March 28, 2021 AUDIO-VIDEO Palm Sunday Sermon: On The Road To Calvary
OPEN: Corrie ten Boom was once asked if it were difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple. “When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?” She continued, “If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give Him All the Praise and All the Honor.”
Palm Sunday…typically we look at Christ riding in on a Donkey to Jerusalem. Crowds waving Palm Fronds saying “Blessed is He who Comes in the Name of the Lord”.
What I want Us to See today is that the Road to Jerusalem’s Palm Sunday Celebration, which was short lived, was Also the Road to Calvary.
Luke 19:28-40: “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?’ say, ‘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. 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.”
Here…Dr. Luke Transports us back in time to the last week in the earthly ministry of Jesus. And what a week it will be! I Call this Text the “Illusion” of Victory!
- With his instructions to the disciples to go and find the colt in the village, Jesus seems to be doing exactly what his disciples expect him to do…
- Take Charge…Make a Bold Statement. Enter Jerusalem as the Messiah that He is.
The crowds in Jerusalem have swelled to several hundred thousand, crowding the streets of Jerusalem as Pilgrims and Residents of the city Prepare for The Feast of Passover, the most memorable feast in the history of the Jewish people.
The Passover Feast Celebrated God’s Deliverance of Israel from the Slavery of Egypt.
- The seder meal of lamb and bitter herbs and other symbolic foods will be eaten that week, reminding the first century Jews that God Freed their Ancestors from the Oppression of Egypt.
- The Prayer in Jesus’ day was, of course, that God would Free the Jews from the Oppression of Rome.
- Thoughts of Freedom and Memories of the Maccabean Revolt about 150 years earlier were still in the Hearts and Minds of Faithful Jews.
Just as we look back to our War for Freedom…The Revolutionary War…So First Century Jews kept Alive the Hope of Freedom.
So, when Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on the first day of Passover week, the Crowds are Looking for Someone to Rally Around…Someone to Carry the Banner of Revolution and Gain Freedom and Liberation From Roman Rule!
But Jesus was NOT Traveling the Road to REVOLUTION…He was Traveling the Road to CALVARY…And Along the Way Several Things Happen.
First…On the Road To Calvary, Jesus Picks Up Some Admirers
Now at this time…Not even the Disciples Comprehend that Jesus is Heading Toward His Death by the End of the Week.
- Every time Jesus Mentions the Possibility that He will be Mistreated, the Disciples Protest that He is even Speaking of Such a Thing.
- Each One Vows to Defend and Stay with Jesus Regardless of the Outcome.
As Jesus rides into Jerusalem that Sunday morning, the Disciples are Joyous, the Crowd is Energized, and Shouts of “Hosanna” Ring Out as He Rides Slowly Through the Crowds.
- These are the Crowds Longing for Freedom from Roman Rule!
- The residents of Jerusalem, and Jews from all over the Mediterranean area who have arrived for the Passover, Yearn for Freedom.
- They Despise the Presence of Roman Centurions in their City, the City of David.
The Jews Look Away as Roman Troops Parade through the Streets of Jerusalem, Holding High the Standard Bearing the Roman Eagle.
- Every time they shop in the market square, they pay merchants with Roman coins stamped with the likeness of Caesar.
- Rome’s Presence, Power, and Domination is Seen Everywhere, even in their court system where the governor of Rome administers Roman law, Overriding their Own High Priest and Religious Leaders.
So, as Jesus Rides into Jerusalem that Morning, the Crowds that Sing and Shout and Follow Him are Admirers…FANS because of what they Expected Jesus to do for them.
- They like that Jesus stands up to their corrupt political leaders and religious figures.
- They like It that Jesus seems to be a Man of the People, that He Eats with Sinners and Talks with Prostitutes.
- They have been Looking for a Hero, and Jesus is the Flavor of the Day.
- In Addition…There were reports that Jesus could Heal People, Feed People, and that When HE Prayed Evil Spirits Fled from Those they Possessed.
They Admired Jesus Because — They Saw Him both a Revolutionary and a Mystic. A Great Combination for the Nation.
- Admirers Always See what They Want to See in Their Hero of the Day…And What the Crowds Saw in Jesus was the Son of Joseph…NOT the SON of GOD!
- They Saw Jesus as a Revolutionary…NOT as Their Redeemer.
- They wanted another Maccabee, Not a New Messiah. In Short, They Admired Jesus Because They Thought He was the Answer to All Their Problems Underneath the Rule of the Romans!
SO…When Christ Made Clear He was NOT a Revolutionary…It’s No Wonder that by the End of the Week, those who Admired Jesus On Sunday were Shouting “Crucify Him!” on Friday. “FANS ARE ALWAYS FICKEL!”
Next…On The Road To Calvary, Jesus Picks Up Some Opposition
In what is an otherwise Jubilant Scene of Singing and Shouting and Celebration, the Pharisees hear all the Commotion. Rushing toward the sounds of Joy and Laughter, they quickly size up the situation: Jesus’ Followers are Proclaiming Him King!
And just as quickly, the Pharisees Shout Out to Jesus, “Rebuke Your Disciples!”
- “Stop this Nonsense. You’ll upset the Romans, and You’re No King or Messiah.”
Jesus reply’s…Even if I tell My followers to be quiet, these Stones Will CRY Out with Joy!
- So…We see that Jesus Picked Up Some Opposition, Which was Not the First Time!
Jesus had been Opposed from the Very Beginning of His Ministry:
- In Nazareth, the synagogue crowd didn’t like his interpretation of the prophet Isaiah.
- When he healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees accused him of being a Sabbath-breaker.
- When he re-interpreted the Torah, the Law of Moses, they murmured against him.
- When he proclaimed that he would tear down the Temple and rebuild it in 3-days, they tore their clothes and shouted in disapproval.
No, this Wasn’t the First time He Met Opposition…But Now the Opposition was Determined to Stop Him. He was too popular, too charismatic, too much trouble for him to be allowed to continue. He had to be Stopped, even if they Had to Kill Him!!!
Opposition to Jesus is Nothing New, and Sadly, it is Not Going Away…Many of Us have Experienced those who Resent Us for Living By God’s Standard!
For Example: Year’s ago there was an article in the Washington Post by Dr. Billy Graham about heaven that was both brief and hopeful. Mr. Graham said that the best thing about heaven was that God wanted everyone there…Dr. Graham went on to briefly say that we do Not get to Heaven by Our Own Works, But by the Sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus.
Here is what followed about that article in the comment section. One commenter said: “Billy seems to miss that there is No Evidence of the reality of Heaven (or Hell) independent of the internally-inconsistent ramblings of a 2000 year old collection of fiction, the morality tales of Dante, and the Pre-Biblical folklore they were cribbed from.” Another commented more briefly said: “Sounds nice, too bad it doesn’t exist.”
There were a number of comments that attacked Dr. Graham’s character: “Outrageous gibberish from a totally deluded man of the cloth. When you die Mr. Graham you will simply cease to exist. No Heaven – No Hell. Just death and Nothingness awaits you and everybody else. For once in your life get real.”
So, it is No surprise that Jesus picks up Opposition on the Road to Calvary, even as the Crowds are Admiring him.
Fact: There have Always been, and will Always be, those who Oppose the Work of God, who Reject the Love of God, and who Ridicule the Son of God.
- But knowing all of that, Jesus kept going. John 3 :16 tells us — “For God so loved the world that He sent his only Son…”
Important for Us: That World that God Loves Includes Those Who Oppose Jesus.
- They are the ones for whom Christ died, they are the recipients of God’s Grace, and their Sin is No Worse than Our Own.
- Jesus said it best, “The well have no need of a physician.” Jesus came especially to those who opposed him, to those who belittled him, to those who ridiculed him.
Finally…On the Road to Calvary, Jesus Picked Up the Cross
At this point, the life of Jesus isn’t very different from the lives of other charismatic leaders.
- Some people follow him for the wrong reasons, others oppose everything he’s doing, even when it helps others.
But there is a twist to this story that is unlike any other story of charismatic leaders, Jewish or otherwise…This unique event isn’t even reflected in the passage we read today.
- For in reading the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem We can Forget the Reason for His Coming to Jerusalem in the First Place.
Jesus did NOT Come to Jerusalem to Hear the Crowds Shout “Hosanna.” Nor did He Come Unaware of the Opposition to his Ministry.
- Jesus did Not Come to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday. NO…Jesus came to Jerusalem for Good Friday.
On the road to Calvary, Not only does Jesus Pick Up Admirers and Opponents, but Most Importantly…Jesus Picks Up The Cross.
- But, you might say, “Today is a day of Celebration. Let’s leave the Gory Details of His Crucifixion to Friday.” And We Could Do That.
Today, We could just Celebrate Jesus’ Triumphant Ride into Jerusalem. And next Sunday, we would Celebrate the Victory Over Sin, Death and the Grave.
But let’s Not Forget that the Road Jesus Traveled Led Not Just to Jerusalem…But Through its Streets Where He Was Mocked and Jeered.
- The road that Jesus walked was a road that did not end in the city.
- It continued out the other side, through the city gates, to a hill called Golgotha, Calvary, the Place of the Skull.
And it is On This Road that Jesus Picks Up the Cross. We usually phrase it in the passive voice grammatically by saying “Jesus was crucified.” And that is True.
The Passover Crowd Demanded It, Pilate Confirmed It, and the Roman Centurions did it. They Nailed Jesus to the Cross.
But if we say, “Jesus was Crucified” or “They Crucified Jesus” We Miss the Significance of this Week. Jesus Picked Up the Cross Willingly, Sacrificially, and Obediently.
- Paul says, “He became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”
- Jesus said, “I Lay Down My Life, and No One Takes it From Me.”
And even though He Struggled, and even though he Wept Tears of Sorrow like Great Drops of Blood, Jesus Picked Up the Cross.
- The Road to Jerusalem was Not the Highway of Hosannas.
- The Road into the City was Not the Concourse of Cheers.
- The Road to Jerusalem was the Road to Calvary.
- Jesus Knew it…the Disciples Didn’t.
- Jesus Walked it…the Disciples Only Followed.
- Jesus Embraced It…His Followers FLED.
And All of that was For Our Forgiveness, Our Salvation, Our Life.
And The Only Thing that Matters as we Look at Christ Riding into Jerusalem on the Road to Calvary is How Will We Respond to this Act of Sacrificial Love from the God of the Universe
CLOSE WITH AN ALTER CALL
- It is because Jesus picked up the cross and gave his life, that we can live.
- It is because Jesus picked up the cross that this World was Forever Changed, that Lives were Forever Made Whole, that Sin Lost its Death-Grip on Humankind.
- It is because Jesus Picked Up the Cross That We Can be Forgiven and Know that We are Going to Heaven to Live for Eternity!
My Question for You Today is…Have You Received this FREE GIFT of Salvation from a God Who Loves You So Much that He Gave His Only Son to Die in Your Place?
If Not…As we Close in Prayer…I Encourage You to do So Today…To Know That You Will Spend Eternity with God and All Your Loved Ones Who Have Made this Decision!