Palm Sunday Message

Read Luke 19:28-41

Quite some time ago, a book was written by an American historian entitled, When the Cheering Stopped. It was a story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When the war was over, Wilson was an international hero for proving to be a terrific leader during a time of great crisis. There was a wonderful spirit of optimism abroad because people were confident of Wilson’s leadership. People actually thought the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy and the world could return back to normal.

On his last visit to Paris after the war, Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. The same was true in England and Italy. Woodrow was a hero. In a Vienna Red Cross hospital, a nurse had to tell the children there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and hard times. But the children; however didn’t believe her. They said President Woodrow Wilson was coming and they knew everything would be alright.

Interestingly enough, this cheering lasted only about a year. It gradually began to stop. As politics would often have it, political leaders in Europe became more interested in their own agendas than they were lasting peace. Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League for Nations was not ratified. He later experienced a stroke; and at the next presidential election, he was defeated.

Wilson had tried to translate noble ideas into action. At first he was embraced by all. But later and sadly, he suffered defeat and the cheering of the world had stopped!

Jesus enters Jerusalem and the cheers are numerous and loud. The disciples, acting as cheerleaders, have the fans going wild as the parade continues on. The Pharisees; however, think it is madness to attribute to Jesus Messianic praises and cheers of King like praise. In V.40 Jesus answers the Pharisees objection with, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

That is interesting because stones can’t cheer. But Jesus makes it known that creation knows more about who he is and what God is doing than the Pharisees and the crowd. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem in the following verses because his fans are fickle and many are going to miss out on the most incredible God given opportunity despite their fanaticism. The people really don’t have a clue. Creation is more aware of God’s activity than they are!

We came in with palm branches today to mark the beginning of worship and the start of Holy Week.  We do this each year. The Jesus parade still passes by. Some are watching it. Some are joining in. Some don’t think it is appropriate or relevant.

Cheers for Jesus today; however, are appropriate.  I know we are in a pandemic, a global crisis, but cheers in the midst of this are appropriate. I say this because Jesus comes, not as a conquering Lord, but as a redeeming Savior. He comes not in the power and might of the world, but in overwhelming power of God’s love and mercy. Jesus comes to give himself as a ransom for many, so that through the blood of his cross, we might be saved. Jesus rides by, to demonstrate the incredible magnitude of God’s love and let the world see he is most worthy to be deemed our Savior who comes in the name of the Lord! When Jesus noted it was time cheer, it reminds us cheers are still in order today for he still enters our lives to bring us, not just anyone’s salvation, but God’s salvation.

The needs of our present world are so incredibly great, that someone must cheer for Jesus. Someone must give voice to the recognition of his greatness and his power to mend broken lives and a broken world. Someone must give voice of his power to resurrect the dead, to set persons on the right path again, to enable people to live with dignity, purpose, and wholeness, and to move our world in the direction of peace and brotherhood. The world needs to hear what Christ can do and so someone must cheer. Stones are most unlikely to do this. If it is to be done, it is to be done by those who have recognized who Jesus is and understand what he can do.

It’s kind of funny how people can get when it comes to cheering. We can take the contributions of others for granted and even overlook them all together. Sadly, we see often in politics and on shaming on the internet how people are often more quick to criticize than to commend. Do you remember when Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns defeated USC in the championship game- the talk afterward? Our when Auburn beat Alabama in the very last seconds on a botched field goal attempt- the talk afterward? Football games, where people paint their faces (TV commercial the guys take a section of fence), go shirtless in the cold of winter, illustrates how we cheer for relatively insignificant things. Yes, I said that. I know football is an American institution, but compared to the love of God, compared to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ… Would we be as die hard a fan of Jesus as we are of our NFL or college teams? Yes, I mean even you faithful Aggies out there whose blood runs maroon. Can we demonstrate that  Texas A&M kind of familial commitment to Jesus or will it be reserved for the NFL or our must win Fantasy Football team? I use these analogies because Jesus is no sport. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life that God offers the whole world and the church today cannot afford to be silent, especially when God has so powerfully and lovingly provided a way through the trials and dilemmas of our day. It is clear to most, we desparately need our Savior today. The good news is he comes!

And so Our cheers must come with our voice, but mere sounds are not enough. There must be in our voices the ring of authentic commitment. Riding into Jerusalem is not described by the gospel writers as a miracle that amazed the crowds. Many of his disciples are praising him for miracles already done and their hearts are thankful. But Jesus enters in because it is time for commitment. Jesus had a cause that required commitment. Riding into Jerusalem, Jesus knew he would be required to give his all.

Christ is listening today for sounds of commitment, not for his sake, but like then, for the sake of the world. So much of his ministry now depends upon the availability of committed persons. Our world today could be wonderfully different, if enough people would truly make themselves available to Jesus and his ministry. Look at what happened when just 12 ordinary men and a group of women put themselves completely to the disposal of Jesus! What a difference the commitment of others can make!

The miracle won’t be Jesus making the stones cry out. It will be that some 2,020 plus years later, there are those who see the parade passing by and join in with his disciples to cheer and keep cheering, no matter what we face, because we know what Jesus can bring, we know how he can transform trial into triumph, and so we cheer!

Luke 19:28-41 for the background to this message: