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Palm Sunday 2021

Palm Sunday      Sermon                                            28 March 2021

Liturgy of the Palms Mark 11:1-11. 

Isaiah 50:4-9a.   Psalm 31:9-18.     Phil 2:5-11.  

Passion Reading: Mark 14:1-15:27

Today there are many people in New South Wales, Queensland and possibly in Victoria who affected by such severe flooding will be sleeping on borrowed beds, using borrowed belongings to see them through a devastating situation. For some, their homes have been lost, their livelihoods too destroyed by water. It has been a year of contrast, fires, drought, pandemic and now floods. People have literally needed to rely on the goodness of others for their needs.

This Palm Sunday it strikes me that Jesus borrows a donkey to ride into Jerusalem. It does not belong to him. Jesus sends two disciples ahead of him tells them that if they are asked why they are taking the donkey to say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back immediately’ (Mark 11:3).

Jesus then comes riding on a borrowed donkey into Jerusalem, hailed by the people lining the entry into Jerusalem saying:

Hosanna!

Blessed Is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David.

Hosanna in the highest heaven.

I recall standing on the Mount of Olives in Israel, looking across to Jerusalem. It is quite a sight. At the bottom of the Hill is the Garden of Gethsemane is said to be located where ancient Olive Trees still stand. Looking straight across, you can see the Temple Mount. Jesus descended the Mount of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane and up into Jerusalem entering via the Eastern Gate, otherwise known as the Golden Gate or the Gate of Mercy. You can imagine Jesus riding a donkey, with his disciples following from Bethany, Bethphage and onto Jerusalem.

And so as Jesus enters into Jerusalem, there is great excitement. The Feast of Passover means people have gathered from far and wide to come to Jerusalem. Jesus joins the festival parade and he is the one who everyone awaits. He comes to redeem the people of Israel, riding on a borrowed donkey. It may lead us to ask, what kind of King is this?

Looking back to Jesus birth, ‘he was born in a borrowed place, laid in a borrowed manger. As he travelled, he had no place of his own to spend the night. He rode into the city on a borrowed donkey. He ate his final meal in a borrowed room. He was crucified on a borrowed cross, wearing a borrowed crown of thorns, that the soldiers placed upon Jesus head. And finally, when Jesus died, he was placed in a borrowed tomb.’ [1]

Jesus lived his life  borrowing from others along the way. He did not take what did not belong to him. In the Letter to the Phillipian’s reading, the Apostle Paul wrote,

          Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God

                   Did not regard equality with God

                   As something to be exploited

          But emptied himself

                   Taking the form of a slave,

                   Being born in human likeness.

          And being found in human for,

                   He humbled himself

                   And became obedient to the point of death

                   Even death on a cross.

Jesus did not regard his equality with God as something to be clutched at or exploited! He chose the path of humility rather than power, the path of a servant rather than a ruler, the path of one who needs not the trappings of earthly riches but chose the path of humble dwellings, from his birth to his death. Borrowed stable, borrowed grave.

Consider Jesus, consider Jesus ‘who emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave’ Jesus did not own very much. Even at his crucifixion, the Roman Soldiers gambled for his only possession, the clothes that he wore.

Is it any surprise then, that when Jesus instructed the disciples to preach the good news, they were told, ‘take no money, no bag, not even an extra piece of clothing. No extra shoes, not even a walking stick’ (Mark 6:78-10, Matt 10:5-15). They were only to take ‘a word of peace, give thanks for the supply of lodgings and food along the way, proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom has come near.

To us in the 21st century, Jesus life stand in complete contrast to a world that thrives on consumerism. Consumerism and materialism as a way of life places heavy burdens on our shoulders. It should come as no surprise then, the number of new ideas advocating minimalist living, the Kon Mari method for example. Stripping away the things that crowd in on our lives. Lent teaches us to live simply, to take nothing for granted. To give thanks to God for our life, our breathe, the very essence of being alive.

Today we remember that Jesus came into the world, gave of himself for us. On this festive day of Palm Sunday, Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey into the centre of the city that will reject him. In his humanity he owned few possessions, he emptied himself of all that he is so that by the grace and mercy of God, Jesus brings salvation to the world. Today, as we remember Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and of his Passion, may we go out today, praying for those who have lost all in the floods, but also that Jesus emptied himself to become the servant of all. May our lives be touched by Jesus example of humility, riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey who went on to be placed in a borrowed tomb.

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


[1] See https://day1.org/weekly-broadcast/5d9b820ef71918cdf20030c8/the_best_things_are_borrowed

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