Der Vasken's Sermon on April 9, 2017
Apr 10, 2017
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And when He neared the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the crowds began shouting praises to God for all the miracles they had seen. [Lk 19:37)
Today is Palm Sunday, which means that in Christian churches around the world Jesus' humble entrance into the famed City of Jerusalem is being celebrated. The Bible tells us that on this one particular day, great crowds came out to meet Jesus as He approached the city limits of Jerusalem. These crowds waved palm branches and olive tree branches in the air as they walked with Him. And as He entered the city gates, the crowds carpeted the ground in front of Him with their palm branches and olive branches as a sign of great honor and respect usually reserved only for people who held the very highest of positions in government.
So on that first Palm Sunday, the streets of Jerusalem were lined with countless people and the roads of the city were lined with immeasurable amounts of palm branches. On that day thousands of men and women followed Jesus and His Disciples and as they followed Him, they shouted out praises and cheers for all to hear. They knew that He was the One, Who gave life to the dead. They knew that He gave sight to the blind and health to the ill. And they knew that He was the One, Who could walk on water, calm a storm and stop the wind. So they laid down their palm branches and they cheered His arrival into their city. It must have been the equivalent to a modern-day parade like we had in Boston two months ago.
Today, according to the tradition, we will all leave here with palm branches to take home and place in a prominent location for the whole family to see. That's our tradition. Because just as Christ entered Jerusalem many years ago, He wants to enter our hearts and homes today and the palm branch is a visual we use to remind ourselves of that fact. The important thing this Palm Sunday is not only that Christ entered Jerusalem many years ago, but that He comes to us today. It's not only how He was received by people 2,000 years ago on this day, but how He will be received by us today.
I heard a poem someone once wrote about God after they successfully overcame a very difficult period of their life. I want to share it with you today. It's called It's God Who Enables.
"It is God, Who enables you to smile in spite of tears; to carry on when you feel like giving in; to pray when you're at a loss for words; to love even though your heart has been broken time and time again; to sit calmly when you feel like throwing up your hands in frustration; to be understanding when nothing seems to make sense; to listen when you would really rather not hear; to share your feelings with others because sharing is necessary to ease the load. Anything is possible because God makes it so." (Faye Sweeney)
This is a great short poem and I believe in its message that no matter what life deals us, if we have faith to follow Christ, we will be able to see life through His eyes and we will find the good. If we walk with God through life, we can see the sun shine even when it's cloudy. And He will walk with us even when things don't go our way. I mentioned last Sunday that one of the greatest statements Jesus Christ ever made was this: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock..." and if you open the door, I will enter and dwell within your heart." Jesus Christ, Who "knocked" on the doors of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, is today knocking at the door of each of our hearts and He is calling us to follow Him as the crowds followed Him into Jerusalem.
With each knock at our heart, He's calling us to a higher life. He's calling us to follow God and to do so throughout life. He's calling us to be caring and compassionate. He's calling us to love and to help people no matter what. He's calling us to reach out to those in need and make a difference in their lives starting today. With each knock at our heart, He is saying to us:
- You may have many friends or you may be very lonely;
- You may enjoy good health or you may be burdened with illness;
- You may have found success or you may have seen failure too many times;
- But you can always walk with God.
"So come," He says, "and follow Me."
So on this Palm Sunday, may we all realize that Jesus Christ is calling us to a higher life--a life higher than the burdens of this life can ever reach. And He is inviting us to follow Him as the crowds followed Him into Jerusalem. And may we all remember His Words to us: "Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and I knock...." and if you open the door, I will enter and dwell within you."
- Do you hear Him knocking?
- Will you answer His knock?
- And will you follow Him throughout your life?
"Behold, I stand at the door and I knock..." says the Lord. Today is Palm Sunday and we're invited to follow Him. The choice is yours.