Sermons

2012 Holy Week Services

“Palm Sunday” April 1st 2012

 

ll to Worship:  Zechariah 9:9-10. 

?9?Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and having salvation,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

?10?Iwill take away the chariots from Ephraim

and the war-horses from Jerusalem,

and the battle bow will be broken.

He will proclaim peace to the nations.

His rule will extend from sea to sea

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

1st Bible Reading:

Luke 19.28-36. 

?28?After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. ?  29?As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ?30?“Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.  Untie it and bring it here. ?  31?If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

?32?Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. ?  33?As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

?34?They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

?35?They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. ?  36?As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

 

Meditation

Why ride on a donkey; why not simply walk into Jerusalem?  Apart from boat trips across lakes, Jesus seems to have walked everywhere else during His ministry. 

There are three things we should note about kings riding on donkeys that would have been recognised by the people of our Lord’s time:

  1. Despite what has been often said, kings did ride donkeys – a donkey was the traditional mount of kings in the ancient Near East – so Jesus was making a claim of being a king; it was not a humble example He was setting. 
  2. There was a link with passages in the Old Testament which linked the arrival of a king on a donkey with his being the Messianic King – so Jesus was plainly stating that He was the Messiah the people had long waited for. 
  3. But the choice of mount for a warrior king was the horse.  By riding on a donkey it seems clear that Jesus was trying to counter the strongly held idea of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.

The people expected the Messiah to be such a warrior/king.  They wanted a leader to take upon himself the role of a new King David and rid the people of the yoke of Roman oppression and the re-establishment of the Jewish nation under a Jewish king.  Jesus came as the Prince of Peace whose mission was to bring about reconciliation – not through force of arms, but through the love of God. 

And so, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem can be seen as the entry of the Kingdom of God into the world.  Just as Jesus entered into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, so He enters into hearts every day.  He enters the hearts of unbelievers who are unbelievers due to ignorance; He enters the hearts of those who have seen the folly and emptiness of atheism and have turned instead to the certainty and truth of God’s Word; He enters into the hearts of people who have attended church for many a year without fully understanding what Christianity is all about.  And thus the Kingdom is established and grows. 

It is interesting to note that we begin the week on the Mount of Olives and end the night of our Lord’s betrayal there also because, you see, one of the sections of the Mount of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemane

The Church Fathers saw the laying down of clothes – first on the back of the colt and then on the road as a symbol of how Christians have to lay aside their worldly ways and submit to the ways of Jesus.  Whilst this might be seen as somewhat far fetched, nevertheless the principle is a sound one.  And it raises the question: what have you surrendered and laid aside in order to serve Jesus?

2nd Bible Reading:

Luke 19.37-40. 

?37?When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

?38?“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

?39?Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

?40?“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

 

Meditation

Despite opposition to the gospel message; to Jesus upon whom the gospel centres; to the Church which is the custodian of the gospel in the world; and to God who is the source of all that is good and wholesome – and we see a lot of this in today’s world – the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue. 

The religious authorities of the time were as afraid of Jesus as is the most rabid atheist of today – which is strange because, unlike our rabid atheists, these men claimed to believe in God and to know His Word.  But, perhaps this is a big part of their fear of Jesus.  If Jesus was who He said He was, their cushy jobs were on the line.  If “Newspoll” ran a survey in Jerusalem that day, it would be highly likely that it would show that Jesus, already, was more popular than they were. 

And so they tried to water down the matter: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

But, you see, it just can’t be done – and for a very good reason: God won’t allow it

It is God’s plan to allow the whole world to know about Jesus and what He has done for them; it is God’s plan that,

?10?that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

?11?and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

And so it is that, while there are those in the world who seek to quash the knowledge of and reverence for Jesus, we are to be the stones who are to cry out. 

Are you crying out, or have you allowed the demands of the ignorant and foolish to shut you up? 

3rd Bible Reading:

Luke 19.41-44. 

?41?As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it ?42?and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. ?  43?The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. ?  44?They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.  They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Meditation

Just as He did at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept as He looked over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.  He wept because He knew what fate lay in store for it.  As had happened in the past, Jerusalem was to suffer – along with its inhabitants – for the people’s disobedience and sinfulness. 

In AD 70, the Roman forces, under Titus, would overrun Jerusalem and utterly destroy it and the temple there.  This time, however, the temple would not rise again.  Why?  Because the people had rejected God’s Messiah; they did not recognise Jesus for who He was, Immanuel – God with us! 

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  True peace had come into their midst but, within a week, the people would cry out for Him to be crucified! 

Jesus came to bring peace between God and sinners through paying their debt to God that arose out of their sinfulness.  But they rejected Him. 

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus would say: ?27?Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Do you want this peace?  Do you want the peace of Jesus that comes through peace with God?  Do you want to stand before God on Judgement Day and be declared “Not guilty”?  Then claim Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today and that peace is yours. 

4th Bible Reading:

Luke 19.45-48. 

?45?Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. ?  46?“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

?47?Every day he was teaching at the temple.  But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. ?  48?Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Meditation

We are constantly being told that we must run Church on a business footing; to manage it and finance it in the same way the world does.  But Jesus reminds us that the Church is different from the world.  The Church is devoted to God, not the world.  And so the Church is to run as God says it is to be run, and not as the world says it should. 

We are told that Church must be more entertaining if we want more people to come along.  But this ignores why God calls us to gather as a church; we don’t gather to be entertained and to be made feel good about ourselves – we gather to worship God.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying worship but, when worship denigrates to the level of cheap entertainment, it has lost its way. 

We are to come along to church so as to – as Jesus told the woman at the well – worship God in spirit and in truth.  We are not to come along to do as we wish; we are not to come along for cheap thrills; we are not to come along to feel comfortable in our lifestyles – especially if those lifestyles are not in accordance with godly living.  No, we come to offer to God a sacrifice of praise and worship.  Worship is not about us, it is about God!

How do you prepare yourself for worship each Sunday?  Why do you come along of a Sunday?  Do you come to church to get even more out of God than you already have?  Or, do you come along to church to give to God your undivided attention and to worship Him for who He is and for what He has done for you?  Are you satisfied with having had your sins forgiven and receiving the promise of everlasting life?  Or is this not enough for you and you want something more?

Benediction

Now to God Almighty,

whose plans for us do not end in death;

to our Lord Jesus Christ,

who entered our world

so that we might enter his;

and to the Holy Spirit,

who works constantly in our hearts

preparing us for that great day,

be all our praise and love

until we meet Him face to face.  AMEN.