Palm Sunday  /  April 1, 2007    

Resurrection Lutheran Church

Text:  Matthew 21: 1 – 11  /  Title:  Palm Sunday Revisited

Message by Rev. Carol Kniseley


It has been said that when a person knows the end is near…only the important rises to the top.   The trivial is bypassed.    The unnecessary is overlooked and that which is vital remains.     The same can be said of Jesus in his last days on this earth.     Knowing that he had less than one week to spend with his disciples…what did he do?    Where did he choose to spend his time?   What were his last parting words of instruction…that he prayed would remain etched in their hearts for as long as they each should live?     Conscious that the last bits of sand were streaming through the hourglass, let us enter the holist week of the year and observe.


In Matthew’s Gospel, it is important to put into context where Jesus is coming from.    Jesus has just left the city of Jericho and is on his way down the road when he walks by two blind men.    Realizing that it is Jesus passing them by, they began shouting to the top of their lungs:  


“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”


To which Jesus responds:

“What do you want me to do for you?”


Their answer…could have been spoken by anyone of us today:   “Lord…we want to see.”


The reason, I believe, that Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem the way that he did…was so that we would “see him” for who he really was.    They treated him like royalty waving palm branches over him like a royal arch.    Their shouts were of praise to the one who comes in the name of the Lord…for God’s messenger from on high.    As Matthew tells us, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”  To which others then answered, “This is the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee.”


I have often wondered what it would have been like to see Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on that day.   How it must have felt to be caught up in the excitement of the moment, knowing that it wasn’t every day that a prophet…or holy man…or great teacher…comes riding into town.     


I would like to believe that we would have stopped what we were doing…and paid attention.      But then again, that would be asking a lot.    That would mean taking time out of our busy schedules…much like the guy with the donkey and her colt.


Can you imagine going about your business when you look out the window and see two strangers about to walk away with your property?     Now granted the two disciples had been sent by Jesus, but the guy who owned the donkey didn’t know that.    All he knew was that someone was taking what didn’t rightfully belong to them, or so he assumed.    And you know what happens when one assumes.


Sometimes I get the impression that God wants us to give him something, and sometimes we don’t because either we don’t know for sure what it is God wants or we’re just too selfish.    At other times…too few times…we hear God and obey him and feel honored that a gift of ours would be used to carry Jesus into another place.     And still other times we wonder if our little deeds could possibly make a difference in the long haul.


The point is, all of us have something in our lives, which, if given back to God could, like the donkey, move Jesus further down the road.     Maybe you can teach, or sing, or hug, or sew, or program a computer, or work with kids, or speak a foreign language, or write a check.    Whichever, that’s your donkey.


And guess what…your donkey belongs to him.    You heard me.   Your gifts are his and the donkey in the story was his.   And here’s proof:  the original wording of the instructions given by Jesus to his disciples says…


“If anyone asks you why you are taking the donkey,

 you are to say, ‘Its Lord is in need.’” 


The language Jesus used expressed an ancient law that required any citizen to render to the King any item or service the king might request.    In making the request, Jesus is claiming to be king and that as king he has rights to any possession of his subjects. That would be us.


It could be that God is in need of something you have…your time, your abilities, your energy, your possessions…that will allow him to enter the walls of another city, another nation, even another heart.     The real question of the day is:  will you let him have it?  Will you give it joyfully and in thanksgiving to God…with shouts of praise?   Or will you pretend not to hear and hold on to it for yourself.


The truth is, Jesus passes by our way every single day.   The only problem is, many of us are too blind to even notice or too busy to be bothered.  Returning to our story about the blind men who shouted out to Jesus…Matthew reminds us that Jesus did indeed stop what he was doing…taking the time to lay his hands on their eyes…allowing them to see.


Then, in grateful response I am sure, they followed Jesus all the way to Jerusalem.    No doubt, waving palms and shouting what they now knew to be true: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.  May we be blessed this Holy Week to do the same.     Amen