22 Apr The Final Week – Words of Grace – April 22, 2022
I hope you will not be confused Sunday when we consider the Triumphal Entry a week after we celebrated Easter.
If you are not familiar with the Gospels and the way the church marks the high points of Jesus’ ministry, here is a quick overview. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth. On Palm Sunday we remember the time he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to mark the final week of his life. Good Friday remembers his death, and Easter celebrates his resurrection. Pentecost marks the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church. There are other days and seasons that Christians observe, but these correspond to the events of his birth, death, resurrection, and giving of the Spirit.
The account of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey with crowds laying palm branches on the road and shouting “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel,” is usually preached the Sunday before Easter, not after. But we are in the middle of a long series of sermons from the Gospel of John, and this account is next. So, this week at Grace Community Church it will be Palm Sunday out of order.
The upside to this unorthodox order is that we will feel no pressure to press everything that happened in this final week of Jesus’ life into one week of church life. John dedicates nine chapters of his Gospel to this week. In them Jesus said, did, and prayed the things we as his followers must ponder, learn, and live to believe and be faithful to him.
As we gather this week to consider how Jesus entered the final week of his life, the first thing we will see is how he entered the city of Jerusalem. He came riding on a donkey. According to the prophecy of Zechariah 9, this means he came in humility, bringing salvation and peace. But first, he must secure this salvation and establish this peace by his death. When Jesus entered Jerusalem for his final week, he had his eyes on the cross.
No one really understood this. Some wanted a king on a war horse who would liberate them politically and bring material prosperity. Others saw any reference to Jesus being a king as a threat to whatever amount of political and economic freedom they already had. Still others, like the disciples, did not know what to make of Jesus’ symbolic entry on the first Palm Sunday.
But Jesus knew. So, with the cross ahead, he entered. We call it The Triumphal Entry, but it’s triumphal in a way that shows God’s wisdom is not like ours. His way of conquering sin and death is by the death of the Son of God. His way of bringing life and peace is by making peace in the blood of the sacrificial Lamb who is Jesus Christ, the one on the donkey.
That’s how Jesus entered the final week of his life- dead set on the cross before him.
How will we receive him, and how will we follow him? These are the things we will consider this Sunday at Grace.