Palm Sunday is a celebration of Jesus “coming out” and revealing His identity as the Servant King. Up to this point He has been keeping under the radar of the Roman and religious authorities, teaching and healing people in more remote areas. With the raising of Lazarus just outside Jerusalem His identity and authority has become public – and very dangerous. I love the line from CS Lewis where Lucy asks if the lion Aslan, who represents Jesus, is dangerous. “Of course He is!!” is the reply. I chose this Feast for my ordination as a priest because it is where Jesus reveals the New Covenant of self-sacrificial love, forgiveness and eternal spiritual life of joy by coming humbly on a donkey as opposed to a king on a horse with an army.
1. The Servant-King guides believers with the Holy Spirit
Isaiah shares the decisions he has made to enter into this covenant of deeper spiritual life and receive spiritual gifts including “an instructed tongue”:
· “I have set my face like flint” (vs. popularity)
· “I have not been rebellious” (humble obedience)
· Endured beatings, abuse, mocking, spitting (courage)
· Possible questions for Lenten self-examination?
Jesus knew the cost was great but the reward was greater. Modern Christian believers have all been blessed with the spiritual gifts of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, healing and words of knowledge.
2. Jesus modelled humility, self-sacrificial love, obedience and courage as our part of the New Covenant
The Old Testament Covenant of Moses was a promise of divine protection, long life, children land and peace in return for human love, worship and obedience to God. The Holy Spirit was only poured out on a very few prophets and leaders. Human sin led to this breaking down and God coming to us as Jesus in human form. Jesus modelled our part in the New Covenant :
· HUMILITY – Like Jesus we are to be humble and not to force or manipulate others to do what we want or believe what we believe.
· OBEDIENCE – we are to do what Jesus / Holy Spirit teaches us to do – no matter what the cost
· SELF-SACRIFICIAL LOVE – We are to put the needs of the other (not the wants) before our own
· COURAGE – We are to persevere in the face of opposition and reach out to others in boldly proclaiming the good news of forgiveness, healing and eternal spiritual life.
3. “If we have died with Him we shall live with Him”
This is included as an affirmation to the Eucharistic prayer in our Holy Communion service. This is the bottom line of the New Covenant in Jesus blood.
· We can not overcome our weak human vulnerability to temptation and sin
· We commit the sin of pride if we even think this
· Only effective way to deal with the temptations and sin that pollutes our spirit and our earthly life is by dying spiritually in our heart to the sin
· Our ritual of Confession and Absolution is an outward visible sign that the sin guilt has been taken to the Cross of Jesus, included in the sacrificial death of Jesus and we have been forgiven
· In the words of the Dean’s recent sermon “It is better to die in love than live in hate.”
Palm Sunday is an invitation to enter into both the pain and the greater joy of Jesus Covenant of grace, love, forgiveness and healing. It is our opportunity to let Jesus ride into our hearts in triumph as we recognize Him as our Lord and Saviour.
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