Palm Sunday: Jesus and Crowds

I’ve decided to have one Palm Sunday sermon and one Easter sermon. Each year I will begin preparation for the new Palm Sunday and Easter sermons with the sermons as I preached them the previous year. Hopefully, they are worth hearing again. Hopefully, I can improve them each year.

Here is the current version of my one Palm Sunday sermon (edited a bit for the purpose of a blog post).

One crowd shouted “Hosanna”

Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing that death awaited him later in the week.  He entered Jerusalem, nonetheless.  On the way to the cross, he encountered crowds.

As Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, he was greeted by the crowd waving palm branches.  They shouted “Hosanna!” “Hosanna” is an expression which means “Save!” or “Save Now!”

What did the crowd mean by this shout?  What did they want Jesus to save them from?

Perhaps they wanted Jesus to save them from political opposition.

Perhaps they wanted Jesus to save them from militaristic oppression.

Perhaps they wanted Jesus to save them from the pain and suffering of everyday life.

And how did they expect Jesus to save them?

Perhaps he was to save them by rebellion.

Perhaps he was to save them by political protest.

Perhaps he was to save them by taking up arms and removing governmental leaders.

Jesus passed this crowd and headed into Jerusalem.  Yet, before long he encountered a different crowd.  

Another crowd shouted “Crucify Him”

A crowd greeted Jesus and waved palm branches and shouted “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” and “Blessed is the king of Israel!”  Yet, a few days later another crowd shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  

The shout stemmed from Jewish leaders saying, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7).  You see, Jesus ate with sinners, welcomed the outcast, and gave hope to lowlifes like you and me.  That was not deemed appropriate behavior for the righteous man, let alone a prophet, and absolutely not the son of God.  

This second crowd shows that public opinion quickly changes.  We want what we want.  We want what we want now.  Better yet – yesterday.  Our desires are frequently selfish and short-sighted.  As people of faith we should not be ruled by public opinion or popularity polls.  We should be ruled by faith in the true son of God.  

The palm branches led to the cross. One crowd shouted, “Hosanna!” Another crowd shouted, “Crucify him!”  Jesus gave both crowds more than they expected.  

Jesus Satisfied Both Crowds Through His Death On A Cross

Jesus did not save people from political opposition, militaristic oppression, or the pain and suffering of everyday life.  Rather, he saved them from sin and death.  

Jesus did not save people by way of rebellion, political protest, or taking up arms.  He saved them by giving up his life.  He died that we might live.  

Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Through Jesus’ death we are provided forgiveness of sin.  Though Jesus’ resurrection, which we’ll discuss next week, we are provided abundant life now and eternal life in Heaven someday soon.  

Palm Sunday Reminders

Palm Sunday reminds us that God is a promise keeper.  He is a prophecy fulfiller. Unlike public opinion, popularity polls, or fickle crowds, God can be trusted. 

On Palm Sunday Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, 

See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  

God continues to bring his word to completion – even in your own living room. Notice that Zechariah 9:9 mentions “your king” and the Palm Sunday passage of John 9:12-19 records the crowd shouting, “Blessed in the king.”

Palm Sunday also reminds us that Jesus is King.  Just as Jesus was King, he remains King, will remain King, and will remain King for all eternity.  As we gather on Palm Sunday we shout, “Blessed is the king of Israel!” and tomorrow we live submitted lives before our King. 

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