Palm Sunday Sermon
Sermon Text: John 12:12-19
If you would like to watch this sermon instead of read it, double-click on this link: https://youtu.be/7iKLuj9c5F4
Note: All Scripture quotations in the written sermon are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ESV Text Edition: 2016. Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Intro: Today we enter Holy Week, a time of reflection and wonder at the works of Jesus in the last week of His earthly life. The Gospel writers take us through the events of this week day by day. Our focus is the Gospel of John’s portrayal of Palm Sunday and events either later that day or shortly after it:
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (Jn 12:12-19, ESV)
1) To the crowds and to the chief priests Jesus was being glorified by His reception into Jerusalem.
A. The crowds glorify Jesus
Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and comes not as any other traveller but as the King of Israel, riding on a donkey the sign of the King of Israel coming in peace. Hearing of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead the crowds want to see Jesus. They waive palm branches a symbol of victory. The praise they shower Jesus with is a confession: “Hosanna! (which means “Lord, save!”), Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (Jn 12:12b, ESV)…they confess Jesus is king of Israel, her ruler, for His many miraculous signs
B The Pharisees complain of the crowds’ glorification of Jesus
“Look,” the Pharisees say, “the world has gone after him!” (Jn 12:19b, ESV). And in some way the whole world has gone after Him as even some Greeks wanted to speak to Jesus
2) Jesus reveals His glory will be not in His praise by men but in His death for the world
Jesus interprets the Greeks’ desire to speak to Him as ‘His hour has come,’ saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (Jn 12:23b, ESV) But Jesus speaks of His glory coming not by being sought after and praised by the Jews or even by the Gentiles but in another way, by being lifted up on the cross in His death: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn 12:24, ESV)
But why speak of glory in His death? Death is not glorious! Normal death is not glorious it is the result of sin and the Fall.
Sin is the reason why all people die, including Christians. But Jesus is no normal man born of the line of Adam, He is born from above, the Son of God come down to earth born of the Virgin Mary. He is the Son of God in human flesh: Israel’s King and Saviour. His death will be glorious because in His death He will be like the seed that dies to produce new life and bear much fruit. He will die to give life to a dying world.
3) Jesus teaches the crowds the purpose of His death
The crowds mostly praised Jesus for His earthly miracles of raising the dead and making bread for the hungry. They hoped he would become their earthly king, provider, and ruler. Look not to Christ for earthly blessings, though Your Heavenly Father provides you with them, but look to Christ for the glory of eternal blessings which He will give you.
Jesus said to the crowd: “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” (Jn 12:31-33, ESV)
The prince of this world was Satan who ruled in the sense that he led humanity in a rebellion against God inciting humanity to sin. But now the devil and his grip over the world is driven out by Jesus’ death. Why? Because in His death Jesus dies to take the sin of the world on Himself. And where there is no sin there is no judgement and no eternal separation from God.
Ultimately, Jesus teaches He is glorified in His death because by it He will defeat the devil our enemy and draw the dying world to Himself to give it life.
The glory in Jesus’ death is the glory of His victory over sin, death and the devil by giving His life for your life, by taking your sin and your curse of death upon Himself. As Jesus dies, like the seed that dies in the ground, He produces much fruit: you and me and all who trust in His saving work, He produces the Holy Christian Church who trusts in Him and will rise from death to new life and see the glorified risen Christ.
You believe that Jesus is the King of Israel and the Saviour of the World.
You believe He has driven out Satan and died for your sin.
The glory of Jesus’ death is now manifest in your life: you are forgiven and you have life now and always. The life that is yours in Jesus cannot be taken away by sickness or death, actually your death will result in your resurrection to a new and more glorious physical body where you will rule and reign forever with Christ in heaven. The glory of Jesus’ death is manifest in Your life through your Baptism: Jesus now lives in You and in your heart, mind and actions. Every act of kindness, every loving thought and deed now give God glory and frustrate Satan in his final days.
Jesus has risen from the dead, He is no longer living on Earth, but His glory is not gone! The Palm Sunday cheering of the crowd has been replaced by the endless glorification of Christ by you with His Church. The glory of Jesus now dwells in You as Christ lives in You who has given you forgiveness and life.
Conclusion: Jesus’ greatest glory in Holy Week did not come in His receiving the praise of the crowds on Palm Sunday, it came in His death on the cross. That kind of glory is seen and realized only by those who confess Jesus is their Lord and Saviour. One day we will give glory to Jesus our Saviour together in His presence. After the resurrection we will glorify Christ together at the great feast of the Lord and His Church in heaven. There we will glorify Christ with the angels, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power…for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 4:11a, 5:9b-10) Jesus truly is glorified in His death because by it He draws you and me and His Church to Himself to give us life. In His Most Holy Name. Amen.