Wednesday 20 March 2024


Sunday is Palm Sunday the beginning of the most holy week in the     Church’s calendar. All four gospel writers tell the story of that first momentous week, let us turn to Mark in Chapter 11.
The Chapter opens where Jesus is about to make the final stage of His life’s journey, which will end at the Cross, and He plans it with great detail, sending two of His Apostles to arrange for the donkey on which He will ride into Jerusalem. In the course of the next few days, He would celebrate the Last Supper with His Apostles, see one of them betray Him, face a mock trial and be sentenced to death, led to the Cross and crucified.,

Jesus had been in Jericho, and was now ready to go to Jerusalem on the last state of his life’s journey, the end was sight. He twenty miles on a journey that many pilgrims had walked.

The Passover was one of three Jewish festivals, which called for compulsory attendance to all Jews, and people came from far and wide to Jerusalem. Wherever a Jew lived, it was an ambition to observe the act so prominent in Jewish history, when God showed his protection for his people.  The towns and villages were crowded around the city, for the number who attended sometimes in being over two thousands 

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, He may have had a prior arrangement with the owner, or it could have been supernatural knowledge.

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. This was a sacred hymn, which every Jewish boy had to learn.  Within a week, the same people would call for the death of Jesus.

During His earthly ministry Jesus sought to withdraw from public attention and did what He had to do quietly, often asking people He helped not to tell; now He is deliberately seeking attention as He rides into the city at the greatest public festival of the Jewish year, to proclaim Himself to be the Messiah. This was the feast of the Passover, so revered as a memory of when God led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, and when most people would be in the city. Jesus will fulfil the purpose for which He came when He will surrender His life in order that we may have eternal life.
His works had become well known and the crowds greeted Him with shouts of Hosanna, which means ‘save us’, seeing Him as the one who would lead them to glory in world conquest. When they realised this was not His mission, the same crowds would later in the week shout’ ‘crucify Him’.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus went into the Temple looking at it in the role of Sovereign Lord. He had been looking at everything, but it was  late so he left for Bethany to stay with his friends Mary. Martha and Lazarus.

The following day on his return to Jerusalem, he saw and approached a fig tree.  The fruit of the tree should be on it at that time, but there were only leaves. This was a surprise for the tree should have been fully blown with fruit. The actions of Jesus have symbolic importance. 

The lack of fruit became because of its likeness to Israel, and its standing. The  cursing of the fruitless fig tree signifies the  judgement of God on the fruitless Jewish people who had gone away from God into empty ritual. It was seen as a visual parable to signify the unrequited search of Jesus for the worship, prayer and righteousness of the Jewish people.  He said the fig tree, may no more bear fruit for you again.

Jesus then entered the Temple as Lord of the Temple, coming to purify it.  He drove out those who sold and brought, and overturned the tables of those who sold pigeons, he stopped all taking of anything

There were tables set up to help people change their currencies into coins in the annual Temple tax of half a shekel, as well being able to buy pigeons, lamb. Oil and salt for the various sin and thanksgiving sacrifices.

The business actively turns the Temple from a house of prayer to a den of thieves and robbers. The Gentiles  were hindered by the business in their Court. The goal of the action of Jeus, was to restore the Temple to a house of prayer.

The chief priests and scribes were in favour of commerce, and so destroy the Purifier rather than purify themselves. Their actions were motivated by the popularity of Jesus and the fear of losing power, and fear of public uprising which could make Romans intervene.

 The Jewish leaders saw actions of Jesus were a threat to  their power, in the most spiritual and sacred space in the world.

