Summary: Jesus has the power to bring not only peace but chaos as well, just as he did on that first Palm Sunday...
"More Than Just a Parade"
A story is told about a famous preacher long ago who pastored a church that was filled every Sunday by people who traveled miles on foot just to hear his messages. One day, as the church was emptying, a passerby asked one of the people in the church why this preacher’s messages were so compelling. The person responded without hesitation, “This preacher will take you up to the mountain and down to the valley, he will bring you to laughter and to tears, he will have you jumping with joy and then falling to your knees - - - but - - - by the time he is finished, he will always have you at the foot of the cross…”
This week is such a week, where the mixture of emotions goes from the exuberance of Palm Sunday and the crowds that must have followed not only Sunday but Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday through the streets of Jerusalem--- to the intimacy of the Last Supper on Thursday and the anger of the announcement that one of his closest friends will betray to the desperate prayers in Gethsemane’s garden late Thursday night -----this is the final week of Jesus on the earth and we want to experience the full range of emotions and circumstances yet, ultimately, we yearn to find ourselves at the foot of the cross on Friday…to witness the sacrifice of a Savior for the sins of the whole world - - - even your sins and mine
And the week begins with “Palm Sunday.” So let’s begin our journey together to the cross by considering Matthew’s version of Palm Sunday…
One event - - four versions from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - - If four of us in this room were all sent to the same parade and then were asked twenty or thirty years later to write down our recollections of that event, then we would certainly focus on different aspects of our experience based on what we saw and to whom we were offering our thoughts. Such is the nature of the four gospels, or, the four versions of the life and ministry of Jesus. In each one we have a unique perspective yet, as we read all four, we get the WHOLE picture - - or at least all we need to know from God’s Holy Word.
And today, we focus on Matthew’s account of Palm Sunday. There are two significant things that I would like to discuss concerning Matthew:
In Matthew there are two animals in the Palm Sunday procession - - - a donkey and the colt, or foal, of the donkey. While we are not certain which one Jesus rides, we can assume, because other Palm Sunday accounts mention that the donkey had never been ridden that Jesus was on the younger animal and its mother came along.
Also in Matthew we have Jesus immediately cleansing the temple of those who are buying and selling things thus making it, as Jesus says, a “Robber’s Den.”
So on this day, we have two animals of which the Lord has need, we have a multitude of people shouting “Hosanna” (‘save now’) branches and cloaks spread on the ground and Jesus entering the city only to then go and wreak havoc in the temple square.
SO WHAT? What does this mean to us 2,000 years later? Well, it means a lot, but I’d like to focus on two things for your consideration as we seek to discover what Palm Sunday means to us. Because we really do find a great deal of tension in the image of Jesus riding into the city on the never-ridden colt and then the image of Jesus turning over tables and running people out of the holy place…
In one short period of time, Jesus was able to display those things that drew people to him, then and now - - his ability to tame the chaotic natural tendencies and bring peace to those places where there had been no peace - - where peace was not an expectation - - a young colt with a protective mother - - Jesus had the powerful presence of peace. Beasts of burden do not become that by nature - - there is training, there is an inherent wild nature to overcome before the donkey can be of use….but one like Jesus has the power of peace - - the power to bring peace where there has been no peace.
AND THEN - - he had the ability to disrupt those things that had been deemed right and acceptable and , instead, bring chaos to them. Saying to those that day who were in the temple that day , “I love you guys, but all of this has to go, for you are making a mockery out of my Father’s house.”