Read Matthew 21:1-11
What do I do with Palm Sunday? We have read about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as a King riding on the colt of a donkey. Palms and blankets and whatever the people could get their hands on to line the way of their Messiah were spread before him.
It had to be a sight that brought excitement and anticipation. People shouting Hosanna as Jesus approached would surely bring the excitement level to a new high.
We know that he was headed to the cross at the end of the week. We know that this was the atoning sacrifice that separated us from our sin and gave us a chance to live as we were designed to live.
We know that he will come again and reign as king.
We just completed the Gospel of Matthew. We concluded with the Great Commission. We are commissioned to take the gospel to the world. We are to go into the world with good news. We are to take the news of real life to the world.
Do you ever look at those online job sites to see what you qualify for or what might be fun? I have those degrees. I have those certifications. That would be fun.
Realize that we already have the greatest job in the history of the world, and it’s not even a job. We are commissioned to this thing of taking good news to the lost. It’s our life.
But does it have medical? By his stripes we are healed.
What about retirement? Stored up since the creation of the world.
Does it have a 401K? Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.
This whole taking good news to the world is a sweet deal. To start with, we might just take it to the end of the block, but once you have received life in Jesus Christ, you are compelled to share what you have freely received.
Palm Sunday began the most intense week in the Bible. The discourse between Jesus and his disciples reached a new level. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and then told them that was their example for being a true disciple.
He told them that he must go so the Spirit would come.
Jesus would not resist his arrest that would come during this week. He would do nothing to acquit himself of the bogus charges brought against him. He must get to the cross to fulfill prophecy and to atone for our sin.
Palm Sunday is more than just a ride into a town of excited people. It was the beginning of a week like none since creation.
And we know what is coming next Sunday. And we know that because of what is coming—resurrection and life—we can’t keep that to ourselves.
We must go into the world with good news, but we must not consider ourselves to be salesmen. We are not trying to sell anybody anything.
I read this some years ago. Some of you might have even stayed awake for it. It’s called simply, A Manifesto and it’s by Dr. Morris Pepper. Yes, the sermon this morning has a message from Dr. Pepper.
I will preface this by asking you to consider that we are all ministers, so when you hear minister in this reading, put that in the first person.
I have nothing to sell. Many people think the minister is a peddler whose commodity is religion. Preaching is making a sales talk. Visiting means cultivating prospects. Evangelism is doing a “hard sell.”
I have nothing to sell. Religion is not a commodity. God is not on the counter or in a catalog. God’s love and mercy are not Wall Street items. God’s blessings will not be found in bargain basements.
I have nothing to sell. I have a witness to make. There are some things which I believe, convictions arising from my thought and life, which I know from within. Of these I witness. They are not mere blessings of tradition. They are real to me because God is real. But they cannot be bought or sold. They can only be witnessed.
I have nothing to sell. I have a message to communicate. It is a story of Jesus Christ, a story of redemption. It is a promise, a promise of what can happen here and now. It is the gospel, the good news of God’s love told by one who knows it firsthand. I am a storyteller, a proclaimer, an announcer—not a cocky salesman with a hot line.
I have nothing to sell. I have a friendship to offer. Some are like Job who would like to recapture the days when “the friendship of God was upon my tent.” Others have never known such a relationship. Many are afraid of God. Still others are rebellious. To these and others I say, “God loves you. Won’t you let God be your friend?”
I have nothing to sell. You can’t buy salvation. You can’t buy faith. You can’t buy heaven. You can’t buy God. Nor can you sell them. My job is to offer you an adventure, not to sell you a bill of goods—to invite you to join a mission, not a Cosmos Club.
I am not doing hard sell, soft sell, or using psychology. I don’t have any tricks to pull out of the bag. So don’t raise your sales resistance. I am an educator, a teacher, a pastor, a counselor—but please, not a huckster! I am a witness, a communicator, an announcer, a reporter, but never a peddler.
For we are not like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
What do I do with Palm Sunday some 2000 years since Jesus entered Jerusalem?
I remind us that God is real.
He is righteous.
He loves us with an everlasting love.
God sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.
In him and by his blood, we are saved from sin and death.
We can now fully live. We can now live as God designed us to live.
And it’s not all about us. It’s not all about me.
He also wants us to come to him asking him to help us help others.
He wants to provision us to bring life to this lifeless world.
God desires that none perish and he gave us a part in that. He trusted us with his good news.
He commissioned us to take life to the world.
We are not trying to sell the world anything. We are delivering the best message ever. There is life and life abundant and life eternal in Christ Jesus.
I will not beat you over the head with my Bible.
I will not scare you into believing in Jesus so you don’t go to hell for you will think you have reached the finish line. You are only in the starting blocks of real life.
There is a hell and surely some will end up there but the message God gave me to tell you and you to tell others is that he wants you to know life with him forever.
I will tell you that you will have trouble in the world but don’t be discouraged. Take courage. Jesus has overcome the world.
I will tell you that you are so much more than the sum of your problems and achievements. You are a message from God himself to so many who are lost in this world.
We are to know God as intimately as possible. We take the saving grace of God to the unbelieving world.
We are to know him and make him known.
Some of you may have wanted something more about the palm branches. Others may have wanted some discourse about the foal of a donkey. And others may have wanted something more on shouts of Hosanna.
I understand those might have been your Palm Sunday expectations. What I ask you to take away from this day of worship so close to our ultimate celebration of resurrection is simple.
Know him and make him known.