Palm Sunday: Hosanna! Jesus is the King
Mark 11:1-11 11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.__>
Before I start today’s message, can you repeat after me? (slide 1) Jesus is King! Jesus is my King! How many of you remember the old good doctor Pavlov? Do you remember Pavlov’s dog? He was a scientist, and he is the one who fed a dog, and while he fed the dog, he rang a bell. He would do that enough time, so that the dog associated food with the bell. So he took the food away and he rang the bell, and the dog salivated. Because the bell meant food, food meant salivate, right? So the dog taught him and other scientists that we human beings can experience what’s called “conditioned reflex.” Can you say that with me? “Conditioned reflex” Conditioned reflex is something that you learned. It’s not natural, it’s something that you learned. It’s not inborn, its not something that you were born with. It’s something that you learned. Dogs are normally just food. But when the dog hears the bell, he salivates because the bell now means food, the bell makes him hungry. I have discovered when I studied this this week, I have lots of conditioned reflexes in my life. And most of them have to do with electronic toys. I have found that I have conditioned myself that every time I see this object, I have to check it. Some of you may notice that because when you send me an email or a text, probably you get a response from me within a second. I respond right away! I text even when I drive! With one hand I drive, and with the other hand I text! I know I am terrible! With the left eye I look around the front, and with my right eye and right hand I text. Pray for me! Like I have an email right now and it’s killing me that I cant check it. Is there anyone like me there? Anyway, here is the deal. I wasn’t born with this smart phone obsession. I learned it, right? Whenever my phone dings, I go right straight to my phone. No matter what I was doing, no matter who I was meeting, my head turns to the cell phone right away. My phone dings, I got to check the email, the text, whatever that is. It’s not natural. I’ve taught myself that. I’ve conditioned myself that way. It’s like Pavlov’s dog. Ring the bell, he salivates. See, now scientists tell us that we human beings have this thing inside of us, called stimulus response. That’s natural. I feel hungry, then I go to find food. I hear a joke, and then I laugh. I have no control over those things, right? That’s natural. That’s the way God made us, God made me. But I learned the other thing.
My dilemma as pastor is, “How can I deliver messages in a little more refreshing way?” It is hard. You’ve been in church for years and you probably would have heard all the Bible stories forever and ever! Then you guys are like as soon as I start talking about something then you know all the stories and even know where I am going, right? Palm Sunday is a good example. You’ve heard this story so much. Yea, Jesus is king. I know, I know. Palm Sunday is the day we wave palms and shout Hosanna! We know, we know. We’ve done it so many times. Palm Sunday, and especially this whole Holy Week thing is really important to us, Christians, but, we’ve conditioned ourselves that our response to it is typically, “Yea, Jesus enters Jerusalem and he will die soon. I know, I know.” Isn’t that sad? That we have heard this story so many times and we have had Holy Week services so many times so we’ve conditioned ourselves so numb to Jesus, our King’s sacrifice for us.
The reason Jesus can be really our king is because Jesus died for us, right? If Jesus didn’t die for us, he cannot be our king at all. How many of you watched the movie Passion of Christ? I watched the movie, too. Then how many of you watched the movie second time? I never watched the movie again. I remember I puked after the movie. After the movie, my friend and I went to see the movie together and we survived the whole movie and then I puked. I really wanted to tear our of the theatre because it was too cruel! Deep down, we all know that movie is true, that movie could be so true, but it is gruesome and we can’t watch it anymore, right? It happens to our Christian theology and faith, too. We tend to sanitize Christ’ suffering and move too fast to his victory and glorious triumph. But you know what? Christ’ victory was possible because of his suffering. Every year we get to this time of the year, we hear this old old story with old old ears. We see it with old old eyes, and listen to the story with old old heart. Here’s what I want to ask you to do this morning. Please invite the Holy Spirit to give you new eyes to see, new ears to hear, new heart to feel Jesus’ story! Jesus is king not because he enters Jerusalem triumphantly but because he died for us! So, here is the question. As we are celebrating Jesus Christ’ kingship today, and also this week we will remember Jesus’ suffering through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, (slide 4) How can I allow the torture and humiliation of the King to revolutionize my life? How can Jesus, our king’s suffering rack our lives here today? The story that we have heard forever, how can the story revolutionize our lives here and now? If you have new ear, new eye and new heart, I believe Jesus can do that to us, Amen? He wants to do that.
