I love Palm Sunday: the colors, the branches and waving them, the songs, the joy and praise, the shouting “Hosanna!” It’s one of my favorite Sundays all year long!
Palm Sunday is pretty amazing for alot of reasons and it really should grab our attentino every year. After all it’s this big theatrical parade of protest! Yeah, that’s right. Jesus and his followers are protesting the Roman Government and it’s oppressive actions by having a parade where Jesus sits in the place of Caesar! It would be like having an inauguration party for Jesus instead of the president. Or like having a victory parade for Jesus instead of the Super Bowl Champion. Or like a state of the union address for Jesus!
Remember the story with me from Mark’s version of it…
When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.’”
They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some people standing around said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it. Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve. (Mark 11:1-11)
Hosanna! I really want to think about that one word and this one day in the life of Jesus.
Hosanna! Say it with me! Hosanna! It literally means, “Save us, please!”
If you join the crowds chanting Hosanna today, then you have to ask yourself, “What do I need to be saved from?”
Too often, we think we have already attained salvation. But notice how in the Bible people are always seeking it. The psalmist cry out for salvation over and over, seemingly every day. Israel cries out over and over. People come to Jesus throughout his ministry crying out for salvation, the sick, the lame, the blind, the sinner, the saint, the wealthy, the poor…
So, right now in your life, what do you need to be saved from? Are you looking to Jesus to deliver you?
Folks, if you think you have it all together, have it made, got what you need, can provide for yourself, and your family, if you think you are living the dream, if you think you have arrived, then you don’t really need Jesus do you? So don’t shout Hosanna today.
Today is a day if ever there was a day to connect with our always all the time need for Jesus to save us, to save me and you.
I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus to save me…
- Sometimes I just need Jesus to save me from simple things like coffee and chocolate and over-working myself, and over-stressing my mind and overcompensating for my insecurity.
- But I also need Jesus to me from thing like my despair about failure and regret.
I don’t know about you…
- But I need Jesus to save me from my trust in the things of this world.
- I need Jesus to save me from my selfishness…the way I think what is best for me is best for everyone…cause sometimes what I want, what I think needs to happen in the world is NOT what is best for everyone. I don’t know about you, but I suspect the same is true for you.
- I need Jesus to save me from my envy…my greed…my desire for more
- I need Jesus to save me from the way I neglect others…those in need, those who are hurting…both in this community and around the world
- I need Jesus to save me from my doubts, my doubts in myself, my doubts in other people, my doubts in my faith
I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus. I need Jesus to save me – yesterday, today and tomorrow. I need saving! Save me Jesus! Hosanna! Hosanna!
That is what today is about! But even more than that…
Jesus rode a colt in a theatrical parade that was an act of protest against the oppressive power and authority of the Roman government. And that is a call and reminder to us to think about those oppressive powers and authorities of today. Sometimes those are powers and authorities over you – and we need release from them. We need to be freed and saved from them.
I cannot help but to think about taxes. Tomorrow is tax day right? And some of us are feeling the pressure of our state and country in the form of taxes. I know go ahead and admit it. You’d prefer to pay little or no taxes. But think about everything you get – most of which you aren’t even aware of – for paying taxes!
• Roads and bridges
• Police protection, fire, rescue and disaster services
• Protection from other powers around the world
• Basic education for every person
• Taxes ensure that farmers have a livelihood so that you can have easy access to food!
• Taxes help mitigate poverty by ensuring that there is a safety net that will help catch you if disaster happens to you or your family
Maybe we need to sign an page every time we pay our taxes that reminds us what we get for them! The problem is it would be a book and not a page or pamphlet! Because it is amazing how much we get.
Now I am not advocating we raise taxes. But I am suggesting that we should be grateful for everything we get by paying them. Your safety, your lifestyle, your liberty, your freedom are underwritten by your taxes!
My point is this: maybe we need saving from some of the ideas and ideologies that oppress our mind and memory causing us to only think about our self and to forget the common good, God’s good work for all people.
Think about this a few different ways.
Does religion sometimes feel oppressive? Well, it is because of religion that you know about Jesus Christ. After all, it was the church that passed down the stories and ensured we had bibles and were taught about Jesus.
