Nobleton Community Church
Palm Sunday March 24, 2024
Texts: John 12:12-19; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

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Some years ago, a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy. On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital; a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right. The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate, and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. In the next election, his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.The cheering had stopped. This is a sad story in history, but not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. There are some exceptions, of course, but not too many. It happened that way to Jesus. When Jesus emerged on the public scene and people saw his miracles, crowds followed him. It was hard for him to get away to be alone because people still went after him. He tried to avoid publicity during the early part of his ministry. But now in our scripture passage this morning, we see that it is time for him to allow the people the chance to recognize him as their King and Savior. He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah in chapter 9: verses 9 and the last part of 10; ”See, your king comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Why did he ride into Jerusalem on a young donkey? Why was Jesus accepting the homage reserved for a king? Why the palms, and acclaim? It was for only one reason. As Jesus begins the last week of His life He is giving the nation an opportunity to do what He knows only too well they would not do—accept Him as King. In spite of His rejection by the Jewish leaders, He now presents Himself to His people as the Messiah in exact and impressive fulfillment of prophecy. He had every right to kingship, seeing He was born a King, because He was a King before He was born. Eternal, immortal, invisible. (I Timothy 1:17) Jesus chose a time when all Israel would be gathered in Jerusalem. On this day we celebrate what we call “The Triumphant Entry.” However, was it really triumphant? He entered the city on a lowly donkey. Kings rode horses. Prophets or judges rode donkeys. Also his “attendants” didn’t ride in splendor either as would be expected for a King. It was a disorganized mob of humble folk that surrounded Him. Nevertheless, the people shouted and cried out Hosanna! Meaning Save us now!—Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! They didn’t understand the nature of the messianic work that Jesus would perform, but they clearly understood Him to be a very special person upon whom the mantle of Messiah must have fallen. Their understanding was not complete because they were explaining to others who might not have known Jesus that He was a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. (Matt. 21: 11)The people had the wrong idea about Jesus. They were sure he would be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory, and thus, they were deaf to the words of their prophets and blind to Jesus’ real mission. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people turned against him. The cheering did not last for long. There came a point when the tide began to turn against him. Earlier the Pharisees had been afraid to speak out for fear of the masses, but they began to perceive that the fickle public was turning on him. When they discovered that they could not discredit his moral character, they began to take more desperate measures. They planned to have him killed. In John 12, verses 9-11 just before our text for this morning, we see that the chief priests also made plans to kill Lazarus as well, because the people were trying to see him since Jesus had raised him from the dead. On account of this miracle many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. Now if this is true, why did the masses so radically turn against Jesus. The shouts of Hosanna turned to cries of “Crucify him.” I have believed for quite some time that it wasn’t necessarily the same people. Maybe it was, but I believe that as usual there were Galileans who supported him, and some didn’t, but mainly it was these supporters that came into Jerusalem with Him, and it was largely a Judean crowd, along with the chief priests and Pharisees that led them with the shouts to crucify him. Just like today, in most uprisings, there are leaders who stir up the crowd to yell whatever they want them to. (ATIFA—BLACK LIVES MATTER—AND THE ANTI-SAMETIC STUDENTS ON CAMPUSES ACROSS AMERICA) At any rate whoever was yelling to have him killed, the ones who were supporting him as their Messiah remained silent. Why this turn- around? What were the deeper root causes and underlying issues? In about five days it all fell apart. It was all in God’s plan of course, but why did the cheering stop? Jesus began to talk more and more about commitment. They probably began to see that he was not going to take control of the situation, and they remember things: like taking up their cross and following him. Maybe they thought if they supported him, they too would be killed. They weren’t ready to give up their lives for this “prophet” who didn’t seem like anyone strong enough to save them. In verse 25 he told them that the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. He also talked about serving and the fact that his Father will honor the one who serves Him.He also dared to suggest that all people are worth loving. They recalled that He had said that they were to love their enemies, not conquer them. No wonder he wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman Government. He seemed to be more interested in the proper way to worship, than bringing justice into their lives. In verse 28 a voice from heaven was heard declaring that the name of Jesus would be glorified. The people weren’t sure if it had thundered or an angel had spoken. They never imagined that it was God. Jesus said; “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world (Satan) will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, (on the cross) I will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. Jesus also told them that they were only going to have the “light” (Him) a little bit longer. Put your trust in the light while you have it so that you may become sons of light” The disciples saw how Jesus had led them into a deeper and better understanding of his truth. Stop now and think about the events in your life leading up to where you are now. How has God led you to this point? As you have grown older, you have undoubtedly looked back and have seen God’s involvement more clearly than you did at one time. Truly as Paul said in Romans 8:28, that “ in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Verse 31 says;…”if God is for us, who can be against us?” God –“who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things? …Christ Jesus who died…who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” —No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. In verse 37 Paul goes on to say; For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What a declaration! This was all recognized after the resurrection. After Pentecost. After the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After Paul was knocked down on the road to Damascus, on his way to persecute Christians. The Lord got a hold of him, empowered him with his Holy Spirit, and became the primary author of the New Testament and the key apostle to plant churches. The people flocked to Jesus because they had heard about his great miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Their adoration was short-lived and their commitment shallow and they did nothing to stop his crucifixion. (Actually, there wasn’t anything they could do—it was foreordained that Jesus had to die). We must remember though that devotion based only on curiosity or popularity fades quickly. Time and time again we see that happening today. People flock to services when they think that miracles are taking place there. Sometimes I believe these manifestations are valid, but other times they are false. We must be open to miracles, but also be committed to following Jesus even when we don’t see them happen. There is coming a day when the shouting won’t stop. There is coming a day when we will cry; “Behold He Comes, riding on the clouds—at the trumpet sound—so lift your voice it’s the year of Jubilee, out of Zion’s hill salvation comes” Every eye shall see him, and every knee will bow down and say He is Lord!”