Sorry about the long posting silence – I was ill and then life happened – but here is a sermon I preached a few years ago for Palm Sunday
[Sermon began with holding up examples of famous brands’ slogans]
These slogans are just a few examples of some of the extravagant claims advertisers make for the things they sell.
one claims to be the best product or provide the best service on the market.
we become surrounded by more and more products and more and more choice,
businesses try harder and harder to get our attention, with humour, creative
ideas or simply shouting louder with bolder claims.
all very simple really: every advertised item is special, unique, significant,
even essential to our lives, even if it is just a slightly different-tasting
sometimes people can be like this too.
we might come across people who are too full of their own importance and
convinced that no-one else can possibly be as good.
like this tend to blow their own trumpets and want everyone to show them huge
amounts of respect and honour.
the story of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem shows that this isn’t the way that
God’s kingdom works.
There are two parades on Palm Sunday.
of them we don’t read about in the Bible but it happened every year.
Passover; thousands of pilgrims are streaming into Jerusalem.
the Roman government needs to show who’s king, just in case anyone has any
ideas about getting the crowds to turn against their rulers.
is king—everybody knows it.
Pilate, the mighty Roman governor, parades into town on a great white horse.
Jesus rides in on a small, borrowed donkey.
is accompanied by a legion of Roman soldiers, the greatest army in the world.
Jesus is surrounded by ordinary people waving branches around and nearly taking
each other’s eyes out.
means to leave no doubt about who is in charge.
then there’s Jesus.
he comes into Jerusalem Jesus is choosing to act out what he is.
we’d had the John reading today we would also have heard that Jesus is
fulfilling the words of the prophet Zechariah: ‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is
coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’
coming into Jerusalem as king, and the crowds recognise that he’s the king and
shout and cheer for him.
riding on a humble beast of burden that isn’t even his.
of king rides in his coronation parade on a borrowed donkey?
doesn’t make sense in a world where everything must be made to sound bigger and
better to attract attention, and where power is shown through displays of
wealth and strength.
But it does make sense in God’s Kingdom.
direct contrast and challenge to the might of the Roman Empire, Jesus shows a
different way of being great.
Kingdom, greatness is achieved through humility, service and love.
Kingdom, the first shall be last, and the greatest must be the servant of all.
understand what all this means, though, we cannot stay here in the procession
going to the cross and will not turn away.
facing the pain that lies only a few days away and the worst that the world can
do to him.
to Easter is a difficult one that goes through betrayal, loss, pain and death
but Jesus, our king, follows it because in God’s kingdom victory comes through
service and self-sacrificing love.
challenge to us in the example of Jesus today.
be like the adverts – full of exaggerated claims of our own importance?
be like the Roman Empire – forcing people to fall into line with us through
displays of power?
we be like Jesus – knowing who and what we are, and ready to walk with him down
the path of love and self-sacrifice to the victory of Easter?