Up until a few months ago, some said this was my best sermon, metaphorically speaking. This was preached also in 1993.
When he had come near Bethpage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village ahead of you and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden before. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" just say this, "The Lord needs it." So those who were sent departed and found it as her had told them. As they were untying the colt, it's owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt." They said, "The Lord needs it." Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen saying, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order you disciples to stop." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out." As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God." Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and se said, "It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers."
This Palm Sunday morning, I say to you,
Let us pray:
Dear most heavenly and gracious Father. As we approach the monumentous occasion of the sacrifice of the savior that you sent down to absolve us of our sins, we take this time to thank you and praise you for the deed which you have done. We acknowledge that we, of and by ourselves, are not worthy of such a gift, but through the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fact that we are you children, you have seen fit for us to qualify to walk into your kingdom by way of this sacrifice. We know that this was something that you did not have to do for us Lord, for often, we prove ourselves unworthy of such a gift. But this morning, we thank you. Not only for ourselves, but on behalf of those lost souls who have not yet seen the light. We thank you on behalf of those who have not seen nor heard the truth of your coming. We thank you for those who act out of spite, jealously, arrogance and ignorance, while still claiming to be working in you name. Lord, I ask this morning that you let yours words come through my mouth. Let you take over and be the guide of us all on this faith filled journey that we all embark upon. The journey to know you and your son, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen and Amen.
As we all know, today is Palm Sunday. It is during this time that we begin the celebration of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a time for reflection and repentance, for we do not wish for our Lord to have died in vain.
This particular event is interesting, because we find in the four gospels four different versions of what happened when Jesus approached the temple. In the Gospel According to Matthew, the 21st chapter says that Jesus drove out those who were selling merchandise they should not have been. Jesus also performed miracles in the temple. But according to the 16th verse, he makes a statement that is not found in the other gospels, where he says, "and he said to them, 'Do you hear what these are saying?' Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself?'"
According to Mark, Chapter 10 verse 11, "He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve." In other words, according to Mark, he walked in, looked around, and left.
Then the 12th Chapter of John says that he goes into the temple, and tells the attendees present, that not only was his soul troubled about the current status of the world but that he also was preparing to die. He tells them that the light will only be with them for a little while longer and that they should take advantage of the light while the have the opportunity. He ends his sermon by telling the crowd, in the 36th verse, "While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light."
Then, in the verses that I have used, Jesus warns them by telling them His enemies and the enemies of those who followed Him were amassing their forced, but by the time the masses realized it, it would be too late. Jesus also makes a statement that struck me tremendously hard the first time I read it. It is found in the 40th verse, where it says, "He answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."
These four versions of the coming of the temple are interesting because they all give a different slant on what happened on this particular day. It is also interesting that the Palms for which today is named, are only mentioned in Matthew and Mark. In one instance, the palms are laid upon the ground while Jesus rode to the temple on the colt, and in another instance, the palms are waived as the Savior rode by, meekly on a colt, that has never been ridden.
I find the version in Luke interesting for what it says in 40th verse. It's interesting because it says to me that no matter what the method, no matter who brought the message of the divinity of God and of Jesus, that somehow, some way, this message would come out.
This verse also answers those critics who were always trying to get Jesus to say in explicit terms, that He was the Messiah. But the 40th verse says that he didn't have to say who He was and what He had come to do. That even if he had not said it, the truth would have come out in the end. God, would, has, and will find a way to make sure that the truth is proclaimed.
And this is a policy that we should adopt in our personal lives. It would be very easy for us to stand on the street corner and tell everyone who we are and what we are about and all the good deed that we have performed. But that is not necessary. Sometimes, it is more influential when someone else proclaims your good deeds and your good nature. Often, it is more credible coming from someone else than coming from you yourself.
But Jesus also makes another interesting statement in this set of verses. When He tells the crowd that despite this time for peace, His enemies have amassed themselves against Him, which is a situation we find ourselves thrown in on almost a daily basis. Those people who seem to be in our corner have blinded and deceived us through their slick ways and cunning style. But because we want to believe what we want to believe, we often do not see their true nature and purpose until it is too late. But Jesus, being the Son of God, a prophet, a teacher and a Messiah, saw his enemies long before any of them knew that they would be the enemies of Jesus. Jesus had the light of God on His side which enabled His eyes to be open wide, and He did not need to live a life of self denial. Jesus saw what needed to be done and did it.
Now is a time for peace. It is a time for us to realize that the more peace we try to bring to this Earth, the happier our lives on this earth will be, and which will in turn, enable us to walk with the Father. Peace begins with each and everyone of us.
We should not be content with just improving ourselves. We should be about the business of becoming one of the stones that Jesus talked about. We should become as a stone one the side of the road, ready and waiting to hit someone in the leg and shout out the truth.
Have you ever really looked at a stone? A stone, like one you may find on the street, may sit in the same place for hundreds and hundreds of years, just waiting to be used. It can be used to build things up, or destroy them. A stone can be used to fence people in, or enable someone to go free. A stone can be thrown in the ocean, sit at the bottom of the ocean for years and years and years, and in the process, become a catalyst for life. A stone can be bigger than this church or smaller than a penny. It can weigh more than 50 elephants put together, or weigh as little as a feather. Rains, snow, hurricanes, thunder, lightning, none of that can affect a stone in a moments notice. A stone can change. It can also create change. It can improve the current order of things. It can shout out truth. It can shout out lies.
But the thing of a stone is that when you look at it, you know what it is. Sure, you may wonder what is within it, and you may wonder where it came from, but the truth is that stone is a stone. Often it is nothing more and nothing less. It is sincere as we all should be.
The sincerity of being a stone means that you will be unswerving in your own personal pursuit of the truth. It means that when you are attempting to lift people up that you are supposed to be helping, you will not be cutting them down in the process. It means that no matter what lies or modifications of the truth you may be confronted with, you will have the resolve of a stone. Hard and steadfast. Reliable and unswerving. And if it starts raining lies and untruths, by being a stone, the assault of those things that have not business or place in your life will have no effect on you. For if your truth is like a stone, no one will be able to harm you.
When Jesus came to the temple, he was a stone. He chased out the thieves and the money changers and allowed himself to be a catalyst for change. He allowed His truth to be as a stone. When the Pharisees told Him to stop preaching, He told them that if no one else said anything, the stones, in their solid, sincere state, would scream out the truth.
It is time for us to take up our own stones and take on stone like attributes. It is time for us to stop trying to hurt our brothers and sisters with stones of deceit and hate and suspicion, but instead lift them up with stones of love and joy and peace. It is time for us to plant ourselves along that road and allow ourselves to shout out the sincere truth, when no one else is bothering to say it. Proclaiming the truth can be dangerous. We know that because of what happened to Jesus when he proclaimed that truth. But if we have the resolve of a stone and the truth on our side, armed with the knowledge that Jesus came into the temple, and not only warned us about our enemies, but also told us that by believing in the light we would become children of the light, our stones will not hurt our enemies as much.
So when the times comes, we must act, think and live as the stone on the side of the road. We must be willing to proclaim the truth and sincerity of Jesus. We must become the stones on the side of not only Jesus' road, but the roads that we walk and drive down everyday. We must not get caught up in the trap of those who wish us to be silent, but instead, be solid and steadfast in the knowledge that as we speak for Jesus by being that stone, that Jesus has and will always be that rock of our salvation.
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