Parade of Possibility

There's nothing like a good parade, marching bands, floats, fire engines, big balloons, clowns, all kinds of fun things to watch. Well our Lenten journey has now brought us to a parade of sorts. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to the praise and adoration of his disciples. Those many people who saw the miracles of Jesus were celebrating his entry into Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming Passover feast.

It seems that everyone coming to Jerusalem for the Passover knew Jesus, and the overall mood was favorable towards his arrival. People lined the road, praising God, waving palm branches, and throwing their cloaks in front of the colt carrying Jesus, as he passed by them.

The crowd was excited shouting, "Long live the King," because they knew Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9, which says, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a colt." The people were filled with enthusiasm; they were excited because it was a time of joy, and it was a moment of possibility. Might this be the Messiah who would usher in the blessing of the age, to come and return all children of God who had been scattered around the countryside? This was the moment on which the wheel of history would turn. Either God's kingdom would be established on earth, or the people's hopes would be shattered forever.

Yet what the people quickly learned was that the parade didn't live up to their expectations. Have you ever gone to a parade and walk away saying, well that was ok but I would have like to seenů I can remember attending a Memorial Day parade down in Rockville about 25 years ago. I had high expectations about the parade, marching bands, baton twirlers, fire engines, military vehicles, and so on.

But as the parade began and went on and on, there were no bands, there were no twirlers, there were no fire engines, and there were no military vehicles. The only thing the parade had was a few clowns, and a bunch of politicians who were running for office in the fall. I was extremely disappointed. My expectations were shattered, and I have never again attended a Memorial Day Parade in Rockville.

Well those who were welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem were also quickly disappointed as they learned that Jesus was not going to become the national leader they had hoped for. Jesus was not going to restore their nation to prominence, at least as they had it scripted in their minds. What quickly became apparent was that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hope and dreams, so, like I turned away from the Memorial Day Parade, they turned away from Jesus.

Jesus was a king, but no ordinary one. Jesus was the king of tax collectors, fishermen, Samaritans, prostitutes, blind men, cripples, the oppressed and suffering. Jesus was a king who shared in the hardships of his followers, relieved their suffering, accepted them when others would not, gave them hope, and embodied God's love for them in real and tangible ways. Yet, Jesus was not the king the people had been looking for, a triumphant military kind of king riding into Jerusalem on a white horse, reading to take on the existing Roman government.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem was a moment filled with possibility. Mankind's last hope, riding on a colt. Oh, what might have been? Everything was just right, if only Jesus had seized the moment; if only the people of Jerusalem had responded as they should have; if only God had fulfilled the dreams of those who followed Jesus.

Life is filled with moments of what might have been, moments when everything seems right, but then it just doesn't work out the way we hoped. It's in times like this that it can sometimes be hard believing in God, when life doesn't give us what matters so dearly to us.

Well the truth is God was about to do something powerful and wonderful, but that day the disciples were not looking for a different kind of king. They were hoping for a more limited kind of kingdom, a kingdom that would disrupt the current governing and political structure, a kingdom that would return power (temporal power) to the Jews. But God had a different way.

It's clear to me, just by watching the news every night or reading the newspaper, that business as usual isn't working, and hasn't for 2000 years. I keep asking myself why? Why can't we, the intelligent human beings we are, find a way to live and work together? Some days the hate in this world becomes overwhelming, to the point I just want to say, God I've had enough.

But then Holy Week begins. Jesus enters Jerusalem offering a better way, a way that will restore wholeness to humanity and the whole world. Later this week we will experience the Love of God in a way that can't truly be described. And them next Sunday we celebrate God's victory over sin and death, a victory that brings all the possibilities of hope to fruition. What is it you yearn for? Do you yearn for a different kind of king? Do you yearn for a king of sinners and outcasts? Do you yearn for a king of the poor and oppressed? Or do you yearn for a king that will maintain the status quo, focused on power and control?

As God's children we are called to join with the disciples in the worship of the one who has brought down the powerful from their thrones. We are called to praise the One who lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry and quenched the spiritual thirst of those with dry souls. We are called to give thanks to the One that has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them, the God who gives light to those who live in darkness, the God who will guide our feet into the way of shalom, a true peace that removes all restlessness from our souls.

Jesus is entering Jerusalem knowing his destiny. Jesus is entering Jerusalem knowing that cheers will quickly turn to shouts of "crucify him." Jesus is entering Jerusalem so that you and I might live.

Today we remember Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as the Messiah who gives hope to all who serve him. This is a parade that all of us should attend with cheering and weeping.

The Messiah is coming! Don't let the parade pass you by, throw down your cloak and wave your palms out of praise and thanksgiving for the one true king who ushers in life eternal for all who believe!

Let us pray. Almighty God, you sent your son, our savior Jesus Christ, to usher in a new kingdom, a new way of life. Grant us the courage and fortitude to be obedient to his will, so that we too can share in the glorious victory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives with you and the Holy Spirit, One God now and forever.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade