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Palm/Passion Sunday

April 14, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Palm/Passion Sunday

Passage: Luke 23:1–23:56

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 23:1-56
Date: April 14th, 2019; Palm/Passion Sunday/Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • It’s the beginning of Holy Week and our Gospel lesson for this morning gives us the “big picture” of the historical events that are the fulfillment of why Jesus entered this world - namely to become obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
  • During Holy Week we accompany our Lord on the road that leads to the salvation of the world.
  • The road begins with a triumphal entry – waving palm branches and shouts of Hosanna!  Save us! 
  • The King makes his grand entrance riding atop a borrowed donkey, and the people greet their messiah,“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
  • The people certainly didn’t think that this road was leading to Jesus’ suffering, death, and burial.
  • They thought it was leading to the beginning of a revolution, a holy war, that would lead to their power and wealth.
  • But they didn’t get the messiah they were expecting.  
  • The road winds to the temple and Jesus cleanses it as the prophets said he would.
  • There is opposition and scheming in the temple corridors - the religious want to kill this Jesus who is challenging their religion and authority. 
  • There is betrayal.  Judas agrees to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins - even as a poor widow puts her two pennies into the temple treasury.
  • The road winds through the streets of Jerusalem, to a borrowed upper room that is prepared for the Passover. 
  • Jesus sits at the table with his disciples and serves the Passover Meal in a way it was never served before.
  • He takes the bread and says, “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you.” 
  • He takes the cup after supper and says, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” 
  • He commands them to continue this meal until he comes in glory, “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 
  • We continue this meal of forgiveness and life today - we too are on this road.
  • The road leads out to a peaceful garden at the Mount of Olives, a quiet place of prayer. 
  • Jesus prays for another way, another road, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” 
  • He then prays as he taught his disciples, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” 
  • It’s the Father’s will that his Son bear the sin of the world - and this means great anguish for Jesus.  
  • The peaceful garden of prayer becomes the arena of betrayal and arrest. 
  • Swords are drawn and the air is thick with hatred. 
  • Jesus reaches out and heals the servant whose ear was cut off in his defense.  
  • He doesn’t resist his enemies, those who would kill him, “If your enemy forces you to walk one mile,” he once said, “walk two.” 
  • Jesus walks the whole way with his enemies - for his enemies.
  • The road goes straight to the governor’s house, to Pontius Pilate, Caesar’s man.
  • Peter, the lead disciple, the first to speak, the first to draw his sword - turns into a coward and a denier. Three times he says, “I don’t know Him!” 
  • The eyes of the Lord look straight into his. Jesus knows our denying and cowardly hearts. He knows the truth about us; he knows our denials better than we do.
  • The road takes a detour to Herod’s palace.  He wants to be entertained by Jesus, a miracle perhaps. 
  • They mock and ridicule Jesus and send him back to Pilate dressed in royal robes of purple.
  • The road goes back to Pilate who alone has the authority to sentence Jesus to death. 
  • Instead of Roman rule there is mob justice.  
  • A guilty man named Barabbas is set free - while the innocent Jesus goes to his death. 
  • The innocent dies, the guilty lives. So it is for us.
  • The road goes down the way of sorrows, a pavement soaked in blood and tears and sweat. 
  • A traveler named Simon from Cyrene was seized and was forced to carry the cross for Jesus. 
  • Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me.” 
  • Yet, for a brief moment, Simon bears the cross of Jesus, so that Jesus might bear the cross for him and the world. 
  • The women on the road weep and wail for our Lord, but Jesus tells them to weep for themselves and for their children - to prepare themselves for what was coming.  
  • Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed. 
  • The road winds to a place called “The Skull”, where Jesus is crucified between two criminals. 
  • He absolves those who drive the nails through his flesh and bone, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 
  • His love and mercy and forgiveness is without boundary.
  • There is an inscription above his head, “This is the King of the Jews.” 
  • He is mocked in his agony, insulted, spit at, tormented. 
  • Even one of those crucified with him mocks him, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 
  • But the other rebukes his partner and makes the confession, “We are getting what we deserve, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 
  • And then he cries out for mercy, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” 
  • Jesus mercifully responds, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
  • It’s now 3:00 in the afternoon.  A heavy darkness has loomed over the land for the last three hours. 
  • The temple curtain is torn from top to bottom, the old covenant fulfilled, the Holy of Holies stands open. 
  • The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world breathes his dying breath and cries out in hidden victory, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
  • The road takes up the funeral procession that goes from Calvary to the cemetery.
  • A hasty burial in a borrowed tomb.  
  • Even in death, our Lord has no place to lay his head. 
  • It was the Sabbath, a day of rest, “For in six days God made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 
  • In six days the Son of God accomplished the work of the world’s redemption, and on the seventh day he rested in the tomb. 
  • “It is finished.”
  • This is the Passion of our Lord - the road he travelled to save you from your sin and death.
  • This is the road he travelled to open for you the way to eternal life. 
O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, 
As Thou hast promised, draw us all to Thee.  Amen. 
(LSB #837, v4)
 
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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