“Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

Palm Sunday
April 14, 2019

“Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:1-9)

Here comes Jesus, riding into town. Like a boss. Well, maybe not like a boss. More like a servant, sitting on a donkey, a beast of burden, rather than on a war horse. Yet as he enters Jerusalem, Jesus is greeted like a king. Which he is, only not the kind you would expect. There are a lot of people pouring into Jerusalem at this time. There’s a big holiday coming up, Passover, and all the Jews are supposed to go to Jerusalem and to the temple for the occasion. So lots of crowds on hand to greet Jesus as he enters. They had heard of this man Jesus. Many of them had seen his miracles and heard his teaching back in Galilee. Jesus had made a big impression on them. Now these pilgrims are coming to Jerusalem for the week of the Passover, and there’s a buzz running through the crowd: “Could this Jesus–could he be the one sent by God as the promised Messiah? We’ve never seen anyone do the works this man does! We’ve never heard such wisdom like this man speaks!” The excitement, the electricity, is palpable.

The crowds were looking for a new king, one who would throw off the shackles of Rome and make Israel great again. They were hoping for a new David to restore the glory of the nation. And indeed, the Lord had promised that one day he would send a son of David, one of David’s descendants, to be that king who would usher in the messianic age of blessing and glory. Could this be the one?

So the crowds start cheering. They’re welcoming Jesus in a grand way. People are throwing their cloaks before him. They’re strewing palm branches before him, a symbol of victory, fit for a conquering king. And the people are shouting: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Let’s talk about this shout of acclamation with which the people are greeting Jesus, as he enters the holy city. And let’s find out how it applies to us here today, for Jesus is coming into our midst also. And so our theme: “Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!”

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Published in: on April 13, 2019 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
March 25, 2018

“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Today is a day in the church year that goes by two names, “Palm Sunday” and the “Sunday of the Passion.” This is Palm Sunday, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem, and the crowd spread palm branches before him and acclaimed him as their coming king. But today also serves as the Sunday of the Passion, the first day of Holy Week, looking ahead to Christ’s suffering, which will culminate in his crucifixion on Good Friday. The Scripture readings we have had so far in the service today have brought out both of these emphases: the Processional Gospel for Palm Sunday and the Holy Gospel for the Sunday of the Passion.

But did you know that today happens to go by another name also? It is the Annunciation of Our Lord. This one happens just by coincidence of calendar, since today is March 25. Think about it. What other church festival always happens on the 25th of a month? That’s right, Christmas, which always falls on December 25. And since we celebrate our Lord’s birth on December 25, nine months before that, on March 25, is the day we remember when the angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Savior. “Conceived by the Holy Spirit” on March 25, “born of the virgin Mary” on December 25, nine months later.

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“Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
April 9, 2017

“Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Have you heard that saying before? It refers to the month of March. The idea is that March usually comes in “like a lion”–the weather is harsh and cold–but at the end of the month, March often goes out “like a lamb”: the weather is fair and mild. “In like a lion, out like a lamb”: strong at the beginning of the month, gentle at the end.

That may be true for the month of March, but you can also say it’s true for this week that we’re entering today. “Holy Week: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.” You see, that’s how it went for our Lord Jesus Christ and his “march” in and out of the city of Jerusalem. Christ came into the city like a lion–at least in the minds of many–but he went out, he was marched out, like a lamb, a lamb led to the slaughter. What does that mean for you? That’s what we will find out.

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Published in: on April 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Humbled Himself” (Philippians 2:5-11)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
March 20, 2016

“He Humbled Himself” (Philippians 2:5-11)

Have you ever been humbled? Yes, humbled, brought low. Maybe you were humbled when you got beat really badly in a game of Scrabble. Maybe you won that game of Scrabble, and you got the big head, so God had to humble you in some other way. Or think about the March Madness that’s going on right now. Sometimes there is an occasional upset, but usually, when a #16 seed has to face a #1 seed in the opening round, it can be pretty humbling. To be humbled is not a pleasant experience.

Often when we are humbled, it’s because we have something to be humble about. Our weaknesses are exposed. Our limitations become evident. Our shortcomings are in view, and we don’t like it. So what is really surprising is when someone is humbled who doesn’t have any weaknesses or shortcomings to be brought low by. And even more amazing is when such a person voluntarily humbles himself. That’s what we see on this Palm Sunday, this Sunday of the Passion as it is called, in the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it is said, “He Humbled Himself.”

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Published in: on March 20, 2016 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Your Committed and Determined King” (Mark 11:1-10; 14:12-26)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
March 29, 2015

“Your Committed and Determined King” (Mark 11:1-10; 14:12-26)

Today is a Sunday that goes by two names, “Palm Sunday” and the “Sunday of the Passion.” As such, we get readings for both of these emphases. There is the Palm Sunday Processional Gospel at the start of the service, the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem with palm branches spread before him. And there is the longer reading of the Passion of Our Lord, giving us an overview of the events later in Holy Week, through Jesus’ suffering and death.

