Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Palm Sunday 3/28/2021. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, 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 Palm Sunday, click here.
This is it. This is the week we live for. This is what we hunger and thirst to celebrate. This is the center of space and time, life and death, now and eternity. And so, this is what the Church desires most of all: to be at the center of everything with Jesus.
But our sad story does not allow this. Distance is not just a tragic feature of this last year; distance is the tragic consequence of our fall into sin. Distance between us and God, now and then, Earth and Eden.
This week shows us God’s remedy for distance. The Triumphal Entry begins with Jesus drawing near. It’s Matthew 21:1 – Jesus draws near to Jerusalem; closing the distance.
Of course, the crowds welcome Him, as you did this morning: palms and “Hosannas,” and “Blessed is He…” But eventually, they put Jesus at a distance, too; sending Him back out of the city to Golgotha.
It’s not just the crowds, though; it’s His best friends. Jesus asks the disciples to stay with Him in the garden. But when danger comes, they all left Him and flee.
Later on, we find Peter again. In verse 58, he is following Jesus, but at a distance. And from a distance he denies His lord three times.
Finally, we find the women who had followed Jesus all the way from Galilee: among them was Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee – all of them looking on from a distance.
We should not be too hard on them. They had some good reason to be afraid. They did not yet know how this story goes. That is why their experience of Holy Week is so much different from yours.
All of these people had good reason to mourn the death of Jesus. You do not. Mourn over your sins. Mourn over your weaknesses. Mourn over the distance you would put between you and Jesus.
But do not mourn for your Lord. This is the week and the hour He has lived for. This is what He has hungered and thirsted to endure. This is the center of everything He has come to accomplish for you. And so, this is what Jesus desires most of all: to be at the center of everything with you.
He does not need you to book a passage to Jerusalem. The cross is not there, and even if it were it would do you one bit of good. That is not where Jesus is to be found.
Jesus has promised to be here at the center with you. Jesus has promised to give Himself to you here at font, pulpit, and altar; in your Baptism, in the proclamation of His Word, and in His Holy Supper. This is how Jesus has chosen to close the distance.
So do not mourn Him from a distance, as if He were dead. This isn’t a passion play. We know what happens. Jesus is alive this very second and is reigning to all eternity.
Let us have the One we live for. This is what we hunger and thirst to celebrate. This is the center of space and time, life and death, now and eternity. And so, this is what the Church desires most of all: to be at the center of everything with Jesus.