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DFLC Sermon - Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024

SERMON:  Blessed is the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday 2024 Year B

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Philippians 2:5-11, Passion/Mark 14:1-15:47)

 

Grace and Peace be with all of you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!

 

What was Jesus thinking as he walked toward Jerusalem for the Passover?  For him, it must have felt like a long walk to the gallows, as he knew that his time for what he needed to do was here.  He must have been saddened, knowing that those walking with him would not even be there with him at the end.  Hard looking at those you love around you with eyes that see the future and know betrayal is coming.  But he has come to this point always knowing where it would end.  I am sure it must have felt like it was all too soon… but Jesus never doubted God’s plan for him and how he would be the Great Priest, who would bring salvation to all.  So he kept walking, with a heavy and compassionate heart, praying all the way that he indeed would have the courage and strength for what would lie ahead.  I am sure that there were times when God was within him so strongly, that nothing else mattered… not EVEN his own death.  But he was also a human who could feel pain, degradation, suffering and fear.  Yet, he kept walking toward that future that was ordained to be his. 

 

He had told the disciples many times what would happen to him.  And when.

In fact, just before our Gospel narrative, Jesus would warn his disciples about coming days yet again. He told them to be on guard for those who would say they are “of Christ” only to lead others astray.  He told them that they too, would be persecuted.  He spoke of “end times” and revealed how he would come again “gathering his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”  And tells them (and us) “to Keep Alert, as we know not the hour or the day.” He must have told them all this in many different ways.  Yet, he kept trying and speaking to them about such things.  Knowing one day they WOULD understand.

 

Before reaching Jerusalem, they stopped at Simon the Leper’s house, presumably for rest.  And there a woman came in to anoint him with expensive oil.  Some people who were present in that house thought this was wasteful and were angered.   But Jesus saw it as his anointing for burial and said so admonishing them. 

 

The story switches quickly to the disciple Judas meeting with the very chief priests who were plotting what to do with Jesus.  The chief priests were only too pleased to hear from Judas and promised to pay him for information.  And we can feel the tension in the Gospel begin to increase.  We know what is coming – and just how, and by whom, Jesus WILL be betrayed. Once in Jerusalem, they needed a room where they could share the Passover meal, Jesus gives directions to the disciples for that evening meal. He tells them who to approach to help them find a room and to make preparations for the meal itself.  When evening comes and they are together, he makes it known that he will be betrayed by one at the very table where they are sitting.  All cry (like we would also) “Surely, not I Lord”?  But even the most faithful there will be silent when the time has come.

 

In our Philippians reading, Paul writes, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”  This is hard to live up to.  We try, but our humanness can’t obtain it.  Just as Luther himself found it impossible, and just about drove himself crazy trying, we do too.  But as Luther also discovered, we are comforted to know the “trying”, confessing, and asking forgiveness can be pleasing to God.  And we give thanks knowing this was the plan all along… that Jesus would enable our salvation on the cross which would also renew our relationship with God.    

 

Paul goes on to say that “he (Jesus) did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming a human likeness.” Jesus could have clung to his exalted status as the Son of God and taken full advantage of it.  But he did notHe knew his worth; he knew his responsibility; he knew his path… and…he knew our neediness, our fickleness, our stubbornness.  He knew WE needed HIM.  So he did not exalt himself. Instead, he humbled himself to be more like us; he taught us about God and God’s love for us… what we could do to please God and how to treat others around us… how to take care of the Earth and all that is in it… how to speak up for what’s right and ensure all people are loved and treated equally.

 

He taught, with words and images the people of his time found familiar and could understand.  He took on “the very image of a slave” and did not take the name “King” that the authorities used to mock him with.  Paul further reminds us that while Jesus WAS in fact the Son of God, he so loved the world and its people that he would take on this coming painful and humiliating human death just for them...  just for us… just for all.  And this he would do because he was no ordinary, normal human.

 

For this he came into the world and for this he left the world – to sit at God’s right hand.  And there… he would be exalted forever and his Name would be known to all.  God would not leave him in the grave!  God did what was according to God’s plan all along.  Jesus was raised to be in the “highest place” and his name would be above all names.  All would bow down to him and know who he was.  The Savior, Christ the Lord.

 

Surely, all the abuse, condemnation, beating, mockery, and demeaning acts from those who took part – as well as the silence of others – did not make them worthy to deserve the gift Christ won for them… and for us.  We do not deserve it either.  But here it is… IT IS OURS!!  A true gift of love for us and in spite of us! This is not to say God wants us “not to worry, because forgiveness is yours just for the taking.” No, it still comes with expectations.  We still have a lot to learn, become, atone, and pray for, every day.  We also need to want to be those who are “walking with Jesus” and not be silent or hide in a crowd when it becomes too hard. Cause life is hard… but life is easier and more meaningful with Jesus walking by our side.

 

Let’s Pray:  Lord, we are with you on your walk to Jerusalem.  We are full of sorrow at what lies ahead, but know it was all God’s plan.  Help us to be with you, as you journey through Holy Thursday and Good Friday, so we can fully  appreciate the glory and Blessedness of Easter.  Amen.

 

 

 

  

 

 

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