Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
Passage: Mark 15:1–15:47
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 15.1-47
Date: March 25th, 2018; The Sunday of the Passion; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Today is Passion Sunday. It is also Palm Sunday.
We call it Palm Sunday because we recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds waved palms along the side of the road as he made his way into Jerusalem on a donkey.
The palms were used as symbols of hope, life, and victory.
The crowd celebrated because they thought that Jesus was the Messiah King who had finally come to defeat all of their enemies and lead them to a victorious life.
Those Romans who had oppressed them were sure in for it now!
And they were right! Jesus is the Messiah King who had finally come to defeat the enemies of God’s people - but it certainly was not in the way they anticipated.
And this leads us to Passion Sunday.
“Passion” is a word that is most frequently defined as having a strong desire for something, or to have a great love for someone.
You might have a great passion for working on old cars, or for knitting and quilting, or for curling, or golfing.
This is how we usually understand this word - when we are passionate about something or someone.
But in the church we use the more historical meaning of the word passion - that is “suffering”.
Our Scripture readings for this morning all point to Jesus’ suffering - that is his passion. Passion is suffering.
But we do see the other definition of passion in our Lord’s work also.
The reason for Christ’s passion (that is his suffering) is God’s passion for us (that is his great love for us and his great desire to save us).
Jesus is the Holy Son of God, God in the flesh, who deserves nothing but great respect, and honour, and reverence, and service.
But instead, he was spit on, stripped, beaten, and mocked.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied about our Lord’s passion with his words, “I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
Being spit on was probably the least painful of all of the tortures Jesus endured, yet it was one of the greatest insults to him.
In the Old Testament God allowed for on instance where it was okay for someone to spit in a person’s face.
If a man did not take care of his brother’s widow - the widow was entitled to spit in his face publicly (Deuteronomy 25:6).
This publicly showed her disgust with him and his disgrace for failure in his duty.
Soldier after soldier spit in Jesus’ face - a disgusting sign of disrespect, a disgusting sign that they rejected him as any sort of King.
This is Jesus’ passion for you.
The crowds, soldiers, and leaders who condemned Jesus and were a part of his suffering were guilty of great crimes and sacrilege - yet they went unpunished!
In the book of Samuel, God struck Uzzah down for touching the Holy Ark of the Covenant.
Uzzah died for simply touching a a holy object.
God’s Holy Son wasn’t only touched, but he was punched and kicked and flogged and nailed to a cross.
But there was no fire from heaven to strike down all who had struck Jesus.
This is Jesus’ passion for you.
The greatest suffering our Lord endured was the suffering we heard earlier in the gospel of St. Mark, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachtani’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34).
Jesus was abandoned on the cross - and if God isn’t with you - well, that’s hell.
Jesus was rejected by his Father on the cross where he was damned and died for our sins.
This is Jesus’ passion for you.
What enabled Jesus to endure the passion, his suffering?
We find an answer in the book of Isaiah, “Because the Lord helps me. He who vindicates me is near. It is the Lord who helps me” (Isaiah 50:8).
Jesus trusted that his Father would sustain him.
Even in the midst of his disgraceful humiliation, his agonizing torture, the pouring out of his life on the cross - Jesus had faith that his Father would revive him and sustain him.
And that’s exactly what God the Father did. We read in Philippians, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
What motivated Christ to die for you and your sins?
His great love for his father and his great love for you.
Luther joined together the two definitions of “passion” with his words in the Small Catechism, “his passion (love) for his Father and for us compelled him to endure his passion (suffering) for us.”
Jesus is perfectly obedient, he is without any sin, he is perfectly holy and righteous.
We are not.
We are the ones who deserve the mocking, and spitting, and flogging.
Justice would be served if we were put to death on a cross.
God the Father rightly could have forsaken us for eternity because of our sin - our sin deserves death and hell.
But the Passion tells us the Good News that Jesus endured these things in our place.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed in our place. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
This is how strong God’ love is for you. This is how far God will go to save you.
He came down from the glory of heaven to dwell among us.
He rode to his death on a borrowed donkey.
He submitted to complete injustice, humiliation, mocking, and torture.
He allowed himself to be crucified - even as he prays for those who drove the nails into his body.
This is the depth of God’s love for you.
This is the depth of his passion to free you from your sin and death.
This is how passionate he is about spending eternity with you.
Here is what you are worth to God, should you ever doubt or feel that your life is worthless.
Remember the humbling, the obedience, and the death that the Holy Son of God endured.
Remember his Passion.
Do you want to know what a person’s passion is? See what they will suffer for.
Do you want to know what a person loves? See what they will die for.
Passion (love) and passion (suffering) go hand in hand.
It’s the Sunday of the Passion and we have entered the Holy Week - truly a full-week of Passion.
Do you want to know what God’s passion is? See what he suffers for.
Do you want to know what God loves? See what he dies for.
He suffers for you. He dies for you.
You are God’s passion. God’s passion is for you. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.