Sermon Preached by the Rev. Fulton Porter, III
March 28, 2010
Luke 19:28-40; Luke 22:14-23:56
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen
After telling a parable to the crowd at
"Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."
I would like to shine the sermonic spotlight and fix our focus on 4 words found in this text which is the first Gospel read today at the liturgy of the palms. I was fascinated this week by these 4 little words which caused some confusion in me for a moment and led to some curious questioning. Luke records for the world to hear the words “the Lord needs it.”
At first I did not understand, because in my myopic view, the Lord can’t need anything. I’m talking about the same Lord that is omniscient- all knowing; omnipresent- in all places at all times and omnipotent- all powerful. What could the Lord need?Isn’t this is the same Lord that the Bible speaks about when it declares that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof?” So why would the Lord need anything? But these 4 words just wouldn’t turn me loose this week and I had to dig a little deeper.
This text literally focuses on Jesus as he selects a donkey to ride into the city of
Often God has used images of donkeys to make certain truths known to humanity. When Balaam was en-route to attempt to curse
And so the ultimate question that I wrestled with this week, in the context of Christ’s passion, then became “Why does the Lord need me?” And the answer, on this Palm Sunday, became clearer. I submit that what I believe is that what God wants from us at this hour is that we go beyond Palm Sunday. This is what the Lord needs with me. And going beyond Palm Sunday means that we must move past our proclivity to be Palm Sunday people. Let me try to help us therefore understand what that looks like, and in order to do that, we first of all we must understand the context of palm Sunday.
Imagine the scene if you will. It was Passover time, and all the Jews from all the ends of the earth made their way to
Watley points out that on one occasion a census was taken and the number of lambs slain at the Passover was given at 265,000. A minimum of 10 persons were required for each lamb, so that meant that there must have been 2.6 million people at the Passover in
It was just six days until the countdown for one of the most high and holy days in the life of the Jewish people; and everybody everywhere who was somebody, anybody, would be in
Here we are on yet another extraordinary day for an extraordinary God, and we find Jesus, on his way to
Thus, as Jesus headed towards
And so this had to be a very significant day for the disciples who had left all to follow Jesus. This must have been a very significant day even in the life of our Lord. But if the writers of the Gospel had put down their pens here; if they had ended their accounts with Palm Sunday’s triumphal entry, then we would have a nice, neatly packaged and trouble free success story. What better place for the Gospel to end than in the triumph and praise of the multitudes as this country boy from the wrong side of the tracks entered the big city,
It is easy to be a Palm Sunday people. It is easy to be a part of the Palm Sunday crowd. Everybody likes a winner. Everybody likes to be on the team of somebody that they think is going places. Sometimes folks that we grew up with, who were not part of the “in” crowd, because they looked or acted a certain way, all of a sudden become famous and then we want to pretend that we knew them and were their best friends all their life. “That’s my cousin.” I remember how there were folks who are yet alive today, who hated Martin Luther King and despised his work, who wouldn’t let him hold meetings in their churches or participate in his program of non-violence; now these same folks, as we now celebrate his legacy and ride on the success of a national holiday in his honor; these same folks now extol the greatness of a Martin Luther King.
It is easy to be part of the Palm Sunday crowd and be a Palm Sunday people. When the multitudes were singing Jesus’ praises. it was the “in” thing to do. There were no risks, no inconveniences, no sacrifices, and no demands being placed on their time, talents or their money.
When no requests are being made or duties and accountability are being required of us, it is easy to be a Palm Sunday people and shout, “Hosanna!”
But thank God that the Gospel does not end at Palm Sunday. It is easy to join Jesus in the high moments of rapture and celebration. It is easy to party! We naively wish that all moments were like that. We want the crown without the cross. But the Palm Sunday story is not the only story.
Christians who walk with Jesus only on Palm Sunday, when things are going well, and everybody seems happy, miss out on the real victory. People who don’t go beyond Palm Sunday miss out on the real message of the Gospel.
