I enjoy basketball. As a boy, I would shoot a basketball at a hoop and backboard that was attached to the side of a barn. This hoop did not have a net on it, but that did not matter as I dreamed that I was taking the winning shot for a national championship. It was fun to live in my dreams as I would either make the shot so my team would win by one point as time ran out on the clock. Of course, if I missed the shot, I was always fouled in the act of shooting so I could shoot two free throws to win the game. If I missed one of the free throws, there was always an opposing player who stepped into the lane early so I could shoot the free throw again.
As an adult, the game of basketball confronted me with a new reality. My family had recently moved and my teenage son, Adam, and I were shooting basketball on an outside court with people of varying ages at a time in my life when my hair was still dark. If you have ever experienced shooting a basketball with other people, you know that many times, if not most times, someone will suggest a game be played. If this happens, two people serve as team captains and take turns choosing fellow players to be on their teams. It was a reality defining moment as a young boy and I were the final two players waiting to be chosen. What was even a more defining moment of reality was when the captain of the team pointed to me and announced, “I’ll take Pops.”
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the life defining reality of Holy Week. In the days that are ahead the reality of God’s kingdom will be proclaimed as the shouts of Hosanna that greet Jesus on Palm Sunday will become demands for Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and conclude with silence on Holy Saturday. Followers of Jesus understand that the reality of Palm Sunday can only be defined by the events that will follow Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We realize that Palm Sunday is not a victory parade for Jesus, but instead Palm Sunday is the beginning of a death march for Jesus.
Followers of Jesus realize that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem to contrast reality of God’s kingdom with The Triumph Parades of Rome when Caesar or a member of his family would be drawn in procession through the city in a four-horse chariot to proclaim victory over an enemy of the Roman Empire. The destination of The Triumph Parade was the temple of Caroline Jupiter which was built to proclaim the sovereignty of Rome.
Contrast the destination of The Triumph Parade with the destination of the parade of Palm Sunday. Contrast the message of the Caroline Jupiter Temple with the message of the cross of Jesus.
Followers of Jesus understand the reality of Palm Sunday is defined by both the shouts of Hosanna on Palm Sunday and the shouts of crucifixion. We understand the shouts will grow silent on Holy Saturday as we prepare for the greeting of the crucified and risen Jesus in the reality of a new day next Sunday.
The Reality of Palm Sunday
by Pastor Marc Brown
April 2, 2023
Accompanying Scriptures: Mark 11:1-11
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for April 2, 2023
Scripture Lesson Mark 11:1-11
The Good News “The Reality of Palm Sunday”
Music “Hosanna” by Brooke Ligertwood
Closing Music “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” arr. Penny Rodriguez