Summary: Over Holy Week we looked at how Jesus was framed and the events that led up to it.
For most of us the lead up to Easter begins with Palm Sunday, in case you missed it that’s today.
But really the stage was set before the celebration of the triumphant entry.
Most of you know that I am a Jesus Christ Super Star nerd and in the past I’ve shown the Palm Sunday clip from the 2000 production of Superstar and for me it just sums up what the day must have been like, it captures the excitement and joy of that day. From the excitement of the crowd to the animosity of the religious leaders and the torment of Judas.
And I didn’t start with that clip but I will be finishing this message with the song that leads into the Palm Sunday scene. This time from the 40th anniversary production tour. The tour travelled across the UK and Australia and was viewed by over 320,000 people.
The recording was performed live in Birmingham in 2013. And while some might argue on the orthodoxy of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s view of the events leading up to the Holy Week I would argue that the scene that we will close with truly captures the emotions of that event as recorded in John’s account that was read earlier. But that will be later in the service.
Ultimately what happened both leading up to and the events that happened on the actual day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey set the stage for what would happen less than a week later.
It seemed that everything in Jesus ministry led up to this point. And it would be a turning point for many. This was a veritable “Come to Jesus moment.”
So how could the celebration that happened on “Palm Sunday” lead to the horrors that would happen five days later?
Our theme for Holy Week is Making a Messiah, and we are focusing on the fact that what happened on Good Friday was a travesty of justice and we don’t have to look very deep into the story to discover that Jesus was set up and framed by the authorities. And Palm Sunday was where and when the stage was set.
For Jesus This was Something That was Planned You have to understand this wasn’t something that just happened, you know the stars aligned and Jesus just happened to be in the right place at just the right time, or one of the other excuses we use to explain away divine appointments, this was how it was supposed to go down.
John’s account of what happened on Palm Sunday is very typical of John’s Gospel, he sees the big picture but doesn’t delve into the minutia of the event. So in John 12:14 we read John 12:14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it . . . and we are tempted to think that it was just that simple, “Oh look a donkey, let’s use that.”
But if we look into the other gospels we see the preparation that went into the event, in Luke’s account we read, Luke 19:29-31 As they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Now we might be tempted to add a whole range of mystical application here, that maybe this was a miracle or a step of faith on Jesus behalf, you know, just do and it will happen. Chances are that Jesus knew the man and had arranged in advance for the donkey to be there. The words “The Lord needs it” were probably a password so the man would know that he was giving the donkey to the right people. I mean he’d feel kind of silly had the two disciples shown up and he had to tell them, “I gave the donkey to two other guys who were here about an hour ago.”
We know that Jesus had friends in Bethany, that’s where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived and so it’s not that far of a reach to see that Jesus had already put steps in place for his entrance to Jerusalem.
Which would lead me to suspect that if it were alright for Jesus to do preparation and not always wait until the last minute and then call on God in panic that there might be a lesson there for us as well.
And Luke gives us a few details about the colt that they brought back for Christ to ride. We are told that it was the colt of a donkey and that it had never been ridden before.