Summary: A sermon for Palm Sunday.
“Salvation on Whose Terms?”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
It was the Passover time, and Jerusalem and the whole countryside were crowded with people who had made their way to the greatest of the Jewish National Feasts.
It has been estimated that more than 2 million 5 hundred thousand people had crowded their way into Jerusalem.
And we are told that Jesus entered this bustling city on a colt that no one had ever ridden.
And as He did so, many of the people spread their cloaks out on the road…sort of like rolling out the red carpet…while others spread branches on the road.
And all the folks, the ones who ran ahead of Jesus and the people who followed Jesus shouted: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!”
What were they asking for?
What did this mean?
What did they want and expect?
We can get an idea by taking a look at the word: “Hosanna.”
This is a word that we often misunderstand.
To our ears it may sound like a praise or a blessing.
In all actuality, the word “Hosanna” is a plea.
It means: “Save now!”
And “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”…well “the one who comes” is another name for “the Messiah.”
And “Hosanna in the highest!” means “Let even the angels in the highest heights of heaven cry to God, save now!”
So as Jesus rode into busy Jerusalem at Passover time, on a colt that had never been ridden before,
“Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Save us now! Blessed is the Messiah! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Save us now!’”
They were pleading with Jesus for salvation—“Save us now!”
They were calling Him the Messiah!
But what kind of salvation did they want and what kind of Messiah did they think Jesus was?
The Jews had been under Roman occupation for quiet some time.
They were oppressed by the Romans.
They had to pay taxes to the Romans.
They wanted to be freed from Roman rule, and they expected that the Messiah was going to save them from Rome.
So, “Save us now,” means “save us now from the Roman military occupation!”
“We want to be great and strong again! We want to rule like we did when David was King!”
In essence, the people wanted another King David!
And they thought Jesus was the one who was going to fill that role.
Jesus would stand up to Rome.
Jesus would overthrow Rome militarily.
Jesus would make Israel a great ruling nation once again!!!
Jesus would conquer all of their foes!
The people were looking for a King, a Messiah, a Jesus who would shatter, smash, kill, break and conquer!!!
They were looking for Jesus to bring in the Kingdom of God by military force!!!
“Save us now!,” they cried.
“Save us now, blessed Messiah!”
And certainly, salvation for the people was exactly what Jesus had in mind, but it was salvation on God’s terms, not on the people’s terms.
Jesus’ salvation contradicted everything that the people had hoped for and expected.
Imagine how wronged they must have felt when…just a few days later…they saw Him arrested and on trial…
… “Some King!”
… “Some Savior!”
… “Some Messiah!”
… “Crucify Him!”
As Jesus hung from the Cross, a bloody mess of a man…
…the written notice that hung above His head read: “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
And “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying…come down from the cross and save yourself.”
We are told in the Gospel of Mark that “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others…but he can’t save himself. Let this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’”
Certainly, Jesus could have come down from the Cross, but that is not why He came.
Certainly, if He had wanted to, Jesus could have been the conquering Messiah…
…but that was not His mission.
Certainly Jesus could have saved the people on those terms, but that was not God’s plan!
The people wanted Jesus to save them, but they wanted Jesus to save them in the way that they thought they ought to be saved!
They simply did not understand what God had in mind.
There is a song by a rock band named Jethro Tull in which the singer bellows: “If Jesus saves, why didn’t he save himself?….and then, mockingly, the chorus comes in “Jesus save me!”
What does it mean to be saved by Jesus?