Sermon 28 March 2021 Palm Sunday


Sermon for Palm Sunday March 2021

Psalm 118:1-2-19- end.,  1 Corinthians 2;1-12, Mark  11:1-11,

Throughout Mark’s gospel Jesus has not sought publicity at all, in the main if he healed people they were told as in Mark 8:38 “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he  did so the more they kept talking about it” .Called the “Messianic Secret” by theologians its an attempt to explain why it was that Jesus told people not to tell others about a healing he had helped bring about. Maybe it was because he wanted to  focus on his key mission to declare the Kingdom of God, preach the gospel and in that he did not want healing to become a  “circus”.

Now in Mark 11 in this halfway house of Bethany and Bethpage, not Jerusalem, but not far away only two miles Jesus puts in place one of his most public acts: his entrance into Jerusalem. Now there is a deliberate plan to be the Messiah publicly, but it will not be how anyone expected such a revealing to be.

Over five verses in Mark 11 are given over to a description of the finding of a colt and its untying. Why was this so important? This is mentioned in Genesis 49:11:

Genesis 49:11 English Standard Version

11 Binding his foal to the vine
    and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

So, there is a definite importance in what Jesus did, it symbolised that now one had come, Jesus of Nazareth, and he was fulfilling Israel’s hopes. Much better known is Zechariah 9:9.

Zechariah 9:9 New International Version

The Coming of Zion’s King

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This was quietly (not loudly) symbolically very important for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, here was one who was sinless and perfect in every way he rides in on a colt that no one else has ridden a (the unridden colt) symbol of purity.

Marks’s account is detailed and dense with information and symbolic action. If the events of Jesus impending arrest, trial, torture, and execution are symbolic of chaos     ( although in fact Jesus remains calm throughout, though overcome with impending pain in Gethsemane) then by contrast the events of this first Palm Sunday demonstrate Jesus in control. Do you ever get worried about circumstances? I know I do. Christian take courage from Mark 11 Jesus has gone ahead of us, just as he went ahead and arrange things perfectly. All his disciples had to do was obey his commands.

Last week we remembered the terrible milestone of a year of Covid 19 and over 125,000 deaths in the UK, and exhausted NHS workers.  Looking back where though have you seen God at work in your circumstances, your family , your business and work, your Church  and your Neighbourhood.? ( It’s helpful each night to do the Examen and think back, and pray back through  the day just gone, where have you sensed God’s presence ? )

Mark’s audience in Rome (for it was probably written initially to the nascent Christian community in Rome)  would have been used to seeing processions going into Rome in triumph, on horses, with captured booty and slaves behind them. How encouraging for them to read not of a mighty soldier, but Jesus of Nazareth their Saviour and Lord, who in Jerusalem rode into the city that was rightfully his, but in humility. He was in the Line of David and not as it were of Solomon, for whom pomp was so important.

Here was Jesus fulfilling Genesis 49 and Zechariah 9 and Psalm 118.It involved Jesus borrowing a donkey, and Jesus does not do this day alone: he involves his disciples and friends and others. He borrowed a crib to lie down in as an infant baby, he borrowed a boat from Peter to preach from, he borrowed a Cross to die on, and a Tomb to lie down in, in death ,and now the victorious resurrected Jesus wants to borrow You and I to live a Christ centred life through, am I, are you willing to say Yes to him?

In our lives we need times of lament and we need times of praise and celebration. This day was indeed a time of open and glorious praise and happiness. Pilgrims who brought Palm leaves from Jericho waved them, others took  greenery from the fields and lay them down on the road along with their coats. Jesus did not have a red carpet he had a green one! They laid creation’s carpet for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to enter his kingly city.

The crowd in fact may not have been that great in number as the Romans did not get wind of this celebration. But those there knew what this day meant as cries and singing  went up.

Mark 11:8-11 New International Version

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna![a]

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Hosanna is originally a Hebrew word meaning Save us but in liturgical use had become a shout of praise to what God had done and would do.

The crowds shouted, did they truly know that Jesus was the Messiah ,maybe some did, and they shouted that here was one who would bring in David’s kingdom. Of course, those who thought he had come to politically overthrow the Romans and bring back in a new Davidic rule would be disappointed. But again, I invite you to imagine a First century Christian in Rome reading Marks words. Whether you were a slave in a Roman family and household, or a member of the Roman government, as you heard Mark read and circulated you would have come to realize that in Jesus you had a king that was greater than Herod, greater than Pilate, greater than David and ultimately greater than Caesar ( or Nero)

In the earth and in the heavenlies on that day in Jerusalem the people who followed Jesus from Bethany, they knew that he really was the saviour of the world, after the procession he went to the Temple he looked around at Gods house and retuned to stay the night with his disciples and friends in Bethany.

This week at Deanery Chapter we were given a picture by a wonderful woman, an Anglican Minister who has been fasting and praying with her colleagues for Swindon for a week. She is involved in a ministry to the arts in Bristol and across this diocese.

 

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You will see in this picture (that one of her team created after prayer) that the footprints are not indents, they are raised above the sand. She felt that this was saying to the people of Swindon and the Churches that God is with us he walks with us .I wonder what it says to you?

What we do know for sure is on that first Palm Sunday ( also powerfully symbolic in a visual and audible  way) Jesus walked with his disciples and friends, it was the end of a long 3-year journey through Israel and the beginning of a new journey leading to the cross, resurrection, and victory.

As you read back through Psalm 118 Genesis 49, Zechariah 9,and Mark 11 my prayer is you and I see the footprints of God’s love passion and purpose.

Tudor V Roberts March 20121

 

Almighty and everlasting God,

who in your tender love towards the human race

sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ

to take upon him our flesh

and to suffer death upon the cross:

grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,

and also, be made partakers of his resurrection.

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

True and humble king,

hailed by the crowd as Messiah:

grant us the faith to know you and love you,

that we may be found beside you

on the way of the cross,

which is the path of glory.

 

 

 

 

 


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