Luke 19—Palm Sunday

A DIY service from John

If the links don’t work for you, here is Eeyore’s Big Day, the Hosanna Rock Song and The Instructions for making Palm Crosses.

Today’s reading is Luke 19:28-40Open Link in New Window

A reflection by Revd Richard Pendlebury.

Good morning everyone, it is good to be together for this Palm Sunday service even if we are apart physically in our own homes.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem it would have been packed for the Passover festival which lasted 8 days. Based on the number of sacrifices made during the period (250,000), the Romans estimated there were over 2.5 million people in the city. For the mathematicians amongst you, that is 10 people to every sacrifice. To put this in perspective modern Jerusalem has a population of 850,000 people. Can you imagine the smell of all those sacrifices along with the dusty pilgrims—it must have been atrocious.

Jesus arrived on the foal of a donkey, a colt and not a horse and this was a sign that he came in peace. There was a precedent in King David’s time. In 1 Kings there is a reference to the accession of Solomon:

King David said, ‘Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king, the king said to them, ‘Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon.

Jesus was greeted by cheers from the crowd who lay down palm branches and their coats in honour for the arriving King. A particularly vocal band of followers sang a song of praise—Psalm 118:26Open Link in New Window

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’

This is a victory song which speaks of God establishing His kingdom. The inference is that the assembled crowd thought that Jesus was the one who was going to overthrow the Roman occupiers and re-establish the Jewish nation.

The Pharisees told Jesus to quieten his disciples. Their main concern was that the authorities might hear of this potential threat to their rule, in other words disrupt the status quo. Jesus response was, ‘if I quieten them, then the stones will call out’—in other words nothing was going to stop this celebration.

It is a story of crowds and bustle, energy and enthusiasm and sheer exuberance. Jesus the king had arrived, bringing with Him the hopes of a nation oppressed by their Roman rulers. Not only was an annual celebration but there was an added level of excitement with the arrival of Jesus—could he be the expected messiah?

We are all scattered at the moment but think back to when you were in a big crowd carried along with other people. It could have been a sporting occasion, a festival or a concert—can you get some sense of the excitement? Some years ago I went to see Holland play football against Italy in Amsterdam. Everyone was dressed in orange including me and a friend. As we travelled in a packed train to the match the excited Dutch fans were jumping up and down in unison which made the carriage bounce all over the place. I have to say I was glad when we got off but it is a memory that has stayed with me.

All of us will be feeling the sense of contrast between the crowds greeting Jesus and our usual experience of living in a busy city. Our church building is closed, our streets empty with people distance themselves from each other, and then there is the silence.
And yet there is an even greater contrast… the journey of Jesus from conquering hero to despised criminal in the space of a week.

  • The crowds who cheered and were replaced by crowds who jeered and demanded his crucifixion
  • The disciples who sang victory songs were scattered, including his inner circle of special friends. Some denied they even knew him.

Jesus died for those who loved him, but he also died for those who couldn’t care less for him, those who despised him and those who crucified him. On the cross he said ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’. St Paul wrote in Romans 5:8Open Link in New Window that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He died for you for me, for our family and neighbours, for those who live in our city and our country and all the other countries in the world. He died to take our failings and sin on himself and to give us eternal life. His journey went from the waving of palms and cheering through to a betrayal, a travesty of a trial, to the cruellest of deaths. But it did not end there because he rose again and overcame death which we will celebrate on Easter Day.

As we journey through Holy Week together let us remember what Jesus did for us and in turn, live lives worthy to be called his disciples. In the words of our Archbishops we are called particularly at this time to be hopeful and rooted in the in prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.

Amen

There is a video Morning Worship and podcast of the Sermon.

You are with us in our prayers for an encouraging week ahead as we enter Holy Week.

Holy Week—we hope to offer something for Tuesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

On Maundy Thursday Bishop Viv invites you to join her in an act of Worship to be streamed at 10.30am. You will be able to access it on the Cathedrals’ Facebook page or YouTube. There will be an order of service available which we will distribute early next week.

Sisters of the Church—We will let you know next week how you can support the Ministry of Sisters of the Church during this period.

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