April 4, 2004: Palm Sunday: A Celebration Of Certainty Amid Uncertainty!

Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a joy and privilege it is to come today and celebrate Your kingship over us! What a comfort to know that we have a Leader Who is not only willing to accept our praise, but Who was also willing to put His life on the line to buy back our souls from worry, doubt, fear, uncertainty, and even death. And then, in their place You give us joy, inner peace, patience, kindness, hope, and the certainty of an eternal future with You in heaven. Yes, Lord, to You we say: “Hosanna in the highest!” Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR KING!
TEXT: Luke 19: 28-40

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The altar color is purple, reminding us that Christ truly is our King! The choir has sung a special anthem. The hymns speak of hosannas and praise. Palm branches decorate the altar and the chancel of the church. And our lessons all speak of a humble King who rode into Jerusalem on April 2nd, 29 AD—riding a colt, the foal of a donkey. It must be, it is:

PALM SUNDAY: A CELEBRATION OF CERTAINTY AMID UNCERTAINTY!
I

For the past 21 years I have preached on Palm Sunday. I have examined the various lessons that pertain to this day and tried to construct sermons for God’s people which are fresh, new, and alive.—Sermons that takes very familiar words and cast them in a new and intriguing light. This week I looked over the 3 lessons and shook my head. What new thought could I give you that I haven’t preached on before? What aspect of this familiar day could I put into your hearts so that you would leave refreshed and uplifted? Then it struck me. I thought of the recent Super Bowl celebration in downtown Boston and the throngs of people that lined the streets. I thought of the ticker tape that was poured out of office windows. And I thought: we humans never celebrate a victory before it occurs, we wait until after the fact. We wait until it is certain and then and only then do we celebrate.

But, that’s not what happened on Palm Sunday, is it? Christ’s victory over human sin and eternal death happened on Good Friday when He willingly sacrificed Himself on the cross for you and me. And to mere human eyes, His victory actually seemed like a defeat. Darkness enveloped the land. He suffered horribly and bled and died right before the disciples’ eyes. And then they had to watch as His disfigured body was hurriedly laid in a tomb. For the next day and a half the believer’s hearts were crushed and their faith appeared misplaced. Where was their smiling, happy Savior Who said He would always be there for them? Where was their hope of eternal life?—It lay in a cold grave. But, then Easter morning came and Christ arose from that cold grave. He took back His life. And thereby proved to all creation that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them anymore!” You’d think that Easter would have been the logical day for the people of Jerusalem to celebrate and shout their hosannas. After all, Easter truly proved beyond any doubt that Christ is the King of all! So, why all the hoopla on Palm Sunday—a week before that most holy event of all time?

II

Since God knows all things, He doesn’t have to deal with the uncertainty factor which we face. Before He created the world, God knew that we would fall into sin and that it would take the death of His Son to make us right with Him once again. So, God ordained all those future events and shaped them in order to show forth His tremendous love for us. Thoughout the Old Testament He gave multiple prophecies, the truth in advance as it were, about what He had planned. He gave minute detail, too, down to the fact that Christ, our King, would ride into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey as Zechariah told us today. Jesus wasn’t just King for a day—Palm Sunday. No, Jesus was a King from His birth to His death and beyond to His resurrection. And isn’t such a self-sacrificing King always worthy of thanks and praise? Isn’t He always worthy of a celebration, even when our human future appears dark and full of despair? For with God nothing is ever uncertain!

Why did Jesus agree to this wonderful outpouring of joy on that first Palm Sunday knowing the anguished times that awaited later that week? We’d say: “Why rush it? Why not wait for Easter to occur?” And or course, the answer is two-fold. First, He did it because He was worth it and because His future victory over sin and Satan was totally in the bag. And second, He did it to try to strengthen His followers and get them ready for those hard days ahead. He wanted to inscribe on their hearts the reality of His Kingship. He wanted them to remember those words: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” when later that week He would be hanging on a tree. He wanted to give them hope and certainty amid an uncertain world. He even reminded them that “if the people keep quiet, the stones will cry out!”—In other words, Jesus is God Almighty Who all creation must adore!

III

After Easter, just when you’d expect a parade of joy to honor Christ, you don’t find it. Instead, what you do find is believers, singly and in groups, pondering the awesomeness of what Jesus has done. You find them contemplating their salvation. You find them sweeping their hearts clean from all doubt and uncertainty as to God’s plan for their lives by embracing Him in humble faith—instead of simply being caught up by the crowd or the moment.

I’ve always wished that I could have been there at that first Palm Sunday. I’ve always wished that I could have seen the throngs lining the road, waved my own palm branches, and shouted my own hosannas. And yet, if I had, would I have retained the certainty that Christ was really my Lord come Good Friday? Or, would I have been as grief-stricken as the rest? Well, I think you know the answer.
So, today I’m grateful. I’m grateful that Christ is my King and that He has removed all doubt over my future. Come what may: sickness, economic hardship, the temptation toward apathy, or even death—my Lord reigns in my heart!

You and I live in a seemingly uncertain world. God’s definition of marriage is under attack. War and terrorism seem to be omnipresent. Most of your jobs could be gone by next year. Will you ever have enough to retire? Will you kids bring heartache or joy as they get older? Will friends fail? Those are questions that trouble us. And yet, the biggest question of all: “What will happen to me when I die?” has been answered. The question: “Does God really care about me?” has been answered! For Christ, my King, lives!

Palm Sunday truly is a celebration of certainty amid uncertainty. It reminds us that our King cannot and will never let us down. And that’s why we celebrate—even before the fact of Easter. Yes, that’s why our entire lives are to be a celebration of joy—even before we actually experience the happiness of heaven. For Jesus has done away with all uncertainty! Amen.