West Point Grey United Church
Mar 24, 2024


Mark 11:1-11

When I was a boy there were several days of huge parades in cities in Europe that were filmed and eventually shown around the world. The second World War was over and people were shouting and waving from their windows or the side of the road. They were so happy to be free. And, of course, the people of Europe were celebrating AFTER they were set free. Palm Sunday is very different;  this parade has the people in and near Jerusalem celebrating what they THOUGHT Jesus would be and do. We are the fortunate ones now able to celebrate Jesus for what we know and believe Jesus did, giving us a pure and lasting type of freedom.

Jesus rode on the back of a donkey, people took off their coats and cut branches from trees and shrubs laying them on the ground as a path for Jesus, and there were shouts of joy as Jesus slowly passed them. But in the midst of the excitement and shouting many people were asking “Who is this?”. Answers were given by those who felt confident to say “This is the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee”. Yes it is, but there are several more things that need to be said in answer to this question.

“WHO IS THIS?” …. The news was spreading about who this really is. After all Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead four days after he died, and he had healed people who were incurably sick, he had enabled the blind to see, the deaf to hear and families had been re-united after Jesus drove out evil spirits.

People were understanding the compassion and love of jesus, and how he had shown mercy to tax collectors and prostitutes. No wonder they cheered and rejoiced as they came to realize  that this was the promised king sent by God who was riding on a donkey.

But this king was different. There was no flashy show of power and strength. Instead he rode on a humble donkey. He didn’t smile and give royal waves to the people lining the street. His heart was heavy, knowing that his enemies were plotting how they could get rid of him. He knew that very soon many of the people shouting his praises now would be shouting ‘crucify him’. This was certainly no ordinary king riding on a donkey. This was one who wanted to serve, to be a servant-king. Jesus once said “If anyone wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest, reaching out to serve the needs of others.”

As we enter Holy Week let us reflect on the way Jesus gave himself completely and wholly in service to us. We were in need, cut off from God, yet Jesus suffered and died for us. He was a true servant.

Let us enter Holy Week with a repentant heart, fully aware of the ways we have failed to be true servants to one another. Let us reflect on what it means to truly be available to serve the needs of others.

And let us enter Holy Week determined to take time to stand before the cross in wonder and thanksgiving, praising God for the total and complete way Jesus gave himself for us.    Amen.