On Palm Sunday we hear two Gospel readings.
It is the only Sunday in the church year that we hear two Gospel readings.
These two readings though are dramatically different.
The first reading from the Gospel of Luke celebrates Jesus as the triumphant messiah who comes to live among us.
The crowd spreads their cloaks on the road.
In the Gospel of John, it says that they also took branches from palm trees and they spread them on the road as a way of honoring Jesus.
The second Gospel reading is entirely different.
That reading tells of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross.
Jesus’ suffering on the cross reflects back to us all the unjust suffering in the world and all the senseless violence in the world – that we see even today.
Jesus, an innocent man, suffering, dying by the hand of the crowd and by those in power.
But from the cross God does something that no one anticipates – especially those that opposed Jesus.
On the cross God does something new.
God does something that only God can do.
God transforms the violence and the evil of the cross.
God takes the suffering, the passion, and the death of his son and redeems it.
God transmutes the cross into a miracle for you and for me.
Now whenever we look upon the cross, we do not receive condemnation but we receive life-giving grace.
On the cross Jesus even prays that God would forgive those who crucified him.
And God forgives.
The crowd that shouted for him to be crucified.
God forgave them.
The disciples who abandoned Jesus.
God forgave them.
Pilate and those in power who ordered the crucifixion.
God forgave them.
Today we who regularly sin and who regularly abandon Jesus.
God forgives us.
The Holy Spirit forgives.
This is truly the Gospel in its purest form.
The radical message of God’s enduring, persistent grace.
The meaning of grace is to receive something that we do not deserve.
We often live our lives with a great sense of entitlement.
We believe that we have a right for the things that we want in our life and we often take without thinking about how our taking affects other people.
When it comes to our faith in God, we can even approach God with a feeling of entitlement.
We demand things from God.
We even demand God’s grace and forgiveness.
But the truth is that we do not deserve any of these gifts from God.
Scripture clearly points out that we fall time and time again from the ways of God.
But the miracle of Palm Sunday is shouting at us this day.
God chooses to give even though we do not deserve God’s love and forgiveness.
God loves us and forgives us because God is gracious.
It is not because we are so good.
It is because God is so good.
We don’t deserve any of God’s good blessings.
We are not entitled to anything from God.
We receive God’s blessings and forgiveness because God chooses to give to us these things.
This is the miracle of Palm Sunday.
The definition of miracle is an extraordinary and astonishing happening, that surpasses all known human or natural powers, and that great happening is attributed to the action of God.
A miracle points to the power of God at work in the world.
The great writer C.S. Lewis once said that a miracle is something so unique that is breaks a pattern so expected and established that we hardly even consider the possibility that it could be broken.
In other words, a miracle completely disrupts our typical way of looking at things.
A miracle has the power to create a shift in our thinking about the world.
A miracle has the power to create a shift in our understanding of who God is.
This is what happens on Palm Sunday.
For in the miracle of Palm Sunday we know by faith that…
On this day we know that God forgives.
On the cross-God choses to reconcile the world back to God’s-self.
And then God does one more thing.
The cross and the forgiveness that we receive from God through the cross is not the end of the story.
There is still much more.
This is only the beginning for us.
After the cross, after the miracle of what God is doing here, God pushes us forward to join him in mission.
After the cross God invites us to join him in taking part in the healing of the world.
As we are forgiven, healed, and set free from that which would hold us captive
– God sends us out to be missionaries, healers, and workers in God’s new kingdom.
God’s new kingdom is marked with love and grace and this is all possible because of the miracle of the cross.
The cross is the bridge by which all people are forgiven, by which all people are invited to come to God, by which we join God in mission and in ministry.
God chooses the way of the cross so that we might be have new life.
On Palm Sunday we enter into this new life with all the restorative healing power that comes from God.
As followers of Jesus this new life only comes to us by this most holy and sacred way.
It is the way of the cross.
And the cross is the way to Easter.
This coming week is the holiest week of the entire church year.
This coming week we anticipate our Lord’s resurrection.
We wait for it and we hope for it, knowing by faith that it will indeed come.
You and I are witnesses.
Forgiveness, new life, grace it is all around us at this time of the church year.
Praise be to God!
Blessed is the coming kingdom!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
These palm branches which we wave today in worship are a sign of our hope in God.
Keep this palm branch in a visible place this coming week.
-pray that Jesus would come in and walk with you this week.
May we find our voices this day in proclaiming the wonderful miracle of Palm Sunday that in Christ we are forgiven and loved by God.
I pray that this coming week you might experience moments of grace.
May you feel the blessing of being a part of the whole Body of Christ this Holy Week.
May you receive the Lord’s grace.
And may you be surprised by God’s rich love poured out for all of us in Jesus.
Let us pray: