Sermon Notes | Easter in the City (Palm Sunday)
Today, we begin what Christians call Holy Week. We are calling the Sundays that serve as end-caps to the week “Easter in the City”. We are approaching Friday when Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for the redemption of humanity. Next Sunday we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In a few moments, I will ask the men of what I call my “70” to serve anyone in the room communion that is a fellow believer in Jesus. This is a tradition in the church that celebrates ‘the last supper’ or Passover.
When I think of all the cities of the world, there are so many beautiful, strong, and influential. They are all distinct because of their culture, history, economics, education, innovation and religion.
Personally, I have traveled to some amazing places in the US and across 5 continents (still waiting on Australia and Antarctica) New York, spent significant time Atlanta, 3 very memorable trips to DC, Sailed out of Miami. all unique. Been to Chicago briefly, many times to Big D and Nashville, spent a week in New Orleans before Katrina. Of course lived in Austin, lived a few miles from Santa Fe and Denver, vacationed in Salt Lake City, Phoenix, One of my favorite cities to visit is Los Angeles and been to the mighty Las Vegas a couple of times.
In 1994, I went to Mexico City (when it was deemed the largest in the world), Rio De Janeiro Brazil, spent 3 weeks near Paris France, and many of you have heard of my travels to Lagos Nigeria and hundreds of beautiful burgs and villes in between.
If we passed the mic around today and everyone was able to speak about the places you have traveled and lived, we could speak for hours about the meals, laughs, trials, and money spent in these places.
However, in my opinion, all the places of the world are on one plane and then there is one city that rises above the fray. Jerusalem. One epicenter of the world that when you enter that city you sense a power that is like no other city.
When you read ancient and recent history, no city like Jerusalem has captured the headlines and the imaginations of the world. Jerusalem was built Mt Moriah where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, later it became the City of David, the splendor of Solomon, Mt Zion, where Nehemiah built the walls, at the center of the town is where the Temple housed the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant where God resided and made himself known to man.
Today, Palm Sunday, we celebrate the day that Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem. Later, spent the better part of a week teaching and meeting with close friends, ate a final Passover meal with his disciples, prayed in the garden of gethsemane, was arrested and sentenced to death, was brutally tortured by the Roman soldiers, was nailed to a cross, hang for nine hours on the cross and then was taken down and buried in a garden tomb.
On Sunday, January 20, 2013, I entered Jerusalem for the first time. All week we had visited historical and beautiful sections of the country: Mt Carmel, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Jericho. At every stop, we experienced a new revelation. However, we left the depths of the dead sea and began our hour and a half journey UP. In all the texts in the Bible that reference going to Jerusalem, it talks about ‘going up’ to the City. A City on a hill. As you leave the desert of Jericho, you begin to climb into the mountains and you approach a deep tunnel.
I will never forget the moment that we entered the tunnel on the east side of town. Anticipation was growing as we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and then we burst out of the other side to see the ancient walls and temple mount. More than the scenery was the atmosphere of knowing that we were taking the exact same path as Jesus on Palm Sunday. We would descend the Mt of Olives, cross the Kidron Valley and enter into history. Although, the travelers on that trip entered the story of God long before we were actually born, we now physically felt and mentally associated with our role in the story.
I am not a big fan of special places. In other words, when they said that this or that happened here or there, it is interesting and noteworthy. However, there is something special about Jerusalem that you can not explain.
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem that Palm Sunday, there was already 1500 years of Biblical history that he was walking into. Jesus was walking onto a foundation of God’s plan that he was about to transform forever. He was going to take the power that resided in that City for 1000_ years and make it available to the entire world for the entire future of the world.
The uniqueness of Jerusalem. The ‘God-ness’. The purity and power of God that made that physical location so special that people would travel for miles by foot risking their very livelihood just to get a touch from God would soon be made available beyond the geographical confines of those walls. Not only the confines of that geography but the confines of the law’s walls.
Families brought lambs into those walls for 1000 years with the intent of taking on the sin. They placed their hands on the animal sacrifice to pass on the insurrection and disobedience. Every year, they would scan through the flock trying to find the perfect animal to bring to Jerusalem. The lamb had to be without spot or blemish.
