The Schizophrenic Holy Day
Pastor Jim Kniseley prepared this sermon for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, April 9, 2006. The Processional Gospel is Matthew 21:1-11 and the Passion Gospel is Mark 15:1-39.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today is Palm Sunday and today is Passion Sunday. This most schizophrenic of holy days is characterized by emotional extremes – happy and sad. Have you felt it? We waved our palm branches and shouted our hosannas to Jesus at the beginning of the service, and then we heard 39 verses of the crucifixion story.
Our church musicians wanted to know: Pastors, do we have songs of joy or songs of sorrow? The answer on this day is “yes” and “yes”.
call this Palm Sunday because the people of
If we are honest with ourselves, we know too that each of us has within us the capacity to shout “crucify him”. For we can be led astray by our worldly concerns and temptations. Some of the anger we may feel toward those who turned their backs on Jesus has to be fueled by the knowledge we carry that we too are responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross.
the gospel of Mark, Palm Sunday starts with a parade. A parade is a spectacle. Those who participate in a parade want to be
seen. Jesus wanted to be seen riding on
a donkey on the major thoroughfare of
than being a victim who was surprised by his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus
determined when all this would happen by his purposeful and forceful actions in
public view of the leaders of the Jews and the people. Theologian Edgar Goodspeed has called Jesus’
message was Jesus delivering by his actions?
Remember that Jews from all over had come to
Jesus revealed that he is the Promised Messiah. In his Seder with the Disciples in the Upper Room, that we call the Lord’s Supper, he told them that from then on they were to understand that he was giving a whole new meaning to this meal. It is his body and his blood that will be sacrificed for the forgiveness of their sins. When they eat and drink this supper, they are participating in the new covenant God is making with them through Jesus.
This is a true story that took place on a Palm Sunday. A pastor served a church that decided to have a Palm Sunday Procession for the first time. The church was located in the middle of a city. In the midst of their procession, a young man in the apartment house across the street threw up the window and shouted, “What’s all that noise? You sound like the Salvation Army!” The pastor looked up at him and said, “Son, this is the salvation army!”
What better way to sum up the events of the first Palm Sunday than to call it a salvation army parade. Jesus and his ragtag army parade outside the city gate and the time has come. The day of salvation is at hand.