Mission: What If Blessing Is Our Job?
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, [Jesus] sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”
They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.
Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:1-10)
Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed. We often think of blessed in terms of positive life events or having material things. But blessing is much more than goodness or material needs.
More on that in a few minutes. Let’s look at the story of the Parade of Palms and we think about blessings.
This story marks Jesus’ triumphal moment. But it’s odd. Jesus parade of palms stand in contrast to the magnificent parade of the Roman Empire of his day.
The Roman parades were about celebrating victory, showing the greatness and magnificence of Rome, displaying the power of their military might, and ensuring that the world knew who was powerful and in charge.
Jesus parade is quiet different. It is not a celebration of victory for nothing has yet been won. It is not a show of military power. It is not a opulent display of greatness or majesty.
Instead, Jesus triumphal moment is one in which he shows us through action what love is. Let me describe Jesus parade through the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians, a passage you are probably very familiar with…
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
This is the love Jesus shows riding on a simple donkey – not boastful, prideful or rude. But gentle, modest, ordinary and humble.
It’s the love of palm branches and coats laid carefully on the roadway – not enviable, lavish, arrogant or demanding, but simple, inexpensive, plain, unassuming.
This is the love of a man just a week before he dies knowing full well that he is walking towards the end of his earthly life. It isn’t rash, resentful, or even remotely irritable, but patient, kind, and grace-filled.
I don’t have some profound idea for you today. Only that the love Jesus shows through the parade of palms, the way he loves through his self-giving, and how he carries himself knowing what he will lose by giving of himself is the model to which we are called to emulate.
Our job is not to simply wave palms at Jesus as he passes by – though it is a great way to honor him. Our job is to love others as Jesus loves us. Our job is to bless others as Jesus blesses them through the love he showed in his miracles, his messages and his mercy. And this is captured in the beautiful phrase we proclaim each Palm Sunday:
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
This proclamation is profound. It is a reminder that…
- You are not blessed because you have material thing.
- You are not blessed because you have a church or good job or a great life.
- You are blessed when you come in the name of the Lord
- You are blessed when you come, when you make a move towards others and do so as Jesus did, in his name giving your life as a blessing for others.
- You are blessed when what you have is given in service to others.
That is the meaning, I believe, of the beautiful Psalm Sunday phrase: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
You are blessed when your life is a blessing for others.
Have you ever heard the phrase, Blessed to be a blessing?
I used to struggle with this phrase. I didn’t like it at all. I heard people use it about material possessions. For example, I have been given knowledge, a good job, a wonderful family, stability and financial means, so that I can help others. And that may sound nice and feel good initially. But think about what that implies for those who do not have such means. Seriously, think about that for a moment…
The truth is, you are not simply blessed because you have things. You are not simply blessed because you are happy or content.
You are blessed because you serve others. You become a blessing by approaching others in humility…like Jesus on a donkey. You are blessed when you love others as if your life depended on it.
You are blessed when you put a garden in the ground that will be used to feed others. You re blessed when you gather on a Saturday morning to package 85,000 meals for hungry people around the world. You are blessed when you pack backpacks full of food for children who will go hungry over the weekend without it. You are blessed when you make and take cancer care kits to children at the hospital. You are blessed when you give a small gift that buys a blanket for a refugee in a cold and war torn land. You are blessed when you come to others in the name of the Lord through compassion and service.
Today, there is a survey on your connection card to share how you have been blessed because you have served. We know that you do so much more out in this community than we know about….and we want to celebrate that with you. So we are asking you about the organizations and causes that you donate to and that you volunteer at. Next Sunday, Easter Sunday, we will take some time to celebrate all the ways that each of us is blessed by serving others in the name of the Lord.