Summary: I think we need our heads examined!
Sermon for Palm Sunday
March 16th 2006
I told the story a few weeks back how my lovely wife Sandy convinced me to get the extension ladder, crawl up 26’ or so, and get a stray cat out of a tree. As I dropped to the ground I knew going down it was going to hurt, just not that much. I lay on the ground for 15 minutes or so, telling Sandy to just go away. I knew it wasn’t good. So off to the hospital we headed.
Here’s the new part of the story. When we got to the ER, the doctor started laughing. I’ve got two broken legs and my doctor is laughing—which doesn’t do a whole lot for your ego. But the one thing I remember ever so clearly was that he claimed he wanted to examine my head. I’m not quite certain if he was worried about the distance I fell, or worried about why in the world I would do what I just did. Anyway, I had to have my head examined.
But isn’t that the truth about all of us? Don’t we sometimes need to have our heads examined?
After all, think for a moment about today. What a swing in emotions. We started this morning with a Scripture reading exclaiming “Hosanna, in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.”
Hosanna basically means “Save Us! Save Us! The crowds where throwing their garments on the road and screaming “Save us! Save us! Little did they know that is exactly what Jesus was doing. Then we sang, “All glory, laud, and honor to you redeemer king; to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.” Then we read the passion story ending with Jesus saying, “Father, into you hands I commend my spirit.” And he dies.
What a swing in emotions.
Yes, we come to church. Maybe even study the Bible a little. For the most part claim to believe that Jesus is the Savior. We shout over and over again “Save us, Save us,” And God does—through this holy of holiest weeks—we call it the Passion of Jesus Christ! God’s passionate love for me—for you!
Folks if people only had the slightest idea and belief what happened some two thousand years ago during this week the churches would be packed today, jammed to gills on Maundy Thursday, overflowing on Good Friday, and standing room only at the Easter Vigil. Next Sunday you would have to leave for service one hour early simply because of the traffic, and finding a place to park would be nightmare.
However, we all know good and well that will not be the case. Why? Is it because we just don’t know the story? Or is it simply because we need our heads examined?
I can’t do anything about your heads, but I can do something about the story part. Jesus has just spent the better part of 3 years teaching through words and action what the Kingdom of God should look like—where the sick are healed, demons are driven out, the dead are raised, hungry crowds are fed, forgiveness is offered to the unforgivable, love is shown to the unlovable. And now today this king on a donkey rides into Jerusalem knowingly to his death.
This coming Thursday, we celebrate this Lamb of God giving us a new commandment—that what Maundy means in Latin—a new command. To love God and love one another, sharing with us his body and blood, and washing his disciple’s feet, so you and I may be willing and able to continue the work of Jesus in the world, sharing what the Kingdom of God should look like, now through our words and action.
Yet on this night, Jesus is betrayed by his own disciple for 30 pieces of silver. Denied by his closest friend. Abandoned by every one of his followers. He is dragged away as a criminal for committing no crime. This silent innocent king stands in front of earthly powers where he is beaten, spat upon, and found guilty.
Then on Good Friday the Son of God will have a crown of thrones placed on his head, nails driven into his hands and feet and crucified--executed for me—for you!
You see, if we truly owned this passionate story in our hearts and minds it would not only have to make a huge difference in our lives, but in the world. So one must conclude that either we don’t know or believe the story, or we need our heads examined.
A few years back in Jasper, I had a young woman come and see me out of blue. This poor person was having the life beat out of her. Both her and her husband worked at the same place and lost their jobs. They were fighting like crazy. The banks were threatening to take away the cars and home. Her son was in an automobile accident and in danger of losing a leg. The poor thing was at wits end.