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Mar 25 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Palm Sunday – 03/24/2024



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to RefleXion!               Grace and Peace to you!

What a special day we celebrate today; we call it Palm Sunday.   Large crowds had gathered because they had heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  They came because they had heard that he had raised Lazarus from the dead, scripture says.  Yet we know that they each came with their own pain and their own longing, just as we do.  We can’t imagine all that they were thinking.  They were right to worship him, though they didn’t quite get the picture.  Even the disciples didn’t understand this day.  The Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”  Indeed, it seemed that they had.  We seem so far from that today, don’t we?

Remember a couple of weeks ago, Chuck sharing from Revelation, chapter 7, read that in heaven there was an enumerable multitude before God, from every nation, all tribes, peoples, and languages.  They were clothed in white robes, palm branches in their hands.  They were shouting Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Chuck said it was as if Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was being re-enacted and celebrated.”

In John 12, what we call the Triumphal Entry, the crowds were waving palm branches.  Here’s a thought: Jesus calls us branches of the vine, right, and we have palms.  So, when we raise our palms in worship, perhaps we can consider that we are joining the crowds on that day and the multitudes in heaven.  I’m going to practice that this week.

We have much to be thankful for today.  We too can cry out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! Hosanna!

Let’s Pray: 

Amen  Thank you, Jesus, for coming to make a Way for us.  Your humility astounds us.  Your willingness to suffer and die astonishes us.  Your deep and great love for humanity is beyond all that we can imagine.  Why do you love us?  Because we are yours.  I suppose that is the only answer.  Blessed be your name, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. We are blessed to be here together this morning; be blessed in our welcome, Lord Jesus.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.
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 John 12:12-16

Intro: How did Palm Sunday become recognized as a holy day?

I don’t mean, how did it get put on the Church calendar,
– but why do we celebrate it?
• Palm Sunday is not like Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter
◦ these were the major events in Jesus’ life and ministry
• but Palm Sunday is not noteworthy in the same way
◦ in fact, if you’ll excuse the expression, it sort of fizzled out
◦ by the end of the week, Jesus had been crucified
– I’ll share with you why I celebrate Palm Sunday
• because this was only time that Jesus permitted public recognition
◦ until now, he told his disciples to keep his identity a secret
• but on this day he allows people to celebrate who he is
◦ he wants this moment in the spotlight – he planned it
◦ it’s because Jesus wanted to be recognized that I remind myself to see and worship him for who he is

“The large crowd that came to the feast”

Jewish people from around the world would come for Passover
– the Galileans lived closest to Jerusalem, so there would certainly be many of them present
• they were the first to raise their voice
the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen (Lk. 19:37)
◦ this was not same crowd that at the end of the week would be shouting Crucify him!
• I think the crowd that followed Jesus had been looking forward to an opportunity like this
◦ local Jewish people were drawn to Jesus because of Lazarus
The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they had heard he had done this sign John 12:17-18
– they’re shouting slogans with deep roots
First: Hosanna – Hebrew meaning Save now! – we will see it in Psalm 118
Second: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
• this is also found in Psalm 118 – and the context there is interesting
◦ Jesus quotes from this psalm, pointing to himself (Peter uses it also in reference to Jesus)
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:22-23)
◦ then, the psalm goes on to say:
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us [hosanna], 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 (Psalm 118:24-26)
Third: This is to me the most interesting, “even the King of Israel”
• the crowd up with this innovation themselves
◦ one time a crowd in Galilee “was about to come and take [Jesus] by force to make him king (Jn. 6:15)
Jesus was exactly the kind of king they wanted and needed
◦ but this anthem will also be the accusation that sends Jesus to the cross!

