Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Joining the march

April 14, 2019
Martin Baker

14 April 2019                                Joining the March                                                Martin Baker

Matthew 21:1-17

21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ 4 This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11 The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Jesus Cleanses the Temple 12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer”;

   but you are making it a den of robbers.’ 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard[d] the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they became angry 16 and said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read,

“Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself”?’ 17 He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Let us pray……

I wonder how many of us have been on a march, or a rally or a demonstration of some sort?

We can almost mark history in New Zealand, by the events that have led people to march. As a child I remember the anti-Vietnam war marches. I remember the peace marches and the anti-nuclear war marches. We had the Springbok tour marches. We’ve had the Hikoi of Hope march. Marches for the environment.  

In fact almost any major event in New Zealand, and in many countries,  is associated with people getting out on the streets and marching, protesting, demonstrating.

Why do we do that?

I am not sure how comfortable we would be telling each other the marches we had been on because that might indicate where our politics might lie. Or maybe you decided not to go on the march. You stayed home. You didn’t feel strongly enough about it. It is not the kind of thing you would do.

I was talking to a friend of ours, an upstanding member of the community. Because of some law change last year,  he discovered he was now unable to fly to Australia. 30 years ago he was arrested on a march when was on as a young person.  And convicted or unruly behaviour.

But we know in recent time people have died on marches opposing oppressive regimes in Syria Iran, Venezuela. Or even calling for better living conditions in France.  There have been deaths associated with those on the yellow vest demonstrations.  We hear today that people in power are often threatened by a gathering. A march. The chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they became angry.

Marches, demonstrations, people putting their very lives on the line for things even more important than their own safety or security, even more important that their own lives.

And these last three weeks. The vigils, the services and the quiet marches as we seek ways of responding to the tragedy and terror in Christchurch.

It is a powerful thing, to stand with others. To witness to our beliefs and convictions.  We can stay as on lookers, but marches often bring us to a different place. To express our sense of identity. Our values our faith. What we believe.  This is who we are. This is who I am.

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!

   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ 11 The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

One of the reasons why this Palm Sunday story is so remembered, and so cherished. It’s disruptive. Things aren’t fitting with convention.  There are unexpected things happening.

We are told in the reading the whole city was in turmoil, asking who this is?

This Jesus could he be someone who can speak into our lives at those times of turmoil?  We like order and stability and security. But somehow Jesus is remembered most vividly in moments of turmoil. When things do not happen as expected. Even when things start to go wrong.

So today as Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a donkey.

If it was horse – that would certainly indicate some kind of military event. Or a chariot. But it’s a donkey.

So we are at this event and we hear and see things that are so discordant. Conflicting.

And the really interesting thing is that this story was written later. By people who came to proclaim the risen Jesus. That he was the Messiah the son of God the Saviour. This was the same man who came into town on a donkey.

I think those early Christians are telling us something quite difficult.

Jesus saviour riding on a donkey. A few days later Jesus son of God washing the feet of the disciples a couple days after that. Jesus, lord crucified as a criminal on the cross.

Jesus who is there is the turmoil. Presented as the opposite of a great conquer, a billionaire success story. None of those things.  Humble. Riding on an ass.  

We have so many symbols and ideas of success and fame and achievement all around.

But how ready we may be to allow our own lives, to be changed by the message he brings?  Who is this man?

Think for a moment of a different kind of march, a different kind of demonstration.  Julie is out there nervously standing with her dad. Bob here with his best man. I ask everyone to stand and the bride and father march in.  A traditional wedding. People know what to expect.  But then the bride has an asthma attack. The groom faints. The wedding ring s is dropped and rolled under a heavy piece of furniture. He forgets her name; she starts gigging and can’t stop. All those things have happened in weddings I have conducted. Everyone remembers that wedding. And every time the family come together for years later that is one of the stories that are told.  

Jesus marches into Jerusalem and it is not what people were expecting. People remember. They tell the story. It is so unusual.

In fact, today we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors in faith, those who knew all too well the disruption that this man Jesus would cause for them.

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Over this week – Good Friday and Easter, we go back and back through history. To that crowd – yelling Hosanna, save us, to the crowds a few days later, who called for his crucifixion, to that tiny group who proclaimed that Jesus had risen?

Changed lives. In the midst of turmoil. In the midst of celebration. In the midst of betrayal.  Changed lives.

Today in this story of an entry, a march into Jerusalem. Joining the demonstration.

What is important for us?

So there are two sides to this story for us.

In the midst of times of turmoil, the acts of terror, when things go wrong.  Jesus is right there. And we say Hosanna. Save us. And in the resurrection proclamation. A certitude that we are never abandoned or left alone. Though we walk through the valley of death you are with me, my shepherd and strength.

But there is another side to this as well.

For those who crave stability and predictability at any price, for those who look around and say is that. it is this, all there is - Jesus is the disruptor. Jesus is the bringer of turmoil. And we also say, Hosanna save us. Save us from a life where there is little in the way of meaning and save us from a life where there is little into the way of purpose.  I need to change.  Help us to take the risk of following you. Help us to begin finding the answer to that question – who is this?

And maybe you are ready today.

Maybe you are ready to trust Jesus and the promises he makes on your life – that you are forgiven, loved and are called to use your skills and gifts for a great purpose.

There we are with the crowd. With our mixture of uncertainty and hope. And we cry out this morning Hosanna. Save us Lord. AMEN