Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Palm Sunday, 4/10/2022. Due to ongoing technical difficulties, the service was not broadcast. The bulletin is available as a PDF: Palm Sunday Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for Palmarum, click here.
The reading of St. Matthew’s Passion is always challenging. And it has nothing to do with the length of the text or hard-to-pronounce words.
It’s the simple words that are the most difficult.
“Let Him be Crucified.”
It’s no wonder why. Those words are savage, sacrilegious, and scary. They make you feel ashamed. And so, maybe that’s why a lot of you just kind of murmured them.
However unsettling they might be, cry out those words with passion. For those words express God’s good and gracious will toward you. And so, your bloodthirsty cry to crucify Jesus has all the integrity of praying “Thy will be done.”
As you read through the Passion accounts this week, notice that this is what God the Holy Trinity has wanted all along.
This is what the Holy Spirit said through the hapless High Priest, Caiaphas (John 11), when he proclaimed that it was better that One Man should die for the people, than for the whole nation to perish. The Holy Spirit says, “Crucify Him.”
This is what God the Son desired when He prayed in the Garden: “Thy will be done.” This is no theological sleight of hand. Jesus’ will conforms to the will of His Father. Thus, He doesn’t merely accept the cross; He longs for it as a mother longs to give birth. He yearns for the cross when He says to Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Again and again, Jesus begs “Crucify Me.”
The Father, you may have noticed, is silent. But He has spoken through His prophets and there made His plan perfectly clear.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
He has put him to grief;
When his soul makes an offering for guilt,
He shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
The will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
Make many to be accounted righteous,
And he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:10-11
Thus, we know that the Father’s deafening silence cries out one thing loud and clear: “Crucify Him.”
This has been the plan of the Holy Trinity all along. This is Christ’s Passion. It is His greatest desire. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied. And you, dear Christian, must be satisfied with nothing less. Let there be an uproar among the people.
Let His blood be on us and on our children.
Ride on, ride on in Majesty!
In lowly pomp, ride on to die.
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy pow’r and reign.