Luke chapter 2 gives us little detail about Mary and Joseph’s entrance into Bethlehem. But every Gospel tells us about Jesus’ Triumphal Entrance into Jerusalem. Both stories point to our greatest hope: The King is Coming!
Palm Sunday is Often Frustrating for Me
I’m confessing my frustration as a preacher here. I find Palm Sunday to be a pain to preach! In fact, I would go so far as to say that Palm Sunday represents everything that frustrates me about preaching on any Christian holiday/holy day. Every year, it’s the same story that everyone has heard for two thousand years, but you’re expected to find something new!
It’s difficult enough on Christmas and Easter, but at least with those holidays you’ve got culture on your side. When was the last time you walked into Walmart and thought, “UGH! They’ve got the Palm Sunday decorations up already? It’s not even Three Kings Sunday yet!” People are already thinking about Christmas and Easter. Palm Sunday just shows up and smacks us all in the face with a palm branch.
And all you’re left thinking, “Huh . . . Is Easter next Sunday?!?”
I doubt many of my Palm Sunday sermons are memorable. In fact, there’s only one that I can remember well. Check out my favorite Palm Sunday sermons here: It’s Not About the Donkey.
The King is Coming
Having confessed my frustration, I now must confess my joy at preaching the Triumphal Entry for Christmas! This sermon served as the culmination of my series on The Birth of the King, concluding our view of Christmas from the Gospel of Mark. But I believe, more importantly, the series enabled us to hear Christmas and Easter as one story. It linked Christmas’ promise of peace on earth with the price of peace on the cross.
I’ve received several comments from listeners who found the series made them look at Christmas in a new way. My hope is they’ve seen not just the holiday in a new way, but the whole story of Christ with new clarity and unity.
The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown
The Birth of the King also allowed me to return to an old favorite for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion service. I first heard this message when one of our professors preached it during a devotional meeting in college many years ago. Just about every one of us preaching students went back to our churches and preached our own version of it the next Sunday. I wonder how much of the original message is left in the one I presented on Christmas Eve this year. I’m sure it has evolved (or devolved) over the years.
The King is Here
Advent means “arrival.” It’s not so much about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem as it is his birth in our hearts and our fellowship. I found that by preaching Christmas through the Gospel of Mark this year, it was much more natural to move from the story of Jesus’ birth to the gospel of Jesus the King. We didn’t come to Christmas and leave Jesus in the manger, rather we followed him into Jerusalem and shouted “Hosanna! Save us!”
Moreso, in many ways, we also heard the call to take the message to those we encounter around us with the desire that he save them. Could there be any greater call at Christmas?