Summary: Holy Week for Jesus was about making 3 climbs: To the Crowd, the Cross and the Christian’s Heart.
Title: Uphill Both Ways Scripture: John 12:12-28
Illustration: Christmas pageant (I know it’s Easter). A Small church, many years ago, that was so small they only had one wiseman, had a processional, and the Wiseman started down the aisle. In the balconey a really bored little kid was lounging on a pew when his brother said, “Hey, Look, the King is coming!? The kid jumped up and said, Elvis?
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, the day when the true King came into Jerusalem. The perspective I want to share today is that beginning on this day in the life of Jesus, he had 3 climbs to finish his work of Redemption, 3 hills, or mountains: First, to the Crowd; Second, to the Cross; and third, to the Christian’s Heart.
“Uphill both ways,”is the title of today’s sermon. It comes from the familiar conversation nearly everyone has with older folks when talking about going to school Inevitably someone talks about “walking 4,6, even 10 miles each way, in 6 feet of snow, when we were kids, and it was Uphill Both Ways!”
Finally I asked one how is it possible? Don’t’ go home first, go visit a friend. Uphill both ways? Only if you go an entirely different way.
This week represents a departure for Jesus, he’s not going back to Galillee, Nazareth, Behlehem, Walmart, or Sears. He’s going to have to miss that one-day sale at Kaufmanns. He’s on His way to Heaven & to our hearts. There’s no going back and it’s Uphill Three Ways!
First, to the Crowd, John 12:12-13. Jesus comes to the Mt. of Olives. Climbing to this point ever since Bethlehem. To the point of some recognition of his Divine Kingship and on this day, the celebration is big and real. A large crowd hears Jesus is coming and gathers, throngs, waves palm branches and celebrates.
I like this Crowd; I think Jesus did, too. It seems preachers great & small, in all periods of history have taken special delight in scathing rebuke of this crowd, accusing them of fickleness & hypocrisy, of cheering one day, and calling for Jesus Crucifixion less than a week later.
Yet, I maintain, I think Jesus liked this crowd. How can this be?
It was not the same crowd!
So many preachers seem to see the same Palm Sunday people as the same as the Crucifixion People, but it nearly certainly was not.
First, “day-people” are different than “night people.” I knew a policeman in Buffalo who affirmed this statement that night people are r e a l l y different, often looking for trouble, shady, easily becoming a mob. Crime goes way up at night, far less in the day! Not the same people!
Second, Jesus nowhere condemns this crowd. He condemns the Pharisees, but not this crowd. If there was a problem with their worship and celebration, surely one of the Gospels would say something, but Jesus seems to totally accept their honoring Him.
Third, Jesus seems to thoroughly enjoy this day because, for the first time since starting His ministry, he finds a crowd that doesn’t ask for anything. Healing occurs later in the Temple, but the Triumphal Procession is one of the Purest times of praise in the New Testament.
Just Praise and Joyful Songs, centered on Jesus, nothing else!
Second, He still had to climb Mt. Calvary, to the Old Rugged Cross. The “Via Delorosa” from Pilates’ coutyard to the Cross was quite a trip; and it was Uphill. A fast walker could traverse the distance in perhaps 45 minutes; slower walkers, an hour or more. Imagine carrying the Cross and the Sins of the whole World?
Illustration: I remember the first time I had to have my teeth drilled for cavities, I asked my older brother what it was like. He took great delight in describing this really B I G needle, dramatizing by stretching out his arms as wide as he could, and describing the shot that seemed more like the piercing of a spear and just terrified me. Of course, it wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as he described.
Not so, Jesus! The Cross, as bad as you can imagine, as extreme as Mel Gibson can portray it, is so much worse than we can ever imagine. Because, Jesus bore all of our griefs and sorrows . . . ! Stop there, if He just bore Mine, it would weigh him down, but mine and yours, and Paula’s and Sue’s and Jerry’s and each of us here in this church. That would be crushing!
But add the sins, griefs and sorrows of all the people in Churches today, then add the sins, griefs, and sorrows of all Christians, for all ages – AAAHHH! It was far worse than anything we can imagine.