March 20, 2005
Palm Passion Sunday
"Palm Passion Sunday"
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
 saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.
 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately."
 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
 "Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.
 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
8:30: This Is The Day - #657
(Children Process with Palm Branches, Place at foot of Cross)
11:00: This Is The Day - Praise Band
(Children Process with Palm Branches, Place at foot of Cross)
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. He is the Rock, our Redeemer, and our Refuge from the storm. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the Lamb of God, the Great Shepherd, the Prince of Peace. He is the Bread of Life, the True Vine, the Living Water. He is the Bridegroom, Brother, and Bright and Morning Star. He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.
 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?"
 The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."
The Palm Branches at the foot of the cross remind us of that triumphal entry. On that day every knee did bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Messiah. Palm branches waved and voices were raised proclaiming Him King. It was glorious and exciting. But it was just a beginning. The changes a couple of days would bring were frightening. Jesus had to be wondering if the circle of disciples, the circle of the faithful could or would remain in tact.
We know that the circle wouldn't be unbroken. It wasn't just broken, it was shattered. One of the Disciples, one of the chosen, would betray Him. One would claim to never fall away and promise to always lean on everlasting arms of Jesus. But in the end, he would deny knowing Jesus, not once, but three times. And the all others would scatter like so much chaff in the wind.
Jesus knew all this. He even foretold it to the disciples as they sat for their last Passover Celebration together.
 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
 and said, "What will you give me if I betray him to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver.
 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;
 and while they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me."
 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, "Surely not I, Lord?"
 He answered, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."
 Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" He replied, "You have said so."
 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee."
 Peter said to him, "Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you."
 Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times."
 Peter said to him, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples.
BUT THEY DID!
That night Jesus changed up the Passover ritual, something that was as Sacred and time honored as the Apostles Creed. Jesus took the Hidden Matzah, the unleavened Bread, the dessert bread, the bread that completed everything and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body."
Then at the cup of Redemption, Jesus took the cup reserved for Elijah or the Messiah, lifted it, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
By doing so, Jesus proclaimed Himself the Messiah, the Son of God. In a few short hours, it would be His body that would be broken and His blood that would be poured out and given as our Paschal Lamb. With His life he would offer Himself as the Sacrifice for our sin; buy our freedom from sin; and conquer death thus removing our fear of death and giving us eternal life.
Unfortunately, the Disciples didn't quite comprehend what Jesus was saying and it would be a long weekend of confusion and misunderstanding for the Disciples.
We'll Understand It By and By/Just Over In the Gloryland/When We All Get to Heaven - Chancel Choir
When we all get to heaven, that WILL be a day to rejoice. No more tears, no more trials. No more death, no more pain. No more injustice, no more violence. No more greed, no more hate. No more lies, no more betrayals. No more indifference, no more loneliness. No more misunderstandings, no more denials. When we all get to heaven we'll understand completely and we WILL rejoice in what Christ Jesus has done for us. But for Jesus, there was still the earthly struggle he had to go through. And in preparation, Jesus went deep into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for strength.
 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated.
 Then he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me."
 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want. . . Your will be done."
What a struggle that must have been. What a monumental spiritual battle was won that day in the Garden of Gethsemane for our sakes. "Father, not what I want but what you want. . . Your will be done." When was the last time any of us asked God that question. "Not what I want but what you want." Such love. Such honor. Such faith. Such obedience. "Not what I want but what you want." Oh, God, help us to have just a touch of that faith. Just a mustard seed's worth of the faith, honor, love and obedience Jesus had.
 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him."
 At once he came up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.
 Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you are here to do." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
Betrayed, by a kiss. How horrible. A friend kisses you. A loved one kisses you. Not a betrayer. But that's how it happened. Betrayed, by a kiss.
Betrayed. Arrested. Deserted. Alone with his captors and accusers; there was nothing legal about Jesus' trial. It was held at night, when no one could truly identify Him. It was held in secret so those of the Sanhedrin, the Council, who might have supported Jesus couldn't be there. Falsely accused, the hired witnesses couldn't even agree on their false testimony. What a mockery of justice. And yet they condemned Him. And He bore it all without reproach because of His love for us.
Pilate could have intervened and set Him free but instead, fearing for his own life and his position, he acceded to the demands of the leaders. And then he turned Jesus over to the troops to be crucified.
 Then he asked, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!"
 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.
 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull),
 and they had crucified him, then they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots.
Brutalized, beaten, stripped of all dignity, mocked and derided from all sides, they hung Him out to die. Alone. And yet, from the very cross of His agony, he uttered unforgettable words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." What kind of man could utter such words? What depth of love must have possessed His soul and spirit. What depth of love He must have for us.
 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
 And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Elijah."
 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.
 But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him."
 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.
 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth
 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.
 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.
 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
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