Here’s number 1. Let’s read it out loud. (slide 5) I can allow it to show me I am utterly sinful! Say utterly with me. On the passover it was their custom that the Romans release a prisoner and Barabbas was an instigator. He was an insurrectionist. He killed Romans. He was one choice and the other was Jesus. Jews accused Jesus for blasphemy. In Matthew’s story about this part, we were told what Barabbas’ first name was, and his first name was Jesus. And Jesus’ first name was Jesus. There’re two Jesuses and Pilate in the center. Jesus Barabbas, and Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Barabbas, he stood for power, for sword, for violence. And let’s look at Jesus of Nazareth. He stood for love, he stood for peace. And Pilate said to the crowd, “You get to choose.” You get to choose Jesus Barabbas, the savior through power, and Jesus of Nazareth, the savior through love. Isn’t that interesting? And the crowd shouted, “Crucify Jesus! Jesus of Nazareth!” Let’s read the Scripture on the screen together. (slide 6) (Pilate) ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. (slide 7) Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. Mark 15:15b-20 (NLT)
Those are ugly words, aren’t they? This is what they did to Jesus. They called the entire regiment to torture just one guy, and the Bible continues to tell us that they were finally tired of mocking him. They tortured Jesus until they got tired of it. These are ugly. What we need to know is flogging is common in Roman Empire in the first century. It was part of their way to punish prisoners and what they did was first they bound the criminal by his hand behind his back and they stretch him over a stump with his chest pulled out and they would beat him. And when they are tired of that, they strap him over the top of the stump and then they would beat him again. With a leather whip, a cat of nine tales, it’s called. It has a leather handle with nine straps with peaces of wood, steals, fish hooks, glass, stones and anything sharp. The cruelty of this beating must be beyond description, right? It was deadly, and it was to Jesus, our King, the prince of peace. And don’t forget that this still happens today all over the globe right now. And let me be honest with you. What about my sinful depravity? Paul tries to convince the Roman followers of Jesus how utterly sinful they were and all he could say is this. In Romans 3:23 he said, (slide 8) “23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” The word ‘all’ means everybody. It means all of us, you and me. An old hymn says, “It’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” I don’t know about you, but I can speak about myself. I can really easily minimize my sins. One of the numerous sins that I’ve made in my life is to kill my friend. No I don’t mean I killed my friend really, but I killed her with my harsh words. I was seventeen years old, and I was a newborn Christian. I just converted to Christianity from the winter youth camp, and I was thrilled to live my life as a Christian. But I was not a mature one. One day I was talking to my best friend, you know for high school kids BFF is the most important person ever in the world, right? I was talking to my BFF and she was a Catholic. And I was too stupid saying that “My youth pastor told me Catholics are not real Christians.” Yeah I was going to that kind of church that time. It was the first time I made her cry that hard. She was a tough cookie. She never cried before, but I made her cry. Was I right? No! I was wrong. Now I cherish all the traditions Catholics has. I admire Catholic’s traditions and deep spirituality and their pope now. He is amazing! There are differences between my theology and their theology, but in God, we can make a beautiful harmony. I killed my BBF that day with my tongue. The next day I sincerely apologized to her and she graciously forgave me. She is still my BFF. It happened twenty some years ago, and I still feel terribly sorry to my friend. And I am still a sinner who needs God’s grace today. This is just one of the many sins that I have made. I still execute people with my thoughts and inattention. O Lord, it’s me standing in the need of prayers. That’s me. What about you.
Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, is a pastor. He wrote a book, “Jesus plus nothing equals everything” and he said this in his book, (slide 9) “You and I will never know Christ to be a great Savior until we first understand ourselves to be great sinners.” We will never feel deliverance until we feel desperation.
But here’s the good news. This is the ugly part of the story. I just wanted to give us an opportunity to think about ourselves who have the tendency that we are not that bad. No we are that bad. We are utterly sinful. But here’s the good news!
Let’s look at number 2. Jesus’ torture and humiliation can rack my life (slide10) Let read it out lord. -when I can allow it to show me the full extent of Jesus’ sacrificial love! Yes! The full extent of Jesus’ sacrificial love! Jesus was born in a wooden cradle. It was not even a cradle. It was a wooden manger. But you know what? Jesus was not born to be celebrated. Jesus was born for the cross. He was born to die on the wooden cross for us. Jesus’ assignment was not just preaching, teaching and healing us. Jesus knew that his mission wasn’t done until he hung on a cross! That’s the full extent of Jesus sacrificial love for you. The prophet Isaiah wrote his words 500 hundred plus before that the Messiah would be born. He writes these amazing words about the brutality that he would experience in Isaiah chapter 53, which is called “the suffering servant” passage. Would you please read it with me? (slide 11)Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (slide 12) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:4-7 (NIV)
You see five hundred years before Jesus was even born, the prophet Isaiah saw what the Messiah suffer, and he said, the Messiah, Jesus would suffer all of this, so that we might be saved, healed and restored. Even though we are utterly sinful, he was crushed for my sins. He was broken for my healing. He was punished for my peace. What a savior! Why did he endure all that? It is real simple! He loves us. He loves me, he loves you. That’s the full extent of his sacrificial love for us.
Sometime ago a girl from one of two churches, I won’t say who that girl is, she showed me a text that she’d got from her boy friend and the boy friend said in the text “I am crazy about you. I would die for you.” Isn’t that cute? That puppy love is so cute. And you know what? That’s what Jesus tells to us! He just doesn’t say that, he showed his love by dying on the cross. He says to you and me, “I am crazy about you. I love you. I can die for you” and he really showed how much he loved us by putting himself on the cross, to save us from our sins. Isn’t that a great love that we don’t deserve?
Today Jesus enters Jerusalem and Jerusalem people shout to him, “Hosanna! You are the king!” But you know what? We were there in the crowds when they shouted, “crucify him!” We were there when he was tortured and suffered. We were there when he was died on the cross. We confess Jesus is our King, but we also crucify him just like the Jerusalem people did two thousand years ago.
As we are getting into the Holy week, please remember the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ that is shown in this week. Have an intimate time with your King, Christ, your Savior! Have time to think about that we are utterly sinners, but Jesus’ love saves us. Thanks be to God! Amen.