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A Day of Applause

People respond to Jesus' arrival with joy, betrayal, or the offering of their lives.

As you study the life of Jesus on the pages of the four Gospels, you discover that of the material about the life of Jesus focuses on the last week of his life. Those who wrote the stories of Jesus were saying that the most important part of the disclosure of who he was, and who he is, is revealed in the last week of his life.

The words that describe the experiences of the week are a litany of emotions that represent the ups and downs of the week. We know them: hosanna, confrontation, betrayal, denial, trial, scourging, crucifixion, tomb. Then the most electrifying sentence ever uttered—"He is not here! He is risen!"

Palm Sunday is at best, says Wallace Viets, "a day of temporary triumph." At worst, it is an illustration of the "fickle nature of the voice of the people." 1

A week that lifts us with shouts of praise. A week that reveals the abyss of denial and betrayal, the duplicity of Judas, and the unfaithfulness of Peter. We see the weakness of all of his disciples who fled the city, the ambivalence of Pilate, the agony of death between two thieves—one who cursed him, the other who asked for his forgiveness. The bleakness of the "final things" at a borrowed tomb. Then on to the glory of Easter and his resurrection.

It all began on Palm Sunday, a day of applause. Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. I believe, and many scholars believe, that he planned his own parade. He had studiously, up until that moment, avoided public acclaim and publicity. Now, he reached out for it. It was Passover time. The city was jammed with pilgrims from all over the world. He entered Jerusalem in a way that would focus the whole city on his arrival.

He secured a beast of burden. ...

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W. Frank Harrington pastored Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and wrote several books, including First Comes Faith: Proclaiming the Gospel in the Church (Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 1998).

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction: Palm Sunday began with joy as Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, but ended in his weeping over Jerusalem.

I. His arrival was greeted with deserved joy.

II. His arrival preceded betrayal.

III. His arrival was accompanied by tears.

IV. His arrival demands our response.