summary: Palm Sunday wasn’t just about the "triumph". It speaks directly to our feeling like we want to give up in the face of struggle
Get A (New) Grip: Hearing God Through Hebrews 12
Apr 1, 2007 Palm Sunday
Not so long ago, late last fall, I felt like I wanted to quit. It was a Sunday morning, and I was sitting right over there where usually sit, and it was during our time of worship through song, and I sat there feeling completely empty. Discouraged. Weary. And wanting to give up.
I looked around at you, my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, and my deep love for all of you made me want to quit even more, because I want you to have a better pastor then me. Someone better able to care, and nurture, someone better able to make our church grow and reach out to a world that is hurting and dying, someone who could inspire and motivate and rally us to “go into all the world and make disciples”.
And so I did the only thing I could think of, I poured those feelings out to God. My prayer, as we sang songs of worship, was “Jesus, help! I need You, I need to know this is worth it, I need to be filled, encouraged, and I need You. Help, please.”
We started singing some song, I don’t remember which one, but it was about the cross, and us being at the cross, and so I imagined myself being there, and continued to ask Jesus to meet me. And as I prayed and sang, imagining myself kneeling at the foot of the cross with my head bowed low in discouragement, I saw in my imagination a pair of feet come and stand next to me. And then a hand reached down, it was a brown hand, and it was open and reaching towards me. I imagined myself grabbing hold, and this hand grabbed hold of mine with a strong grip and helped me to my feet, and I looked at this man and I knew in my heart that it was a Bolivian man.
Then, of course, our worship time ended and I had to get myself together so that I could share the message… but it was the beginning of the answer to my prayer. It felt like a promise, and it was enough to keep me going a little longer.
A Strange Intro?
Does that seem like a strange introduction to a Palm Sunday sermon? Palm Sunday – the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with the crowds welcoming the Messiah, shouting praises, a moment of victory, right? “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Jesus the King, entering His Kingdom. Shouldn’t I begin a Palm Sunday sermon with some great inspiring story of victory and celebration?
Maybe. Some years, definitely. But as I look at the story in the broader context, knowing what comes next (namely, the crucifixion), it is a story with some bitter irony. I see some similarities between the struggle I felt, and how Jesus felt.
In Luke 9:51 (NKJV) it says, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” It’s a picture of Jesus gritting His teeth, and choosing to go. On the way into Jerusalem, while the crowds were shouting their praises, Luke reports: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.” (Luke 19:41 NLT). When Jesus arrives, John tells us about the conversation that comes next where Jesus says, “27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.” (John 12:27-28 NLT).