Sunday, March 25, 2018
Palm Sunday Message: “Who is This?”
Matthew 21: 1- 11
A Story is told of a young boy who was sick on Palm Sunday and unable to go to church. His mother stayed home with him and his father went to church. When his father came home he brought with him a few of the palm branches he received at church. He went into his son’s room to see how he was doing. His son asked him what he had in his hand. The father replied I have Palm branches. What are they for? His son asked. We waved them when Jesus comes to town. The boy became sad and began to cry. The father asked, what is the matter? The son sobbingly says, the very day Jesus comes to town I miss him because I’m sick.
This problem though presented in a humorous way is the same today. We miss Jesus because we are ill prepared to receive him.
“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?”
This truly would be a rhetorical question if not for the next verse in our text: “And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”
How is it possible that the multitude answered the question wrong?
So Who is this Jesus?
Prophets in the mind of the ancients where generally recognized as inspired deliverers of God’s message. In this sense Jesus was simply seen as one of the other divinely inspired messengers the people had seen before.
You remember the story on the Mount of Transfiguration in the gospels. Peter, James and John were with Jesus when he transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah also appeared. This event was so powerful that they wanted to build three tabernacles there and worship the them together. They concluded that it was good to have been here and wanted to stay forever.
If the disciples could only understand Jesus within the context of the prophetic line, really it is not unreasonable for the multitude to think the same.
The problem we face if we reduce our understanding of Jesus to simply that of a prophet is that he is only a communicator of wise and useful sayings.
If we think that, I believe our understanding is misdirected. A misdirected understanding will focus upon the word as words; and not the Word as the Logos – or living Word.
Jesus is the word that was with God and that was God.
Jesus is the word made flesh that dwelt among us.
Jesus is the word that becomes a lamp unto thy feet and a light unto thy path.
Jesus is the word of God that shall stand forever.
Jesus is the word that if it dwells in you; your life will be transformed.
The other problem we face is if we reduce our understanding of Jesus to simply as a prophet; then he becomes misunderstood.
We see Him only in the human understanding. We see Him as a man, a teacher, a prophet, a revolutionary. We must recognize that Jesus is:
Jesus and the Father are one.
Jesus is fully man and fully God.
Jesus is more than a prophet. Jesus is the light of the world.
Jesus is the Savior of mankind.
Jesus is the bright and morning sun.
Jesus Christ is the son of God.
Who is this? You must be careful that you are not misdirected in your understanding or that you cause the true Jesus to be misunderstood.
Who is this? We must be careful that our faith is not misplaced.
You will find the multitude displaying a misplaced faith when they are later given the choice between Barabbas and Jesus. The multitude chooses Barabbas and rejects Jesus because their faith was erroneous.
It really is not difficult to understand why the multitudes’ understanding is misdirected or their understanding of Jesus is misunderstood, or that their faith is misplaced. It really is not!
Jesus himself recognized this when he asked Peter who men say that I am. Peter responded with the popular opinion. “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
They were all prominent prophets in their memory.
But Jesus focuses the question and asks Peter who do you say that I am? And Peter answer revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus because he says; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
As we wave the Palms on this Sunday, the question each of you must answer deep within your hearts is: Who is this?
Who is this Jesus who cries over Jerusalem the City of David? Who is this Jesus who can command so much respect that a donkey and a colt owner will permit him to borrow both his animals by simply hearing the words: The Lord has need of them.
Who is this Jesus with a Neilson rating so high, that Oprah Winfred would be jealous, who comes to town with his own version of a ticker tape parade, down the main boulevard with people standing on each side, spreading their garments, waving palm branches, and singing Hosanna in the highest.
Who is this Jesus who moves to the center of the human experience with a power that is not diminished by time and waxes for evermore?
Who is this Jesus with the compassion in his heart to extend hospitality every where he goes, but while standing before Caiaphas and being judged does not mumble a word?
Who is this Jesus that witnesses deceit in the temple’s outer court, turns over the tables of the money changers and drive them out? He does this to restore the temple to its true function as a house of prayer and a place where God is known.
Who is this Jesus?
That’s the question each of you must answer this Sunday as you come to the Lord’s Table and eat the bread and drink the juice.
Was he wounded for your transgressions?
Was he bruised for your iniquities?
Was he despised and rejected because of your own ego needs?
Who is this Jesus to you? I wish I could answer that question for you. I cannot. Only you can answer that question. And you can only honestly answer it if you have forgiveness in your heart.
I John 4:20 states it this way, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Who is this Jesus? I can answer it for me.
Jesus is the one that when I was down, he picked me up.
Jesus is the one that when I was lost, he came and found me.
Jesus is the one that when I needed an advocate, he was there.
Jesus is the one that when I was sick, he was a healer.
Jesus is the one that when I was friendless, he stuck to me closer than a bother.
Jesus is the one that when I was lonely, he was a comforter.
Jesus is the one that when I yielded the arrogance of my spirit, he became my Lord.
Jesus is the one that when I confessed his name and allowed him to enter into my heart, he became my savior.
Jesus is the King of Kings; the Lord of Lords.
Jesus, under his name every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Jesus just his name will cause demons to tremble.
Jesus’ mercy will forgive you and me.
Who is this? When we experience Him personally, exalt Him unashamedly, and extend Him to others, people will then begin to recognize Him for who He really is. The Messiah!
I want you to know this day. That Jesus is available to you and to me. The doors of the church are open to anyone seeking an answer to this question – who is this?