Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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April 1 – Palm Sunday – A Confused Celebration

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson appointed for Palm Sunday – John 12:12-19, and we will be considering our text alongside the other Scripture readings, and the crucifixion of Jesus.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Consider for a moment all the confusion regarding Jesus of Nazareth that exists in the world today.  We sometimes assume that people “know” about Jesus, but the fact is, the devil’s propaganda war has made some remarkable progress even in America over the past few years.  I’m not sure that many of our younger people really are even aware of what claims Jesus made for Himself, and of what the Scripture, the Bible, asserts of Jesus.
  • Much of this is due to simple ignorance – many people living in the world today have not had the advantage of a Sunday School education, and even fewer have been through a rigorous Confirmation instruction.  So, how could they know about Jesus, the real Jesus?
  • Then there are the many “religions” out there in the world, all of which deny certain aspects of “the real Jesus,” who teach instead their own “versions” of Jesus.  All of this gets mixed together by unbelieving reporters – some of whom are eager to confuse people about Jesus, to encourage others to join them in unbelief; and the whole matter becomes a rather convoluted mess.
  • It was no different in Jesus’ day – even when people could “meet” Him and see Him personally.  Things were “topsy-turvy,” and there were numerous conflicting ideas about who the Messiah would be, what He would do and accomplish, and His identity.  We see much of this confusion detailed in the Scriptural record, including the description of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a week before His crucifixion.  As we celebrate Palm Sunday this morning and also consider the crucifixion of Jesus, it is important for us to clearly understand what was happening in this final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry!  First, we must understand that:

 

I.  Little Was Clear To The People And To The Disciples Of Jesus, Or Properly Understood, On That First Palm Sunday When Jesus Entered Jerusalem

 

A.  The Principle Motivation Of The Crowd Was The Report Of The Miracle Jesus Had Done In Raising Lazarus From The Dead

 

Text:  “The crowd that had been with him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.  The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign.”

 

B.  They Were Obviously Confused About The Mission Of Jesus, And Of The Messiah, And They Were Eager To Welcome A New Political King

 

Text:  “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’”

 

C.  For The Pharisees – Who Were Clear In Their Rejection Of Jesus, Their Unbelief, And Their Hatred Of Jesus – All Of This Only Intensified Their Murderous Resolve To Do Away With Jesus

 

Text:  “So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him.”

 

Earlier in John’s Gospel, we read that the Pharisees had already come to the conclusion that they would have to kill Jesus.  After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, some of those who witnessed this miracle had gone and informed the Pharisees.  Then we read:

 

John 11:47-53  “So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.  If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ . . .  So from that day on they made plans to put Him to death.”

D.  Even The Disciples Of Jesus, At The Time, Were Unwitting

 

Text:  “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him.”

 

Statement:

  • So let’s see what we have:

 

1.    The crowds were confused about Jesus’ mission and purpose, and were principally interested in Him only because of the sensation He had performed in raising Lazarus from the dead.
2.    The religious leaders were confused about Jesus’ Divine Person, and His purpose, and thought they could get rid of Him by killing Him.
3.    And even the close disciples of Jesus had no clue – though He had repeatedly instructed them as to why He was going to Jerusalem, and what would happen to Him there as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”
 

Application:

  • So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised or shocked that to this day people really have no clear understanding of Who Jesus is, and what He accomplished for us in His suffering and death on the cross.
  • And perhaps we should not be surprised that people – both those outside of the church and many within the church – think of Jesus only in terms of His power, His prerogatives, His rule and reign, and the privilege they believe this is supposed to afford to the those within the church!

 

Transition:  So perhaps we would do well to make sure that we are not confused about any of this – that we have the right understanding of what took place on Palm Sunday and also on Good Friday, for it is clear that:

 

II.  The Great Celebration Of Palm Sunday Was Actually The Way Of Great Humility For Our Lord And Savior Jesus

 

A.  Jesus Had Come Into This World, And Had Come To Jerusalem That Week, To Die On The Cross – To Shed His Covenant Blood

 

OT Lesson:  “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey. . . .  As for you also, because of THE BLOOD OF MY COVENANT WITH YOU, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.”

                   

Heb. 9:11,12 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come . . . He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

 

Heb. 9:15  “Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

 

Heb. 9:28  “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

 

B.  So Christ Came To Jerusalem In Humble Submission To Do The Father’s Will, To Die On The Cross To Save Us

Epist.  “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

C.  And Though His Redemption And His Resurrection Is Celebratory – It Calls Us To The Same Humble Submission, To Have The Mind Of Christ

 

Epist.  “Have this mind in you which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.”

 

Statement:  Hopefully, this clarifies some things for us – regarding Jesus, His purpose, His ministry, His humility and love.

 

Application:  And hopefully, this also clarifies some things for us regarding our life of discipleship and following Jesus – that we are called to serve His purpose, His ministry, in His humility and love.

 

Conclusion:

  • The crowd was confused in its excitement – and I guess we can excuse them; their confusion was no worse than that of the Pharisees, or that of the disciples.
  • We can understand also why the people around us in the world are confused as well – but their confusion is no worse than that of the people present at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, or the confusion of those who witnessed His gruesome crucifixion.
  • But let us not be confused – those of us who truly know and believe the great love that Jesus has for us.  Especially, let us not be confused about Who He is and what He has accomplished for us – the great redemption and salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus.
  • Let us not be confused either about our task of following Him, having His mind within us, so that humbly and reverently we go about the task of “making disciples” of all nations – by baptizing and teaching them.
  • By the way – the blood of the covenant which we have read about, the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us on the cross; of Holy Communion Jesus Himself solemnly asserts:  “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  Let us not be confused either about what He is giving us in this precious Sacrament! 
  • God grant each of us a clear minded celebration of His passion, His suffering, His death, and His resurrection!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.