Text: Mark 11: 1-11; 14:1-15:47
61 … Again the high priest asked [Jesus], “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
A bishop [in the United Brethren Church] a century ago pronounced from his pulpit and in the periodical he edited, that heavier-than-air flight was both impossible and contrary to the will of God. Well, Bishop Milton Wright also had two sons, Orville and Wilbur! Bishop Wright was wrong. Sure of himself … but wrong.
Robert P. Dugan, Jr., Winning the New Civil War, Page 38.
Are you the Christ? That is the question the High Priest asked Jesus? And on Palm Sunday or the Sunday of the Passion, we might ask ourselves this question. Is this - Palm or Passion Sunday - a day to remember the triumphant ride of Jesus into Jerusalem, or is this a day to reflect on what lies ahead in Holy Week for this same humble servant Jesus?
I assume the answer is yes to both. Both the Kingly entry into Jerusalem of Jesus, humble and riding on the foal of a donkey, and the crucifixion of Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world are needed. To the mind of sinful man both seem impossible and contrary to the will of God.
To reign as a King requires power and might not the humility of a servant, and we might think of the death of Jesus as the end of all hope - not the glory of God and the power of God in the man who is the Christ of God.
Power hates humility
This humble Jesus who rode into Jerusalem was hated by those in power.
The Chief priests and Scribes saw the joy of the people as they welcomed Jesus riding on the colt the foal of a donkey with palm branches and their cloaks placed before him. They saw and heard him preach, teach, and heal those afflicted with demons and disease. The anger of the Chief priests and Scribes conspired against Jesus accusing him of blaspheme, bringing him to the attention of the Roman leaders as a radical bent on disrupting the peace, and turning the people’s joy from,
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matt. 21:9
“Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” Mark 15:14
The power of sin corrupted the will of love.
The perfection of creation was destroyed by the will of disobedience.
The gift of life became a life of death.
We too enter into this world in humility as a babe marked for death. Helpless and hopeless we ride into this life with the promise. “You can’t take it with you!” Death is the one destination for we who are born sinful and unclean from the time of our conception. Psalm 51:5
The world gives hope, Think positive! Have faith in yourself! Trust your heart! But the object of your thinking, your faith, and your trust is you - and in you - there is no hope eternal. No everlasting peace.
Strength hates weakness.
The Jewish leaders hated Jesus. As a loving servant he challenged their power and their might. Paul makes this clear in our epistle reading for today as Jesus:
7 made himself nothing by taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The cross to the sinful man looks like weakness, and death looks like the end, but with God we see the great reversal.
God takes the weakness of the cross and confounds the strong, wise and powerful; he takes loss and turns it to gain, and he makes Jesus’ death a life giving death for you and me and for all who look to him by faith.
The tables have been turned!
Even for those mired in the unbelief of this world there is hope in the impossible. Not only hope but assurance …
March Madness always begins with the hope of an upset ... a Cinderella story … and the unexpected victory.
[Yet despite the event’s well-deserved reputation for giant-killing, it had never delivered the ultimate shock—a top-seeded team losing in the first round—until last [Saturday] night [March 17th.]
In a game that was supposed to be little more than a tune-up before facing more formidable opponents later in the tournament, the top-ranked University of Virginia was stomped by the humble, 16th-seeded University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) in a 74-54 blowout.]
Joy and euphoria for some, anger and a bracket demolished for others. Life is full of truth and consequences.
The truth of life and death; the truth of winners and losers; the truth of sin and grace; and the truth of faith and unbelief all come to play in Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion. The consequence for we who are born sinful and unclean is clear.
Apart from faith … all that remains is death.
Faith, in weakness though, is the true power of God.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County had a big win, a sixteen seed beating a 1 seed but they lost to the next team they faced. No 9 seeded Kansas State. In basketball the impossible has limits that go along with earthly disappointments.
But faith is not dependent of self and hope does not disappoint when the object of your faith is Jesus.
You see Palm Sunday needs Holy Week and the Passion of the Christ.
Without Jesus’ death on Good Friday his ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday means nothing for you and me.
Without his death at the hands of sinful men we too remain in our sinful condition dead to God and without hope.
Without his death there is no resurrection joy and God’s peace is lost to history on a day of palm waving, by a people who thought this Jesus was the promised Messiah – the redeemer of Israel – the Christ of God.
Without his passion there is no hope for you and me.
61 … Again the high priest asked [Jesus], “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you [and I] will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit,