Let us pray: Dear Savior, we need to celebrate! We need to raise our voices in praise and to sing with gusto when it comes to honoring You. We have been muzzled and silenced too long. And although our praise today may be muffled due to circumstances, accept our outbursts from our hearts and may they move the angels to make up the difference. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO ALONE DESERVES PRAISE!
TEXT: Mark 11: 1-11
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Jesus began His work of saving our souls with praise! The angels gathered that 1st Christmas and shouted their hosannas. The shepherds followed suit. About a year later the wise men appeared at the doorstep. Their homage was a little more subdued, but it was just as heart-felt. God the Father and the Holy Spirit also praised Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan river. The heavens boomed their approval as They honored the 2nd Person of the Godhead. We know the crowds gathered to hear Jesus preach and praised Him, too. Even in death, when He “gave up His spirit” on the cross, an earthquake ensued, formerly dead people arose, and the giant curtain in the temple was torn in two. And then there’s also Palm Sunday….
Praise is an intriguing word. It is founded in and on emotions. It includes: honor, excitement, joy, and an outpouring of pure happiness. Sometimes it erupts to a climax after a slow building up. Other times, it just erupts because it cannot be contained.
Here it starts slowly. It was Passover time and pilgrims had gathered from across the empire to celebrate. It was a semi-somber event celebrating Israel’s escape from Egyptian bondage 1400 years prior. People were camped outside the city walls. The early-risers were starting campfires and rubbing sleep from their eyes. The birds were twittering. It was a slow morning.
So, too, for Jesus and the disciples. They had stayed at Mary and Martha’s house and at dawn had arisen and prepared to enter the city a few miles away. Christ told a couple disciples to go to a house where they would find a donkey colt and its mother. They did just that and when challenged by the sleepy owner, replied: “The Lord has need of it.” The owner said, “O.K.” And off they all went. Humble beginnings for a historical day. Don’t ever forget that true Godly praise, along with miracles, usually occurs when people don’t expect it!
There is no advance team. There are no sound trucks and video streaming about “breaking news.” There are no signs or placards handed out in advance. No, it is just Jesus on the donkey colt and the small group of followers that crests the Mt. of Olives and descends to the city gates. But now the miracle occurs! The Holy Spirit is the Author of Christian faith. Here He intercedes and stirs hearts. Clothing is strewn in Christ’s path. Palm fronds are stripped off trees and waved in the air. It builds and builds. People start chanting: “Hosanna!” which means: “Save!” Save us from the jackboot of the Romans. Save us from the bondage of sin and evil. Save us from eternal death. They knew Who Jesus was. They knew He was their long-promised Messiah. They needed help, comfort, relief, and salvation—Freedom! From oppression. And here Freedom was in bodily form. We see this from their very words: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” What a day!
It must have lasted well into the afternoon. An adrenaline rush like this doesn’t fizzle out immediately. The crowd needed to hear Him, see Him, touch Him, and congratulate Him. Listen again: “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Yes, Jesus took a few hours to meet and greet His followers. He made time for them, just as He makes and takes time with each of you! Never forget: You have His ear….
I can well imagine our congregation’s response the 1st Sunday after the “mask mandate” has been lifted and food freely flows in the fellowship hall. Even we staid, reserved Lutherans may be “dancing in the streets!” Emotional excitement is a unique elixir to the soul. The problem is: it’s hard to sustain. We see that during Holy Week. We see it especially on Good Friday. That day the crowds were plentiful too, but no “Hosannas”. Instead “Crucify Him!” was the word of the day.
Like all of you, I rejoice on Palm Sunday that our Lord was given His proper due. But true faith isn’t pure emotionalism. True faith is deeper and much more profound. It honors our Savior in humility and love and thankfulness over the long haul of life. It causes us to rejoice even in our current sufferings because Christ already walked that pathway and came out of the tomb of darkness. The crowd didn’t know this future on that 1st Palm Sunday. But Jesus did. And He accepted His future willingly in order to give us sustainable up-liftability!—Upliftability which may not always be an emotional “high” but one that never burns out inside our souls where it really counts. Palm Sunday was the race horse. But humble faith is the draft horse that pulls us steadily ahead until we cross heaven’s threshold! Amen
The peace of God which….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox