A Grand Parade
RUMC 9 April 2017
All my life I’ve enjoyed marching in parades—the high school marching band, in the military and even riding on church floats—I enjoyed them all. Most recently I participated in the Torchlight parade that featured the Ellington Fire Department in December, 2016. It was a nighttime event and all the fire trucks were decorated with bright lights. Those of us who didn’t ride the half mile from the library to the fire station walked in at least 30 pounds of fire gear. A large crowd came out that December evening to wave, cheer and say thank you to the Ellington Fire Department.
Our gospel text for this morning was also about a parade. Jesus was in a sense the grand marshal. Although this took place long ago, we honor Christ today when we keep his word in our hearts, speak of his love on our lips, and serve him with our deeds.
My text is Mark 11:1-11.
When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”
4-7 They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, “What are you doing untying that colt?” The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.
8-10 The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!
11 He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
This is the Word of God.
The final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry began with a 5 mile walk to Jerusalem. After they had been on the road awhile, Jesus sent two disciples on ahead to find the transportation he requested. As Jesus approached the Holy City, via the donkey, crowds of people lined both sides of the road where they waved palm branches and shouted the following.
- Hosanna-which means “God Saves”
- “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name” was a greeting used to welcome pilgrims to Jerusalem.
- “Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David” was to acknowledge that Jesus was to inaugurate the messianic kingdom.
Riding that young donkey through the Eastern Gate that day, Jesus came as a messenger of peace. He did not come like the kings of his day, with their horses and chariots. He rode as the prophetic Prince of Peace who would seek to conquer the spiritual hearts of the people.
Although the first Palm Sunday took place some 2000 years ago, it is still relevant. We may experience turmoil and strife in our life, but when we invite Jesus, the Prince of Peace, into our hearts, we will hold steady and sure.
There is the story of a woman named Alice who had gone through some rough times in her life. Alice had a reputation for her calm and happy disposition. It seemed that no matter what difficult things had come her way, Alice was able to face them with grace and joy. Now there happened to be another lady who lived in the same community experiencing similar struggles and was in need of strength and support. When she visited Alice she said, “So you are the woman with the great faith that I have heard so much about.” Alice replied, “No, I am not a woman with great faith. I am a woman with little faith in a great God.”
What Alice said was true. Even though our faith may be weak, if we can believe and trust in the living God and make the relationship with the Lord part of our lives, we will have a greater measure of peace and happiness.
Jesus said in John 10:10 “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” When we give our lives to the Lord and honor him, he becomes the king of our hearts.
As Jesus rode that donkey through the Eastern Gate so long ago:
- He came as a messenger of peace.
- He came as David’s greater son.
- He came as a Suffering Servant bringing salvation to all who wanted the truth.
- He came as the Vice Regent of God on earth.
- He came as the Mediator between God and man.
That is who Jesus is.
When the British conquered Palestine, or Israel, from Turkey in December 1912, the commander of the British Army, Field Marshal Edmund H. Allenby, approached the city on his horse. But before he was to enter through one of the city gates to take possession of the city, he got off his horse. He would not ride in because he felt that honor was reserved only for the King of Kings.
If you travel to Israel, one of the places you can visit is the Eastern Gate, the gate where Jesus rode through on his donkey on that first Palm Sunday. However today, that gate is now covered with bricks. The story of how this came about is rather humorous. About 1550 AD, the Moslem ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent, had brick masons seal up the Eastern Gate to prevent the Messiah from coming back into the city. He thought he could prevent the Messiah from entering Jerusalem at his Second coming, hoping to nullify the prophecy of Ezekiel 43 and 46.
Last week, when we had our communion service, all of us recited the following phrase: “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” We also prayed in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on earth as it is in heaven.”
There are two phases to Jesus’ ministry. The first was when he taught the people the ways of God, and died for our sins. His ministry was one as a Suffering Servant. Jesus said he would come back. When he returns it will not be as a suffering servant, but as the Glorified Son of God or the King of Kings.
If you were to travel to NYC you can visit the United Nations. There are 193 countries represented at the United Nations General Assembly. Most of the leaders are called President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister or Head of State. Among that group are 28 kings and 3 queens.
Outside the United Nations, stands a wall with a verse from Isaiah 2:4 which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” But for Isaiah 2:4 to be a reality, there has to be someone who is greater than all who will come from heaven and make things right; that is the Glorified Son of God.
To continue in that theme, at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, many Jews pray for the coming of the Messiah and for peace on earth. Even in the Jewish Seder service, there is the hope that next year Elijah will come. Elijah is the one who will precede the coming of the Messiah.
Let me close. Jesus was honored at that first Palm Sunday when he rode that donkey into Jerusalem. Today our Lord rules in our hearts and this palm is a reminder of his teachings. And by faith, as we recite in our communion, he will come again and make things right when he ends poverty, injustice, war. So in the meantime, let us be busy in the name of the Lord through the example of our lives, our prayers and good works.