Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hosanna, a Palm Sunday Sermon

This is a Sermon I gave several years ago on Palm Sunday. I'd like to share it with you as we go into Holy Week together, anticipating the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hopefully by now all of you have a palm frond in your hand. If you don’t there should be a few more available. We’re going to use this in today’s interactive sermon, so keep it handy.

A little boy named Bobby was sick one day and couldn’t go to Church. When his family got home, they all had palm fronds. When he asked his sister what it was all about, she said “All the people laid these down in front of Jesus when he rode in on a donkey.” He frowned and said “Just great, the one Sunday that I miss Church, and Jesus shows up! Did he give out donkey rides?”

I believe that Jesus is here among us today, and I believe that he is still worthy of our worship. I want to share first with you the story of Palm Sunday as it is written in John chapter twelve. You can turn in your Bible to read the passage.

Jesus had come into the city to celebrate the Passover. This was a great holy day among the Jewish people to commemorate their deliverance from the death angel sent by God to kill the firstborn of Egypt. Jesus spent the last week of his life in the city of Jerusalem in the time leading up to the Passover feast.

News of his coming had spread among the people, and a great multitude gathered at the gates of Jerusalem to honor and welcome him. Jesus sent some of his disciples to get a donkey so that he could ride it into the city. This was an ancient sign of a King coming in peace.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

“Hosanna in the highest!”

The people of Israel welcomed Jesus as their King! It wouldn’t last, mind you, but for this one moment Jesus got the welcome that was his. I’d like for us to give him that welcome today. Would each of you please take out your Baptist Hymnal and turn to number 682? I grew up in an independent Presbyterian Church where there were no responsive readings, but I’ve grown to like the idea. These in the Baptist Hymnal are especially good because they are scriptural, and they talk about important doctrines of our Baptist faith. I’ll read the parts in normal print, and then we’ll all read the parts in bold print together.

[Responsive Reading on the Triumphal Entry]

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is our King!

I’d like for us to look at who Jesus was today, and I’d like for us to worship him together. Today’s sermon is going to be interactive. You keep your palm frond ready. Whenever you hear me say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” I want you to wave that palm frond and say “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.” “Hosanna” literally means “save us” but it is used as a form of praise to the one who can save. Effectively it means “You can save us.”

The waving of the palm fronds originated at the Jewish feast of the booths. This was a feast to celebrate the harvest. It was one of three feasts that Jewish men were required to observe in Jerusalem by God. The people would wave the fronds as Psalms 113 through 118 were recited. I’d like to start off by reading Psalm 113 and then finishing with Psalm 118. While both of them are praises to the Lord, Psalm 118 points us directly toward Jesus.

When I say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” you’ll say what?

[“Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.”]

Psalm 113

1 Praise the LORD.

Praise, O servants of the LORD,

praise the name of the LORD.

2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,

both now and forevermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,

his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God,

the One who sits enthroned on high,

6 who stoops down to look

on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

8 he seats them with princes,

with the princes of their people.

9 He settles the barren woman in her home

as a happy mother of children.

Praise the LORD.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Psalm 118

22 The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone;

23 the LORD has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day the LORD has made;

let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 O LORD, save us;

O LORD, grant us success.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

From the house of the LORD we bless you.

27 The LORD is God,

and he has made his light shine upon us.

With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession

up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks;

you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD

Let’s talk some more about Jesus.

Romans 5

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He died for our sins! When no one else would care about us, he gave it all for us. We don’t deserve anything but the punishment for our sin. But Praise God he took that away from us on the cross and gave us a new life! Thanks to Jesus you can live free from guilt and condemnation. That’s worth some praise!

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

1 Peter 1

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,

He defeated death! When this life is over, death is not the end. We have eternal life in the presence of God because death has no hold on us. Praise God, we have an eternal life –an inheritance that will never spoil or fade. That’s worth some praise!

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

Revelation 22

12“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

He is coming again for us! When the dark powers of the world are ready to defeat God’s people, all hope is not lost. Praise God, Jesus is coming again! This time he won’t be born in a barn and laid in a feed trough. He won’t be spit upon, beaten and cursed. He won’t be shamed and crucified. He is coming again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! That’s worth some praise!

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

Matthew 23

37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

I want you to spend this week thinking about what Jesus Christ has done in your life. Do you have something to praise him for? Has he done something powerful in your life? If you can’t think of anything to praise him for, get something! Don’t waste another day wondering what life could be like. Ask Jesus today to give you new life, and something worth some praise!

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

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