April 5, 2020

Sermon for Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020

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Passage: Luke 19:28-44
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Sermon for Palm Sunday – April 5, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ our Lord, who gave Himself for our sins that He might delver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 19:28–44 (NKJV)
28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ”

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Our Humble King of Mercy and Love,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

It’s remarkable, isn’t it? We haven’t met for worship face to face since Wednesday March 18th…now 18 days ago. These are strange times, but we need not fear. Our God will keep us safe.

In our worship during the Sundays of Lent, we have been meditating upon a number of ‘Remarkable Events’ that took place during Holy Week. Let’s review: We’ve witnessed an angel appear to strengthen Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We’ve heard about a dream of Pontius Pilate’s wife. We’ve witnessed the mob’s remarkable choice of a rebellious murderer over an innocent Jesus. We’ve watched as the 30 pieces of silver were used, as foretold, to purchase the field of a potter.

This morning is Palm Sunday…the first day of Holy Week. We will again witness a number of remarkable things. We will see a borrowed colt, a prophecy fulfilled and a judgment foretold. In order that the Spirit of God bless our homebound meditation we begin with prayer:

Let us pray: Blessed Lord, you have caused the Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may for this reason hear them, read, meditate on, learn from and fill our hearts with them, so that we may obtain the comfort of that Word and may embrace and hold fast to the hope of Everlasting Life, which You have given us through faith in Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ”

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the final time. The journey began in Jericho, where Jesus stopped to heal a blind man named Bartimaeus, who sat by the road (Luke 18:35-43, Mark 10:46-52). Afterward, as He passed through Jericho, He met a short tax-collector named Zacchaeus, who had climbed a sycamore tree in order to see the Savior walk past. Jesus called him down and ate at his home (Luke 19:1-10).
Then on the Friday before Good Friday, Jesus led the disciples up to Jerusalem…. Literally, and yes, I mean literally.

Jesus went ahead of them; He led the way for the 18-mile trip from Jericho to Jerusalem. It was uphill all the way. The ancient city of Jericho is located 1000 feet below sea level while the city of Jerusalem lies 2800 feet above sea level. It was a trip that took 6-8 hours on a good day, and Jesus was accompanied by a crowd of people.

The fact that Jesus led the way serves well as a reminder for us that He is the master, the leader. We follow Him. We listen to His Word. We seek to carry out His instructions. Even if we are placed in positions of leadership in the church, we don’t lead the way or go our own way, but seek His direction from His Word.

The Savior spent the Sabbath Day in Bethany, most likely in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. A short time earlier Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary took a pound of costly oil and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, preparing him for the day of His Burial (John 12:1-8).

On the next day, the Sunday before the Resurrection, Jesus left the city of Bethany for Jerusalem. It was as Jesus left the village of Bethany, 2 miles from Jerusalem on the other side of the Mount of Olives, that He sent two of His disciples to borrow a donkey’s colt. He didn’t tell them why He had need of it. He didn’t just tell them to find a colt in the fork in the road called Bethphage. Jesus told them exactly where to find it. He told them the history of the animal, that the animal had never been used for labor, making it fitting for a sacred purpose. He told them to untie it, and when the owners asked them, they should say simply, “The Lord has need of it.”

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”

It would be an understatement to say that Jesus did ‘remarkable things.’ While He did set aside the full use of His power as the Son of God, from time to time Jesus said and did things that reminded His followers that He wasn’t just another traveling Jewish teacher. Jesus restored sight to Blind Bartimaeus with a word. Jesus restored life again to Lazarus, who had been dead for the better part of a week.
Jesus told two disciples exactly what they would find if they did as He instructed them. Jesus’ word, ‘The Lord has need of him’ was sufficient to obtain the use of a colt.

The miracles of Jesus aren’t just stories meant to amaze us. Jesus miracles serve to remind us to listen carefully to Jesus’ Words, every one of them. We, like those two disciples, need not ask for clarification of Jesus, but simply carry out His direction, knowing that the Savior knows what He is doing…even if we don’t.

35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that there were two animals…a donkey and her colt. They placed their cloaks on both animals, perhaps because the animals shed from time to time. They made their way along the ridge of the Mount of Olives surrounded by a crowd of people who gave Jesus the ‘red carpet’ treatment by spreading their cloaks on the road before Him. It was an old custom (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). It was as they crested the Mount of Olives and made there way to Jerusalem, another crowd met them, streaming outward from the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

The assembled crowd began rejoicing to praise God because of all the mighty works, the miracles which they had witnessed. They praised God for allowing them to witness these things, like the healing of the blind man and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. They even took up the words of the 118th Psalm and recognized Jesus as the Messiah King promised to David, the one coming with the salvation of the LORD. They gave praise to God because peace with God in heaven was obtained by Him, and He deserved praise from Highest Heaven. Jesus accepted their praise.

It was as if the Palm Sunday crowd was joining the angels who sang to the shepherds (Luke 2:14) on the night of His Birth. The crowd of disciples was overflowing with joy and praise.

What about us? Shall we join the crowd in singing praise to God for having sent His Son to save us? Shall we cry out to our Lord, ‘Hosanna’ – ‘Help, Save us!’

Or is our joy gone? Shall we instead mope in our homes because regular worship is postponed? Is our Palm Sunday joy locked up in an empty church building? Shall we moan and weep because we can’t sing our favorite Palm Sunday Hymns together this morning? Shall we feel sorry for ourselves? God forbid that something like this should ever silence our joy or our hymns of praise! God help us, through this, to appreciate the blessings we enjoy and also grow into mature Christians.

Palm Sunday wasn’t all joy and hymns of praise. For not everyone agreed with the sentiments expressed, some were indignant and called out from the crowd, demanding that Jesus rebuke and silence His disciples.

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

All the shouting of the whole chapter of Pharisees couldn’t create enough volume to silence the crowd. There was only one voice with sufficient authority to silence them…Jesus Himself. So, some of the Pharisees who came out to see what the hubbub was all about appealed to Jesus to stop such ‘crazy talk.’ They had dismissed Jesus’ Word and His miracles. They were offended that anyone should believe that Jesus was the Messiah King (John 7:47-49). They demanded that Jesus silence His ‘block-headed’ disciples.

There was a time when Jesus asked His disciples to keep silent and not tell others that He was the Messiah…this was not the time. If Jesus silenced them, the silence would only be temporary. In truth, every day praise goes up to Christ the King from the lips and lives of those who are ‘Living Stones’ (1 Peter 2:4) united by faith to Christ the Cornerstone. We may be separated by miles across the face of the earth, still we praise and worship Him.

The message that Jesus is the Savior will not be silenced. It may be quiet in the church these days because we have chosen not to worship in person, but the message of what Jesus has done is still proclaimed and is still heard. We can read in our homes, listen and even watch on the Internet.
We can consider this time of quarantine a short pause. We will gather again to praise our God. In the meantime, pick up the phone and call your fellow believers to encourage them with God’s Word. Call the pastor and encourage him. Talk to friends and neighbors about your hope in Christ. Don’t be silent. Don’t give Jesus reason to be sorrowful, like He was on Palm Sunday.

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The Bible tells us of three occasions when Jesus wept. When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, he wept. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He wept (Hebrews 5:7). When Jesus came in view of the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He wept. He didn’t just weep silently; the word indicates he cried out with sobs.

Why would Jesus cry? He wept over the city of Jerusalem and her inhabitants who had rejected Him and the peace that He came to bring them. The Word of God plainly teaches that God wants everyone to believe in His Son and be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and Jesus’ tears prove that love. Time and again He had come to Jerusalem and taught, but the majority of them had opposed and rejected Him as they had the prophets before Him (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34, Acts 7:51-53). Jesus wasn’t bitter about it, but broken hearted.

There was one more thing. Jerusalem had been called ‘city of peace’. It was chosen by the LORD to be the place of His Temple, the place of His visible presence on earth. It was the place where God mercifully accepted sacrifices for sin. But it was the city that rejected God’s Prophets and also the Great Prophet when He came to it. Still, He established peace with God by laying down His life on a Roman Cross outside the walls of the city of Peace…but they did not and would not understand it.

Jesus, the Son of God, could see the future of the city of Jerusalem. He foretold the fall of Jerusalem in spectacular detail.
 He foresaw the day when Jerusalem’s enemies, the Roman Legions built an embankment, a stockade around the entire city, close to five miles long.
 He saw the city would be surrounded and shut up on every side so that none could escape.
 He saw how her people would be dashed to the ground.
 He saw that her buildings would be leveled, not one stone left on another.

Jesus explained why this would happen…because they did not trust in or receive Him when He came with mercy to save.

There is reason to weep on Palm Sunday…and it’s not because we aren’t together. There is reason to be sorrowful because of the virus that infects our nation – because some will die having rejected Jesus or having never known Him. Let’s make plans to redouble our efforts when we have opportunity to direct people to Jesus, the Savior.

The same Jesus who once sent two disciples in search of a donkey’s colt…has also called and sent us out to speak of His Glory, His rescue, His rule that surpasses even death. The same Jesus who later carried his cross to Calvary also carried our sins. The same Jesus who died for sins also rose again to remove forever the sting and power of sin and of death.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty! In lowly pomp ride on to die. Bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
then take, O Christ, Thy power and reign!

Amen!