March 25, 2018 A.D.
by Pastor Ben Wilson

April 19th, 2018 by mdevita

SERMON – “Name-Calling”


1When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples 2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and He sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the One Who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest Heaven!”

11Then He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when He had looked around at everything, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Palm Sunday…

Let me ask you: What’s the big deal about Jesus – or anybody! – riding into a city like Jerusalem on a donkey? I mean, Jesus wasn’t teaching or healing anybody or causing any trouble. As a matter of fact, He barely said or did anything at all! What were the palm branches all about? Why were the Jewish people shouting and singing Psalm 118? And why were they so excited? Why were the Jewish leaders telling everyone to be quiet and to go home? And

why were the Romans so up-in-arms and on-edge? Why did any of it matter? What was it all about?

These things seem so foreign to us. They don’t make any sense. What is going on? Well, let me help us by painting a little bit of a different picture…

Okay: We have the same Jerusalem and the same windy street coming down off the Mount of Olives. This street, too, is flocked by Jews: Shouting, excited, and waving things. But Jesus isn’t riding on a donkey, He’s riding in a black convertible Cadillac with the top down. He’s sitting on top of the back seat waving to the crowds. And the crowds aren’t waving palm branches but State of Israel flags. And in the background, it’s not Psalm 118 we hear, but, [Hum “Hail To The Chief”] …

“Hail To The Chief”: That’s the president’s song! And that’s what was going on that first Palm Sunday.

You see, beginning with the crowning of Solomon, all the kings of Israel rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, flocked by crowds of cheering supporters waving palm branches, and singing the famous verses from Psalm 118: “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us! Please, Lord, please give us success! Bless the One Who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless You from the house of the Lord.” (Vv. 22-26)

And Jesus is our King. He did come to be our King. But He is so much more of a king than what we think of and look to kings for.

We look to kings and want lower taxes. So, Jesus tells Simon Peter to go catch a fish and that Peter will find a coin in the fish’s mouth that will be enough to pay His and Peter’s taxes. Paying taxes? It’s a simple thing for Jesus, it’s an easy thing for Jesus. He’s inviting us into that Kingdom where gold and precious gems are so plentiful that they’re all-but-worthless: Used to make gates and streets and city walls…

We look to kings and want better healthcare. And so the Lord Jesus healed all who came to Him. He made the blind see. He restored hearing to the deaf. He made the lame walk and the mute speak and sing His praises! Affordable healthcare? It’s a simple thing for Jesus, it’s an easy thing for Jesus. He’s inviting us into that Kingdom where there is no more tears, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, or pain…

We look to kings and want safety and security from terrorists at home and abroad. So, Jesus tells us “If you can’t keep someone from striking you then offer to let them strike you again. If someone can make you carry their stuff one mile then offer to carry it all even farther. If someone can take some of your stuff then offer to give them more of your stuff.” Safety and security? It’s a simple thing for Jesus, it’s an easy thing for Jesus, as He reminds us that “All people in this world can do is kill your body!” He invites us into that Kingdom where Death has lost its sting, where they don’t practice war anymore, where our souls are secure, and life is forever and ever. Amen?

We look to kings to take care of and provide for us. And so Jesus tells tired Simon Peter and his tired crew who haven’t caught any fish all night long to cast their nets in a certain place. Simon knows it’s useless, but does it to honor the Master, and they bring in more fish than can fit in their boats! Thousands of people show up and there’s only a couple loaves of bread and some fish! No problem for Jesus to feed them all, with plenty to spare! Care and provision? Those are simple things for Jesus, easy things for Jesus. He’s inviting us to that Kingdom where everyone is content and there is peace for our souls…

Calming raging seas and banishing threatening storms are easy for Jesus. Simple. Bringing about justice in the face of lawlessness and contempt for God is easy for Jesus. Simple. Convicting the hard-hearted of sin and forgiving the hardened-sinner of all their sins is easy for Jesus. Simple. Making our lives comfortable and easy would be easy for Jesus; simple. So, if things aren’t comfortable and easy, then you and I can be certain that something else is going on. You and I can be certain that there’s a wonderful, God-honoring and for-your-good reason for all our trials and troubles. And our King is calling us to trust Him and listen to Him and obey Him and follow Him through it all.

The Jews lining the road from Bethphage to Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, so long ago, were looking for a king who would liberate them from the Roman oppressors and set up a kingdom of righteousness in the City of David where then the Jews would become the world-power and exercise their dominion over the entire earth. But that would have been so easy! So simple! The Lord Jesus had so much more for His people and for all people! The Lord Jesus told the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, My followers would fight to keep Me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) The Lord Jesus hadn’t come to merely set Israel free from their oppressors. That would have been so easy! So simple! No. He came to set all people free from all oppression, and especially the sin that clings so closely!

As the Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem that day in His presidential procession, the King of the Jews – the King of Heaven and Earth! – was inaugurating, not a new nation, but a new creation! And here we are two-thousand years later: It’s already begun! He’s making all things (and people) new! He’s set us free from bondage to sin and the death that sin leads to. He’s renovating this world – these cosmos! – remodeling, restoring a reality where sin is no more and righteousness is at home!

O, dear Church! We are content with so little! We look to the Scriptures and hope for some just and safe and prosperous earthly government, earthly kingdom. But God has more! What no eye has ever seen! What no ear has ever heard! What no mind

has ever even imagined! That’s what God has for us in Christ our King!

That’s why we turn the other cheek and bless those who curse us and forgive and give to the poor and serve the unlovely and bear hope and kindness into the world: Because we owe a massive debt to Jesus Christ on account of the love He has shown us on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead and in His pouring out upon us the Holy Spirit. And He calls us to repay Him that debt by joining Him in telling His story with all those who’ll listen and loving the world.

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