Times have been hard. We have fallen and failed. But if we can just get to Jerusalem! We know that God will pardon our sin and wash our slate. We can have forgiveness and a new day. A new season awaits if we can just get to Jerusalem. If we can get to the temple mount. Ascend to the City. For 1000 years men, women, boys, and girls journeyed to the holy city of David a city on a hill for redemption and hope. Healing, peace and prosperity. These attributes were not found nor were available outside of the tabernacle or temple.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem that week, he wasn’t removing sin from the world and he wasn’t removing the consequence of sin. To this day, there is still sin and the wages of sin is still death. However, Jesus was becoming the final sacrificial lamb.
The Bible records later that week, Jesus taking on the world’s sin just as the lambs before him. However, after this sacrifice, there would be no need for another one.
Hebrews 10:1The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. 3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”
8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, 16 “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
I want to break down these two verses and then we will take communion.
Matthew 27:45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
CRIED – Jesus screamed. Even the most skeptical scholars say that this death statement happened. What is the chance that religious believers would put this extremely weak exclamation. It was in Aramaic because it was a recorded memory. (rest was in Greek).
WHY did Jesus say this? Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
The rest of the psalm is a prophetic message about Jesus. It is not an illness or persecution. It was execution. Jesus was telling us that David was pointing to Him. Killing for a reason.
Amos 8: Darkness (judgment) is over the whole human race, all of the land. Punishment is deserved and must come down. We can’t understand the cross unless we understand that all have sinned and fall short.
All of our lives we are told, “Don’t make other people make you feel guilty” You determine what is right and wrong and don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty for what they think is wrong.
After WW2 we had the ‘The age of anxiety’ – everyone was trying to treat the repressed guilt inside of them.
In our current generation no body talks about their guilt. Everyone does things out in the open. We don’t have a problem with guilt currently. We have adopted the notion that guilt is not necessary because that is just a set of learned behaviors.
Delbunco says that people are pessimistic and hopeless because they live in a life where guilt is non existent. When you have no reason for guilt, you are saying that there is nothing further than you. Nothing transcends you. You are the ultimate authority. God.
The Bible teaches absolute Truth, rightness, wrong, hope, guilt. God is more than you. Because we have hope, something different, something transcending Because of that, punishment is needed and Jesus took it for us.
There are 2 ways Christ accomplished our salvation: infinite sufferings and perfect obedience
Jesus is not saying, “my head, my head, my feet, my side, etc”. His body is suffering greatly. He is not saying “my friends, my friends” relationships are not his issue. Until the cross, he is pretty much on his game. Even under the pressure of relational rejection and physical pain Jesus works through it until he is on the cross and loosing love.
The worst pain we experience is when we lose a love. Friends, family, kids, spouse.
What is the punishment for sin? Paul writes a letter to the gentile church Greece:
2 Thessalonians hell. 1: 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Jesus was suffering the separation of God. Hell on the cross. Not just for one man but for all men.
“I have lost ‘my’ God.”
When Jesus suffered the cross, he remains perfectly obedient even though he was forsaken (the only forsaken when following the path laid before him)
Jesus was in hell’s heart. Though you slay me, yet will I trust you.
The Gospel is not one form of substitution but 2. God puts our sin on Himself, but puts His righteousness on us. He died the death we should have died. He lived the life we should live. He doesn’t just ‘not punish you’, He pins the medal of honor on us.
Being clothed with his righteousness is a big abstraction. How do we boil it down to understandable digestible?
NCIS – Old man who won a WW2 congressional medal of honor was wrongly accused and was about to be arrested by to large snarling marines. As they are about to take him into custody, one of his friends pulls back his tie and reveals his medal of honor and how do the marines respond? They stand at attention and salute. What are they saluting? The medal, the action, the earned position of respect.
You weren’t just forgiven. He perfected obeyed in your place. When you believe in him, you receive the medals he rightly earned because of his infinite suffering and perfect suffering.
Because of Jesus’ obedience on the cross, when I place my faith in him, he treats me as if I lived the way Jesus lived.