Purposeful Palm Sunday
Sermon St Mary's Comberton Palm Sunday 4th April 2009
Zech 9:9-12. Mark 11:1-11
<<Jesus purposefully walked towards the cross. He walks ahead of us.>>
Have you ever had a sense of foreboding about an event coming up?
Have you ever been parlaysed by fear about something that was going to happen?
Have you ever been thrown into panic about something just round the corner?
Maybe: doctors appointment, phone call from someone you've fallen out with, exam.
Yesterday funeral of Jade Goody. Surrounded like end of her life and death by a gaggle of cameras. Whatever you think about how she chose to live her life, admit she did face up to the inevitablty of her own death. Yes she was afraid, but she came to accept it and even embrace it.
As we enter Holy week – recall the last few days of Jesus' life. Jesus was not a terminally ill cancer patient. He could have avoided his death, but he knew that it was the very reason he had come to earth. In our lead up to our reading from Mark's gospel already told his disciples 3 times that he will be handed over to the authorities and killed. Now he is entering Jerusalem the city where he knows he will die.
Purposeful in 3 ways:
1. Jesus purposefully planned his arrival in Jerusalem (v1-6)
First 6 verses - He'd already made arrangements.
Young donkey never been ridden. Tied outside in a village. Disciples to go and get it. “The Lord needs it”
All the more remarkable. Always walked everywhere
Here's a man who even when his disciples went by boat insisted on walking... on the water! :-)
Deliberately planned - timing – pilgrims coming into Jerusalem. not slip in quietly
He knew what he was doing.
2. Jesus purposefully claimed to be King (v7-10)
Read v 7-10.
With our 21st Century eyes feel a little bit low key to us.
Donkey, branches of trees, coats laid out on the ground. Scout jumble sale feel
- Donkey not beast of comedy, noble beast. Kings rode on donkeys. Old testament reading. Peace time – war time.
- Laying your coat down Galilean farmer– precious. Old Testament records an occasion where this was done at a king's coronation. Rolling out red carpet.
- Words crowds shout. Taken from the psalms but clearly take on a new meaning.
These things signalled that here was someone very important as much as President Obama motorcade driving up to Buckingham Palace this week.
Jesus purposefully claimed to be king.
---> Conflict with Religious leaders
He knew what he was doing
!! 3. Jesus purposefully looked round the temple (v11)
Never noticed this verse before.
“he looked around at EVERYTHING”.
Worth pausing for a moment on that verse and trying to imagine what was going through his mind as he looked around at everything.
Outer courts - Money changers* at their tables – which he would famously overturn the next day.
- Inner courts - Saducees, pharisees, glimpse high priest – religious leaders who he would come into conflict with cataclysmic consequences.
- Altars – sacrifices; blood pigeons, doves, maybe even passover lambs. He would know that his own blood would be shed in an act of sacrifice that would once and for all.
He knew what he was doing - walking willingly towards cross
Jesus knew that the central purpose of his life was to walk willingly to the cross. That's what he did – for me and for each of you.
!! Shift of focus to us
Began by asking – sense of fear / foreboding
doctors appointment, phone call, exam
Obviously spiritual – temptation succumb to again and again. Destructive cycle of behaviour.
Isn't it great to know that we have a king who walks ahead of us.
A king who has faced the worst evils of this world fairly and squarely.
A king who did not duck all that this life had to throw at him.
This Holy Week as we struggle to follow Jesus – at home, at work, in prayer life.
Let's keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – who walked ahead purposefully – even to his own death. And draw our strength from him.
Looking beyond this life. It's not as popular to think about this as it once was.
Fear about God's judgment – fear that our lives when measured up against God's standards will be found wanting.
Isn't it great to know that on the cross Jesus has taken the punishment for all our sins?
That there can be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Isn't it great being a Christian?
POEM “He will walk” Stages on the Way p66.