The scene was amazing.
Coats and jackets – big and small – new and old-- strewn on the ground – a make shift red carpet for the coming of the Messiah.
Palms branches broken off of trees and lining the streets – waving in a jubilant fashion. Like big foam fingers long before big foam fingers existed.
And shouting. Oh the shouting. Shouting from people to the left and the right. From the balconies and the gutters. Shouting for Jesus:
Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!
It was a straight up street party.
But not everyone was happy.
There was a certain group that was strangely silent on this occasion. Normally, they loved to be heard; but today they sat aside in bitter silence. They were standing at the entrance to the synagogue, wearing their finest religious clothing and decadent religious jewelry. They also had on their very best SNEERS.
They made a beeline for the ceremony. A group of them stood in the middle of the road – protestors. They were there to stop the celebration. As Jesus stopped the young colt and motioned for their leader to come near – the one with the longest beard made his way over. He leaned his mouth to Jesus ear and protested:
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples. Tell them to SHUT UP! Stop this party!”
And Jesus looks at him thoughtfully.
And Jesus smiles.
And Jesus leans in real close- - “I would; but then the stones would cry out!”
In other words – this party is off the chain – and there’s no stopping it.
Now if you’re a fan of parties, you might think of the Pharisees as a bunch of wet blankets – the bad guys in the story. But I think the situation is deeper than that. It poses an important question:
Is Palm Sunday worth it?
Is Jesus worth shouting about?
Is Jesus worth getting your kids to shout about?
Today we hope to find the answer as we study the account of Luke 19. Before we begin, let’s say a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth, your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Why so quiet?
A bit about the Pharisees -- The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. They were the ones that told people about spirituality. They were the people you would go to for all your spiritual needs. They were the ones who knew the names of every religious fabric and when to use what incense on what day and how many minutes of fasting a particular sin needed to be fasted for in order to bring you back to God.
But recently – with the arrival of Jesus – less and less people had stopped to question them. Less and less people looked up to them. More and more people went to Jesus.
And the thing about Jesus’ message -- it was completely different from what they taught. In fact, we could summarize their problems with Jesus’ message in 3 BIG ways.
1) He Treated Bad People the same as Good People.
If you want to find an example of this, back up in the very chapter of Luke 19 that we’re examining. In verse 1, Luke writes about a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. That means he worked for the Roman government. It means he got paid by telling people they owed more money than he did. It means he stole.
The Pharisees considered people like Zacchaeus a lost cause -- a sinner through and through. There was no hope for his soul. No hope for his righteousness. No hope for God to ever love him and no hope for them to ever spend a moment eating with them. He was bad; they were good.
He ate with the man!
He had dinner with the sinner! (Sounds like a failed Dr. Seuss book.)
That’d be like Jesus holding a party for all of his closest friends. You pull up in the parking lot and there’s the people you expect. The usher, the lady who arranges flowers, and the organist. But as you walk through the parking lot there’s a car or two that’s unexpected. You get into the fellowship area and find your spot at the table.
Hi – I’m a member of this church. What do you do?
Me? I’m a drug dealer. Jesus invited me. This is my friend the pornography actress – she’s sitting over there next to the known terrorist. I can’t believe he sprung the money to get us all steak dinners.
Does that sit well with you?
Steak dinner just like all the other “Sinners?”
Then you understand the Pharisees.
2) He Acted like He was God.
This is illustrated in one particular occasion. There’s this paralyzed man. He’d never been able to walk in his life. His friends bring him to see Jesus. The house that Jesus is inside of is so packed that friends have to climb up to the roof of the house. They use a handsaw to cut a hole in the roof. They lowered than man down via rope until he lands at Jesus’ feet.
What an entrance! If Jesus can help him walk, awesome.
But that’s not what Jesus does first. First, Jesus turns o the man and says, “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees – again – lose their minds! How can he say that? He’s not God! No one can forgive sins but God. This guy needs to be shut up! He’s teaching a deadly, false doctrine.
He’s telling people that he’s God! He’s teaching the children that he’s God!
Not that long ago there was some confusion at Precious Lambs. It was one of the kid’s first days. It just happened to be a chapel day. At the end of the day as mom was picking her up and she was leaving past my door she said, “Bye God!”
I immediately of course corrected her. “I’m not God.” I apologized and pointed out repeatedly, obnoxiously, “We definitely do not teach that I am God in any way shape or form.” If I did, I imagine that we would not have so many kids in our program.
But Jesus did teach he was God.
And he looked like an everyday, normal person.
Can you understand as to why the Pharisees wanted him to shut up?
Why they wanted him to stop teaching the children such stuff?
3) He Revealed their Evil Plans.
Fast forward two days from Palm Sunday. Luke 20. Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable:
A man planted a vineyard. He rented it out and went away for a long time. Then he sent some servants to give him rent payment. They refused. He sent another servant. They beat him up. They sent a third. They left him for dead. Finally, he sent his son, “They’ll respect him. He’s my son.”
They didn’t. They killed him.
When Jesus finished the story, he said to the Pharisees, “What do you think will happen when he owner of the vineyard comes back?” The Pharisees – in all of their arrogance and pride answer correctly: “He’ll kill them. He’ll get revenge. He’ll get justice.” Jesus looked directly at them and said,
“The story is about you.”
Can you imagine the backlash from the crowd? “The Pharisees are planning on killing Jesus? How awful? They really are #Insecure.” Their personas took a nose dive! This was horrible press. I’m sure they started telling everyone that this was Fake News at its finest!
