Der Vasken's Sermon on March 25, 2018
Mar 28, 2018
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
"And He had compassion on them and touched their eyes. And immediately they received their sight and followed Him."
Today is Palm Sunday and we just heard what took place on that day as Jesus began His entrance into the City of Jerusalem. The story of Palm Sunday tells of how Jesus entered the Great City of Jerusalem the week before His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and it tells what the city felt like on that day. There was excitement everywhere and there were crowds of people unlike ever seen in that ancient city. The followers of Jesus filled the streets, and strangers He had never seen before overflowed in those streets. People heard of Him. Everyone wanted to meet Him, and His reputation proceeded Him.
Just imagine what was being said on those streets:
- Here comes the One we heard about.
- Here comes the One who can heal my spouse of her illness.
- I want to see Him.
- If I could just touch Him.
- We heard that He made the blind see and the deaf hear.
And so on that day, Jerusalem was a different city.
I have had the privilege of traveling to that Holy City four times in my life. And each time we traveled into and all around Jerusalem and touched the pages of the Bible. We saw 2,000-year old history at every bend in the road. And each time I have traveled there, we walked along the "Palm Sunday path"--the same path Jesus walked as He descended the steep Mount of Olives and approached the same city.
I can visualize the dirt road right in front of my eyes. There were narrow walls on both sides and it was a steep descent. In front of us, there it was--the City of Palm Sunday, the City of Pontius Pilot and the Crucifixion, the City of the Resurrection. There it was! And I thought about how many people had descended this same path over the last 2,000 years. The numbers would be impossible to calculate. There is a story within the story of Palm Sunday that often gets overlooked. The Gospels tell of a small story that happened just as Jesus and His disciples neared the city gates.
Let me share it with you. As He approached the stone wall entrance of the city, two blind men were sitting along the roadside. These men heard that Jesus, the miracle worker, was passing by. So they began shouting to get His attention. And they were heard. Jesus stopped and called to them. "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." "And He had compassion on them and touched their eyes. And immediately they received their sight and followed Him."
The story of Palm Sunday tells us that the people of Jerusalem ran out into the streets and laid palm branches and olive tree branches along His path to soften the ground upon which He walked. What I find interesting about this story is that several times, mention is made of the massive crowds and how they all followed Him. So many people followed Jesus Christ wherever He went for endless miles--through villages and into cities, along dirt roads and across seas. and up and down various mountains. For miles and miles they followed Him and they listened to Him and they learned from Him. And the Bible stresses that wherever Jesus went, people followed. And people are still following Him today.
In fact, people have followed Him for the last twenty-one centuries. They followed Him around Jerusalem back in the 1st Century. From there they followed Him into the furthest parts of the Middle East. Europeans, Africans and even the people of Asia followed Him. Our own ancestors followed Him into and across the land of Armenia earlier than the 4th Century. People follow Him on every populated continent of the world. Everywhere we look, people follow Him.
Let's think about that for a moment. Since the first Palm Sunday, people have changed their lives to follow Him. Who are these people? They are unknown and countless priests and nuns. They are youth workers, choir members, deacons and Sunday School teachers. They are mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, musicians and farmers. They are co-workers and store employees, teachers and firefighters, athletes and merchants, soldiers and neighbors. They are our friends and they live in our homes. People haven't stopped following Jesus. Even today, Christians fill the streets of Jerusalem in the tens of thousands from all four corners of the world to follow Him.
Today is Palm Sunday and looking at the example of the crowds that followed Him, we should ask ourselves:
- Do we follow Christ?
- And when do we follow Him? Every day? When we have time? When it is convenient?
- Do we teach the children around us to follow Him?
- And do we follow the path He wants us to follow?
Written above our Altar are the words: "I am the way and the truth and the life." These are the Words of Jesus taken right from the Gospels. This powerful quote continues with these words: "No one comes to the Father except through Me." No one! Following Christ is empowering and it makes the world less intimidating and easier to face. Jesus is the Way and He calls us to follow Him.
When do you follow Christ in your daily schedule?