Grace Lutheran Church • 6931 Edinger Ave • Huntington Beach, CA • 92647 • (714) 899-1700

Great Expectations – Palm Sunday 2019

John 12:12-29
Pastor Chris Tweitmann

This Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week – seven days commemorating Jesus’ decisive journey towards embracing the death we deserve and ultimately, offering us the kind of life we could only every imagine, let alone hope for. The first step towards the work of our salvation is taken as Jesus enters the royal city of Jerusalem. His arrival, coming in the midst of the celebration of Passover – the remembrance of God’s gracious act of deliverance of Israel, is a day that has been marked in the history of the Church as Palm Sunday.

Years of teaching, transforming lives and declaring the arrival of the Kingdom of God, culminate in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. According to John, Jesus comes meekly, not bringing with him some great processional. No, the word has gotten out about Jesus, specifically, his latest miracle of raising a man as dead as a doornail back to life. The people flock to Jesus, palm branches in hand, shouting their praises to the One they perceive as the true King of Israel, the long-awaited Messiah of the Lord.

They couldn’t be more right even as they are fundamentally wrong. Indications of what is coming next are all there. The resurrection of one man named Lazarus by Jesus foreshadows the raising of all humanity through Christ. Riding on the back of a donkey, an ancient prophecy of Zechariah is fulfilled of God’s universal reign being established not by military might but the surprising offering of peace. The ascription of blessing is accurate, but not because of the decision of the gathered crowd. Even as their opinion of Jesus will dramatically shift and turn into a curse, Jesus remains blessed because He comes in the name of the Lord.

The signs are all there but, as always, as before, no one can see them. Even the disciples can’t understand what is unfolding right in front of their eyes. Only later will they understand. As we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we are the disciples whose feet He washes and with whom He breaks bread and shares the cup. We are those who acclaim Christ on Sunday only to condemn Him on Friday. Whenever we anticipate Jesus is fulfilling our expectations, we praise Him. Whenever Jesus fails to meet our expectations, we prosecute Him.

But are we ready, do we allow room for our God to exceed our expectations – to do more than we could ever imagine or hope for? Great expectations are before us. But are they ours or the Lord’s? This is the question with which we will wrestle together on Sunday. As walk together from Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, to arrive at Easter, let us learn and receive again in a new, deeper way all that God in Christ extends us first, from the scandal of the Cross, and later, from the shock and awe of an empty tomb.

Grace to you!
Pastor Chris