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Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

Palm Sunday  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord
Palm Sunday is a time of Christian celebration. On this Sunday Jesus was received the way we think he should have been, believers placed their coats on the donkey for a saddle, people spread their coats on the road while others waved palm leaves to prepare Jesus’ way into Jerusalem. Not only that, they shouted “Hosanna” which means “save us now.” That is exactly what we want Jesus to do.
The crowds cheered for Jesus, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” What does that really mean? How did he come then and how does he come to us today?
That day Jesus was the right kind of Savior. That day he was living up to expectations. This royal, triumphant entry into Jerusalem was just as the Passover feast was just a couple days away. The people wanted a Jew to ride into Jerusalem and overthrow Rome. The Passover recalled a time when God had delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt. The great prophet Isaiah reminded the Jews of a time when God delivered them from exile in Babylon. Now Jesus’ processional into Jerusalem gave the people hope of another deliverance, one from Roman occupation.
But Jesus didn’t do what the people expected. Their cheers, just a few days later, turned to jeers. Hosanna became crucify, blessings became curses.
The crowds thought that the side with strength was the side with the stronger God. That’s why bondage in Egypt, exile in Babylon and occupation by Rome become theological crises and tests. The ruling country had the ruling god. We often fall into much the same trap. Strength can be the devil’s illusion. Consider the strength – and the number or errors and evil – of Adolf Hitler.
In the Bible God is revealed best not in strength, but in silence. You remember the scene in Gethsemane when Jesus fell to his knees and pleaded that if there was another way, to let the cup pass from him. He didn’t pray this once or twice, but three times.
How did the loving Father respond? With stony silence. No ministering angels. No voice from the clouds. Stark silence. In dark Gethsemane Jesus would have to lean on conviction, not display; on faith, not sight.
That’s the way it was with Jesus. That’s the way it needs to be with us. Be leery of ones who are constantly saying that God told them, in an audible voice, to do something. Have they been to Gethsemane? Have they seen the faith of Jesus? God often comes to us, but not very often in strength, mostly in silence.
The crowds that day wanted God to come in power. They wanted to see Rome overthrown. Instead Jesus came in peace, to teach them to live with Rome and each other. Jesus did not ride a white horse into town, he rode a humble donkey, a symbol of peace.
The Garden of Gethsemane shows the contrast of power and peace. Peter understood power. When the arresting party came to take Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off a guard’s ear. Jesus wouldn’t stand for that, though. He came not to bear arms, but to change us so that we will beat our swords into plowshares. Where the spirit of Christ is, there is peace; where there is peace, there is the Spirit of Christ.
How can Jesus come into our midst today? How can that Palm Sunday so many years ago inform and energize us in our lives?
Palm Sunday means that we can experience the presence of God. The Bible is essentially the story of God coming to humans. He came to us in a manger in Bethlehem and a donkey in Jerusalem. He is Immanuel, God with us. The angel announced good tidings of great joy to all people. At the sight of Jesus that first Palm Sunday, the crowds spontaneously broke into shouts of joy and love. Jesus came to save. That is really why he came to earth to start with. He left heaven to come to Bethlehem. He left Bethany to go to Jerusalem. To save is why he came into your life.
Palm Sunday means that we can know the love and acceptance of God. In a fragmented, competitive world, we need to hear the word of God in wholeness and brotherhood of love. To live in the world that we live in today, we need the security of knowing that God, our Creator and Sustainer, loves us and will never let us go. We have to remember that God takes great delight in his creation, mankind. As Redeemer he has not given up on us, but he is still seeking us. As Consummator, he plans to bring us into his joy. One day we will see God. One day we will realize all that Christ really did for us. One day, we will know true peace, true happiness, true love.
God loves you. God accepts you. He does these things not because you deserve love or acceptance, but he does them unconditionally. Not because we deserve them, but in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve them. God’s love is not conditional on anything we do. All we have to do for God to love us is breathe. Those are the only humans that God loves, ones that have breathed, are breathing, or will one day breathe. We don’t have to be a great person, in the world’s view, a poor person, in the world’s view, or a rich person, in the world’s view, for God to accept us and love us. We just have to be alive.
How do we know that God loves you? Well, almost 2,000 years ago he sent Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey to face a certain death. Just a few short days after this passage, Jesus was once again in Jerusalem, this time facing death at the hands of the Roman soldiers. God sent Jesus to die for you, so you can have the hope of salvation this morning.
Another great thing, though, is that Jesus is coming back again. He is coming back to take his children home because he loves them.
Are you ready for him to come back? Are you ready for another Palm Sunday? Are you ready to receive Jesus? Are you ready for the Savior? Are you ready to shout “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord?”
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