To really understand who Jesus is and what he was bout and what he has done and can do for you, we must travel further into Holy Week. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. If we want to understand the Gospels fully and be the Christians that God would like us to be, we must be more than Palm Sunday people and be a Holy Week people. We must change our Palm Sunday attitude into a Holy Week attitude. But if the truth be told, some folks can’t handle that transition. Some folks, when the party is over and it’s time to roll up their sleeves and move forward into the future and take responsibility for making the church better, they leave. They simply pack up and go because something happened that they didn’t like or their feelings were hurt.
But in order to be who God has called us to be, who God needs us to be, we have got to move from Palm Sunday to Holy Week. We have got to be a Holy Week people. We must follow Jesus on that Monday when he went into the temple and saw the merchants buying and selling, lying and cheating, and drove them out. When he saw them subvert the Lord’s house into a den of thieves and went from the priority being ministry to the priority being money, he had to overturn the tables, because something was wrong. Sometimes seasoned as well as new Christians have become discouraged because they see the same behavior and attitudes in the church that we see in the world. As with many of you, I wish the church as we know it was perfect. But the fact is that if it were, I couldn’t belong and you couldn’t belong either. We are all imperfect people striving for perfection. And as with any struggle, sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed. But we keep on striving. The good news is that we have a savior who every now and then stops by to shake us up and bring us back in line.
God wants us to go beyond Palm Sunday. We have got to be a Holy Week people and follow Jesus on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday when he debated with the critics who tried to criticize and discredit him. We must understand that everybody in the Palm Sunday crowd doesn’t appreciate what is happening and so they are jealous and they challenge us, not because they want to learn, but to make us angry. They take our joy and try to make us doubt our faith. But we can’t allow Tuesday trivialities to take away our joy. We can’t allow a Tuesday gossip or Tuesday complainer or Tuesday busybody to cause us to loose our religion. But we have got to stand on and hold on to God’s word and know that if the Lord is our light and our salvation, whom then shall we fear?
The Lord needs us to go beyond Palm Sunday. We must be a Holy week people and follow Jesus on the Wednesday, when Judas, one of his own chosen apostles betrayed him. One of the painful lessons that we must learn is that every church, every family, every circle of friends has its own Judas. Those who do us the greatest harm sometimes are those who harm us from within and not from without. But also on Wednesday, we must see where Jesus received perhaps his last kindness while here on earth. A woman out of love and gratitude poured a flask of costly perfume on Jesus lifting his spirit. So the good news is for every discouragement, God has someone to lift our spirits. For every betrayer, there is somebody available to be loyal. For every Judas who tears us down, there is someone to build us up.
The Lord needs us to go beyond Palm Sunday. We must move from a Palm Sunday people to a Holy week people and we follow Jesus to Maundy Thursday, into the upper room, where Jesus sat with his disciples and broke bread and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” And where he took the cup and said, “Drink it all of you, for this is my blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus sacrificed his all. And when we follow Jesus to Maundy Thursday we learn that we can and must make sacrifices for those that we love even though it seems that they are in vain.
When we follow Jesus to Thursday, we hear him in the
The Lord needs us to go beyond Palm Sunday. When we are a Holy Week people, we follow Jesus to Good Friday as he bore his cross up
We must move from being a Palm Sunday people to a Holy week people. And never forget that the Gospel does not end there. There is another chapter beyond heartache and pain, suffering and tribulation, sin and sickness. There is another chapter. But we must move from Palm Sunday and move into Holy week to get there. We’ve got to witness with Jesus in the temple on Monday; defend Jesus from his critics on Tuesday; comfort Jesus after his friend betrayed him on Wednesday; eat of his Body and drink of his blood and pray with him in the Garden on Thursday; bear our cross and die with Jesus on Friday; wait for Jesus on Saturday. Then we can shout the victory on Sunday when we receive the news from the angel, “He is not here, but He has risen!”