Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

The next day, the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first, his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. The crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Because they had heard that he had performed this sign, many people went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” There were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”
(John 12:12–26 NIV11-GKE)

There are so many things that could be said from these verses. Every year sermons have been preached about Jesus’ triumphant entry. Yet, I believe one theme runs through these verses: The entrance to Jerusalem is Jesus’ way to the Cross. Everything he says and does point toward his death and resurrection.

Jerusalem, the city of God, where the temple of God was established. Where God’s presence was so active, now is receiving or welcoming back the author of life and, indeed, the King of the City.

How willing are you to receive this King?
Because if you, are you need to be prepared to let him rule in your life and
It is no longer what you want, but how much you want to please King Jesus.
this Church. It is not about your agenda in Church but the King’s agenda, with his timetable and his business plan. It is no longer what you want but how much you want to please King Jesus.

We need to know that his plans will always be higher than ours. And that his ways are higher than ours.

Palm Sunday invites us to look into the very state of our souls, and as uncomfortable it may be, Jesus is asking how much you want me to be your King.

So, let us look at this King.

The first thing that we see is that Jesus is fulfilling the many Scriptures that speak about the King coming to Jerusalem.

“Please, O LORD, do save us; Please, O LORD, do send prosperity!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 118:25–26 NAS20)

The second, Zechariah prophesied about this King coming to the city of Jerusalem seated on a donkey.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
(Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

Why is this important?

It is essential because this is God’s word, prophesied, told before it happened so that now that it has happened, we know that it was always God’s plan!

I have discovered that when God speaks, it is always to change the present and lay the foundation for the future.

Let me put it this way; I was recently asked: What is God saying to the 21st Century the Churches in Northern Ireland?
I said that within the next three years, we would have lived 25 years of this Century already, and to find out what God is saying, we need to understand what God has been saying to us in the last 22 years of this Century because God has not been silent, he has been speaking to his Church.

Do you know what he has been saying?

The issue is not the lack of God’s voice but the lack of understanding and listening to what God is saying to us.

Isn’t this new? No, let us look at the text:

“At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” (John 12:16 NIV11-GKE)

His own disciples did not get the triumphant entry and even Jesus’ declaration:

“Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”
(John 12:23–26 NIV11-GKE)

In every Gospel account, we have the disciples not understanding that Jesus needed to die and rise again. Even Peter had a hard time accepting this truth. Only when he was broken and let the Lord down is when he realised after the resurrection of Jesus what Jesus meant, and chapter 21 of John is all about the restoration of Peter.

But we are not like the disciples. They were, if you like, in a disadvantageous position at this stage! It all made sense to them when Jesus was glorified! Therefore, we know and have access to the whole truth as it has been revealed to us, and we have experienced the resurrection power of Christ in our lives.

We now know or have an idea of what Jesus meant when he said The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. He is speaking about his death and resurrection. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

But do we understand the second part of his declaration? Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.” (John 12:23–26 NIV11-GKE)

Or are we like his disciples who did not understand what Jesus was saying?

How willing are you to receive this, King?
Because if you, are you need to be prepared to let him rule in your life and this Church. It is not about your agenda in Church but the King’s agenda, with his timetable and his business plan. It is no longer what you want but how much you want to please King Jesus.

Let’s look at the cost of following Jesus.

  1. Anyone who loves their life will lose it
  2. while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life
  3. Whoever serves me must follow me
  4. and where I am, my servant also will be –
  5. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

It says that we are no longer at the very centre of our lives! Our longings, wanting, and motivations are no longer an issue, and the love in this life is nothing compared to following Jesus.
We should have an attitude that we are not of their world and not use the schemes of this world to follow Jesus. But that we are servants, with no rights, slaves to God. However, this servant mindset it is our of love and worship.

Jesus, the rescuer of our lives, deserves all our lives if we truly follow him. We must obey and leave all behind. Paul said something similar when he said I am crucified with Christ, and my life is now hidden in him.

The cost of following Jesus is a costly one. We know this because, in this story, Jesus is not the only main character, but those who interact with Jesus play a significant role in this play that it is before us.

• We have the Crowds – The Greeks
• We have some Pharisees
• We have the disciples.

Let’s say that the crowds represent those who are not that far away from Jesus, but they are not that close to him either. They are in the periphery. These are the people, ordinary people who have an understanding or knowledge of Christianity.

They are a crowd that understands human suffering, and they are very keen to support Jesus, who in this setting is happy and willing to sing a song of praise, saying “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
This assumes a knowledge of the psalms, they went to Church, but they were not disciples. However, this same crowd is happy to shout insults at Jesus and ask for his crucifixion!

There is more, and the crowd realised that Jesus is someone who is different! They know the signs and wonders that Jesus did. How do we know this? We do because only in this Gospel do we have Lazarus mentioned. This is what they say: Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.
These many people are close to Jesus but not his disciples. So, unless you commit to following him, then the message of Palm Sunday is irrelevant.

But there were also another group of people there. A people that you would expect to welcome Jesus to warm up to him, but disappointingly they don’t.
Jesus is a real problem for them, and these are the religious community of Jesus’s time. Here have one group of them, the Pharisees! These represent a religious leadership people that are not even close to Jesus, yet they believe that they represent God on this earth. Sadly, we do find them in our churches too. In the name of God, people want to look well in people’s eyes and will do everything to defend their traditions, people who believe that they are entitled to be honoured in the Church because of their standing in the community.

That is not the way of Jesus.

This is what they said about Jesus, which is shocking and yet reveals a great truth! Look how the whole world has gone after him! So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere.
This is the victory, and not even the religious people can stop Jesus. They are so upset that the world has gone after Jesus and not to them!
This is the victory, not even the religious people can stop Jesus and Jesus people. Why? Because Jesus is life, more attractive than them.

Now there is another group mentioned, and this group is the Greeks who want to find Jesus. These people are you and me! This is the reason why Jesus came!
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

I want you to see this! This John 3:16!

So, would you lay down your mat and follow Jesus so that you will lose your life to get the author of life by following him? Are you at the fringes, or are you so upset that Jesus is changing your Church?

So where are you on the Palm Sunday Story?

  • Are you his disciples, followers that have counted the cost and it is a cost worth paying?
  • Are you the people in the crowd who know about Jesus but you don’t know personally?
  • Are you a Pharisee, who gets upset because people go to Jesus and not to you?
  • Are you the Greeks who have heard of Jesus, and you curious and want to meet him?

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