Sermon: Palm Sunday 2018

Palm Sunday 2018
Mark 11:1-11
25 March 2018

On December 4, 1977, the world witnessed the coronation of his Imperial Majesty, King Jean Bedel Bokassa I of the former Central African Republic.  The price tag for this very poor African country was a whopping $25 million dollars.  At precisely at 10:10AM, the procession started with the blast of trumpets and drum rolls.  The first to walk down the red carpet was eight of the king’s twenty-nine children.  They were followed by the heir to the throne, the king’s eldest son; Jean Bedel-Bokassa II who was dressed in a white admiral’s uniform.  Queen Catherine, the favorite of the king’s nine wives, was next in line.  She wore a $73,000 gown laced with pearls.  Now when the selected family was in place, the king arrived in his imperial carriage drawn by six majestic horses.  As the Marine Band played “The Sacred March of His Majesty” the king walked down the red carpet where he was cloaked in a thirty-two pound royal robe that was embroidered in gold and pearls.  As he sat on his $2 ½ million dollar eagle throne, the golden crown worth millions of dollars was placed on his head.  But this was all for naught, because the king was deposed a couple of years later.

Today’s scripture text is also about a procession, but it was not as pompous as the one I described above.  Jesus’ triumphal entry was more significant in that it started the events that resulted in our Christian faith, where it has changed the lives of countless numbers of people down through the ages.  And when we keep Christ’s word in our hearts, praise him with our lips and our lives all during the week, we truly honor him.

My text is Mark 11:11-11.
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and 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. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  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.

The first Palm Sunday procession really marked what we know as the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  • It culminated in his death.
  • And his death led to the resurrection.
  • And his resurrection led to his ascension.
  • And his ascension led to a spiritual kingdom.
  • And someday he will take his rightful place as the King of Kings.

But on this first Palm Sunday, Jesus’ choice of transportation was a young donkey.  In Biblical times, the donkey served as a symbol of peace.  For instance, if a country were at war, ambassadors would travel on that particular animal to a certain location and work out a peace treaty.  On the other hand, victorious kings and generals would enter the conquered city on a majestic horse.

As modern day disciples, most of us know the Palm Sunday story, but there is a question that needs to be asked.  Has Jesus received a welcome or a hosanna in your life?  Is he truly the king of your heart?

As people of faith, we are wired to worship, which is really an innate longing to connect with God.  John 4:24 tells us, “God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  Psalm 103:1- “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”

At our Sunday morning church service, we try to sing praises to God and thank Him for his blessings.  But what about the rest of the week?  What about when we are in the car, or at home, or on the way to appointments?  Do we honor and thank Him or at least think of Him?

I would like to bring to your attention a person whose life was the epitome of prayer, praise and worship.  He was Nicolas Hermann who lived a long time ago in the country of France.  When he was older, he entered a monastery in Paris where he changed his name to Brother Lawrence.  Now Brother Lawrence was an unusual monk.  He didn’t care for theology or long prayers.  He had difficulty following theological discussions and was usually bored with all of that, but he felt very much at home in the kitchen.  And it was while he cooked or washed pots and pans that Lawrence would have conversations where he would praise and thank the Lord.  This may sound odd for a monk, but Lawrence was concerned with knowing God, not trying to understand the complexities of theology or the deep mysteries of the Bible.

Though Lawrence has been gone a long time, he does teach us that worship can be done anywhere and anytime.  It doesn’t always have to be in a church.

Here are some meaningful quotes:

  • Worship means to feel in the heart.
  • Without the worship of the heart, liturgical prayer becomes formal routine. ~Aelred Graham. 

Palm Sunday is about how we honor and praise God.  When we receive this palm, which is in the shape of a cross, think of it as a symbol of Christ’s victory over death and how we are to honor him in our hearts.

I have some thoughts on how we can do that.

  • Try to speak non-memorized prayers from the heart like Brother Lawrence did in the kitchen. Have a conversation with God.  For example:
    “Dear God, it is nice you are here today and taking this time to listen to what I have to say.”
    “Jesus, as I drive down this highway, I need to talk about some things that bother me”.
    “God in heaven, I have not lived the way I am supposed to, but would you hear what I have to say.”
  • Another thing we can do to improve our worship is find a place at home to be your place of prayer.
    My favorite spot is in the living room where I take out a small cross and set it on a table.  You may want to light a candle or have an empty chair as an invitation for Jesus to sit in.
  • Borrow a Hymn book from our library. Read some of the hymns and use it as your devotional.  It would truly bless your heart.
  • Take this palm home and put it in a place as a reminder to honor the Lord with your prayers and your life. Let it be a reminder as a Christian that you can do small and helpful things for others, as your life honors the Lord.

Let me close.  Earlier I had spoken about King Bokassa’s pompous coronation ceremony, but it is Christ’s legacy that continues.

May this Palm be a reminder that we are to honor and praise the Lord.

  • Here at church
  • In our homes.
  • In our schools.
  • In our place of employment.
  • In all the places we frequent.

May God help us this week as we honor and praise the Lord.