Looking Through the Palms to the Cross 3-25-18


Looking Through the Palms to the Cross


TEXT: John 19:25-27; Matthew 27:40-42

Today we as Christians observe what we call “Palm Sunday” when, on that day nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus made what is called His “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem.


The people were so excited in welcoming Him that crowds lined the streets, throwing flowers, & spreading their cloaks on the road as a carpet for Him. And like many other kings they welcomed Him by cutting palm branches & waved them in the air before Him.


The Pharisees who had been plotting against Jesus cried out in despair, “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:19)


But we all know how quickly things can change. In just a few days the shouts of “Hosanna!” turned into “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”


Luke 19:28-40 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30?Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”32Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”34They replied, “The Lord needs it.”35They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.37When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:38?Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”40?I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”


Everything Is Not Always What It Seems


With Jesus’ instructions to the disciples to go and find the colt in the village, Jesus seems to be doing exactly what his disciples expect him to do — take charge, make a bold statement, enter Jerusalem as the Messiah that he is.


The crowds in Jerusalem have now grown to several hundred thousand, as they prepare for The Feast of Passover.

The Passover Feast is a time of remembering how God delivered the nation from the slavery of Egypt.


And so when Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on the first day of Passover week, the crowds are looking for someone to rally around, someone to carry the banner of freedom for the Jewish people.


But Jesus is not traveling the road to revolution; he is traveling the countdown to the cross.


When You Look Through The Palms, The Cross Separates Disciples From Admirers


Of course, not even the disciples comprehend that Jesus is heading toward his death by the end of the week.  Every time Jesus mentions the possibility that he will be mistreated, the disciples protest that he is even speaking of such a thing.  Each vows to defend and stay with Jesus regardless of the outcome.


Where are you in your commitment from the day of salvation? Do You Still vow to defend Jesus regardless of the outcome?


And so as Jesus rides into Jerusalem that Sunday?? morning, the disciples are joyous, the crowd is energized, and shouts of “Hosanna” ring out as he rides slowly and carefully through the crowds.


These are the crowds longing for freedom, the residents of Jerusalem, and Jews from all over the Mediterranean area who have arrived for the Passover, yearning for freedom.


They despise the presence of Roman centurions in their city, the City of David.  They are revolted that Antonio’s Fortress, built by their former King Herod the Great, is attached to the north wall of the Temple compound and houses the Roman garrison.


So, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem that morning, the crowds that sing and shout and follow him are admirers.  They like that Jesus stands up to their own corrupt political leaders and religious figures. 


They are looking for someone to rescue them from their situation. But Jesus was looking to not change the situation but change eternity.


What the crowds saw in Jesus was the son of Joseph, not the Son of God.  They saw him as a revolutionary, not as Redeemer.  They wanted another Maccabee, not a new Messiah.  In short, they admired Jesus because they thought he was the answer to all their problems.


When Clarence Jordan founded Koinonia Farms in Americus, Georgia in the mid-1950s, he founded an interracial community that he thought was an authentic expression of the Kingdom of God.  It was an experiment in both agriculture and the Gospel, in which whites and blacks worked side-by-side, tilling the fields, harvesting the crops, and sharing life together.


Not everyone in southwest Georgia 60 years ago shared Clarence Jordan’s vision of the Kingdom of God.  And, so Koinonia Farms attracted trouble. The farm was shot at by passing cars.  Signs and buildings were vandalized.  Crosses were burned and Koinonia community members were beaten.  Merchants refused to sell supplies to the farm, and eventually, legal troubles mounted for the struggling experiment in Christian love.


Clarence Jordan approached his brother, Robert Jordan, a local Georgia attorney, for help with their legal problems.  Robert was an up-and-coming young attorney with political ambitions of his own.  He would later serve as a Georgia state senator, and as a Justice on the Georgia State Supreme Court.


David Augsburger in his book, Dissident Discipleship, captures the scene as the two brothers talked.


Robert had declined to represent Koinonia Farms with this explanation:


Bob:  “Clarence, I can’t do that.  You know my political aspirations. Why if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I’ve got.”


Clarence:  “We might lose everything, too, Bob.”


Bob:  “It’s different for you.”


Clarence:  “Why is it different?  I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church the same Sunday as boys.  I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you.  He asked me, ‘Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ What did you say?”


Bob:  “I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point.”


Clarence:  “Could that point by any chance be — the cross?”


Bob:  “That’s right.  I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross.  I’m not getting myself crucified.”


Clarence:  “Then I don’t believe you’re a disciple.  You’re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his.  I think you ought to go back to that church you belong to, and tell them you’re an admirer not a disciple.”


Bob:  “Well now, if everyone who felt like I do did that, we wouldn’t have a church, would we?”


Clarence:  “The question is, do you have a church?”


It’s not a surprise that by the end of the week, those who admired Jesus on Sunday were shouting “Crucify him!” on Friday.


Why would Jesus endure the cross knowing all the sacrifice it would take?


Those who had seen his power wondered why he seemed powerless at his greatest need. Those who saw his intelligence wondered how someone so smart could miscalculate so badly.


Both sides missed what Jesus and his Father were saying: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it produces many” (John 12:24). Not just his words, his very life is a parable.


“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Why The Cross?


  1. His Character: He had no sin.


Paul begins with the fact that Christ “had no sin. There was no sin outwardly because there was no sin inwardly. 


This is crucial because if Christ had sinned, he could not be our Savior. A sinner could not pay for the sins of another sinner.


Pilate examined him, he declared, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4 KJV).


When Herod and the Jewish leaders put him on trial, they could find no witnesses against him so they rounded up false witnesses who lied under oath (Matthew 26:59-60).


When Christ hung on the Cross, the Roman centurion cried out, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

  1. His Cost: He became sin for us.


  1. He took our Place — “For us”
    When Christ died on the Cross, he took my place–and he took yours. He died in the place of Us, guilty sinners. Every hit of the hammer on the nails were intended for you. The crown of thorns that was smashed on his brow was intended for you, the spear should have pierced your side, every defaming word and spit to the face was meant for you. It should have been you hanging on a tree–but it wasn’t. It was Jesus dying in your place.


  1. He took our Penalty–”He became sin”


On the cross Jesus, the sinless savior, became sin. He paid the price we owed to God, the debt we could never pay. His death satisfied God’s righteous judgment that sin must always be punished.


From the world’s point of view, we cannot understand how one man could die in the place of another, bearing his penalty, and thus providing him a right standing with God.


I get it, it doesn’t make sense. The issue is not does it make sense but, the issue is whether it is true and do you believe it?

III. His Contribution: We might become the righteousness of God.


His Gift helps us become the righteousness of God. We all want to be made right with God, to have our record cleared, to know that all is well between us and our Heavenly Father.

Jesus Gives us a Great Exchange:

He was convicted that we might be found blameless.
He placed our sin on his back that we might be set free.
He died that we might live.
He suffered that we might be redeemed.
He was made sin that we might be made righteous.


“Once you’ve been to the Cross, everything changes.” Stumbling blocks and foolishness turn into power and wisdom.


The Cross changes everything. If sin is pursuing you, then perhaps the event that will change everything for you is for you to look THROUGH the Palms TO the Cross

If nothing is changing, maybe you haven’t been to the Cross.