Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a story of a 1st century Rabbi who was walking alone late one night. He was deep in thought and wasn’t really looking where he was going, at a fork in the road he did not take the correct way home, but rather took a path that led to a Roman Fortress. When he got near the fortress he was jarred from his thoughts by a voice booming out form over the wall, saying, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” The rabbi thought for a moment and then responded, “How much do they pay you to ask me these questions?” The soldier, shocked, replied: “2 denari a day.” The rabbi said, “Come, follow me, I will pay double to stand at my door every morning and ask me those same two questions.”
I think today we are presented with the same two questions,
Who are you? & What are you doing here?
What are we doing here?
Today, we are celebrating Palm and Passion Sunday.
Today we remember through liturgical drama that we have all taken part of Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem with Pomp and Circumstance. Through this liturgy-this worship service- we are caught up in the story of Jesus.
Jesus road a donkey and a colt into the city. The crowds, they met him and laid down their garments and waved Palm branches and proclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jesus was given a royal welcome. So today, we too have palm leaves and have welcomed him in the very same way. Jesus is the hope that we have all been waiting for. He is the one on whom our freedom, our salvation rests, he is the person that will make all things right again. He is the Messiah! So we came here today to remember and once again welcome him with palm leaves waiving as we processed.
BUT, it doesn’t end there, when we were done processing, we entered the church and the tone changed. The drama that we remember through our action takes a puzzling turn. We then heard the story Jesus arrest and trial. We hear about Jesus being sentenced and the crowd chanting “crucify him!”
And we are that same crowd. Through out this whole drama the congregation’s role has been the crowd that followed Jesus.
We remember today that all of humanity received Jesus and then rejected him. Humanity has both welcomed Jesus with jubilant exclamation. “Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” rejected with shouts of murder, “Crucify him.”
But why do we remember the crowds actions, remembering this can lead us to despair. It could lead us to thinking that we are nothing but a fickle people, sinner and saint, not able to see clearly the will of God.
Well, yes, that is who we are, but that is not all we are. There is Good News! We matter to God!
You matter to God! You are important to God! That is who you are! There is nothing about you that God does not care about.
God came to tell you how much he loves you knowing full well that he would be received and rejected. God has been pursuing a relationship with humanity from the very beginning. Jesus is relentless in his love for you. The drama we re-enacted today shows that God loves us no matter how fickle we are.
Even though there are times when we are led away by our own selfishness, our own interests, we must remember that we matter to God.
Jesus Christ, the son of God, God incarnate, came to take away your sin. “While we are faithless, He was faithful.”
The cross is the highest wall we have ever built trying to get the grace of God out of our world. But God turned the cross into a table and offers Grace again every Sunday.
Jesus came knowing full well that humanity is fickle. And because we waiver so much, we cannot by our own powers be in relationship with God.
But, “While we where yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for you!
True love is always sacrificial. True love always knows what it means to give up something in order for the other to prosper. Jesus was so committed to reconciling humanity to God that he died for it. He died so that you could live. God is relentless in pursuing a relationship with you.
You don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to have your life all together to be part of this community, and you don’t even need to pretend that you don’t have problems.
God loves you exactly the way you are. Martin Luther wrote, “Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.”
So, if you have never believed that Christ died for you, believe now, don’t fight against the Holy Spirit moving in your life.
Are you a believer now? Receive once again God’s grace. Remember your dependence on God. There is never a better time than the present to renew your dependence on God.
The Rabbi who hired the soldier understood the value of important questions.
Who are you? And What are you doing here? Are some of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. We can’t fully know the answers to these questions unless we look at Jesus, who came for you, lived for you, died for you, and is raised from the dead for you! Thanks be to God.