And as I looked over these two readings, something jumped out at me, something that these two readings have in common. It’s a little detail, but it tells us a lot about who Jesus is, and who he is for you. So now listen as you hear about “Your Committed and Determined King.”

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Published in: on March 28, 2015 at 11:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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“Who Is This?” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

Palm Sunday / Sunday of the Passion
April 13, 2014

“Who Is This?” (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:11-66)

“Who is this?” That would seem to be the question of the day for this day that serves as both Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion. “Who is this?” That’s what the people of Jerusalem were asking about the man who came riding into town on a donkey. That’s the question that swirled around this same man later in the week when he stood before Pilate and the crowd and when he went to the cross to suffer and to die. Who is this? Who is this man, Jesus of Nazareth, the subject of so much controversy, the object of both accusation and acclaim? Who is this guy anyway?

And it’s a question that echoes down to our day, too. Who is this man Jesus? The answers that people give reveal a wide range of opinion, ranging from rank unbelief to raw ignorance to a polite dismissal, from a correct yet canned response to a heartfelt trust and worship. How about you? How would you answer this question about Jesus? “Who Is This?” It’s the most important question you will ever answer.

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Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Palms to Passion” (Luke 19:28-40; 22:1 – 23:56)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
March 24, 2013

“From Palms to Passion” (Luke 19:28-40; 22:1 – 23:56)

Today is a day that goes by two names. The one that we’re probably more familiar with is “Palm Sunday.” For it was on this day that Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, greeted by the cheering crowds, and the people used palm branches to welcome him. Palms to indicate victory and triumph. Palms to symbolize success and long life. And so on Palm Sunday Jesus is hailed as the messianic King of Israel, coming to Jerusalem to establish his reign: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The people with the palm branches were correct. Jesus did come to Jerusalem that day to bring in the messianic kingdom. But the question remained: How would he do it? How would this Messiah establish his kingdom? How would he win his victory? And the answer is, by suffering, by dying, by being crucified. This king’s conquest would come with strange and mocking signs: being arrayed with splendid clothing; having an inscription placed over him on the cross, “This is the King of the Jews.” From a procession of palms to a criminal’s crucifixion, this is how Jesus would triumph and bring in the kingdom of God.

The suffering that Jesus enters Jerusalem to undertake–this then brings us to the other name for this day, “The Sunday of the Passion.” “Passion.” What does that word mean? The root idea literally has to do with someone being acted upon, as in our word, “passive.” So “passion,” as we usually use it, has the idea that someone has been acted upon, has been overtaken, by a strong feeling. For example, we would say things like “They had a passionate love affair” or “He went about his work with a passion.” Those persons have had something happen to them.

So too the word “Passion,” when it is used in connection with our Lord Jesus Christ, has the idea of him “being acted upon.” It refers to Christ’s suffering and his death. Thus we speak of “The Passion of our Lord.” And so we refer to this day in the church year not only as “Palm Sunday” but also as “The Sunday of the Passion.” For on Palm Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to enter into his Passion, his holy suffering. This is the great week, that “Holy Week,” when our Lord suffered and died for our sins.

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Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Are the April Fools? How Do You View Jesus?” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
April 1, 2012

“Who Are the April Fools? How Do You View Jesus?” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

“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.” “On the foal of a donkey”: I thought about that phrase, and then I thought about the fact that this is April 1, and so I considered doing a sermon on “April Foal’s Day” . . . and then I decided against it.

But this is April Fools’ Day, and it also is Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion, and so I do want to talk to you today about “fools.” My question is, “Who Are the April Fools?” Are we? Are we fools for believing in, worshiping, and setting our hopes on, a man who rides into Jerusalem as a king but ends up dying on a cross? There are lots of folks who would say we are. They think we are absolute fools for falling for this old story about some crucified would-be king. So it comes back to the question, “How Do You View Jesus?”

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Published in: on March 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Root of Jesse Will Come” (Romans 15:4-13)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
April 17, 2011

“The Root of Jesse Will Come” (Romans 15:4-13)

On Palm Sunday the crowds welcomed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, hailing him as their king: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Great excitement! Great joy! Cloaks and palm branches spread in front of him, a welcome fit for a king! Here was the one they had been waiting for. “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you.’” This was the Son of David they were welcoming, the long-promised Messiah, who would deliver Israel from all her foes.

Well, good for them. But they were Jews. We are Gentiles. Does Palm Sunday leave us out in the cold? How do we get in on the action? Our reading today from Romans tells us that, no, we Gentiles are not excluded. We were part of the plan all along. Reading now from Romans 15:4-13, as follows:

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Published in: on April 16, 2011 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Who Is This King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 19:28-40; 23:1-56)

Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion
March 28, 2010

“Who Is This King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:7-10; Luke 19:28-40; 23:1-56)

“Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” So the psalmist writes, and then he adds this question, calling for our reflection: “Who is this King of glory?” That is our question this morning, on this Day of the Palms, when we also look ahead to the Day of the Passion. Today we look upon this man Jesus, riding into Jerusalem, and we ask, “Who Is This King of Glory?”

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Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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