Palm Sunday 04/05/20—Highland—Meute
“This Is the Prophet Jesus from Nazareth”
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 21: 1-11
Pearl: The prophetic nature of the kingdom of Christ/God.
Function: To laser-focus like never in our lifetime (due to world-wide COVID-19 pandemic) on the facts of why Christ was put to death by crucifixion because of his prophetic work of opposing the authority of Rome by proclaiming the kingdom of God (people were crucified in order to make very clear that if you made waves against Roman dominion you would pay with your life in this barbaric way). It was a way to keep the masses under control.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to actually a small swell of praise and adulation with strategic, surgical, and prophetic intent. What happened in his last week of life on earth was the clash of the kingdom of God with empire. And he was crucified for his meddling, for his passion for God’s Way.
this Holy Week is unlike any Holy Week any of us have experienced in our lives.
No one of us living have ever been given stay-at-home orders by the Governors
of our States due to a virus spread over the whole wide earth. We are living in
- So this gives the events of the last week of our Lord’s life the opportunity to be the “main thing” like never before.
will be no distractions of typical holiday celebrations which always have a way
of over-shadowing the spiritual and religious roots of the holiday.
- There will be none of the usual community gatherings.
- We will miss the big family meal gatherings.
- But instead we can pay much more attention to what Holy Week was all about in the first place.
get right to the point on this Palm Sunday, the beginning of what we call Holy
- Our only Sovereign, Jesus Christ, finally approached Jerusalem on that fateful day, riding on a donkey, which was the royal mount for King David and his armies as he rode the mountainous hills and valleys of Palestine many generations before, fully knowing that he would die.
- He went with his followers to Jerusalem because of his total passion for God and for God’s kingdom. His was a passion which he knew would put him at cross purposes with his own faith leaders and with the empire of the day.
went to the cross because the kingdom of God cannot comfortably coexist with
any earthly kingdom. This is why Christ died. It was his
devotion to God and to God’s way that could not be tolerated by his own faith
leaders and the empire of the day: in this case, Rome.
- But long before Jesus lived on earth, and ever since Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine, prophetic truth-tellers are not tolerated for their antagonism of the powers that be.
To understand the meaning and significance of Holy Week you have to realize that the kingdom of God does not comfortably co-exist with any earthly kingdom ever.
Throughout his public ministry and mission Jesus stepped into the long-standing tradition of God’s prophets who spoke out against the powers of the day.
was very much in Jesus’ mind when he mounted that donkey to climactically ride
- Matthew’s gospel quotes the prophet Zechariah, “[Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!] Look, your king comes to you; [triumphant and victorious is he,] humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9 transposed into Matt. 21:5). But note carefully that Matthew removed the triumphalism of the original prophecy of Zechariah.
- That original prophecy goes on to reveal what is the nature of God’s kingdom, “He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations…his dominion will be from sea to sea…I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit (Zech. 9: 10-11).
gospel account of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem ends at verse 11 with the crowds
saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matt.
are your ideas of prophets or the prophetic?
- With this global pandemic there is a greater amount of chatter within some parts of the church which many call “prophetic” but I suggest are abusing scripture and actually are “false prophets.” Those who are reading the tea leaves and making all kinds of statements that this is God’s doing or God is doing this and these are signs of some kind for people of faith are way off base, I believe.
- Any time that people asked Jesus to prophecy in these ways he declined. And he was the Son of God!
prophetic shoes that Jesus stepped into were the ones which speak the truths of
God which are the ways of God and they clash with the powers that be.
- The “powers and principalities” with which
prophets clash are:
- Powers of oppression;
- Powers of violence;
- Powers of wealth and dominance of a few over the many.
- Most world powers are like this and are
antagonistic to the kingdom of God.
- The kingdom of God was the heart of Jesus message and it was the polar opposite of systems of power and dominance which contribute to most of the woes of the world.
- The “powers and principalities” with which prophets clash are:
- What are your ideas of prophets or the prophetic?
The realm of God will clash with realms of the world.
bring this very close to home there can be no comfortable relationship between
the kingdom of Christ and the United States of America.
- Many Christians in our country want to wed our faith and our country but this does not align with the will of God in Christ.
must be either God or country but not both. Christ did not champion the kingdom
of Israel; he proclaimed the kingdom of God.
- This provoked the leaders of Israel who were much too cozy with Rome.
- And the promotion of any other kingdom attracted the attention of Caesar as a direct challenge the empire of Rome and could not be tolerated.
- For this Jesus was seen as a criminal and a danger to keeping the people under the control of the Roman Empire and he was crucified. Crucifixion was reserved for those who Rome wanted to make a clear example to the masses—don’t do what this person did or you will find the same fate. It was a mechanism of control.
- Jesus said one day, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24). You cannot champion God and country. You can only serve one or the other. The kingdom of God and the empires of this world cannot be one and the same.
way, Christ’s kingdom is a way which does not match up with any empire on
- What earthly system is there which is fair and compassionate to all?
- What earthly kingdom looks out for everyone?
- Earthly empires are built to favor a few at the expense of most.
- So Christ championed the way of God through his life and ministry and this put him at a crossroads with the oppressive systems which existed within his own nation of Israel, and of course which was the essence of Rome.
True prophets, truth-tellers beware!
are truth-tellers who call to account war machines.
- Prophets work for peace.
- Prophets speak up for and work to help the poor and the down-trodden.
do not accept lies as truth.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci is standing before our nation each day telling truths that our nation needs to hear for our very health and well-being and there are death threats being made against him.
- The Captain of the naval vessel USS Theodore Roosevelt was relieved of his command on Friday because he spoke out on behalf of his endangered ship with so many sick sailors. He likely knew he would be relieved of his command for going outside the normal channels of command but he did so to get more rapid action to relieve a dangerous situation. He sacrificed himself for others. He departed the ship to the wild applause and appreciation of his sailors.
- Prophets, truth-tellers beware!
week which we call Holy Week, the most sacred week in the Christian year is
when we think of our Lord’s final week with deep thanks and deep devotion.
this year 2020, for Holy Week we focus with surgical precision on the reason
that our Lord was put to death and why there was the attempt to stop his
- The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ was quite literally about the climactic clash of God’s righteous rule with every unrighteous earthly rule.
- In this year 2020, for Holy Week we focus with surgical precision on the reason that our Lord was put to death and why there was the attempt to stop his movement.
Followers of Christ remember who you are and remember your calling to call to account every unjust system and structure that oppresses people’s lives.
Your only Lord, your only Sovereign is the Prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.
Serve him with all of your heart and all of your mind and all of your soul. But beware, because you will be opposed by forces even within the church as well as outside.
But take courage because you will be following in the steps of your Lord and only Sovereign Jesus Christ.