March 30, 2012

Palm Sunday Is the Roll-out Of the New Covenant

  •  Chose these powerful and exciting Palm Sunday Readings for my Ordination 20 years ago
  •  Words ‘set His face like flint’ gave me the courage to seek ordination
  •  Roll-out: new word for introducing a new program / computer system
  • Readings roll-out - reveal who Jesus is, how to respond & how to celebrate
  • I pause at Eucharist Prayer words “New Covenant” to let them sink in - very dramatic moment

1.     On Palm Sunday Jesus reveals who He is publicly
a.     The disciples had begun to see this but were still  confused
b.     Many people had figured it out when He raised Lazarus
c.     Riding a donkey into Jerusalem was a claim to authority
d.     This was a claim to the religious authority of the Messiah
e.     Riding a horse would be a claim to political authority
f.      Even the crowd figured it out as fulfillment of prophecy
g.     Revelation includes quoting the Isaiah 57 Prophecy and throwing the money changers out of Temple – “my Fathers’ house”

2.     Jesus defines the New Covenant

a.     Need to be very careful in interpreting this as not excluding the Jews
b.     Jewish people have been persecuted by those who assume Jesus founded a new religion that excluded them
c.     Jewish people fear “replacement theology” that implies they have been replaced as “the people of God”
d.     Jesus is completing the Covenants of Abraham and Moses
e.     New Covenant replaces animal sacrifice with faith in the one time sacrifice of Jesus as the way to  forgiveness and as a condition of inclusion.
f.      Jesus is adding new Covenant benefits including the Holy Spirit and eternal spiritual life to the older Moses Covenant benefits of land, protection, children and prosperity.
g.     John 3.16 is the short version – believe in / trust in the promised Jewish Messiah who kept the older Covenants
h.     “ If we have died with Him we shall be raised with Him”
i.      In Baptism, Confession & love of Jesus we die to our old self
j.      In Bible reading, personal prayer & worship we develop a love relationship with Jesus and really believe in Him
k.     As our spiritual life grows we live emotionally ‘in Jesus’
l.      Woman with perfume models this ideal relationship
m.   Judas betrayal of Jesus trust models the opposite
3.     Jesus celebrates the New Covenant with His Disciples
a.     Last Supper modelled fellowship the importance of loyalty
b.     Our participation in the Eucharist connects us to Jesus
c.     Jesus builds on ancient religious practice of dedicating food to a god then eating the food so you had the god inside you
d.     Eucharist is all about inclusion – Judas ‘goes out’ – darkness
e.     The Eucharist is a way for people who have ‘gone out’ to re-connect themselves with Jesus and the Christian community
f.      Begin with Bible readings, worship experience and teaching
g.     Summarize what we believe in the Creed
h.     Follow Creed’s  believe in “the forgiveness of sins” with opportunity for personal Confession and Absolution
i.      The Eucharistic Prayer is another opportunity to remind ourselves of who we believe in - and what we believe
j.      Lord’s Prayer is the heart of the New Covenant as we say:
                                  i.     God is ‘our Father
                                 ii.    God is in Heaven
                                iii.    God is holy – we honour God
                                iv.    Your Kingdom come – we are loyal
                                 v.    Your will be done – we will obey
                                vi.    On earth as in heaven – we will help this come
                               vii.    We depend on God for feeding – spiritual food
                              viii.    Forgive us – depend on Jesus for forgiveness
                                ix.    As we forgive – our forgiveness is conditional
                                 x.    We ask for spiritual protection against temptation
                                xi.    We ask for deliverance from spiritual powers – evil
                               xii.    We affirm Gods kingdom, power and glory
k.     We share in a meal as a sign of fellowship – common cup

4.     Palm Sunday is a very special celebration
a.    Jesus was finally able to come right out and say who He was
b.    It was like the roll-out of a new product – New Covenant
c.     New Covenant extended the Good News of god’s love and forgiveness potentially to ‘all nations’ – all people
d.     It was a happy time because He loved being with people – but there is also sadness because He would be betrayed

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