8Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
We come to the communion table in so many different ways this morning. Some are sitting on a sofa, some at a kitchen table…perhaps some in a sun room. Some may be in their pajamas, some may be clean shaven others are just relaxing in an easy going day of home containment. But one thing is certain…this Jesus, that we worship this morning died for every one of us and particularly this time year where we acknowledge Him as the Messiah today knowing that in just a few days He will willingly and lovingly give His own life in exchange for ours. PRAYER Let us take the cup and bread and offer it in gratitude to Him. He said this bread is my body given for you and this cup is blood shed for you as often as you take it…do it in remembrance of me.
21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus was the Messiah and this parade was for Him.
A man heard the Pope was coming to town, he went out and
bought a tuxedo in the hope that the Pope might notice him on the parade
route. When he went to the parade, there was this bum standing next to him,
with old, dirty clothes on. To the guy's amazement, when the Pope came, he
went over to the bum, and whispered something in his ear. Enraged, the guy
went over to the bum and offered him $100 for the clothes off his back. Next
day, he went back to the parade dressed like a bum. Sure enough, when the
Pope came, he stopped in front of this guy, and whispered in his ear, "I
thought I told you to get out of here!"
People didn’t really get why Jesus was coming into the city did they?
Today is Palm Sunday, the day on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. This day has been described by Christians for generations as the “triumphal entry into Jerusalem.” But, have you ever asked yourself, “If this was a triumphal entry, then why did they crucify Jesus at the end of the week?” In addition to the pageantry and the pomp of this parade we must not forget the passion. This is the part where, while we can wonder why after one week they could turn on Jesus after they placed Him on this throne they made for Him… but we must understand … they never took His life…Jesus gave it. John 10:17-18 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” This is also called the “passion” because the suffering of Christ at the end of this week is called “the passion of Christ.” Mel Gibson made a movie with that title a few years ago, and it depicted his view of the last hours of Jesus. Like many of you I have never seen it because of the gruesomeness depicted and how hard it was to watch thinking they did that to my Lord.
So, we have a problem today that we need to address. If this is such a glorious Sunday for all Christians, what goes wrong by Friday that Jesus will find himself betrayed by one of his own disciples, arrested by the high priest’s guard, accused by a coalition of religious leaders, tried by the Roman governor, and sentenced to die the death of a common criminal — death by crucifixion.
A Day of Two Processions
Maybe you didn’t know that Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem was not the only procession the city saw that day. I didn’t. History is documented in a book titled The Last Week, by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. Pontius Pilate, led a procession of
Roman cavalry and centurions into the city of Jerusalem. Imagine the spectacle of that entry. From the western side of the city, the opposite side from which Jesus enters, Pontius Pilate leads Roman soldiers on horseback and on foot. Each soldier was clad in leather armor polished to a high gloss. On each centurion’s head, hammered helmets gleamed in the bright sunlight. At their sides, sheathed in their scabbards, were swords crafted from the hardest steel; and, in their hands, each centurion carried a spear; or if he was an archer, a bow with a sling of arrows across his back.
Drummers beat out the cadence of march for this was no ordinary entry into Jerusalem. Pilate, as governor of the region which included not only Judea, but Samaria, and Idumea, Idumea or Edom in Hebrew was the region south of Judea originally inhabited by the reputed descendents of Jacob's brother Esau,.knew it was standard practice for the Roman governor of a foreign territory to be in its capital for religious celebrations. It was the beginning of Passover, a Jewish festival that the Romans allowed. However, the Romans must have been aware that this festival celebrated the liberation of the Jews from another empire, the empire of Egypt.
So, Pilate had to be in Jerusalem. Since the Romans had occupied this land by defeating the Jews and deposing their king about 80 years before, there were always threats of an uprising. The last major uprising, long before Pilate’s time, had been after the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC.
The uprising started in Sepphoris, about 5 miles from Jesus’ boyhood home of Nazareth. Before it was over the city of Sepphoris, the capital of Galilee, and the town of Emmaus had been destroyed by the Roman army.
After putting down the rebellion there, the Romans marched on Jerusalem. After pacifying the city, they crucified over 2,000 Jews who were accused of being part of the rebellion. The Romans had made their intolerance for rebellion well-known. And so on this occasion, Pilate had traveled with a contingent of Rome’s finest from his prefe