Prayer for the Week

PALM SUNDAY

Almighty and everlasting God, in your tender love for us you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon himself our nature, and to suffer death upon the Cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and come to share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Liturgy of the Palms

Palm Sunday | April 5, 2020

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 • Matthew 21:1-11

21 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,

“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
    ‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
    riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew 21:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)


This coming Sunday is the day that we know as Palm Sunday. This event is recorded by all four of the gospel writers. It gets its name from John’s gospel. John is the only writer to specifically mention palm branches. The other gospel writers, like Matthew mention the coats being laid on the road. Some of the gospel writers mention branches being cut from trees, but not specifically palm branches.

Over the past few weeks, we have been tracking through John. This Sunday, Pam and I will be looking at John’s account of the so called “Triumphal Entry.” I put it in quotes because John tells us this entry is more like Jesus riding on to his death. The Pharisees were on the hunt. They were looking to kill Jesus – not only Jesus but Lazarus, whom Jesus recently raised from the dead. The Pharisees saw Jesus as dangerous to their cause. They knew if there was too much disruption, the Romans would move to restore peace. The Romans were quite tolerant of the Jews religious beliefs as long as it didn’t cause a disturbance – and Jesus was causing quite a disturbance in the status quo. To borrow a phrase from Star Wars, Jesus was causing a disturbance in the force. The Pharisees didn’t like it.

Matthew, however, gives us none of these details. He tells us how Jesus and his disciples acquired the colt (the young donkey) and gives us a cut and dried description of the events that happened. The people are looking for a king…someone who will save them from the Romans. The shouts, the palm, the laying of coats on the road were all signs that the people believed that Jesus may be the king they were looking for. We can see that in their statements:

Praise God (Hosanna) for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God (Hosanna) in the highest heaven!

Matthew 21:9b

Here the New Living Translation doesn’t quite capture the desperation of the people the phrase it uses is “Praise God!” In the footnotes for verse 9, we see the Greek word used here is “Hosanna!” We often think of it as a cry of praise, but it is more of a cry of desperation. Hosanna means “save now!” While we often think the people were praising the Lord, which they were – they were also crying out for help.

I haven’t written much about the COVID-19 crisis on here. We are in the midst of some peculiar times. Much of the country is under stay-at-home orders, meaning that we can only go out for the essentials. I think many believers could be crying out today “Hosanna!” God please save us and save us now. Actually, it would probably be a good idea for us to cry out to God for salvation during this time. As we enter Holy Week, it would be good to remember that Jesus indeed came to save us.

I found a curious verse at the end of this text. After seeing the uproar, some were asking, “Who is this?” Actually all of Jerusalem was in an uproar…much like when the wisemen came to seek Jesus as a little boy. They asked, “Where is the one born the King of the Jews?”

Some in the crowd respond to “who is this?” by saying, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” This is Jesus the Savior – the One who can save us from our sins. He can do this because He is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. His sacrifice on the cross made a way for salvation for all of humankind.

In many ways, Jesus coming into Jerusalem was the fulfillment of the cry for God to come and save us. As the week continues, we will explore this idea more. Let’s join together in this journey through Holy Week.

Palm Sunday

pexels-photo-796656.jpegLiturgy of the Palms (March 25, 2018)


As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’”

The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.

Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

Mark 11:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)


The Beginning of the End

This week begins Holy Week.  It is a week that we recount the events that happen before the crucifixion of Jesus.  This linchpin week begins with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  The gospel of Mark recounts the events.  The people of Israel were looking for a king and in this moment, they were ready to crown Jesus the king.  As we begin this week, I want us to look at what the people said:

“Praise God!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

The Greek here uses the word Hosanna. We often use the phrase as a word of praise, thinking that it is praise to God. The reality is that it is a cry to God.  The people who saw Jesus coming into Jerusalem, were looking for God to save them.  The word hosanna means “save now.”  Jesus was coming to save them, but not in the way they thought.  They thought Jesus was coming to establish his throne – right there – right then.  Little did they know the events that would happen over the week.  Little did they know that Jesus was coming to save them, but it wasn’t the way that they had it in their minds.  Yes, on Sunday we will celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to save his people from their sins.  Jesus would ride on a donkey into the streets on Sunday…and the words that the people shouted would come true…(to be continued….)

Liturgy of the Palms

Palm-Sunday-Pictures-Download-Palm

Liturgy of the Palms (April 9, 2017)


Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Let all Israel repeat:
    “His faithful love endures forever.”

Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
    and I will go in and thank the Lord.
These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
    and the godly enter there.
I thank you for answering my prayer
    and giving me victory!

The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.
This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, shining upon us.
    Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you!
    You are my God, and I will exalt you!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Matthew 21:1-11 | New Living Translation (NLT)

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.“Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”

This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,

“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
    ‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
    riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.  The church traditionally kicks off Holy Week with Palm Sunday.  This remembers Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  It really is a bit ironic.  The people were looking for a king to save them.  The gospel writer tells us that this event fulfills one of the many prophecies about Jesus.  It now looks like the whole world is for Jesus and yet the reality is very different.  The gospel writer John records these words from the Pharisees: “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”  This is one of the pivotal points in John.  Up until now the people, the people were seeking after Jesus, but John records that this is when people started turning away from Jesus.

The people were looking for a king to save them.  In fact the word, “Hosanna” means God save us. In the text above “Hosanna” is translated as “Praise God in the highest heaven.”  We often think of hosanna as a word of praise…I thought that for many years…but hosanna is a cry meaning save now.  Think of how that applies this morning to this passage.  The people of Israel were looking for a king to save them.  Here he was – right before their very eyes…even saying “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” There Savior was right there and yet they did not see.  They did not see that this man riding into Jerusalem on a young colt would save them.  Just a few days later, he would be lifted up on a tree for all to see and die for the sins of all.

That salvation is available for all.  Over Holy Week, I will be blogging through the texts of the week.  As I look through the books of the gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we see there are many events that happened between Sunday and Friday.  We will be taking a look at those and seeing what we can learn as we take our final steps to the cross.

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

Palm
Liturgy of the Palms (March 20, 2016)

  • Psalm
    • Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
  • Gospel
    • Luke 19:28-40

 

Liturgy of the Passion (March 20, 2016)

  • First reading
    • Isaiah 50:4-9a
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 31:9-16
  • Second reading
    • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Gospel
    • Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

holy-week.jpg

For this week’s post we will begin with the Palm Sunday narrative:

Luke 19:28-40 | New Living Translation (NLT)

After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”

And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”

He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

So this story begins Holy Week.  This week beginning on Sunday we recall the events in Jesus life leading up to his crucifixion, burial and ultimately culminates in His resurrection.  Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.  It’s interesting because we often call this the triumphal entry of Jesus – it really was far from it.  I believe the biblical accounts, but I want you to think with me for a moment….This gospel writer (Luke) does not use the words that are recorded in Matthew and Mark, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” or “Hosanna in the highest.”  We often think of the word “hosanna” as being a word of praise or shout, of acclamation, but the word hosanna means save, rescue or savior.  The word is used in Psalm 118:25 in the original Hebrew.

Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.

I want to focus in on the first phrase – Please, Lord, please save us!  Really that’s what the people were shouting in Jerusalem on that Sunday.  I believe that some of Jesus closest followers were beginning to understand who this Jesus was…They knew that Jesus was the hope.  Remember…for 400 years before Jesus arrived on the scene, Israel had been waiting for a savior – many who were alive at the time, didn’t realize that Jesus was this one.  He was the Savior – he was the one who would save them from their sins – he was the one who ultimately would rescue them.  The reality is that those who were on the road leading into Jerusalem thought Jesus was about to usher in the new kingdom – and he was – but not the way they expected it.   Jesus came to save us.  Jesus is our rescue.  As I was doing some research I came across this.  We often talk about singing hosanna, when in fact, we should be crying hosanna.  Crying out for God to save us.  This is the same word that is used for the people in Israel during the exodus and during other times of oppression – they would cry out to God, crying “God save us!”


With that in mind let us look at the text for Passion Sunday.  It come from Philippians 2:5-11:

Philippians 2:5-11 | New Living Translation (NLT)

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Paul is writing to the church at Philippi.  It is a missionary letter and here he quotes an ancient hymn of the church.  The church at Philippi would have been familiar with this hymn.  It is a Christological hymn – that means it describes Christ.

Paul is saying that if we want to be like Christ, then we should model his characteristics.  We are reminded that Christ was and is God – the second person of the Trinity – Jesus came to earth – Jesus was God in the flesh – John describes that God became flesh and dwelt among us.  We call that the incarnation.  How amazing is that?  This man Jesus, who was and is and always will be God, would come down to earth for us.  He gave up his divine rights as God and was born as his own creation.  That is pretty amazing to me.  That Christ would love us so much that He would give up everything – all his rights – to save us.  How many of us would be willing to do that?  Jesus knew that He was God and yet, he did not think that equality was something that he needed to cling to.

We are told via this hymn that Jesus gave up his divine privileges of God and became a slave to the human body (that’s my emphasis) – and he was born in human form — I remember holding our grandson Robert right after he was born.  He was so helpless.  Think about Jesus – the creator of the universe having to be cared for by his own creation.  Talk about humbling yourself – and Jesus did it willingly.  Not only did Jesus humble himself to his creation, but he humbled himself to God.  These are characteristics that we should be asking for God to reveal in us.

Jesus was completely obedient to God – to the point of dying for us.  And it was not just any type of death – it was the worst type of death that humankind could come up with – hanging on a cross – without a stitch of clothing on – being humiliated – and literally suffocating to death – that after being beaten within an inch of his life.  It was an excruciating death.

But…God…here is the important part.  When Jesus laid down his life, God exalted him – to the highest place – God restored Christ and gave him the highest honor.  Here is the point…We must humble ourselves…we must be like Jesus…That is our part…We don’t need to worry about the exalting part…God will take care of that.

Let’s pick up the words right before Paul quotes this ancient hymn:

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

This is what Christ desires in his people.  During this week, we will be following the journey of Jesus to the cross – we’ve already looked at the people crying, “Save us — be our Savior — rescue us.” Think about what Christ requires of you as we remember what Christ did for us.

 

 

Liturgy of the Palms

Palm-Sunday-Pictures-Download-PalmLiturgy of the Palms (March 29, 2015)

  • Psalm
    • Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
  • Gospel
    • Mark 11:1-11

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Let all Israel repeat:
    “His faithful love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
    and I will go in and thank the Lord.
20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
    and the godly enter there.
21 I thank you for answering my prayer
    and giving me victory!

22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.
24 This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.
26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
    Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
    You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Hosanna – God Save Us!

Liturgy of the Palms (March 24, 2013)

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40

palm-sunday-1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Let all Israel repeat:
“His faithful love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
and I will go in and thank the Lord.
20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
and the godly enter there.
21 I thank you for answering my prayer
and giving me victory!

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.
24 This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.
26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

We often think of “Hosanna” as a word of praise.  Many years ago our choir sang a song called “We Cry Hosanna” as the crowd welcomed Jesus.  Because of the way we often use the word “hosanna,” I believe most people think the same way.  However, last year about this time, we learned that hosanna means God save us.  The people gathered in Jerusalem were longing and looking for a king – a king who would come through the gate that Jesus came through that morning.  Little did they know that Jesus was a king and that he was coming to save them and us.

This Sunday we are singing Paul Baloche’s “Hosanna” which goes:

Hosanna hosanna
You are the God who saves us
Worthy of all our praises
Hosanna hosanna
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here Lord Jesus

I think this really helps define what the people were looking for and really what we as a people should be looking for in Jesus.  I encourage you to think about this as you celebrate Palm Sunday this week.

Liturgy of the Passion

Liturgy of the Passion (April 1, 2012)

Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
    and I have listened.
    I have not rebelled or turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me
    and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
    from mockery and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
    determined to do his will.
    And I know that I will not be put to shame.
He who gives me justice is near.
    Who will dare to bring charges against me now?
Where are my accusers?
    Let them appear!
See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side!
    Who will declare me guilty?

On Sunday, we begin Seven Days in Jerusalem. As I noted last night, Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  This week we focus on the saving work of Jesus.  This passage reminds us of the things that Christ had to suffer for our benefit.  Join me for these special devotionals starting Monday as we begin – Seven Days in Jerusalem.

Liturgy of the Palms

Liturgy of the Palms (April 1, 2012)

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Mark 11:1-11

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Let all Israel repeat:
    “His faithful love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
    and I will go in and thank the Lord.
20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
    and the godly enter there.
21 I thank you for answering my prayer
    and giving me victory!

22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.
24 This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.
26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
    Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
    You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

Currently during our Sunday School time we are studying Faith Lessons.  Pam wrote several posts at Christmas about this.  Several weeks ago, we looked at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  It turns out that the events recorded in the Gospels really weren’t that out of the ordinary.  The Jewish people had been looking for a savior, who would come out of the east riding on a donkey, especially during the period of Passover.  Jesus met many of the criteria for this savior.  This had happened several times over the previous 100 year, so much so that the Romans had extra guards stationed at the garrison in Jerusalem.

Two things that I learned were 1.) Hosanna isn’t so much a cry of praise but a cry for deliverance – it means help us or save us. The Jewish people were looking for deliverance from the Romans.  No wonder the Pharisees were skiddish. These words of “hosanna” and “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” were cries of rebellion.  It also explains their pleas for Jesus to hush his disciples.  If the Romans got word of this “rebellion,” who knows what would happen.  2.) the palms      weren’t so much a symbol of peace or of Jesus’ coming kingdom as they were a nationalistic symbol (again it had a subversive element.) All of this made the Pharisees nervous.

It really puts Palm Sunday into a new light.  No wonder the Pharisees picked up the pace during Holy Week to get rid of Jesus.  During the coming week, we will continue to look at the Old Testament passages and how they apply to the events of the coming week.