Sermons That Work

Today’s Gospel Story…, Palm Sunday (A) – 2008

March 16, 2008


Today’s gospel story, at the heart of the Church’s faith, should be at the heart of our faith: that Jesus would live and die for us.

That Jesus would say to our heavenly Father, “Thy will be done,” even though his commitment would lead to his death.

That Jesus would have compassion on the crowds, whether they shouted praise or condemnation, whether they welcomed him as a hero or rejected him as a criminal.

That Jesus was willing to suffer excruciating pain even though he did nothing to deserve it.

That Jesus could have called down legions of angels to defend him, could have taken himself down from the cross, could have condemned his accusers and damned his betrayers; but instead, he hung there, knowing his death would mean the defeat of death, even if he had to go through hell to find out for sure.

That in God’s eternal heart, you were present, and if you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have done this for you.

This should mean the world to us. This means life. This means hope and comfort. There is no suffering we can experience that is not known by God’s very self. There is no heartache we can have that Jesus cannot touch; no temptation we can face that Jesus cannot strengthen us against; no hard decision we have to make that Jesus cannot prepare us for; no burden to carry that Jesus cannot remove; no wounds we have to bear that Jesus cannot heal; no injustice we can suffer that Jesus cannot conquer; no assaults can assail us that Jesus cannot help us to endure; no loneliness we can feel that Jesus cannot come to meet us in.

The cross means there is no failure we can face that Jesus cannot fix; no sin we can commit that Jesus cannot remove; no mistake, misjudgment, act of meanness, ignorant thoughtlessness, petty-mindedness, or selfish seeking after security in this world instead of trusting in the eternal that Jesus cannot take and transform; no hardness of heart that Jesus cannot grind down and sift through and remold and reform into something that can love and receive love.

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, one who went to death willingly for us walks beside us. When we know discouragement and sorrow, Jesus knows. When we know pain and grief, when the innocent suffer, when the vulnerable are wounded, Jesus knows.

And knowing wasn’t enough. He didn’t just want to give us divine company in grief and trouble. Jesus would actually give his own life to transform ours.

Maybe this is why you’re here today. Because you love Jesus and are awed by his always faithful love for you, his unconditional outpouring of love for you, his grace and mercy and power for you, undeserved, immeasurable, unstoppable.

Maybe you, too, join the crowd that shouts “Hosanna!” one day and “Crucify him!” the next, that praises one day and forgets the next, that adores one day and ignores the next. Maybe you also join the crowd that needs a savior so badly, that hungers for a reason for hope and courage, that longs to know a purpose in life, but turns away when the Savior suffers in the course of bringing that hope and courage and purpose.

Perhaps you too know that the size of the crowd doesn’t matter. That Jesus would have gone to the cross and suffered death if it were only for you. If it were only for any one of us.

If this is not why you are here today, then this is your invitation to get to know Jesus and his love more deeply. This is your invitation to spend time with our Savior here in worship, in reading his story of love for you, in talking with him and listening for his love to you in prayer and quiet, so you may know the freedom of forgiveness, the assurance of eternal life, true peace, and deep joy.

During this next week, we walk in the way of the cross. As we enter into Holy Week, joining with Jesus on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and in the lighting of the new fire, the flame of hope at the Easter Vigil, we all receive his gracious invitation to know love, to have a reason for hope, to be set free to experience joy.

May we follow in the way of the cross, finding it to be none other than the way of life and peace.

Amen.

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Chris Sikkema

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