Sermon for Palm Sunday – March 28, 2021

+ Palm Sunday – March 28, 2021 +

John 12:12-19; Zechariah 9:9-12; Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:20-43

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Grand Parade”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

You can learn a lot about people simply by watching their parades.

 

A 4th of July parade weaves its way through town; the band plays and flags wave in a patriotic display. Fans line the streets for a victory parade with ticker tape for the home team hoisting the trophy. This past year we’ve even seen graduation or birthday parades to celebrate life’s milestones.

 

Parades reveal what’s important to people, what they value, what they believe in.

 

Holy Scripture is full of different parades, processions, and pilgrimages too. Some are sorrowful – more like a death march – Adam and Eve banished from Eden. Israel wandering the wilderness for 40 years. Still, many of Scripture’s parades are joyful: Israel’s march of life through the Red Sea. Israel’s crossing the Jordan into the promised land.

 

The Christian church is no stranger to parades either. We began with a parade of sorts this morning. A Palm Sunday Procession. Did you notice what was at the head? Not a flag, a trophy, or a fire engine – but Palms, the holy Scripture, and leading us all at the head of the procession – the cross of Jesus crucified.

 

A parade, or procession, as we call it in the church, reveals what’s most important to us as God’s people, what we value, what we believe in. That’s true all year round, of course, but especially today on Palm Sunday.

 

As Holy Week begins, the holy Palm Sunday parade – with the donkeys and palms and Hosannas – points us to the reason for the occasion. The reason this is called Holy Week. And it’s not our successes, achievements, or victories, but Jesus.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Here is another procession in Scripture – the annual pilgrimage to the Passover. The yearly remembrance of God’s salvation in Exodus. The blood of the Passover Lamb. The holy Passover meal. The sacrificial death of the firstborn Lamb to redeem and rescue God’s people. The people enter Jerusalem as they had for the feast for hundreds of years, only this year’s parade features something new, or better yet, someone new.

 

The King, the Lord himself. The Lamb of God riding atop a donkey. The true Passover Lamb going up to Jerusalem for the sacrifice on the cross. The ultimate and final redemption of God’s people.

 

“Hosanna,” the people cried out. Hosanna, Lord, save us. That’s what Hosanna means. That’s what the parade goers cried out. Hosanna. And well they should. For they were in need of saving. Did they understand what that meant or how Jesus would save them? Of course not. Not yet at least. But Jesus rode into Jerusalem all the same. Jesus set out on his Palm Sunday parade route for them and for you.

 

Lord, save us, we cry out as well. Lord, save us from our pride and folly. Lord, save us from our guilt and shame. Lord, save us from fear and despair. Lord, save us from sin and suffering. Lord, save us from disease and death. Hosanna, Lord save us.

 

And he does. That’s what this week. This day. This Palm Sunday procession is all about. Jesus’ steady, determined march to the cross for you.

 

And yet, there’s something odd about this parade. Something unexpected, yet glorious. Gracious even. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!  The crowds cry out. They’re right of course. Jesus is the King. He comes in the Name of the Lord. For he is the Lord. And yet, notice how he enters Jerusalem. No fanfare. No Rolls Royce Limousine. No ticker tape parade. Instead he rides in on the first century version of a Pinto. Not a conquering warhorse. But a donkey. A beast of burden for the one who journeys to the cross carrying all of our burdens. A humble savior who goes to a humble death on the cross to rescue and redeem you. A victory parade of palms branches that culminates in the King crowned with thorns and enthroned in crucified glory for you.

 

Jesus’ whole life has been a preparation for this grand parade, his final procession to the cross. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Born of the Virgin Mary. Was made man. Crucified. Suffered. Died. And was buried.

 

But the grave was not the terminus of Jesus’ parade route. No, only a three day layover. On Easter Sunday Jesus walks out of his tomb ensuring that when he returns on the last day He will raise us from our graves as well.

 

This is why we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Yes, it is a procession that leads to his passion, suffering, and death, but it is also a victory parade announcing his coming triumph over death on the cross on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

 

Today, all of the pilgrimages in Scripture find their fulfillment in Jesus’ Palm Sunday procession.

 

Today, our exile out of Eden has ended. Our wilderness wandering is over. We return home from Babylon.

 

Today, Jesus leads us on a greater exodus to the cross, through the grave, into the Red Sea of the font and out again into new life and a new creation in his name.

 

Today, we cross into the promised Land with Jesus, our greater Joshua leading the charge with his cross and empty tomb as our royal banners.

 

Today, we join the procession of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, as we gather at our Lord’s table for the true Passover feast of his body and his blood.

 

Today, we join Jesus’ Palm Sunday procession as we enter this Holy Week – the great week of God’s great salvation for you in Jesus. And as we process we join the ancient song, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

 

A blessed Palm Sunday to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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