Summary: Is he the King that you welcome into your hearts– like the crowds did that Sunday 2000 years ago or Is he that uncomfortable person that you would like to get rid of, like the Jewish leaders did 2000 years ago.
Talk on Sunday 9th April 2001 in Ferindune
This afternoon’s reading describes Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem which happened at the beginning of a week – in about AD 30 - that Christians remember each year as “Holy Week” or “Passion Week”. The week before Easter
Jesus decided to go into Jerusalem, even though it was a dangerous place for him. Saint Matthew wrote that Jesus came to Jerusalem to fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy –written about four centuries earlier that one day the true King would come, not on a magnificent war stallion, but on a young donkey. (See Zechariah 9:9)
Jesus told his disciples to go into the next village, Bethphage and find a small donkey that was tied up. The disciples brought the donkey and placed their cloaks on its back as a saddle.
Jesus climbed onto the donkey’s back and the procession began. As Jesus passed by, the people threw down their cloaks in his path. Others cut palm branches to strew on the path.
The people shouted Hosanna, a Hebrew expression that means Save!
As Jesus made his way down from the Mount of Olives, the crowd began to grow in size. The people screamed wildly for the Messiah who had raised Lazarus from the dead.
The crowd became so large and so loud that some of the Pharisees (religious leaders) in the crowd asked Jesus to turn against his followers. Jesus refused. He said, “If the crowds were made silent, then the stones would begin to cry out.” (See Luke 19:40)
Jesus began to weep as he came near to the city. The city will be destroyed, he predicted. This prediction came true in 70 A. D., when Titus and his Roman Legions totally destroyed the city.
When Jesus had entered Jerusalem, he went into the Temple and drove out the money changers, shouting, “My House is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”
Christians celebrate Jesus’ Triumphal entry on the Sunday before Easter. It is called Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week.
Holy Week started with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey on the Sunday and culminated with his death on the Friday (which we remember as Good Friday) and his glorious resurrection on the following Sunday (which we remember as Easter Day)
I would like to suggest that this week was the most significant week ever in world history.
More books have been written about this week than any other week in human history.
And there have been defining moments in our lives. For example, I still remember what I was doing the day President Kennedy was shot in 1963.
But this week was far more significant than the one in which Kennedy was shot.
And why is it so important?
Who is the main character that makes this week so important?
I’d like to read you a little piece written by an unknown author called One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He did not go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things associated with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty three years of age when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away.
He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today he remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life.
So why was this week so special. Because it was the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth; the week of his death and resurrection
The Jews had been waiting for a political messiah, someone who would throw the Romans out. Some of them recognised Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. They want some one like Judas Maccabees - who two to three hundred years earlier, had freed Israel from Syrian yoke- to throw out the hated Romans.