The King Is Coming!

The King Is Coming!

April 10, 2022……….Palm Sunday……….Pastor Pat Mecham

Philippians 2: 5-11; Luke 19; 28-40

When I was a kid, two of my very favorite people were my Uncle Ozzie and Aunt Deede.  I have a very vivid memory of anticipation–being excited about their arrival for a visit.  I climbed up into the big willow tree in our front yard so that I could look ‘way down the street, keeping my eyes peeled for their little Volkswagen Beetle.  I was so eager for them to come!  It’s not that we had any special plans or anything—I just really enjoyed being in their presence.  They made me feel important, and it was a blessing just to spend time with them.

Well, you may have noticed that today is Palm Sunday, which is all about anticipation.  In order to fully enter the wonder of that day, we need to be aware of the long-term anticipation of the Messiah among the Jewish people.  They had many expectations of what would happen when the Messiah came—some reasonable, some unreasonable, but most reflected the anticipation that the Messiah would make life better for them.

  • One popular belief was that God’s Anointed One would lead them in an uprising that would drive the hated Romans out of their country;
  • A similar expectation was that Israel would be restored to a position of power among the nations, as it was when David was king;
  • And, of course, individual prosperity was expected when God restored the fortunes of Israel.

These are just a few of the many and varied ideas of what would happen when the Messiah came.  But God’s ideas, God’s plans for the Messiah were different from the people’s.  Jesus knew this, and he needed time to teach and heal and help people begin to get an idea of what God’s Kingdom is all about.  This is one reason that he often instructed those he healed to keep quiet about him. He knew full well that people would come clamoring for him to be their king and fulfill their desires for themselves and for their country—but the time was not yet right to reveal Who he truly was.  Even his Disciples often misunderstood his mission—like James and John wanting him to call down fire from heaven to consume a Samaritan village that did not show him respect.  They all needed to learn.

Triumphal Entry

But the day finally came when he was ready to declare his identity.  And he needed to do it in a way that would clearly communicate what kind of Messiah he was.  Jesus obviously planned his entry into Jerusalem very carefully.

  1. He made arrangements with someone who owned a donkey in a village near the Mount of Olives.  And there was a password arranged: “If anyone asks you why you are untying it, just say this: ‘The Lord needs it’” Sure enough, when they went to untie the donkey, someone asked them the phrase, and they gave the appropriate answer.
  2. And why a donkey?  Well, if Jesus had plans to be a mighty warrior king and lead them against the Romans, he would have arranged for a big, white horse to ride in on.  But Jesus chose a donkey in order to bring the prophet Zechariah to mind.  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!  Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”   Your king comes victorious AND humble.
  3. The people saw and understood, and they cried out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Some Pharisees were indignant with his claim, and told Jesus to order his followers to stop!  And Jesus declared, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”  (The Lord of Creation would be praised by all of creation!)
  4. Through this “enacted parable,” Jesus was making it clear that he was God’s anointed, but was coming with a purpose very different from what many expected.

Corrected Attitude

It took a long time for folks to let go of their self-interest and understand what kind of kingdom Jesus is leading us into.  (Well, we’re still struggling with that!)  But Paul says, “Let the same mind be in you, that was in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, shift our attitude to follow the humble example of Christ.  Let go of our natural inclinations to be self-absorbed, to be grasping at position and power—and instead, be humble and obedient.  Jesus did that, and now he is exalted!  Don’t forget: at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus had to choose how he would best accomplish his mission.  He was tempted to do it in a big “show biz” way—but he chose humble and loving service as a way to draw people to God, to illustrate how the Kingdom of God operates.

Delight Yourself in the Lord

I am certain that Jesus was familiar with Psalm 37, and he might well have made verse 4 a close companion.  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and God will give you the desires of your heart.”  We see, in the life of Jesus, a constant attitude of delighting himself in the Lord—of making time to spend with God. Spending time with God is what gave Jesus the direction he needed, the patience and the resources he needed, and the strength he needed.  And Jesus himself told his disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 

Friends, God’s presence is in us through the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit brings us comfort, brings us healing, gives us guidance, AND brings us discomfort when we have strayed from the path.

Many of you know the name of Oswald Chambers, a Christian preacher and teacher born in the late 1800’s.  After his death, his wife compiled many of his teachings into a daily devotional called My Utmost for His Highest, and it is still widely used today.  One quote from March 23 still sticks with me: “If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to make it right; He asks you to accept the light of truth, and He will make it right!”

I’ll finish today with a recap of what I have been saying.

  1. We have many expectations about what God OUGHT to be doing for us and for the world;
  2. God’s answer to our prayers may be very different from what we desire or expect;
  3. As we welcome Jesus into our lives, it’s best to let go of our pre-conceived ideas, and simply take JOY in his presence—to be connected to him in a way that will allow his fruit to grow!
  4. Oh, and a P.S.  When the people shouted “Hosanna”, they were begging “Oh, save us!”  Let’s pray that God will save us, in God’s perfect way!

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