Good News: Jesus Saves!
Rev. Estelle Margarones
Psalm 118:1-2, 24-29 Mark 11:1-11
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is Palm Sunday, a day that recalls and celebrates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. This gospel account is more than simply about curious onlookers wanting to catch a glimpse of one whose celebrity was spreading. This gospel account is one of a king and his people. The people note his heritage from the House of David. The praise him with the words, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”.
The portrayals or “news reports” you are about to observe are based on true events. Imagine, with me, if you will, what it must have been like to be in the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The date is Nisan (pronounced nee-SAHN) 10, the year 3793. It is an event that will be celebrated as Palm Sunday in the years that follow. A man called Jesus, a rabbi, and more recently a miracle worker passed through here just a little while ago. You can see the crowds behind me have begun to disperse. People began gathering last night they learned that Jesus would, in fact, be here for the Passover Feast. There were people from all walks of life, and all generations. Children sat on their parents shoulders; elders leaned against trees. It seems no one wanted to miss the opportunity to see Jesus in person.
It appears, though, to be more significant. It appears that the crowds weren't comprised of gawkers, but of followers. Many had heard that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and it is clear that recognize him as someone of great importance. They have put their trust in him. One person who asked not to be identified said he'd heard that there is trouble ahead, but he is sure this King will triumph! As he said, “No matter what the future, right now, our savior, our king, healer, redeemer, peacemaker is here.”
As you can see from palms scattered around, this was quite a sizable crowd. Many with whom we spoke were unaware of any possible trouble ahead. There was a very real sense of revelry during this procession or parade and a very real sense of hope pervasive throughout the crowds. Many here cried out “Hosanna” which means “save us”. Even as it was a cry for help, it was a declaration of praise. They have put their hope in this Savior. No doubt he will save them.
This morning, I'm reporting to you from a tiny village on the river island of Majuli. We're in northern India where a life was saved, just in time. Early in June, a two and a half year old girl came down with a fever. Her parents tried tribal remedies to no avail. When their daughter became jaundiced, they took her to the village medicine man who charged them 1281 rupees for ineffectual medicine. They then called upon healers who charged 360 more rupees. The girl's condition worsened. Three weeks after her fever began, she was swollen and in and out of consciousness.
It was only after traveling six miles on a dirt road to bring their toddler to the hospital in the next town, that they learned she had “severe falciparum malaria and anemia.” Immediate treatment, including a blood transfusion was necessary to save her. The parents had spent all of their money within three weeks. Through a charitable organization, funding was provided. In only three days, the little girl had improved enough to be discharged. Her treatment was valued at approximately 4000 rupees.(1)
Jesus was known as a great healer. Jesus saves. It really comes as no surprise that this little girl was given free treatment and a second chance at life at....Baptist Christian Hospital.
It is November 30the and this morning, we're in Atlanta, Georgia. Thanksgiving may have passed, but two women are giving thanks today. They were on the brink of eviction, but the sheriff and his team couldn't find it in their hearts to put the owner of the home she's lived in for close to fifty years. The homeowner, in this case, is a bedridden 103 year old. Her caretaker and housemate is her 83 year old daughter. For more than two years, the bank holding the mortgage has been at odds with the homeowner over a second mortgage. The homeowner told us, she wasn't afraid when the sheriff came. She said, quote, "I just know God says that when things go wrong, He'll make it right".(2) What moved the sheriff and his men to allow these two women to stay in their home? Some would save that Jesus saved these women from eviction. Myself included.
We began on Nisan 10, 37-93, a year that would become known as 33 A.D at an event that would become celebrated as Palm Sunday. The crowds cried out, “Hosanna”, a cry of praise; a cry for mercy. “Save us.” For centuries, Jesus has saved. Jesus continues to do so.
Jesus watches over us and cares for us. He's been called a shepherd and we, his flock. We don't see very many shepherds around here today. You're aware, no doubt, that shepherds would carry a staff...a tall stick of sorts, with a crook at the end. When sheep walk in mountainous areas, occasionally one falls...sometimes even into a ravine, where it gets stuck. The shepherd uses the staff to extract the sheep from trouble. In a similar fashion, our shepherd Jesus saves us when we fall to dark times or get stuck in bad behavior. All we need to do is trust him.
Jesus Saves. And what do we do in return? Over these past several weeks, we've talked a lot about covenental relationship. A covenant is a holy pact. In return for Jesus' loving, saving grace, all we need to do is be his disciples. Part of that is giving and serving where we can.
Let that mind of Christ be yours. Open wide your ears and your hearts and listen for God's will to be known in your life. Listen to hear how you can be of service.......
We've walked these many weeks, together, toward the cross. This time in the church year, more so than any other, is a time when we follow Jesus closely, aware of the behavior he modeled and aware of the controversies he faced. We know all that he endured--for us.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a week that is bittersweet. This Holy week stirs up mixed emotions: wild excitement, deep despair, and, finally, the absolute certainty that all is well.
Today, we celebrate our King's triumphant entrance to the city. The crowds gather and rejoice. Later this week, in a service on Holy Thursday, we will bear witness to the betrayal and the desertion that Jesus faced in a service of Tenebrae. Some in the crowd that even today wave palms as Jesus enters Jerusalem will turn their backs upon Jesus and demand the release of a common criminal. Jesus submits to God's will and endures the crucifixion.
Good Friday is a day for solemnity. Were we watching a movie, the scene would fade to black and the theatre goers would be rooted to their seats, unable to move so gripped with pain and emotion. But then, moments later, the screen is filled with blinding white light and we learn of the Resurection. All is well! Hope lives! Compassion lives! Peace lives! Jesus lives!
Next Sunday, we celebrate Easter. This Sunday, we throng the sidelines to see our King. When you look upon the palm you now hold, remember to wave it in joyful recognition of all that Jesus has done and in joyful anticipation of all that will yet be!
This week, as you step forward to see the King, step forward to claim your own obligation to be the person he called you to be. In the days and weeks ahead, as you look upon the palm in your home or office or car, may you be moved to reaffirm your steadfast allegiance to our King, Jesus Christ.
The crowds cried, “Hosanna” (save us) and Jesus does.
When we meet again next Sunday morning, we will celebrate the fact that Jesus death isn't a tragic ending, but instead, a triumphant beginning. Blessed Be and Amen.
2. By Ray Downs , Christian Post Reporter, November 30, 2011|4:56 pm http://global.christianpost.com/news/eviction-of-103-year-old-woman-83-year-old-daughter-halted-at-last-minute-63587/