Summary: A monologe from the point of view of a man who saw Jesus’ Triumphal Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem
Preaching Outline 031608
Thanks for welcoming me in for a little bit and letting me rest. Really appreciate your hospitality, you’ve made me feel very welcome, wanted, even important! Felt like about to have a parade or something in my honor! You are too kind.
Speaking of parades, I have something I need to tell you about. Something that I got to see with my own eyes. It was a few weeks ago, but it feels just like it happened today! So incredible! I was taking my family into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It’s a traditional Jewish meal, in which we thank God for delivering our people from slavery in Egypt so many years ago. It’s a great time! We eat lots of flatbreads, and lamb, and sing through some Psalms together.
But this year, something extraordinary happened! As I was walking into town there was a great commotion. As I got closer, I heard a man saying that he had seen something unbelievable. That he knew this man named Lazarus who had died and was buried in a tomb. But another man, a friend of Lazarus, named Jesus, came to the tomb 4 days later and simply called out, “Lazarus, Come out!” And sure enough, Lazarus walked out of the tomb all wrapped up in his burial cloths!
As you can imagine, this story was causing quite a stir among the travelers. People were asking, “who is this Jesus, and when can we see him?” Well, we got our chance. The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. And man were we ever excited. We didn’t have time to prepare a proper welcome, so we did what we could. We took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him.
It may seem funny to you that we took Palm Branches to wave and lay down in front of Jesus. But we did it because we thought he was going to be our new King! And palm branches have become a kind of national symbol for us, almost something we would consider to be our national flag. If you think about it, palm trees are beautiful! They are tall and stand out proudly in the lowlands. They live for about 200 years and serve a symbol of immortality. And most of all, if you have ever travelled in the desert, they are most beautiful of all. Because, when you think you are almost out of water and about to die, they stand there marking an oasis. A symbol of life surrounded by death. So of course we would wave them for our new King.
We laid our coats on the ground, waived our palms, and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” We asked each other, can this really be happening? Is this really the long awaited Messiah? Are we really seeing this with our own eyes?
It had to be. Here was Jesus riding into town on a donkey. We got the message. First of all, that this Jesus had come in peace, not like Alexander the great who rode into town on a white war stallion with his officers and military regalia in tow. But even more than that; that this Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had made through Zechariah over 500 years before, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming,sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
We were all so excited! Not all of us I guess. The Pharisees were pretty mad. They didn’t like the idea of some other kind of ruler coming in and cramping their style. My buddy overheard two of them talking. One Pharisee who had advocated that they be more lenient with this Jesus instead of trying to squash him got blasted as a more radical Pharisee lashed out, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
But not even the Pharisees could get in the way of our joy! Finally a new king had come. Things were going to change. Israel was going to be free again! Our excitement lasted only until Friday though. Because Friday was the day the radical Pharisees finally got their way.
The Sanhedrin, (Jewish Leaders in Jerusalem) arrested Jesus under false pretenses, and then tried under false charges. And then the death sentence was proclaimed on him by Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. What a horrible sight it was to see. This man whom we had placed all our hope in just a few days before. The man we thought was going to be our king, was brutally whipped, beaten, and then forced to carry his cross up to the hill called “the Skull” where he was crucified. He breathed his last, cried out, “it is Finished” and then he died. And with him, all our hopes and joy of a new life died too.