Sermon Outline On Mark 11:1-11 (NRSV)
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 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. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
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!”
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.
There was a time that our future story and God’s future story for us were the same. Communing together in paradise for all eternity. The constant pleasure of each others company forever and ever.
That all ended near were the Euphrates and Tigris rivers branch. The book of Genesis suggests that the Garden of Eden was in that neighborhood. God had a future story for Adam and Eve in that garden. It included not eating from a specified tree. Adam and Eve chose a different future story. One that included being equal with God. Ever since, we humans have viewed our own future stories that have included God in differing degrees.
That day in Jerusalem God had a future story for the people Israel that was different from their own. What would happen to those waving the palm branches, to the apostles, to all those who knew Jesus would overthrow the Romans? What would happen to these people if the great liberator were to end up suffering and dying on a cross? What would happen to their fragile future stories when Jesus is buried in a tomb.
It didn’t happen like Judas expected, and he hanged himself. The remaining apostles locked themselves in a room trembling with fear. Two faithful followers walked down a long, dusty road toward Emmaus broken-hearted because they had ‘hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.’ Luke 24:90 Women go to an empty tomb and their hearts feel empty. Their future stories collapsed around them. Their hopes were defeated.
What would crucifixion do to the future stories of those waving palm branches? The same thing that crucifixion does to our mortal future stories. Oh, our crucifixion may not be death on a cross. It might be the death of one we love deeply. It might be the loss of a job, a retirement plan, sobriety or freedom. It might be the destruction of a church, a dream, a relationship or a family. It might be the loss of our marriage, health, mind, or identity. Crucifixion comes in many ways. Crucifixion will do to us what it did to those waving the palm branches.
For some while their future was tied to Jesus as liberator, they found God’s future story for them, and crucifixion did not destroy them. For some God’s plan was never seen and crucifixion killed their future along with the Messiah. While the future looked bright as the shouts of ‘Hosanna!’ were heard, there was great darkness just days ahead with great despair.
When the Garden of Eden became off-limits, there was a shift in God’s plans for us. Paradise became a thing of the past, not a part of the present, and reserved for the future. The prophet Jeremiah; however, gives us this promise from God. ‘For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11
Those who waved the palms were focused on their future story rather than the one God had for them. God had a different plan on that Sunday. It was a plan that included crucifixion. Those people would soon be shouting just as we have shouted, ‘Life is not fair!’
When we experience crucifixion in any of its many forms, healing cannot happen until we are able to see beyond our own fragile future story. In the midst of our brokenness, we can see a brighter future. Right now just ask: What is the crucifixion I have experienced? From what am I hurting? Is there any brokenness in my life?