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Apr 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 10, 2022



The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. . . .
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
John 12:12-16, 20-23

Intro: The story of Palm Sunday is told in all four gospels

John’s account is the most streamlined, Luke’s account is the most dramatic
– that is where Jesus warns that if the crowd remained silent, the rocks would cry out
• but prior to any gospel, there was a message hidden the Psalms
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD (Ps. 118:22-26)
note first, the verse about The stone that the builders rejected is quoted in Matthew, Mark and Luke
• and it was quoted during Holy Week following Palm Sunday
second, the cries Save us (Aramaic, Hosanna) and Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
• were exactly what the people shouted on Palm Sunday
third, the phrase, This is the day refers to a specific day
• this is also important in light of Palm Sunday

Luke tells us that when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” (Lk. 19:41-42)
– Jesus was saying that something historic was happening in that moment, on that day
• a door had opened, and with it a unique opportunity
◦ if only the people of Jerusalem could see it, they would have peace instead of war
“On this day” the Hosanna prayer could have been answered
“On this day” Jerusalem could have fulfilled its destiny
“On this day” God visited his people, but they did not know
– I have chosen the uniqueness of “this day” for our meditation

You might want to tell me,

“But Palm Sunday is not unique; it comes every year. In fact, it’s all that that special. Palm Sunday was not the main event of Holy Week. It is merely a a prelude. We cycle through it every year, like all the other holidays.”
• it is easy to adopt this cynical view of time
◦ as some say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”
◦ this is the dreary perspective of Ecclesiastes
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it . . . .
Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?
It has been already in the ages before us (Ecc. 1:4-10)
• of course someone could argue, “But cell phones are new”
◦ I think the teacher would respond, “You get the latest model of technology and adapt to it, but you stay the same person”
– we are in the fourth month of a “new” year, but how is this year different is it from last year?
◦ how different is the 21st century from the 20th?
• we still go to war, the poor still outnumber wealthy, we’re still vulnerable to greed and every other vice,
◦ and we still do not know the things that make for peace
◦ we still do not know what is hidden in this day

I had a friend, a pastor, who loved books even more than I do
– he frequently recommended to me a book he had read
• every time, he would say, “This book changed my life”
• but his saying that about a book never changed
– visit a cemetery and note the boundaries of every human life
• they are inscribed in stone; two dates, a date of birth followed by a date of death
In Ecclesiastes we read of a poor wise man who saved a small city,
Yet no one remembered that poor man (Ecc. 9:15)
◦ it’s like we’re swimming in the ocean and we create a small wake,
◦ but the water closes behind us and leaves no evidence that we were ever here

Ecclesiastes has other messages regarding time

For instance:
[God] has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Ecc. 3:11)
– the word “eternal” is a concept small enough to fit in our brains
• but its meaning is beyond our ability to grasp
◦ Hebrew, olam means “hidden” – imagine moving back into past,
◦ we reach a point where our imagination gives out
• the same thing happens when you stretch into future
◦ beyond the extinction of our universe — what then?
◦ we cannot imagine nothingness – only some thing
– there’s a line in the Psalms worth contemplating
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! (Psa. 41:13)
• if I may digress for a moment, I prefer “everlasting” to “eternal”
◦ it may seem like there’s no difference or little difference
• still, something may be eternal, yet have a quality that doesn’t last forever
◦ like chewing a stick of gum – you can chew for hours,
◦ but the flavor lasts only a minute

God allows us a sense of eternity, but he puts it in our hearts
– I’m tempted to say, he does this just to mess with us
• eternity is not like time
◦ time can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, etc.
◦ eternity cannot be measured
• without beginning or end, there’s no point to begin a measurement
◦ if we say, “Let’s begin with right now,” – eternity is always right now
– eternal life is a different kind of life than we’ve known
• it is not our normal experience of passing through days and years

Now let’s return to the first Palm Sunday

Greek tourists were there who requested an audience with Jesus
– what is his response?
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified
or, this is the day if you will
• John mentions Jesus’ hour several times in his gospel
◦ the first time was with his mother, “My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4)
◦ later with his brothers, “My time has not yet come”kairos
• a couple of times when religious leaders wanted to arrest him,
◦ they could not, because his hour had not yet come (e.g., Jn. 7:30)
– but now, on this Palm Sunday, his hour had come

What John is telling us is that a moment arrived unlike any other
– it is different, because it did not belong to the normal flow of time
• the world of nature did not produce it – nor any human agency
• the hour is unique, because in it eternity intersects with time
– such hours belong to God entirely
• and no one knows them except the Father, not even the Son (Mt. 24:36)
◦ God has these hours perfectly timed — as Paul pointed out:
at the right time Christ died for ungodly (Ro. 5:6), at the proper time his word was manifested (Titus 1:3)
• these “hours” in Jesus’ life did not consist of a literal sixty minutes
◦ the hour of Palm Sunday was the same hour in which Good Friday occurred
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own . . . he loved them to the end (Jn. 13:1)

Jesus’ last night with disciples, he spoke of yet another hour

I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father (Jn. 16:25)
– all through John, Jesus used figures of speech–and they were misunderstood
• he used his disciples’ confusion to reveal God’s “higher thoughts”
◦ it’s the difference between the “earthly things” and “heavenly things” that he tried to teach to Nicodemus (Jn. 3:10-12)
• when did that hour come? Maybe in what Jesus did for his disciples in Luke 24:44-47
• or maybe when he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”
– I don’t know, but it’s exciting to think of a graduation day,
• when Jesus will speak plainly of God and the things of the Spirit and we will understand him

In his last prayer Jesus prayed, the hour has come and I have manifested your name
– how did he manifest God’s name?
• not by revealing a new name in Hebrew, Greek, or any other language
• and not be reminding them of an old name,
◦ but by a revelation of the eternal name: Yahweh, I am
◦ everyone else phases through was, is, and will be — God is eternally IS
– Jesus made God’s person known, by being I am among them
before Abraham was, I am (8:58)
• he revealed God by speaking the words of I am, doing works of I am, loving his disciples with love of I am
• what disciples received wasn’t information – rational or theological knowledge
◦ but a relational knowledge – they came to know the Father through the love of the Son
[those] who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love [them] . . . . If anyone loves me, he [or she] will keep my word, and my Father will love him [and her], and we will come and make our home with [them] (Jn. 14:21-23)

Conclusion: Palm Sunday is either everything or it is nothing

This hour of Jesus, becomes our hour of hope
Karl Barth, “in [Jesus] time and eternity meet. . . . Hence everything depends on this, that Jesus Christ speaks to us who pass on with the fleeting times. There are [people] and times to whom Jesus Christ becomes manifest.”
This may be one of those times
and if so, we can be those people
Heaven is breaking into this hour – can we wake ourselves up?
How can we wake ourselves up?
By moving slower
and paying attention
By pausing to take a deep breath
and then look, listen, taste, smell, feel

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
This is the day that the Lord has made!

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