Wednesday 6 April 2022

 Luke 19 v 28-40

Before you begin to read this sermon, I want to mention that in recent times My posts through some technical action in the process of publication , appear to have resulted in many views not having been recorded. I have been unable to ascertain why this has happened, and just hope and pray some will still be published, and seen by regular readers..


On Sunday we remember the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to proclaim Himself as the Messiah and was greeted by cheering crowds waving palm branches, the same crowds who a few days later would be crying ‘crucify Him’.  This is the beginning of Holy Week as we celebrate the events of 2,000 years ago and follow our Lord’s last days before His crucifixion, the heart of the Christian faith

Jesus had been in Jericho, and was now ready to go to Jerusalem on the last stage of His life’s journey.  He was going to walk the way many pilgrims had walked.  The walk from Jericho to Jerusalem was only twenty miles where His end lay.

This was in fact more than a journey into Jerusalem, it was a journey to the Cross, a journey Jesus could have avoided and left the world to perish, but He readily went on to a very brutal and cruel death to take our place on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins, a penalty we are unable to pay for ourselves.

On reaching Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His disciples ahead to the next village, telling them they would find a colt tied by the side of the road, and they were to untie it and take it to Him.  If anyone should challenge them, they were to say the Lord needs it.  We are not told how Jesus knew this, but did so through the  means of His supernatural knowledge. We could find similar other instances in numerous parts of the Gospels, in which he could foretell of what would take place.

This description of the perfect knowledge of Jesus should be an indication of how necessary prayers of repentance are needed, as He could know the lack of faith of professed Christians, and the sins we all commit.  True faithful believers should be comforted.

All was carefully planned, there was no sudden action, and Jesus did not leave until the last moment.  It was a most brave act of courage, for there was a price on His head.  He did not try to conceal His visit. It was a deliberate claim to be King fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah in the Old Testament, who foretold of the Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey. By His action |He showed His people He came in love and peace. But the hatred of men overtook Him.

So began the fateful journey down the Mount of Olives where He was joined by waiting crowds who greeted Him wildly, laying their cloaks on the road in front of Him and waving palm branches, and singing from Psalm 118 which was a psalm pilgrims sang as a hymn of praise to God.  Palm branches were used to signify joy and celebration.

Jesus would normally have slipped quietly into the city as He usually like to avoid attention, but on this occasion although He knew a price was on His head, chose to ride in triumphantly.  The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was like a King riding into his capital, with many of His followers and pilgrims who had poured into the city for the festival, rejoicing and praising God with loud voices.  He knew the time had come for Him to die upon the Cross for all sinners.  His ministry and the sacrifice He had to make were over, and He wanted the whole Jewish nation to give their attention.  He had been publicly heard in the city before He was betrayed, and falsely charged and convicted by the Jewish leaders.

The Bible teaches that the joy of Christ’s disciples as He entered the city to be crucified, will be exceeded when He returns for a second time.

Jesus knew a demonstration would happen and further enrage the Jewish leaders, and in fact the Pharisees were annoyed, so making them more eager to plot against Him.  Jesus knew that God had a plan for Him, which made the Jews change their intentions.

Jesus made it clear to the crowds that He was not the kind of Messiah of their dreams; He came in peace not as a conquering warrior.  They did not understand His intention, and were following for the wrong motives.  These same adoring crowds would a few days later, turn equally wildly against Him as He faced the Cross.

As He entered the city Jesus paused on the hill overlooking it and we are told He wept because He knew that within a few years the city would be destroyed by the Romans.

The Pharisees complained to Jesus that his disciples were rejoicing and asked Jesus to stop them from doing so. He rebuked them fo so asking, and said the stones on the ground would cry out, meaning all creation was made to worship the King and Lord of all.                                                                       

What is our response as we remember that journey of Jesus?   We can reject Him as many did in Jerusalem, or treat it with an air of indifference.  But let us remember this story of our Lord’s journey to the Cross was for our forgiveness and it cost Him public mockery, the most cruel of deaths, and spiritual torment.  As Christians we should ask ourselves, are we following Him for the right reasons; do we realise the sacrifice He made for us in the most horrific manner ever devised by man?

It is important for us to understand the lesson we can learn from this event.  It is not enough to think positively about Christ. When we get to the last days, Jesus is not going to say ‘Did you have nice thoughts about me?’  The question is, have we accepted He is the Son of God and Saviour of sinners, and trusted in Him alone for our salvation.

  For so many people to-day, the Cross has little relevance beyond being a fashion accessory; the philosophy is that they are self-sufficient, they may make an odd mistake, but at heart are quite good; to admit they are sinful is a step too far.   The Cross is an event that has been remembered for more than two thousand years, and still is a most recognised one. No one should wear a cross without asking themselves why they wear it.

Not only are we all sinful, (the Bible states ‘we all fall short of the glory of God’), but we cannot save ourselves.  This is something which does not go down well with people, who see it as an interference in their lives.  The intelligentsia mock and see religion as silly and foolish, but are so fearful it might prey on their consciences they try to have it wiped out, and reject the need of any Saviour, not wanting to admit their sin or dependence upon God.

 The message of the Cross is that we must humble ourselves and surrender to God, which is an affront to the proud.  For those who do accept this message, this foolishness becomes the very power of God, for the Bible states that what seems foolish to the world, is in fact the very wisdom of God.

 But that action of our Lord demands a response, if we are to claim the forgiveness offered.  We all need to ask ourselves, if I stood before God today, and He asked me why I should be allowed into heaven, what would I say? 

The Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time.  Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church.  Yet if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E, and seriously consider they were Christians.  They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Yet few people seem bothered to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.

It is easy to say I am a Christian; easy to profess being a Christian; easy to say I read the Bible. 95% of the population today believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others and do no harm, you are a fully=fledged Christian.

  Muslims in Islamic countries are Muslims in the full sense of the word, and they find difficulty in understanding how people who live in Christian lands, reject their faith so completely.  Why, on the Lord’s birthday so many get drunk and engage in orgies. They will fight and defend their faith, and the men will not feel embarrassed or ashamed to be seen going to worship. Put many Englishmen in a Church and they feel disorientated.

Perhaps there's someone here  who has been thinking through the Christian faith.  Now you need to simply and humbly believe, and trust in Jesus Christ

who died on the Cross.   On this Palm Sunday morning and hail him as your matchless King.

May God bless His Holy Word to us, and His Holy Name be praised.

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