From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

March 16, 2008 – Palm Sunday, John 3:16, Mt. 21:1-11

This Sunday will be the beginning of our 6 week campaign and sermon series on John 3:16. It’s going to be interesting because I’ve never preached 6 sermons in a row on one text. And I’ve never tried to relate John 3:16 to Palm Sunday. Do they relate?

Over the years I’ve tended to see Palm Sunday as a display of people’s misunderstanding of Jesus and what he’s up to. In many churches it’s a Sunday when the “C&E” Christians come to warm up for Easter. They skip Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday – they skip the blood and passion of Christ and go from Palm Sunday hoopla to Easter whoopee. I see that in the Palm Sunday text itself – people expecting a triumphant Messiah, waving palms and singing, only to run when the blood hits the fan.

I’m coming to see Palm Sunday differently now. When I see that Jesus is aware of all this and comes anyway, I realize that my/our misunderstanding of him and his mission is no obstacle to him and his mission. For me that’s the real triumph of Palm Sunday. Jesus accepts our faulty and misguided praises and parades. He does not let them deter him from his purpose. And in doing so it transforms my awareness of what he’s doing. Way too often I put too much pressure on myself to “get it” – to understand, to be right, to be clear. Jesus needed none of that when he rode into Jerusalem. He does not depend on my right understanding, my right praise (that’s what “orthodox” means BTW – right praise), my anything. In seeing that, I’m relieved of the burden of being right and can depend more on His being right. So let the Palms wave. Let the “hosanna’s” ring. No matter how long we study or follow, we will never capture his glory, his goodness, completely. It will always be “in part”. But he can take my partial understanding and work through it to display his power and majesty – that works through “jars of clay” to reveal the true treasure.

This Sunday I’m going to be using John 3:16 as an answer to why Jesus does Palm Sunday. Why does he go through all this – the Palm Sunday pomp & circumstance? The mistaken pretensions of people who think they’re worshiping because they show up? The flogging, the humiliation, the pain, the cross? Why? From what motivation? For what purpose? John 3:16…

For those of you reading this, I’d appreciate your thoughts – on Palm Sunday, on John 3:16, and how they relate.


One response

  1. (sent a post – must be lost in cyberspace- trying again)

    I don’t know if this is what you are thinking, but I think the connection is “his pure and undescribable love for us”, the sheep of his flock – chosen by God and given to Christ to bring home – even though we are totally undeserving.

    He went into Jerusalem and was hailed king by the people waving palm branches – he knew most of the people had no clue who he really was or what his Kingdom had to offer, but he knew his disciples would soon be prepared to share the Good News through the power of the Holy Spirit that he would send to them and to us. It was not the end, but the beginning of building his Kingdom in heaven.

    John 3:16 illustrates God’s pwerful love for us also and the willingness of Christ to suffer and die on the cross, so we can enjoy life in eternity with him, totally undeserved, and totally powerless on our own to ever see heaven.

    To sum it up the pure, selfless LOVE of God is the connection between the two.

    March 13, 2008 at 11:36 pm

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