(The below sermon was preached four years ago (1 April 2012) on Palm Sunday. I am sending this sermon since may sermon at St. Andrews was a composite sermon for Palm Sunday and Easter. I will be at St. Peter’s for the Easter service)
Sermon Notes for Palm Sunday 20 April 2016 Anno Domini
St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church
The Bible is populated with a number of Great Lone Hills that rise majestically from the dunes and deserts of the wilderness of sin. That which we approach today in observing the impending crucifixion of Christ is the great mountain of grace and mercy at Calvary – a mountain of unmerited mercy and grace for the chosen of God. It was foreshadowed by the interdicted sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in the same mountain range as that of Calvary. These smaller mountains of God’s grace are like small foothills of promise that rise in growing measure toward the heights of Everest which is the true Calvary. The sacrifice of Christ was the consummation of all of God’s prophecies of redemption, salvation, and atonement. It was the final act that opened the floodgates of mercy and the fountain of eternal life for all who are those of faith.
There was nothing reasonable about the sacrifice of Christ. He came to shed His life’s blood for those who were at enmity with Him and His Father. As our fathers climbed each successive mountain of grace and prophecy, their perspective prevented their clear view of the ultimate mountain of greatest towering stature that loomed beyond the crest of the last lesser mountain that foreshadowed Calvary. Mt Moriah upon whose brow, Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac, precluded the full view of that sacrificial fulfillment in Christ. As well was the fullness of the Promise occluded from the view of Moses upon Mt Nebal. It was the faith of Abraham, Moses, and others in the satisfaction of the benefits of salvation that made the coming reality of the redemption an accomplished and known fact centuries before its actual fulfillment.
As we begin our observance of Holy Week, it will be revealing to our souls if we view the significant events of the week in order of their occurrence:
The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Lord’s Day. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, (John 12:12) This was the day that the Passover Lamb was to be set aside and kept for its sacrifice on the eve of Passover. Truly, Christ coming into Jerusalem to be kept until the 14th Nisan was the full picture of our Passover in Christ. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:7-8) The unleavened bread with which we observe the Passover represents the truth and sincerity of Christ our Passover.It is noteworthy of the fickle and wicked nature of man that the same people who were shouting Hosanna at the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem were the same who would be shouting for His crucifixion less four days later.
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” (John 12:12-15)
Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to express His humility. He had travelled to Bethlehem on a donkey at the beginning of His life. At the close of His life, He again rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people cast palm branches before Him shouting “Hosanna” a word of Hebrew origin ‘Ho’ – see us, Yasha- na (save). This is why we refer to the day as Palm Sunday. It is the day that we, like Christ, begin our observance of Holy Week in preparation for our Passover in Christ. (see: Exodus 12)
The Jewish rulers were enraged at the honor the people showed to Christ. They could have been part of the celebration, but chose to be part of the gloom and hate. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. They conceived in their hearts to destroy the source of their anguish. The devil, like governments, can tolerate no opposition.
Jesus would observe the Passover meal the night of His taking by the Jews in the Garden at Gethsemane. He would serve the meal to Judas, and the disciples, knowing beforehand that the disciples would flee from Him once the tables were turned against Him, and Judas would betray Him with a ‘kiss.’ As Mary had anticipated His coming Passion (unwittingly), and bath the feet of Christ with ointment, Christ will now signal that act of humility by bathing the feet of His disciples at the Passover meal.
On the eve before His crucifixion, the Lord went into the Garden at Gethsemane to pray. He took His three closest disci0ples, Peter, James, and John, who could not keep awake even in the last moments of the life of Christ. We, too, cannot keep our attention on the Word even during the sermon most frequently. How vain and fickle are we.
When the Jewish soldiers came to take Jesus captive in the Garden, His identity was pointed out by Judas who went to Christ and kissed His cheek, thus betraying the Lord of glory with a kiss. “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48) That was a betrayal of eternal repercussions for Judas, and for us.
Night in the Garden
By Bishop Jerry Ogles
“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.” John 18:3
Out of the darkest Halls of Hell
Came the marchers with torches raised.
Into the Garden quiet and still
They wandered forlorn and crazed.
Up to the Sovereign Lord of Love,
Their spears shining bright in the mist,
With arrogant air and a hateful shove
They took Him who wouldn’t resist.
Now to the head of Scribe and Priest
Was the Savior led that night,
And to Herod’s Court and Pilate’s Seat
Where Right gave way to the Night.
To the craggy heights of the Lonely Skull
They took Him and laid Him down
And into His Hands of Love they drove
Iron spikes with a terrible Sound!
On His Brow a thorny Crown He wore
And His flesh was torn and bruised.
His Heart of Grace grew cold and sore
As the Spirit of Life was loosed.
The world of woe a Hope has found
In the Promise made sure by His Death
And the Saints of God with Faith abound
In the Fields that our Lord has Blessed!
The courageous Peter drew a sword and severed the ear of one of the guards. He had much courage in the presence of Christ, yet, when separated from Christ in the Garden, that same Peter denied Christ shamefully three times in the night.
Christ (the true High Priest) was taken to the Jewish High Priest where He was mocked, beaten and ridiculed. He was blasphemed and the Sanhedrin presumed to interrogate the Son of God. Having falsely accused Him, they led Him to Pilate the Roman Proconsul. Herod would be considered a pretty good Democrat or Republican today – he was quite politically correct. He found no fault in Christ, but wished to pass the buck by sending Jesus to Herod who also mocked Christ and tried to humiliate Him. He then returned Jesus to Pilate. King Herod and the Proconsul had previously been bitter enemies, but in their mutual estrangement to Christ, they became friends at this time. The devil’s children are united in their opposition to God always.
To be honest, even the Gentile, Pontius Pilate did attempt to set Jesus free, but the moment he attempted to do this, the Jews raged against him and threatened him with a charge against his allegiance to Caesar.
Pilate, after an established tradition of setting one prisoner free at Passover, decided to offer up Christ as the man to be set free. The Jewish rulers would hear none of this. They demanded, instead that Barabbas, a depraved murderer, be set free instead. Let me tell you here and now, that Barabbas represented each one of us. Because of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, we all, who were offenders against God and man, have been set free.
Please note this political decision of poor and cowardly Pilate: “And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.” (Luke 23:13-25)
So Christ was beaten with many stripes, tortured and delivered up for crucifixion – a crown of thorns on His head to ridicule His claim to be the Son of God.
He was cast without the gate of Jerusalem as the Son of the Owner of the Vineyard. Along the Via Dolorosa, He carried His heavy cross – the cross intended for you and me. He was driven all the way to Golgotha on Calvary’s brow and crucified between to criminals. The events of that day will await further revelation in next week’s sermon for Easter. Are you ready to partake of the Communion of the Lord’s Table?