Let us pray: Dear Savior, today as we celebrate the glorious nature of Palm Sunday, teach us the essential nature of true worship. Remind us that it isn’t just about us, or our emotional response to Your goodness and grace; no, it is all about You! It is about giving our all to You in total thankfulness because You’ve given Your all to us in total love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO ALONE DESERVES ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR!
TEXT: Luke 19: 28-40
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Who Have Come to Honor the Messiah:
It is late at night. The phone rings and rouses you from sleep. The person on the other end is your sister telling you that mom is in the hospital in critical condition. What do you do at that moment—besides instantly snap awake? Well, you get all the details, say: “I’ll see you soon.” And then either get in the car to drive there, or get on the phone to the airline. The one thought that keeps running through your head is: “Mom needs me!” And all the while you pray for her and also pray that you won’t be late.
There are times when you really do need to “clear the decks”, rearrange schedules and make sure you can “be there” for another. Sometimes it is a dire emergency, other times it is a long-planned special event: a wedding, a graduation, an anniversary. You go because you know you’ll be missed. You go because you need to show you care. You go because love for that person moves your heart and propels your body.
Today is Palm Sunday. It is that special Sunday on which the Lord, our Lord, needed His people to fill His soul with their praise as He began His final leg of the journey to the cross. Although Calvary has already occurred, we still celebrate Palm Sunday because as Christians we have a deep need to “be there” as He began that walk, just as we need to “be there” with Him as He dies on Good Friday. We need to show our love to and for Him. And all this is really summed up by those simple, profound words uttered by His disciples as they procured that donkey for Him to ride on:
THE LORD NEEDS IT!
Love is the glue that binds us to those special people in our lives. Likewise, love is the glue that binds us to Christ–His love for us and our love for Him. If you were to ignore the hospital phone call about mom and roll over and go back to sleep thinking: “It’ll all pass and tomorrow she’ll be fine” and then she died, could you really live with yourself? For the rest of your life you’d live with regret. You’d beat yourself up emotionally by thinking: “I let her down. I wasn’t there to support and comfort her. The last thing she felt was unloved by me.”
The fact of the matter is: The Lord really does need our worshipful praise. Yes, I know, we think we need Him more than He needs us. Yet, there is the linkage of His love for us, and our heartfelt response to it that cements our special, timeless, relationship. And if we fail Him, doubt and regret is interjected into that relationship.
The first Palm Sunday worshippers were those folks who owned, or perhaps were looking after that little donkey. In His omniscience, Jesus anticipates their response to the disciples’ procuring that mount. “Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’” And this they do. This little story has its antecedents in an OT prophecy about the Messiah found in Zechariah 9:9. St. Matthew, in his parallel account of Palm Sunday, quotes it: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, (the Christian Church, the Bride of Christ), ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” Yes, already 600 years before the actual event, God’s Son knew what would occur, and He describes this act of worship to a “T”.
I fear most people misuse God’s all-knowingness when it comes to acting out worship of Him. We think: “Well, God knows my heart, He knows all things, and so if I miss worship or skip Palm Sunday, it really doesn’t matter.” Kind of like: “No harm, no foul.” Is that really true? No. No. No! And how do I know that? Look at the last few words from our lesson. The crowd is making a huge noise. They are really getting into worshiping Him and honoring Him. But, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you, he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!’”
I ask you this question: Who has always, always been there for us when we were tired, sick, in pain, lonely, and even despairing? Who has always been there for us when no one else seemed to care? Was it Mom, or Dad, as much as we love them? Was it your spouse? Was it your kids? No, it was Christ. Truly He alone “took up our griefs and carried our sorrows.” In fact, He carried them on His shoulders and they all worked to take His life on the cross. He alone truly knows our pain and suffering of soul. And although He’s God and humanly speaking needs nothing, yet the paradox of His incarnation is that right now He needs us! Just as we need love from others to get through good times and bad ones, so does our Brother Jesus. He needs our acts of spontaneous worship and planned worship as well. He needs them so much, that if they are not forthcoming, “the stones will be forced to cry out.”
Lately in my sermons I’ve made a concerted attempt to personalize God for you. He doesn’t want you, and I don’t want you to view Him as some far off, distant orb of power Who has little impact on our emotional life. That’s the exact point today. We may think of our acts of worship as perfunctory and rather rote, and if we miss any, well, so what, God will understand. But, those 4 little words: “The Lord needs it!” stand in opposition to that view.
If you drop everything in an emergency and quickly show up at the bedside of a loved one, what’s their response? Isn’t it “Ah, I’m so happy you’ve come.”? In fact, you can see them breathing that sigh of relief, literally. And if you drop in unexpectedly on an aged parent to “see how they are doing” and then assist them with things around the house, you can see their happiness and the love in their eyes, can’t you? Yes, they already know you love them. But the very fact that you made time for them further cements that knowledge in their hearts. And you receive the warm glow of their appreciation in return.
My friends, there are many aspects of this familiar Palm Sunday lesson that we can key in on and learn from. But today, I want you to learn, or relearn, this one particular truth: “The Lord Needs It.” So, continue to give Him your heart, your voice, your time, your energy, your gifts of service, and whatever else you can think of. The Lord needs it! Moreover, since He created you for acts of worship to begin with, you need it, too. Hosanna! Amen