Do you feel frustrated and burdened by traffic? Maybe you need to be free from that and be grateful for the fact that you can travel so many miles in a day and get to doctors, to medicine, to family and friends, to a store with pretty much anything you want or need within a pretty short time.
Frustrated by the news? How about being amazed at all the news options and can turn on the tv or computer or even you r phone and know about stuff around the world instantly!
Frustrated at the way you see other people live or behave? How about being grateful that everyone doesn’t live and act just like you. The world would be boring if they did! How about being grateful for a God who create so many different people who live, and love, and learn in as many different ways as there around colors in the sunset sky!
Yes, maybe we need saving from some of the misguided, narrow-minded, ungrateful, mundane ideas in our heads that press down our ability to love others and live gracefully and see the best in everyone and give thanks to God!
Maybe some of the most oppressive forces you and I are subject to our things like the excessive individualism in our society that leads us to believe that what we have is ours and not God’s, individualism that causes us to forget the impact of others on our life and success, individualism that may be charitable at Christmas, but not so charitable at tax season!
Maybe some of the most oppressive forces you and I are subject to are things like materialism and consumerism – when buying make us feel happy and eating makes us feel better and we think that success is defined by the size of our home, the comforts of that home, or the amount of money is a savings account. Maybe we need to be saved from that, released from such thoughts.
Maybe some of the most oppressive forces you and I are subject to are things like grief and worry – when you are so overwhelmed by a sense of loss that you can’t find that authentic and honest place of gratitude, when you feel like who you are is more about what you don’t have instead of what you do have or (better yet) who you have lost than what you learned from that person.
Maybe we need to be saved from the things we are addicted to…food, drugs, money, negative pleasure-inducing behaviors, negative thoughts. There are all kinds of addictions in us that most of us ignore. Maybe we need to ask God to show them to us and save us from them!
Maybe some of the most oppressive forces you and I are subject to are things like silence and complacency – when there are all kinds of difficulties and struggles around you that God is calling you to care about and do something about, but you are contented to focus on your own life and your own happiness forgetting that God places everyone of us here to make this creation a better place a good place.
Maybe some of the most oppressive forces you and I are subject to are things like rules and regulations that keep us from giving all of ourselves to God and God’s work. Even right here in this room! Rules about communion that keep us from really and truly celebrating! Rules about being quiet that keep you bored and unengaged in a message or sermon! Say what you will….but silence doesn’t mean you are listening and engaged….it may mean you are asleep. A little Amen or that’s right pastor. Or tell it or preach it or praise god! Can actually help you listen, keep you actively engaged in the word of God and express your desire to hear and learn more both tot eh community and to God! But we get inundated with rules about what we “should” do and the “right way” to act, when those rules are really just pressing down your faith and belief and experience and expression!
God is good! Amen?
Say it like you mean it! Amen! Say it louder! God is Good! AMEN!
You see how that feels! It’s good and okay to express yourself! Lifting your voice is a prayer! Let it out and don’t keep it hidden. That sad thing is that so many religious rules have oppressed us for so long in the church that we don’t even know what it feels like to be released from them, to really praise God with our voice.
So I asked you to think about rest today. What does all this have to do with rest?
Rest means release! Release is rest! Being released from these oppressive forces in our world and society is the beginning of rest!
Oppression means pressing down, like a foot on your neck. And you cannot rest when being pressed down – tension, pain, hurt, angst, pressure, burden. When the pressure is released, then all of a sudden you can rest from all that tension and hurt and burden.
Jesus began his ministry proclaim release for the captives. And today when we celebrate Jesus with Palm branches and shouts of Hosanna, then we are reminding ourselves of his purpose and ministry. We are proclaiming Jesus as power and authority in our lives. We are begging for Jesus to do in our lives exactly what he said he came to do. Save us! Release us! Free us from all that the world would lay upon us – the struggle, the strife, the greed, the materialism, the individualism the selfishness, the fear, the hopelessness.
Brothers and sisters, may it be so with you. May you shout Hosanna! loudly and authentically with every fiber of your being. And may Jesus enter your life this day and every day to save you yet again!