Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday
When they approached Jerusalem the next day and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, ‘Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a donkey tied up. Tied with her will be a colt which no one has ever ridden. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything or asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say to him, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he’ll immediately send them here.’
Those who were sent left and did what Jesus told them. They found a young donkey tied outside the door in the street, just as he had described, and they untied it.
The owners were standing there and said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you untying the colt?’
‘The Lord needs it,’ they said, repeating what Jesus had told them to say.
Then the owners let them go. So they brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus, threw their clothing on them, and sat Jesus on the colt.
As he rode along, they began to spread their articles of clothing on the road. When he came to the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, a large crowd of disciples began to shout for joy and to praise God loudly for all the miracles they had seen. ‘Blessed is the King who is coming in the name of the Lord!’ they shouted. ‘Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!’
A huge crowd had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem, they cut down palm branches, went out to meet him, and spread the branches on the road. The crowds who followed him as well as those who went ahead of hem kept shouting, ‘Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!’ ‘Blessed is the kingdom of our father David!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’
All this happened to fulfill what the prophet said:
Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Don’t be afraid!
Look, our King is coming to you,
humble, and riding a donkey,
even a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples didn’t understand these things at first. But after Jesus was glorified they remembered these predictions about him, and that they had done these things to him.
The people who were with him when he raised Lazarus from the dead and called him from the tomb were telling others all about it. That is why the people went out to meet him; they heard that he had performed this great miracle.
Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, restrain your disciples.’
But he answered them, ‘I’m telling you, if they were to keep quiet, the very stones would cry out!’
When he came near and saw the city, he wept over it. ‘If only you – yes, you – had known on this special day the things that would bring you peace! But now they are hidden from you. The days are coming when your enemies will build a siege ramp around you and encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will level you to the ground – with your children inside you – and will not leave one stone upon another. This will happen because you didn’t recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’
The whole city was aroused when he entered Jerusalem, ‘Who is this?’ they asked.
The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus the Prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Then the Pharisees said to each other, ‘See, we are accomplishing nothing. Look at how the whole world has gone after him!’
Jesus entered the temple, and when he had looked around at everything, he left for Bethany with the twelve since it was already quite late.
As Jesus was returning to Jerusalem from Bethany the next morning, he became hungry. In the distance by the side of the road he saw a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to find fruit on it. When he reached it, he found only the leaves (it wasn’t the right season for figs). So Jesus said to it, ‘May you bear no fruit from this time onward, and may no one ever eat your fruit again!’
His disciples heard him say it. And the fig tree immediately withered.
Then they came to Jerusalem, and Jesus went into the temple of God and began to drive out everyone who was selling and buying things there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. He began to teach them, ‘Doesn’t Scripture say, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers!’