Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of March 21, 2016

Palm Reader

It was Palm Sunday and because of a sore throat, little Johnny stayed home from church with his mother.  When the rest of the family returned home, they were carrying several palm branches.  Johnny was curious and inquired as to what they were for.  “People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,” his father responded.

“Wouldn’t you just know it?” Johnny complained, “The one Sunday I don’t go, and HE shows up!”

Indeed on this Palm Sunday, Jesus is here.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords so go ahead and raise those palm branches, Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hail Hosanna, King of Kings!

This is also the beginning of Holy Week, that week where our Lord’s passion, His suffering, and His death are forefront in our minds.  But like we have said all of Lent, it’s just another 40 days, as these things should be in our minds every day. 

You heard the account at the beginning of worship. The crowd lifted the palms high, raised their voices and welcomed the King.

The pilgrims who witnessed the event, those who participated in the waving of palms, the laying down of coats would have to read the scene as one of coronation.  The future looked bright; the kingdom of David was at hand, Praise God! Hail Hosanna!

You might even say those who saw this triumphant entry were palm readers.  They wanted to know their future.  They looked, they read and they interpreted the events that played out in front of them and believed they pointed to a king!  The promised king!

The long awaited Messiah of God who had come to free them from the tyranny and oppression they faced.
In reality they had a king; whose predecessor sought to capture the Messiah at his birth, from the family of Herod, and soon enough the one whom Jesus would stand before as a captive before his death. 

Those who read the palms that day wanted to know that their future was filled with hope and not the despair they encountered on a daily basis. 

Have you attempted to read the palms?  I know that for many of you, your days are littered with despair or filled with the trappings of perceived tyranny and oppression as well, and you hope that the future will be better than the past and more pleasing than the present.  We all want to know our future. 
Some in the crowd that day were also hoping for fortune.  To see those palms waving back and forth they were transported in their minds to a tranquil palm beach, away from the hustle and bustle, the dog eat dog world, the daily grind, the never ceasing struggle to make ends meet.  They hoped that this king would set them on a new path filled with material well-being and earthly fortune. 

We all want that Palm Beach moment; to find, that tranquil beach where all our troubles will be far away. 
Many in the crowd waving palm branches thought that their fortunes were about to change.  That this king was to restore the fortune of Israel, to dismiss the oppression of foreign occupation and usher in a new world order filled with all the riches and wealth one could imagine.

How many of you wish Jesus would do the same for you today?
  • The religious leaders of the day desired a future and fortune. 
  • The political leaders of the day desired a future and a fortune.
  • In our own sinful minds we too desire temporal safety and fiscal security.   But Jesus received neither!

Palms quickly gave way to a tree...From Palm Readers, to a Palm Beach to Palms nailed to a tree; the cries of “Crucify! Crucify!” would replace “Hail Hosanna! Blessed is He!” 

The curse of sin fell upon Christ.  Shouts of praise gave way to mocking and insults.  His future was bleak, His fortune was gone.
In many ways, we are to blame.  How often have our words been filled with hosannas one moment, and full of insults the next?  We struggle to worship the King of Kings and instead find ourselves worshiping the things of this world, making them our king.

It was our sin, yours and mine, our action and inaction, our words of false praise and untrusting ways that sent Jesus to stand before His accusers, to take the attacks of the mockers, to feel the searing pain of the nails and experience the utter loneliness of separation from His Father.

But even in our disobedience, Jesus pleads to the Father on our behalf. “Father, forgive them!”
Palm Sunday is not about palms to be read, but palms that bled. 

It is not about an idyllic palm beach, but a Savior whose love would reach each and every one of us.
It is a day that will find its culmination on a tree where we will be set free, and forgiveness is ours, because of Jesus.

A wondrous and glorious truth is this:  through the death of Jesus we receive a future and fortune. 
The future of heaven is ours, in Christ. We have the fortune of God’s amazing grace and His presence now as He shows up here again and again for you, to forgive you, to bring to you His eternal love and abiding presence.   

Next week we will celebrate with the world that tomb is empty, that sin has been defeated that a celebration that has no end is ours!

The heart of Palm Sunday is in the loving palms of Jesus, our savior, who went to the tree, to be separated from His Father, and secure your future and bring eternal fortune.

His palms bled so that we may be fed, here and now by His body and by His blood.

Because of Jesus, we can raise our own palms.  Because of Jesus our palms that have been prone to inaction and reaction might be used to bring healing to others, to reach out in love to those in need, to point to the tree and more importantly to the one who set us free.

May others be able to read our palms and in them experience Jesus who once again shows up here in this place, for us!        

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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