Next we see a chain of events – one leading to the next
So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after 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 6:19-23

The frustration of Pharisees would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high
– they’re meeting and arguing and blaming each other
• then one of them makes this statement: “Look, the world has gone after him”
• the flood of people lining the road shouting looked as if the momentum of Jesus’ ministry was unstoppable
– of course, this was and exaggeration, that the whole world was turning to Jesus
• without a pause, John instantly takes us to the next scene
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks
• they wanted to meet Jesus
Philip and Andrew were first to introduce other disciples to Jesus 1:40-46
◦ now they are bringing foreigners to him

There is a gap at this point
– we aren’t told whether these Greeks had their interview with Lord
• instead, Jesus makes an announcement, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”
– if we’ve followed Jesus through John’s gospel, we know these words mark a critical moment
• at the start of his ministry, Jesus had told his mother, “My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4)
◦ later, authorities could not arrest Jesus, because his hour had not yet come (Jn. 7:30)
◦ this same thing happened again at a later time (Jn. 8:20)
◦ Jesus told his brothers, My time has not yet come (7:6-8)
• but now that he was approaching cross there’s a critical change
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come . . . (Jn. 13:1)
[Jesus] lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you (Jn. 17:1)
◦ it seems as if the Greek visitors coming to Jesus was the signal that his hour had come
– the Lord’s public ministry ends with this chapter
• he will give his final instructions to the disciples for four chapters, then pray for them
• all that is left, is the cross and his resurrection
◦ the crescendo of Jesus is his last message here in John 6, verses 44-50

After announcing his hour, Jesus makes an unexpected turn
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 6:24

He said, this was his hour to be glorified, but this doesn’t sound like glory
– Jesus is making an indirect reference to his death – he is that grain of wheat
• further down he will say,
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” But for this purpose I have come to this hour John 6:27
• his hour had finally come,
◦ but not with the parade or the energetic roar of the crowd
◦ nor was it when foreigners were drawn to him
• his hour is the cross – the death – the tomb

We don’t want to hear what Jesus says next
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him John 6:25-26

I’m going to backup to where the crowd called Jesus the King of Israel
– that was a true statement, however, Jesus was not king of that Israel!
• not the Israel of that time or in that place
◦ right then, Israel was a nation living under Roman rule
◦ a nation whose religion had been corrupted and exploited
• in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains,
not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel (Ro. 9:6)
In Hosea, God instructed the prophet to name his son Lo-ammi: that is, “Not My People, for your are not my people and I am not your God” (Hos. 1:9)
◦ the same could have been said about the Israel that rejected Jesus
– John gives us one of the clearest pictures of new life in Jesus
• but it comes at the cost of our life before we came to him
• Jesus says, “If you want to be with me, follow me”
◦ the path of Jesus leads from death into life (Jn. 5:24)
◦ we have to die to our old life to be reborn

When the Roman governor, Pilate, interrogated Jesus,

His first question was, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus told him, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:33-36)
– reading through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find kingdom of God dozens of times
◦ but in John’s gospel, it occurs only two times
unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3)
unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:6)
• several times, Jesus talked about the difficulty of entering kingdom
◦ and that applied to people absolutely certain they were “in”
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God (Lk. 13:28-29)
– when we die to our old self, we die to the world as well
• millions of people in world today call themselves Christians, yet do not believe they have to die to the world
◦ instead, they believe they’re supposed to rule the world
• Jesus rejected Satan’s offer to give him all the kingdoms of the world (Mt. 4:8-10)
◦ no nation on earth is one hundred percent good, and no nation on earth is one hundred percent evil
◦ the closest a nation ever got to being God-ruled was Israel
but that did not last long and was imperfect at best

In this year’s election, there’s not one party that is “more Christian” than the other
– neither candidate will bring God’s rule to our nation
• the kingdom of God is God’s!
• no system or rule of law devised by humans is going to be a container of God’s kingdom
◦ so regardless of the outcome of the election, we will not find God’s kingdom on earth until he brings us
◦ for this reason, we pray:
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10)
◦ until then, sometimes we get the president we desire, and sometimes we get the president we deserve
– a huge portion of the Church in America has been corrupted by the world
Tim Alberta, in The Kingdom, the Power, the Glory reminds us:
“God has His own kingdom; no nation in this world can compare
God has His own power; no amount of political, cultural, or social influence can compare
God has His own glory; no exaltation of earthly beings can compare.
These are nonnegotiable to the Christian faith.”

Conclusion: It’s Palm Sunday

I’m going to swear my allegiance, once again, to Jesus my King
You are free to choose for yourself where your loyalty will lie

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