The Palm Sunday Path
Scripture: Mark 11:1-10
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 4/5/2020 via Facebook Live for Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of me leading worship in our empty sanctuary, including the message which starts around the 19-minute mark.
Mark 11:1-10, NRSV
1 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! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Imagine two mountains with a valley between them. One is the Mount of Olives. Jesus and his followers start on the far side near the villages of Bethphage and Bethany. They make their way up to the top of the Mount of Olives and what does Jesus see?
He looks down the slope and sees the olive grove and olive press of Gethsemane
He looks up the other mountain, the top’s been cut off in order to build the 35 acre Temple complex. On the left, he sees the teaching steps where he probably questioned the rabbis when he was 12. The steps where he now teaches when he comes to the Temple.
On the right, Jesus sees the Antonio Fortress where the Roman soldiers are garrisoned.
There between them, gleaming white and gold in the sun, the Temple of the One True Living God. Jesus can see the flames from the sacrifices, smell the char of the meat and perfumed prayers.
At the top of the Mount of Olives, Jesus can see all of Jerusalem before him. Jesus can see thousands of people making their way to market, work, worship, and home. And Jesus can see where they do the crucifixions. He can see his future on the cross.
What does Jesus do? Jesus continues on the path.
Jesus could have chosen an easier path, the path of Comfort
A quiet life, a tiny life in tiny Nazareth. Carpentry is honorable work. He’s been doing it for a couple of decades and he could continue. Morning prayer walks on the rolling hills of Galilee stopping to overlook the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Sweet sabbaths in the synagogue. Jesus could have chosen home and family, privacy, simplicity, comfort.
Jesus could have chosen a different path, the path of Control
He could have called down the armies of heaven to overthrow the Romans, and the evil one. He could have placed himself on David’s earthly throne and made every wrong right. He could have raised his hand and said “peace, be still” to the whole world.
Jesus could have chosen an easier path or a different path. He could have saved himself instead of saving the world… but he didn’t.
Jesus didn’t choose comfort and he didn’t choose control.
Jesus chose courage. He chose the courageous path of God.
Jesus hears the people around him as they’re making their way down the path. Ordinary people, simple people, excited and hopeful to announce him to Jerusalem.
“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!”
Hosanna does not mean Hooray! It means Help!
Hosanna means Save Now!
The men, women, children walking with Jesus waving their branches weren’t thinking, “Save us from slavery to sin and death and shame.” They were thinking closer to home.
Save us from the Romans
Save us from the corruption of the Temple
Save us from hunger and thirst
Maybe you’re thinking closer to home, too.
If you were to cry Hosanna today, Save Now today, what would you want?
I would want Jesus to save us from the pandemic
Save us from the disease and the dis-ease
Save us from the cruelty of isolation
Save us from the slavery of financial ruin
Save us from the oppression of unknowing
Save us, Jesus, save now!
These are good prayers!
I want Jesus the King
Jesus the Healer
Jesus the Fixer, just like they did
Hosanna! Save Now!
That’s what Jesus chose to do- to save
Jesus looked at the great need all around him and chose the long game, the big picture, the one thing only he could do no one else.
Jesus chose the hard, courageous path for the greater need, the greatest need. He chose to save the world.
Jesus chose the path of injustice, betrayal, denial, abandonment. Jesus chose the path of mocking, whips, thorns, nails. Jesus chose the courageous path of crucifixion and death so he could open to us the path of victory and eternal life.
Hosanna doesn’t mean Hooray! It means Save Now!
Salvation doesn’t mean fixed. Salvation means wholeness.
Lord knows that’s what we need right now.
We need it for ourselves
We need it for our families
We need it for our economy
For Christ’s church
For our healthcare system
For our world
Lord, we need your salvation. We need your wholeness and we need it now. In our sickness, our suffering, our lamenting, our loss. And that’s what you give us now.
You are the Lamb of God
You are the King of Kings
You are the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior of us all
We cling to you and we cling to your cross
We cry Hosanna! Save Now!
Make your wholeness real in us
And real in all. Amen.
The Palm Sunday Path © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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