Palm Sunday 2022

Palm Sunday 2022

Luke 19:28-40

How are you defining your relationship with Jesus? Are you telling Jesus what he ought to be? Or are you open to Jesus talking to you. And telling you what you ought to be?

The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wow, what a shift. Just a few moments ago, we were walking through this door, smiling, crying hosannahs! And here, just a few moments later, we hear the final words of Jesus, Father, I commend myself into your spirit. And there in that short space of time, we experience what we experience or what we should be experiencing through Holy Week, starting today on Palm Sunday, walking through Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as Judas prepared to betray Jesus. On Maundy Thursday and on Good Friday, as the heavens are torn apart and Jesus dies.

And on Holy Saturday, as Jesus descends into hell and searches for his friend Judas, before coming back to us on Easter Sunday and once again, being with his disciples. It’s not called the greatest story ever told without reason. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

So let’s start on Palm Sunday, and as we walk through this Holy Week, you will experience in real time what Jesus and his disciples experienced.

Today jesus walks into Jerusalem triumphant. People are calling his name. Hosanna, palms held high. Hosanna, Hosanna to the King. The people see the King arriving.

And what do they see? They see the man that they think is coming to free them from the oppression of the Romans. They see a man who is earthly in what he is here to achieve. But there’s some interesting symbolism going on in the gospel. Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding a colt.

A donkey. Now, a donkey is not in that time in Jerusalem the kind of derogotive we think of a donkey, don’t we? And it’s quite a funny creature. None of us would ride a donkey if we were thinking of ourselves as a King, as mighty and big. We would ride a donkey because it was funny or because we had no other choice.

But in the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, a donkey is exactly what the leaders of the day rode around on. In fact, the only time that Kings and governors rode horses was when they were going to war. And so Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem not on a horse, but on a donkey on a creature whose whole symbology is about coming in peace. Jesus is not coming to declare war on the Roman Empire. He is coming in peace.

And here again, we pick up one of those threads of our scripture over Lent. Jesus is once again giving everybody a second chance. I have taught you over the last three years what I am here to do, but you still think that I am here to do something earthly. You are squashing me into your earthly expectations. But here one more chance.

Here I come, riding a donkey as a King of peace – recognise what I am here to do. Now, ultimately, we know how that story ends and the political play that happens between Pilate and Herod. Remember, I told you of the political situation between those two men. That Pilate and Herod had had a falling out because Pilate was building aqueducts into Jerusalem. And a lot of those aqueducts and a lot of that building was happening in Herod’s territory.

And it was riling up the Galileans. And he was facing revolts. And so Pilate gives Jesus to Herod. Thinking that this will solve their relationship. And indeed it does.

But both Herod and Pilate respond to the Jews when they are handed over. And say Jesus has committed no act of political revolt. What this is telling us is that we are not here. Jesus is not here for earthly concerns.

And that’s what Palm Sunday is really about recognising. Because knowing all of that that I’ve just told you. When Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem. Everybody puts Jesus in the box that they have created for him.

The Jews have decided. And the Jews of the temple politically have decided that Jesus is teaching such abhorrent things. Forgiveness, love, mercy. That he must be killed. The political powers of the time are not really interested in Jesus.

He’s not doing anything to upset them. But the people of Jerusalem see Jesus coming as a warrior, as a King who will free them from the oppression of the Romans. Everybody puts Jesus into their own box. That’s exactly what’s happening today.

But as the story of Holy Week unfolds before us, we will discover, just as the people of the time discovered, that we cannot define Jesus by our own experience on our own terms. And when we try to push Jesus into a box of our own making. We will inevitably misunderstand him, misconstrue him, misuse his name in the world. And so Holy Week starts with this warning and with this question.

How are you defining your relationship with Jesus? Are you telling Jesus what he ought to be? Or are you open to Jesus talking to you. And telling you what you ought to be?