An act of worship at home
Reading Mark 11.1-11
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
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!’
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
As I’ve got older it’s become increasingly obvious to me that life is full of paradoxes, and that this is especially so with faith. And it seems to me that that first Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, was something of a paradox. At other times Jesus seems to have gone to great lengths to point out that he was a servant. Later that same week he washed his disciples’ feet and he told his disciples they should act in the same way towards each other. He was the friend of those who were spurned by society, he touched the untouchables.
In so many ways Jesus was a humble man but paradoxically he chose to enter Jerusalem as a king
in order to fulfil the prophecy from the OT book of Zechariah 9:9, “Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” So in his actions Jesus was making it clear he was the longed for Messiah. Comparing Mark’s version of events with Matthew’s it seems as though some may have recognised him as the Messiah, others as a great prophet and teacher.
Today, perhaps life is even more ambiguous for many people. Society sees fewer things in terms of “yes” or “no” these days and more in terms of “maybe”, so that it isn’t easy to know exactly what to believe. Some people may accept Jesus as a great prophet and teacher and healer, and not necessarily as anything more than that. Others are able to accept him as the Messiah. But however they believed in him, or even if they didn’t believe in him, Jesus still accepted the people.
He received their shouts and acclamations, their praise and thanksgiving, he healed them and taught them and loved them. He didn’t differentiate between how people accepted him.
All were welcome, all were accepted, all were loved.
And the God that Jesus revealed is the same today. God still accepts all who come near and those who don’t. God pours love and healing and forgiveness into every human being, knowing that not everyone can respond in exactly the same way.
Jesus was both servant and king, and in following him may we too be humble and strong
in living our faith, wherever that may lead. Amen.
Let us pray.
Gracious God, as we remember today how Jesus entered Jerusalem to cries of celebration, help us to welcome you afresh into our hearts and lives. Accept the praise and worship we bring you,
and give us a real sense of expectation as we look for the coming of your kingdom.
Gracious God, like your people long ago we do not always see clearly, we do not understand as we should, but ask you Lord to take the faith we offer and deepen it through this day so that we may truly welcome you as king and worship you with joyful praises.
Jesus came to Jerusalem and was greeted by shouts of joy, welcomed as God’s promised deliverer. But when the nature of your kingdom became clear, shouts changed from “Hosanna” to “Crucify”.
Lord, you come to our lives and we welcome you with gladness. But we too can reject your love when you overturn our expectations, when you don’t act as we hope. We too can push you aside, preferring our own way to yours.
Lord, on this day we are reminded of how easy it is to welcome you as King of kings, but how hard it is to follow in the Way of the Cross.
Lord, in the stillness of this moment we ask you to forgive us those times when we have failed you, failed others and failed ourselves.
Lord, thank you for your assurance that when we turn back to you we find we are already forgiven. Amen.
Hymn StF 262 – All glory, laud, and honour
All glory, laud, and honour
To Thee, Redeemer, King!
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet Hosannas ring,
Thou art the King of Israel
Thou David’s Royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.
The company of Angels
Is praising Thee on high,
And mortal men, and all things
Created make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went
Our praise and prayers and anthems
Before Thee we present.
To Thee before Thy Passion
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee now high exalted
Our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the praise we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.
May God whose arms were spread on the cross to embrace the whole world help us this Holy Week to follow him: and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with us all, this day and forever more. Amen.