In every Bible passage, there is a meaning and a message for us to-day. Just as the Jews then rejected Jesus, so do so many people now. But God allows us free will, to make a decision to be with Jesus or not. Even those who claim to be Christians can be lukewarm and allow their commitment to grow cold. It is not enough to pay the odd visit to nod to the Almighty at Christmas, Easter or to a baptism service. There is a little ditty, ‘each time I pass may parish Church I pay a little visit, so when at last I’m carried in, the Lord won’t say who is it’. Everyone has to take responsibility for the way they respond to the Lord.
We learn from this account of history, that we have to do more than just pay a passing visit. When we appear before Christ on the last day, He will not ask if we had occasional thoughts about Him. The question will be, did we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour
There is an American story, about a young man who painted a portrait of his friend shortly before the friend died. The young man took the portrait to his friend’s father, a rich man, who offered him a huge sum of money, which the young man refused. Sometime later, the father died, and all his priceless possessions were auctioned. The first item up for auction was the portrait, which no one showed any interest in,except the father’s old black servant. He offered a few dollars, all he had, and got the painting. The auctioneer to everyone's surprise closed the auction. The father’s will said ‘he who accepts the son has everything’. We can reject the Son as they did at Jerusalem all those years ago, but  the one who has Jesus has everything
   I read a story of a Minister counselling a couple with marriage difficulties. At one point the husband said in anger to his wife, ‘I have given you a new home, new car , …and so the list went on.’ The wife answered, ‘yes that is true, you have given me everything, but yourself.’ The greatest gift you can give for another is yourself, and that is what Jesus did, gave Himself.

We have to accept Jesus into our life, and decide are we going to accept also, all he commanded. There cannot be the attitude, I will take him when all is  going well, and putting him away when his presence was inconvenient.
The action of our Lord demands a response, and we all need to ask ourselves if we stood before the Lord today and we were asked why we should be allowed into heaven, what would we say. It is easy to say I am a Christian, 95% of the population believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others you have a passport to heaven. It can be very hard to be a Christian when so many organisations, government and public busybodies, try to suppress your faith under pain of some sanction.

How Jesus would weep over society today as He wept over Jerusalem. Jesus Christ lovingly and finally kept God’s law and voluntarily paid sin’s price at Calvary, and He did it for you and for me.

A famous actor attended a meeting and was asked to recite a piece of literary art. He offered to say the 23rd Psalm if an elderly preacher present would do so after he had finished. The actor recited the psalm with much dramatic emphasis, as you see those actors doing so on religious programmes on television. The preacher then recited in a rough broken voice, and when he had finished received prolonged applause. When someone asked the actor why he thought that was so, the actor said, ‘I know the psalm, he knew the shepherd’. Do you know the shepherd ?
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.

Whoever wears a Cross should ask themselves why they are wearing one. A Cross was the most horrific and cruel means of death

ever devised, and it is equal to wearing a symbol of gallows or electric chair around the neck. The message of the cross, is that we must humble ourselves and surrender to God, which is an affront to many people.
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, (Church of England)and seriously consider they were Christians.  They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise; 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 lost and disorientated.

We have to remember the courage of Jesus as he made such a triumphant entry into the city.  He had been marked as an outlaw, and knew the authorities were waiting to kill him.  He knew all eyes would be upon him, it was an act of love‘s last appeal before the


Jesus had come to die for the world, the Passover lamb was about to be slain, his true blood to be shed on the Cross; knowing all this, Jesus placed himself prominently before the Jewish nation. His earthly ministry is over, he was going to offer himself to the Cross at Calvary.  He would die when so many Jews were at the Passover ceremony. The eyes of all Israel would be on him

He accepted the will of his Father to be the sufferer in order to give redemption for lost souls. He was giving his life as a ransom that we might live forever, and gave it all on the Cross with the gift of his heart.  He did it because he loved us, and gave it as our Saviour, and was willing to make his soul an offering for sin.

Such action deserves full attention to all who love the Bible, to read it with reverence, every word being given by the inspiration of God. There can be no justification in altering doctrine, or finding words to allow immoral activity.  We must accept all in literal meaning and reject any mischievous explaining the meaning of Scripture.

This showed how entirely voluntary the sufferings of Christ were. Why did he not  resist his enemies? Why is he not send the soldiers

 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. 

May God's Holy Name be praised and our hearts receive His Words

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