Sermons

Summary: The political implications of Palm Sunday

Prelude

Where does the solution to all our problems, really come from? Does it come from here on earth? What does God have to do with national and personal deliverance from all our problems?

Purpose: Let’s understand the political implications of Palm Sunday.

Plan: Let’s look at Mark 11:1-11 and the only place to find true salvation.

A Mock Parade

Imagine for a minute a grand parade. It might be one of those that celebrates military might with tanks and rockets. It might have brass bands, flags waving and marchers goose-stepping in rhythm, with a dictator either clapping from a grandstand or even at the head of the parade. Then imagine some time later a mock parade with a popular religious leader riding a donkey, and instead of flags, people waving palm branches. That’s what Palm Sunday is all about. It mocks and challenges this world’s pride and arrogance. We often think of Jesus riding a donkey as religious not political, but we forget the implications for Caesar, Pilate and Herod.

Mark 11:2 Politics

In Mark 11:2 Jesus told his disciples, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it.” He was preparing a mock political parade. It is not the church’s job to tell us which side of politics to vote for. But, the Church does have a job in politics as prophet to all sides of power and sometimes prophets mock governments which puff themselves up and pretend to have the answers. Human efforts always fail. Behind the scenes is a hidden, spiritual kingdom with humanity’s only hope, true salvation.

Mark 11:9 Hosanna

In Mark 11:9 people shouted “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” from Psalm 118:26. What is the meaning of hosanna? It’s a combination of two Hebrew words, yasha meaning “help” or “save,” a root of Jesus’ name, and na meaning “please” or “we pray” and the combination into the Hebrew expression Hoshia-na is both a plea and a praise. It is also a cheer. Unlike most world leaders who ride in expensive carriages and limousines, leaders of Israel were to ride a donkey symbolizing the humility that God expects of His leaders, much like the current pope who rides in a compact car.

Mark 11:10 In the Highest

In Mark 11:10 when Jesus rode into town on a colt, why did the crowds shout “Hosanna in the highest?” If hosanna means save us please or save we pray. Then, what does hosanna “in the highest” mean? It means in the highest regions, a superlative found often in Greek poetry meaning heaven, God. We look to the world to solve our problems. The whole world is run by very intelligent, highly educated people who are unable to solve our greatest world problems. Our problems are spiritual in nature and the solutions to our problems are spiritual. Christians call that solution salvation, which only comes from the highest of all, heaven.

A Better Kingdom

Bible Commentator Charles Campbell’s take on this passage is that it is “one of the wildest and most politically explosive acts of Jesus' ministry. The story is a reminder of the political challenge of Jesus' ministry, as well as the political character of Christian praise. The event should not be limited to an opening processional in which people smile at cute children waving palm branches.” [1] Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. Passover (our Easter) was a time when Israel remembered being freed from slavery in Egypt. Then along came Caesar as the new Pharaoh. Jesus’ entry mocks the failed leadership of this world and promises a new kingdom.

[1] Charles L. Campbell, Exegetical Perspective on Mark 11:1-11 for Palm Sunday, Year B. Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 2, WORDsearch Edition.

Postlude

Does politics belong in the Church? If the Church must speak out about sin, how can it avoid speaking out about the sin on all sides of politics! Christians unite when we realize that shouting “Hosanna in the highest” is very much a political statement. It means that we haven’t fallen for the lies of this world, and believe that our salvation comes from only one place, heaven!

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