What Jesus do we Need Today?

by | Apr 10, 2022 | Sermons

What Jesus do we Need Today?

Our passages today focus on reconciliation, the hard work of forgiveness. It might not look that way at first glance, as the passages have more finger pointing in them than words of forgiveness.  However, if you dig deeper you will find that the theme of forgiveness and the restoration of relationships is at the heart of the passage. 

Scripture: Luke 19: 28-40

The Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.”

A more fitting line couldn’t be written for those who gathered in Jerusalem that day as Jesus entered the city by the back gate. The crowds, the disciples, even the few Pharisees who were in attendance. It’s the Pharisees who take offence at what is happening. Ordering Jesus to tell the crowd to keep silent, to stop singing praises. To title which Jesus responds, “I tell you, if these were silent, the
stones would shout out.”

Turns our that’s true. The “rocks” are singing all the time—we just can’t hear them, which is a little like
González’s point about not being able to see what God is up to, isn’t it? According to NASA, the planets, stars, etc. in our solar system literally produce sound. We might describe it as a reverberation and a constant crying out the praise of its Creator. (Chelsey Harmon)

The praises of the crowd echo that of the angels when Jesus was born (Luke 2:14). There are a lot of similarities between the triumphal entry and the birth narrative in Luke’s gospel. The crowds sing hallelujahs, there is the donkey this time ridden by Jesus rather than a pregnant Mary. The entry into Jerusalem, Jesus isn’t welcomed by many just as Joseph and Mary had difficulties finding a place to stay. We find that Luke is a masterful storyteller, weaving elements of the story together, foreshadowing events, and pointing to events of significance.

This story is odd. It’s not the entry in Jerusalem that we might have imagined for Jesus, yet it is the one we have received and it is the one that we need. It’s certainly not what the disciples and close followers of Jesus were expecting and yet all the elements are there. The disciples and close followers of Jesus were still waiting for Jesus to rise up and fight the Romans. To be an earthly king. It was there only expectation, the only model they could understand. However, we shouldn’t be followed. This entrance into Jerusalem is a statement of power. Jesus is arriving as a king, whether it looks like it to us or not. Rather than a military procession surrounded by armies, Jesus arrives surrounded by peaceful followers.

This passage we read is often referred to as the Triumphal Entry, which is perhaps an odd name. Jesus
enters through the back gate, on a donkey that’s never been ridden, surrounded by a small group who
eventually break out in song. The only authorities who seem to show up are a few Pharisees who ask Jesus to command those present to stop singing. It’s odd, also missing from Luke’s version is the waving palm branches. However, as Luke is primarily writing to a Gentile audience this is perhaps understood as the palm branches are a part of Jewish tradition.

Perhaps calling it odd is another way of us grappling with the fact that our thoughts of power are still so different from what Christ envisioned. We look for symbols of power: wealth, armies, and celebrity. But we know that Jesus wasn’t interested in any of these things. In fact, it’s the opposite: sharing resources, peace and humble living. An element of the passage I always felt was odd or at the
very least made me scratch my head was the donkey. I always thought that Jesus and the disciples were stealing the donkey, or at best borrowing it for a short time. It’s a pretty out of character thought to have about Jesus, but part of me wondered ‘did Jesus just tell his disciples to steal a donkey?’ However, as I reread this passage it appears to me that the owners of the colt were expecting this to occur. They don’t try to stop the disciples. The guards don’t show up and arrest Jesus for theft of property. The owners of the donkey are perhaps among the crowd that day.

Luke tells us at the beginning of his gospel that Jesus is the prince of peace. Here, today in this passage we see that prince enter Jerusalem. Jesus doesn’t come to Jerusalem to overthrow earthly kings or temporal powers. Instead, Jesus comes to overthrow sin and death. Sin, the brokenness that damages our relationships with one another and with God. Death, the end of all things. Only in Christ we learn that this isn’t the case and not how things have to be. On these things Kathryn Schifferdecker writes, “These are the ancient, and most potent enemies of the whole human race. Sin, death and Satan have the power to break our hearts, to take our lives and those of the people we hold most dear. It is these enemies that are defeated, by God’s power, through Jesus’ death on a cross, and through his glorious resurrection, when God says the final “YES” to Jesus’ life and ministry.” (Kathryn Schifferdecker)

God says yes to the life and ministry of Jesus. Rather than allowing this healing and teaching ministry to die to imperial and worldly powers God says “yes” to Jesus. In doing so God informs all of us where the priorities are, where the focus should be. God doesn’t allow the goodness that Jesus did to end. God doesn’t allow worldly powers bred of selfishness and power to have the final word. This is the Jesus that arrives in Jerusalem that day.

What Jesus arrives for us today?

The prince of peace? What will we do to model that peace in our own lives? How will peace be accomplished among the nations? The peace of Jesus’ day was accomplished through force of arms, the Pax Romana. In many ways we do the same today, we send soldiers to uphold the peace. The change will never occur within those who have power, but instead must be led by us who know and love one another. We must each bring our own peace into the life of the other.

What Jesus arrives for us today?

Is it the Christ who notes that the very earth shouts out with praise? How will we join our voices to that of those found in creation? The whip of the wind, the crash of the wave, the song of the bird, the rustle of the trees, and the laughter of children. How will we bring our songs of praise forward into the world?

What Jesus arrives for us today?

The hymn we are about to sing is My song is love unknown and perhaps that title speaks to the Jesus that arrives. A Jesus full of love for us, even when we don’t realize it. Amen.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.

St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security. 

Kristina Nairn

Public Health Nurse, HKPR Health Unit

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