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Palm Sunday - Personal responses to Christs Week of Passion - Part 1
Seeing as Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) is coming up, I’m gonna take a break from our Genesis series and spend a few weeks on this.
As we celebrate Palm Sunday, I’d like for us to take a close look at Christ’s final week of ministry on planet earth before the cross and consider the different personal responses of those who encountered Christ in the last few days before his crucifixion.
And the relevance of the discussion this morning is simple: That you and I fit somewhere in the Easter Story, and it is important that we understand where we are in our relationship with and to Christ.
On Easter, there will be a whole lot of people who will wake up early, get dressed for church, and rush into a local church out of respect for a religious holiday... But they’ll miss the real importance of the WHO and WHAT of Easter. They’ll sing, listen to the preacher, and pray before leaving the sanctuary to return – to their OLD LIVES totally OBLIVIOUS to the fact that they were just in close proximity to THE ONE who IS THE ANSWER to every need of their lives... and MISSED HIM. I hope as WE survey the LAST WEEK OF CHRIST’S LIFE upon this earth; you’ll find yourself in His story... and join the company of those who honor the Christ of the Cross.
Let’s read the text.
Matt 20:17-19 - “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’”
Matt 21:1-13 - “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.’
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’
And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.’”
I love the verbiage from Mt.20:18,19, as Jesus tells his disciples what all will happen to him in the coming week.
Have you ever stopped to consider, what separates Christianity from all the other [2,000+] religions in the world? What separates Christianity from religion is simple.
- We serve a living God who wasn’t made by the hands of man in man’s image. We serve a God who made us in His image.
- We serve a Powerful God who is in charge of next week’s [next month’s, next year’s, in fact the rest of your life’s] events – and knows how the story of your life will turn out.
- We serve a Gracious God – who doesn’t say we will be spared the pain, hurt, loss, or injustice of life – BUT – at the END OF THE DAY – It will work out for our good. Not just the good things/ but all things.
- We serve an Omniscient God who sees and understands what we are going through and His Prevision makes room for His Provision.
You may be in a dark season in your life; YOUR CROSS may seem very heavy at the moment; but HOLD ON... God is still on the Throne and He has prepared a Testimony for your Trial, and a COMEBACK FOR YOUR SETBACK.
We SERVE a Faithful God who promises to complete what HE starts. He holds us in His hand and His thoughts are thoughts to bless and prosper us that He may give us an expected future.
Real quickly, I want to share some personal responses from individuals or groups of people who engaged Christ during his last few days before the Cross. [your response = critical]
The First Response – is the response of James and John [Mt. 20:20-22] -- who at the time of Christ’s announcement to his disciples about His impending death – they sent their mom to talk to Jesus to see if they could sit on Christ’s right and left hand – when He comes into His kingdom.
Mt. 20:20-22 - “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him (Jesus) with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’
She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’
Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’
They said to him, ‘We are able.’
1. The Response of Distraction.
James and John were in Christ’s inner-circle, along with Peter, they accompanied Christ everywhere He went.
- They were Christ’s accountability group
- They went places with Christ that none of the other twelve ever went
- They went with Him upon the Mount of Transfiguration and saw Him in His glory
- They were passionate about following Christ
- And, there was no doubt about their love for Him
Here’s one of the problems that can surface as we follow Christ. It is easy for us to become distracted from what is important and get sidetracked with selfish agendas. We’ve all been there. We love Christ with all of our hearts. We have been through some tough moments with Jesus beside us. But, if we are not careful... we can lose our focus.
We can become focused on what is in this for me, rather than what is in me for this. Satan’s a master at distracting us from our purpose.
- we get busy serving God and we forget to serve people,
- we get busy doing churchy things and forget about our relationship with Christ/ doing Godly things,
- we get busy talking to men about God and we forget to talk to God about men,
- we just get distracted from the importance of the Cross and we get caught up in our own crisis,
- we forget about what God is doing – and all we can think about is what we want to do,
- we get focused on the earthly and we forget the eternal. So, on this Palm Sunday, as we celebrate what it means to follow Christ to the Cross, let’s pay attention to God’s purpose and don’t get distracted by our own agendas.
Join us next week as we continue to look at other responses from people who encountered Jesus during the last week before the passion.
Blessings to you all.