Sermon 4/14/2019: PALM SUNDAY: Jesus for Messiah!

Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on 4/14/2019.

Title: PALM SUNDAY: Jesus for Messiah! Luke 19:35-41, John 12:15-17, Zechariah
9:9-17

Sermon Series: Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases

Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]

Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

TRANSCRIPT:

This past week, I received a letter from the President of the United States. Perhaps you did too. A couple of weeks ago, I got one from Melania Trump. I didn’t know we knew each other, but she was thoughtful enough to send me a letter. Because, friends, it’s that time again. It’s that time again. We are all wondering who is going to run for President. Now, you know there is a saying, “If you want to be friends with someone, don’t talk about religion and don’t talk about politics.” Well, we only cover one out of two here in church, but I looked really hard for a politician that none of you, I hope, would know. This is Gordon Brown, he was a Prime Minister of Great Britain. He lost the election in 2010. If you’re a citizen of Great Britain, and you’re here this morning, I deeply apologize. But I tried to find a politician that would offend no one. And hopefully, by picking someone you don’t know, no one’s offended. But what I want to talk about is the reality that our attention is beginning to be pulled away from everything else, to try to worry and to focus on what is happening in national politics. Now some of us worry about national politics every day of every year, but if you try to ignore it, it will soon be harder and harder to ignore. Because every four years, there’s all this controversy over who’s going to be running for President or Vice President or Senator or whatever.
And there’s only one day when Jesus got political. And it’s on Palm Sunday. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that in a minute. But here’s the things about politicians. We have a hope within us and we want to believe that this person or that person will make a difference. But we all kind of need to keep these healthy words from Ronald Reagan in our mind. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.'” It depends on which side you are, but here’s the thing. Palm Sunday, Jesus goes political. He sends two of the disciples over to a place in the village, and he said, “You’ll find a colt, a young baby donkey tied to a tree. Take that donkey and bring it to me. And if they say, ‘what are you doing?'” Because, in essence, they were stealing it or so people might have thought. “Tell them the Lord needs it and they’ll let you have it.” And exactly that happened. And they brought the new, young, baby donkey to Jesus. Jesus got on it and began to ride down the slope of the Mount of Olive. There’s this giant mountain and you go down in the valley toward the beautiful gate of the Temple. Everyone can see you coming. And this was, by tradition, Now the Messiah would enter Jerusalem. Riding a little donkey, not a warhorse, the Messiah would enter Jerusalem. For three years now, people have been wondering, “Who is this Jesus? What is he trying to do? Is it possible that he is the Messiah? Is it possible that he is the one sent from God? I want to know.” And from everyone’s point of view, Jesus never clearly answered that question. Meanwhile, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were constantly attacking him. You know why? If the Romans thought that this was a rebellion, they would come in with the military and squash everything. Politics is behind the scenes of all of Jesus’ ministry. Not politics you or I would understand because they have to do with the Roman government and the fact that there was a Roman dictatorship in Israel at this time. But when Jesus gets on that donkey, he is telling everyone who is familiar with the Old Testament prophesies that “Yes, I am the one.” But because the Roman soldiers don’t read the Old Testament – it’s in Hebrew – he is announcing his candidacy for Messiah in such a way that no one even knows, except the Jewish people. And they get happy because of what they believe the Messiah is going to do in their lives.
They lay clothing on the path. They cut palm branches and lay it on the ground so that this road becomes almost like a carpet as Jesus rides into town. Luke 19:35. And they brought it to Jesus, the colt, and throwing their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it and as the road along they spread their garments on the road. And you can just see the parade making its way down the mountain to the valley and then back up the mountain to the gate. Verse 37. And he was now growing near at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. Saying “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Verse 39. And some of the Pharisees and the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples. What are the Romans going to do? They’re going to kill us all.” Verse 40. Jesus answered in this way, “I tell you, if these people were silent, the very stones would cry out.” They came into the city, Verse 41, and he saw it and wept over it. That’s because Jesus knew. Jesus knew in less than 7 days, these same people would be crying out, “Crucify him.” John 12:15. Here is a verse from Zachariah. The entire verse is on the back of the bulletin if you want to read it. “Fear not Daughter of Zion; Behold your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt. Verse 16, his disciples did not understand this at first but when Jesus was mortified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him, but the people were happy because this is always the reality of politics. The people were happy because of what they thought was going to happen to them. Hope is very powerful, even though with regard to politics, hope is often disappointed.
What is a messiah? Well, depends on who you ask. If you’re a Jewish person of this day, there is absolutely no question. The Messiah is God’s answer to the problem of the Roman dictatorship and the Roman taxes and the Roman soldiers and their constant interference in our life. In other words, to a Jewish person of that day, the Messiah is the one sent by God to solve all of our problems. To a Jewish person in that day, a messiah is the promise and expected deliverer of the Jewish people. That’s why they’re so happy. It’s about time, we need a change. We want life to get better. We need God to get rid of those Romans because that’s all of our problems is those Romans. Now the Christian church over all these years we have changed this definition because we understand that the problems that people are dealing with are spiritual problems. It’s not the Romans, it’s us. It’s the sin in our hearts and so we understand the Messiah, our Christian definition, the Messiah is Jesus Christ. The Messiah is the son of God. The Messiah is God come to be with us and deliver us. The Messiah is a spiritual savior.
All the way back to Bethlehem, she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus where he will save his people from their sins. So in all the years of our history, we have come to understand the Messiah as a solution to the spiritual problem because that’s the big problem. But I think both definitions have value and let me tell you why. A group of ladies and I went to go look at azaleas and dogwoods on Friday and I want to tell you, beautiful, flowering trees and bushes, just beautiful. We had a wonderful time and it only got better when we went to Lambert’s when we solved another problem [laughter]. Delicious and we’re driving toward home and we’re just outside of Charleston Illinois–I’m sorry Charleston Missouri, and we’re at mile marker 13 and all of a sudden the left, rear, outside tire began to complain. Those that were in the bus can tell you, there’s six tires on the bus. It sounded more like an explosion. And after the explosion, what you hear is this flap, flap, flap, flap, flap, flap. And there we are by the side of the road. Okay. This is not a spiritual problem, but it’s a real-life problem. My wonderful wife, the bus driver, gets on the phone. She starts calling. She calls the truck repair place, and they say, “Well, we don’t work on anything smaller than semi’s.” She calls another place and they say, “Well, we’re really busy right now.” And I don’t know where she got this idea. Oh, I think that place said, “What you need to do is call the police.” So she called the–
They sent us to the farm place next.
Oh, they sent us to a Farm Implement Dealer and that guy said, “Well, we only work on tractors.”
And they sent us to the Chamber of Commerce.
And they sent us to the Chamber of Commerce and the police and the city government. And apparently, the truck place that only worked on semi’s, they do listen when the police call [laughter].

story.
But they were wonderful, wonderful people. And this fellow came out. And I was standing at the edge of the highway praising God, so the cars would move out of the lane so he could look at the tire. But they figured out what we needed and they helped us. Because, see, the Jewish meaning of Messiah, I like it’s still important. The Messiah is the one that God sends to help you with your problem. And sometimes, it’s actually Jesus. But sometimes Jesus sends a Mexican guy in a green-robed jacket in a big truck, and he’s the one who does the work of Jesus for him and to whom we are thankful to God and thankful for him. Now there’s some things we don’t understand. There’s four tires on that rear axle. He never put a jack on and pumped us up to get the tire off. Now how can he do that? He just took the outside tire off. Somebody here, probably smarter than I, knows how you do that. And he took it back into town, got a new tire, mounted it down, brought it back out, and put it on the truck again without ever jacking it up. I don’t know how you do that. It may have been a miracle. He may have held it up with one hand, I’m not quite sure how he did it. But here’s the thing I know. God answered the prayers of a whole lot of people praying in that bus that day. Amen?
Amen.
When you have a problem, you need the problem solved. Sometimes it’s a spiritual problem and sometimes it’s a problem in real life. If you go through the New Testament, and you underline everything that Jesus did and helped people, most of what you underline will be the practical realities of, “I was sick, I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was oppressed and you set me free.” He helped people with the problems that they had right here and now. And he still does. So I found this slide from a sermon quite some time ago. What I wanted to point out to people, that the way that God helps you, is the Messiah. But it may look like a jack because in that moment what you need is a jack. In our case, by the side of the road on a Friday, it was a person. But that person knew what he was doing, and of course, I didn’t. I don’t know anything about tires. The minute I crawled under the bus and saw that there was literally no spare tire, I knew I was done. But I knew that God wasn’t done. And we kept reaching out until we found a person who could help us. So, here’s what I want to ask you today. When Palm Sunday happens, when Holy Week begins, this day, seven days before Easter, Jesus is saying he is throwing his hat in the ring and he is saying to everyone, “Choose me and I will help you.” And friends, you and I still have that choice to make today. We can turn to him or we can turn somewhere else, to someone else who makes beautiful promises that may or may not be true. But you always have the choice of choosing Jesus because when you have a problem, he will be a help to you. What is a Messiah? This week, I’d like to ask you to look at your life and your problems. I’d like to ask you to look around at your neighbors and their life and their problems. I’d like to ask you to look at problems as an opportunity for you to cry out to God, “Lord, come and help us with this. Lord, come and help me with that. I choose you to be my leader in this life.”
Please pray with me. “Lord Jesus, please remind us that you did not come to this earth just so that we could sing hymns on Sunday and say nice prayers. That you came to this earth because of people who cried out to you in agony for a deliverer to come. And thank you, Lord, here you are, coming forward in the hour of our greatest need. Help us to see you Lord as the Messiah and the one who brings the solution to all our problems. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Jesus is a good choice to be our leader. And this is a good hymn to sing, Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow. Let’s stand and sing. [music]

[Resources]

[Discussion questions.]

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.

Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.

VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
 
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)

Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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