Never mind the fact that as soon as they get behind closed doors -- they respond to Jesus’ claim that they are trying to kill him by finalizing plans on how to kill him. Who would like a guy like this – that has no problem dropping truth bombs – that you are all sinners in front of all your friends?
No wonder they didn’t want to join the party!
No wonder they weren’t making any noise.
No wonder the rocks were louder than them.
II. Why so Loud?
But the Pharisees were the minority at the impromptu block party. The majority of the people there were shouting his praises and having a blast. Why? Right kind of music? Nope. They also had their reasons:
1) He Treated Bad People the same as Good People.
Take Zacchaeus. (We mentioned him earlier). He probably didn’t have a lot of friends. Stealing from others and working for the IRS are not exactly the best recipe for friendships.) Zacchaeus had a lonely life. A friendless life. A life filled with guilt. No matter how he tried to ask for forgiveness, to change, to invite people over for hot wings and watching the big game – no one came.
No one forgave him.
No one thought he could ever be good.
Except for Jesus.
In fact, that’s exactly why Jesus came to Zaccahaeus’ house. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have come to seek the lost.” Zacchaeus was lost. Zacchaeus was found.
I bet you Zacchaeus was showing off his best dance moves on the streets of Jerusalem.
This is good news for you.
If you’ve done bad.
If you’ve done wrong.
If you think of yourself as the hussie, the jerk, the manipulative, the heathen, the drunkard, the addict, the homosexual, the one that God could never love! --- Jesus does.
Jesus loves you.
Jesus lived for you.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus wants to be with you.
And he has the power to do something to change you.
2) He WAS God.
Remember the story of the lame man that Jesus told his sins were forgiven?
Remember how people didn’t exactly believe that Jesus could do such a thing?
Remember how they were mad that they were equating himself with God?
Look at Jesus’ response. He said to the crowd of Pharisees:
“Which is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven OR get up and walk?”
Answer: Your sins are forgiven. Because I can say it and there’s not any proof in any way that what I just said actually happened. (Sins don’t start flying off of the body nor do you see someone’s heart change from black to bright pink!)
But if you tell someone to get up and walk – who has never gotten up and walked before in his life—he better do it. Or everyone will know you’re a phony.
So…to give people visual proof of the invisible truth?
Jesus turned to the man and said, “Get up. Take your mat and walk.”
And the man does just that.
Visible proof of the invisible truth.
And it’s not the only visible proof.
He made the blind see.
The deaf hear.
The mute talk.
He made storms clouds stop storming.
He made sick people stop being sick.
He made people who were dead come back to life.
The reason people were shouting his name in the streets? Because they had seen these miracles! They knew he wasn’t a phony. They knew he was the Son of God!
They knew he could do what he said he was going to do.
He was going to win them forgiveness.
He was going to restore peace with God.
He was going to bring peace between them and heaven.
He was going to -- and now has – brought peace between you and heaven.
Between you and your God.
3) He Revealed His Plan to Defeat their Evil Plan
Because if you follow the Holy Week narrative – Jesus doesn’t seem ready to defend himself. If he knew the Pharisees were plotting to kill him, why does he go out into the temple courts preaching and teaching in front of their face? Why did he approach the mob that met him in the garden with his hands turned upside down – peacefully ready to be arrested?
It was all a part of his plan.
Because three days after he dies.
Three days after he was silenced.
Three days after the shouts of the party had been replaced with shouts of CRUCIFY…
…A rock shouts Jesus’ praises.
…A rock quakes with the loudness of a magnitude 7.
…A rock rolls away from a grave and screams for the world – for you and me to look inside.
He is not dead. He is alive. – The best visual proof of the invisible, incredible truth.
You have a Savior.
Your Savior won.
Death has been defeated.
By faith in him, you will live in heaven.
III. What Now?
What about you? Are you louder than a rock?
Here’s a rock. Notice – there’s nothing all that impressive about it. I’ve flip it over and over and over again. There is not a mouth on his rock. There is no way for it to shout. No way for it to whistle. No way for it to hoot or holler or even blow a kazoo!
Are you louder than a rock? If you have a mouth, a pair of hands and feet, the answer is yet.
But – the question you need to ask yourself on a week to week basis – Am I louder than the rock about Jesus?
Who mentions Jesus more times on a daily basis? Or are you about the same?
Whose Facebook account talks more about the Savior? You? Or this inanimate chunk of minerals?
Who has said Hosanna more this year? Is it tied at zero? Are you winning by the number of Hosannas that we already mentioned in this service?
Wherever you’re at in your life -- be louder.
Be louder than this rock.
Talk more about Jesus than the rock.
That’s what the people did. Whether it was a hand me down coat, or a branch from a tree or their hands – the people used what they could find to shout Jesus’ praises.
Pastor – I don’t know how to play trumpet! Sing some Gospel music.
Pastor – I don’t sing very well. Tell your next-door neighbor Jesus’ loves them.
Pastor – I don’t know what to say. Bring an Easter invite along and invite them to see their Savior.
Pastor – I feel nervous to do that. Send an email. A text. Snapchat a video of you dressed as a dog inviting them to come learn about Jesus.
I don’t care. Use what you got. Use what you have. Share the message of Jesus. Be louder than a rock.
Because here’s the truth – there’s no stopping this party. HOSANNA! Jesus is the Savior! Hallelujah. He defeated sin. He defeated death. Such that – even when we die, we enter into an eternal party that makes Palm Sunday seem like a Sunday School picnic.
The party will go on.
The party will be loud.
There’s a spot for you at the party – consider yourself invited.
My only question is –
Will we need a rock to fill your spot?
Or are you joining in?