Palm Sunday sermonette

With the choir program today, Lance Haverkamp’s message was very short; just a quick look into the history of the events connecting Passover, Palm Sunday, and the Crucifixion:

Has everyone seen the Cecil B. DeMille epic, with a cast of thousands, The Ten Commandments? The is the 60th anniversary of the film, and it’s back on the big screen today and Wednesday at both the Interquest and the Cinemark.

That covers the older half of the congregation, now for the younger half: How many of you can tell me what the very first film from Dreamworks Studios was? Now this goes back a ways for some of you; it’s before Shrek, before How to train your dragon, even before El Dorado. It’s called The Prince of Egypt; how many of you have seen that? Great, well, it’s also the 20th anniversary of the The Prince of Egypt, and it’s available on both Netflix streaming, and Amazon.

Both of these films depict the Passover. Moses relays God’s message, to choose a lamb without spot or defect; and bring it into the house for 4 days. Of course you know what happens, the children play with the lamb, and become fond of it. During this time the families are told to rid the house of leavening for their bread. You may recall that we talked about leavening as a metaphor for sin, when we looked at the parables a few weeks ago.

After those 4 days they were required to slit the lamb’s throat, taking care not to break any bones. We see them dunking a fist-full of hyssop twigs into the the blood of the slaughtered lamb, and ‘painting’ the doorway. This tells the angel of death to avoid, or passover, these houses where God’s people lived. The blood of this lamb saved these people from death. After this the Israelites remember the passover every year with feast based on these events.

Remembrances of traumatic events tend to become ceremonial, and the practices around Passover became ceremonial as well. Every year, when the shepherds notice a particularly healthy lamb, they’d remember to show it to the high-priest. Every year the priest came-out of the North West gate from the city to select the finest lamb for the temple sacrifice. The high Priest would then carry the lamb, and ride back into Jerusalem sitting on a donkey. The townspeople would wave and lay their palm fronds and their coats, as a path to the temple. The priests would spend the 4 days until the feast inspecting the lamb, to assure that it met with their approval.

When Jesus rode the donkey through the city, the residents were there expecting to see the high priest, riding-though with the lamb. While the disciples were usually the last to figure-out any underlying message; many in the crowd realized what was happening, this Jesus who had been healing the sick, casting-out demons, & raising the dead, was taking the place of both the high-priest, and the lamb.

Christ spent those 4 days defending himself from the questions & accusations of the Pharisees & Sadducees, who eventually had Him brought before Pontius Pilate. They were fed-up with this troublemaker who was out-thinking them at every turn, and pointing-out the flaws in their teachings.