Ps 118; Is 50:4-9a; Phil 2:5-11; Mt 21:1-11 April 9th, 2017 Palm Sunday - Blessed Is the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord always

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1 Ps 118; Is 50:4-9a; Phil 2:5-11; Mt 21:1-11 April 9 th, 2017 Palm Sunday - Blessed Is the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord Israel is a vitally important piece of land in the Middle East, and it is important to people of faith in all parts of the world, it is the Holy Land the heartland of our faith story. Israel is a little like our town where three highways intersect. It is on the way to somewhere else. The caravan routes that cross the Ancient Near East all pass through Israel. At the oasis of En Gedhi, in the Jezreel Valley and along the Jordan River travelers can find plenty of water and food. The emblem of life in the midst of the desert is the palm. The desert palm that is most desirable is the date palm. Merchants, armies and just plain travelers look forward to the refreshment and life-giving water where the date palms grow. The palm branch is always a sign of life. It is abundant in the land of Israel where there is water. Welcome refreshment. King Jesus Christ invites us to abide with him it is an invitation for now it is an invitation forever. The invitation is always good. He always welcomes us when we come to Him. 1

2 When He was born, Jesus traveled with His mom and dad to Egypt, to escape Herod. They journeyed back home when He was a boy. Again, Jesus does not stop moving from the time He leaves the family business and sets out to minister, preach and heal all over Galilee and Judea. So, if we want to abide with Jesus, we have to follow him he is not planted in one place he is always on the move. Palm Sunday is a very unsettled day. It is the day of the parade into Jerusalem this day Jesus entered the city. Jesus spoke again and again to his disciples about the end of his human journey. It had to be in Jerusalem. The city is packed for the Passover festival when they get there. They stop short of Jerusalem they stop in Bethphage, near where Jesus and his disciples often stayed. Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany, a couple of miles away from the city. Jesus sends the disciples on ahead to borrow a donkey and her colt. If you have your Bible, you see Jesus says he wishes a particular donkey. Matthew supplies the prophecy Jesus is fulfilling. The prophet Isaiah (62:10-12) and the prophet Zechariah (9:9) portrayed the picture of the king 2

3 coming to the nation humbly. So, the kings rode into the city on a donkey when they were anointed. Isaiah proclaims that this king brings salvation and makes the people holy. (vv 11-12) Zechariah calls the nation to shout with joy that the king comes with salvation. The prophets call for shouting and for holy living. This is not always the way Christians in our time respond to Jesus. Jesus entered the city as king God s only Son. Shouting is appropriate. Shouting and praise are necessary. The king who gives life is here. I wonder whether Lazarus and Mary and Martha follow along as this procession begins? They were already followers of Rabbi Jesus. They know a thing or two about the restoration of life that Jesus brings. I imagine they did walk along with their Messiah. Messiah is the king that God sends into the world. And Messiah is the Son of David. The people know what to do. They follow the tradition. They cut palm branches, and they begin to wave them. This is a lot like Americans waving little American flags at the Independence Day or Veterans Day parade. We usually shout hurray! or yay! They shouted Hosanna! 3

4 Meaning Lord, save us! This is still our Palm Sunday shout. To the Israelites waving palm branches was a political act. It was an act of faith. It was an anti- Roman act of national pride. Israel was always watching for her deliverer the king, the anointed one who would save her. We, like the ancient Israelites, must look to the Lord for our salvation. This is a controversial thing. Ultimately, the power of God not the force of arms brings deliverance and salvation and holiness to a people to a nation. This entry into Jerusalem is a victory parade. The people are shouting Hosanna! In less than a week, they will be shouting Crucify! When the king is crowned, it will be with a crown of thorns, not gold and jewels. He will not step up to a royal throne, but will be nailed and lifted up on a wooden cross. Even though Jesus told the disciples what would happen, they are not prepared for the outcome of Jesus last journey to Jerusalem. Especially today: palm branches waving peoples cloaks spread in the road before the Lord. Very exciting very hopeful! 4

5 Would Jesus of Nazareth be crowned king? How would it all happen? Would He rid the land of the Roman occupation army? These are political questions. They had been praying, O Lord, how long must we be a conquered people? Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem knowing what awaited him there. He prayed on the Mount of Olives, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want. (Mt 26:30) His driving passion is obedience. Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8) When you and I journey with Jesus, we come to understand the everlasting love of God. We learn how to bless God for what God has accomplished when we journey with Him. We are preparing to journey through this coming Holy Week with the Lord. Jesus comes toward us toward all peoples. He is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. (Ps 118:26) The covenant in his blood can lift you and me out of our distress, out of our error and our sin. The poet says: No one took his life from him. He could have stopped the painful parade up to 5

6 Calvary with a word, but he never uttered it. Instead, he opened his arms to the beam. He opened his hands to the nails, and he allowed himself to be crucified. (I Know My Redeemer Lives, arr. Mauldin Brentwood) This week, I invite you to read chapters 26 and 27 of Matthew s gospel. As you read, bless this Jesus Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord to save us from our sin. On Holy Thursday, we have the opportunity to view the excellent film, Risen. 6:30 p.m.at the Cornelius UMC. Bring soft drinks and microwave popcorn to share. On Good Friday evening, we have the chance to gather to bless the Lord for surrendering his life, bearing our sin, absorbing the wrath of God in our place, and finally dying to bring us spotless into His presence. I invite you to come out at 7:30 in the sanctuary of BCUMC for this service of worship. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! (I Know My Redeemer Lives, arr. Mauldin Brentwood) Amen. 6

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