St. Matthew’s Sermon 03-25-2018


Note: the following 3 messages are a series, each presented as a letter. Part 1 was read to the congregation as if a letter received; parts 2 and 3 were presented as a letter being written at the time of presentation.

St. Matthew’s Sermon 03-25-2018

Palm Sunday

My Dear Theophilus (Part 1)

Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 11:1-11

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

My Dear Theophilus,

I told you, in my earlier letters, of the many wondrous things I have seen with my own eyes as I follow this great man, Jesus, in and around Galilee; his healing of so many of the sick and lame, returning sight to the blind, casting out demons, feeding thousands to satisfaction with only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish! And his teachings! Oh how he explains the truth of the scripture! The Law, the Prophets, the Psalms; he knows them all and explains them so clearly that even the children are made wise!

Yet, if these things had not convinced the doubters, the glow of joy radiating from the faces of all who hear his words and see his works surely softens the most hardened heart and leaves the most knowledgeable hungry for more!

There is so much more that I could tell you; so much more has happened since that last letter! Forgive me for not having written with updates on my journey lately; I and the others have been so excited since our teacher announced his plan for us to all go to Jerusalem that we just couldn’t think of anything else.

We were all certain, with no doubt whatsoever, that Jesus is a great prophet sent from God, but now we are believing he is even more than a Prophet! Let me explain…

Today we set out early in the morning and knew that, with a steady pace, we would reach Jerusalem in the afternoon. As we came near a village, just outside Jerusalem, he told two of us to go into the village and said they would find a colt tied near one of the houses and told them to bring it to him.

They were hesitant to do so; thinking it was stealing, but he assured them that if they explained who was asking for the animal the owner would agree.

They went as he instructed them and came back with the colt; telling us all that everything was just as Jesus said it would be! The colt was tied near the first house in the village, they were challenged as they went to untie it, they said “’The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately” and they let them take it!

How could this be!? How could Jesus have known that the colt would be there much less that the owner would let them take it with no collateral; just the word of the master!?

And wait, it gets even more exciting…

Jesus got on the donkey and started toward Jerusalem. All of us who had followed him this far began chanting and cheering and passersby joined in the excitement; some ran ahead into the city speaking of the commotion and many more came out to see what was going on.

Soon there were hundreds, and then thousands; many spread their cloaks on the ground before him, others were waiving branches; and everyone began to chant and shout with us; “Hosanna! 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!”

So great was the noise that soon everyone in the city was rushing out to meet us and the enthusiasm grew to a fever pitch; nothing like this has ever been seen before. He rode right through the gates into the city and the whole crowd went with him! All the way into the Temple! And no authority even tried to stop him!

Theophilus; do you understand all this?! Do you see the signs and do you hear the fulfilling of the scriptures?! That he knew of the colt before we entered the village is surely a sign; and the words of Zechariah ring through it all…

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Look, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth”! (Zech. 9:9-10 NRSV)

And from the book of Kings, when Jehu was anointed;

“Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, “[him] king.” (2 Kings 9:13 NRSV)

And from the proclaiming of the festival of booths by Moses;

“On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days”. (Lev. 23:40 NRSV)

And all this happening as we prepare for the feast of Passover, when we remember our ancestor’s liberation from Egypt, just seals it all!

Do you understand, Theophilus?! Jesus is not just a great prophet as we supposed! No, this is the promised one; the one who will liberate us from our oppressors, remove the burden we have borne for so long, free us from bondage; this is the Messiah! Oh Theophilus, the time is at hand; the restoration of the Kingdom will soon be fulfilled!

If it at all possible, Theophilus, hurry to us in Jerusalem, bring your family, your friends, your neighbors; that no one will miss out on being witness to, even being a part of, what is soon to come; the fulfilling of God’s promise to his people Israel, that they may again be a beacon to the world as it is written by Isaiah…”

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”.

The time is now; We are surely blessed!

Your brother in the family of God

Matthias

 

Isaiah 50:4-9a
50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
50:6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
50:7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?


Philippians 2:5-11
2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.
2:9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
2:11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

Mark 11:1-11
11:1 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples
11:2 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.
11:3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’”
11:4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it,
11:5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”
11:6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.
11:7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.
11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.
11:9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
11:10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11:11 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.