Summary: Four things to remember about Palm Snday
“Palm Sunday and the Pandemic”
April 2, 2020
“After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
When I began to work on this Palm Sunday sermon I did not know what to expect. I didn’t know if there would be anyone to hear it or not. I didn’t know if we would have Church or not. We were three weeks into our Coronavirus pandemic. As we entered this plague to our nation and world, President Trump thought by Easter we would probably be back to normal and running better than ever. That, apparently, is not to be. And as I thought about all of this in light of the greatest days of the Christian faith, I wondered if this plague would steal the praise of Jesus. I wondered if this virus would do what the Pharisees couldn’t do – steal the praise of Jesus. Jesus told them that if they (the crowd) keeps quiet that the stones would cry out. Often, in my imagination, I wondered what that would look like. What would it look like for the stones to cry out? I don’t know – but I believe it is possible – because Jesus said it.
In the reading of this wonderful story of entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which we call the “Triumphant Entry,” I thought of four things I want to share with you this morning. The first is that 1) Jesus WILL be praised. The Pharisees couldn’t prevent it. The Scribes and the Sanhedrim couldn’t prevent it. Not even death or the Devil could or can prevent the praise that is due Jesus. And, Certainly, this virus pandemic will not prevent it either. On the contrary, I believe it will cause the world to praise the Name of Jesus. As we see the hand of God at work in the midst of this plague; as we see and hear of miracle after miracle done in the lives of people; as we see the eradication of this scourge on our nation – people WILL humble themselves and bow and see God like they never had before. And Jesus will receive His praise.
Another thing I noticed about the “Triumphal Entry” is that 2) it did not catch Jesus by surprise. Listen to this again,
“As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Luke 19:29-31
How did Jesus know there would be a donkey colt in the village ahead of them? If it was behind them, we could assume that he had made arrangements with someone. But it was ahead of them where He had not been. Besides that, how did He know that the owner would let that colt that no one had ever ridden before be used without question? And besides that - why would someone accept such a flimsy excuse? Can you picture it in your mind?