Damariscotta Baptist Church
Friday, July 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

04/01/12 Sermon

Mark 11:1-11

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in Thy Sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 

As some of you know, in the news Friday, our President, Barack Obama paid a visit to Portland for a campaign fund raiser event.

And of course he arrived in style as do all presidents. He rode into town on Air Force One.
 

Air Force One as we know is the call sign for the president’s airplane which of course is one fancy ride.

I ran across some interesting facts about Air Force One that I thought I would share:
*The plane is fast----it has a maximum speed of 630 knots (725 mph) which is just 130 knots short of the speed of sound.
*It can travel 6,800 miles without refueling (which can be done in the air when needed). It also has defensive countermeasures like we saw in the movie a few years ago with Harrison Ford.
*And besides the fancy mechanical aspects of Air Force One it also has some other extravagant bells and whistles:
*The president’s cabin suite has couches that fold out into beds, complete with blankets monogrammed with the presidential seal. 
*The plane has 80 phones on board and 238 miles of communications cable, along with Internet and satellite links. 
*Conference rooms with leather chairs, plus a cabin just for the press corps.
*
In case of emergency, a medical room on board is stocked with a pharmacy, an X-ray machine and an operating table and is staffed with a full-time surgeon. 
*
No cheap airline food here, either. Air Force One has two galleys staffed by five chefs who can serve up to 100 meals per seating.
*
President George H.W. Bush had a treadmill installed on the plane so he could keep up his workout routine. 
 

That’s some real fancy amenities our president’s have when they ride into town just to give a speech.

But as we read in our scripture today when the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s rode into town, his ride didn’t look too much like Air Force One.
 

Instead Jesus came riding into town on the back of a colt of a donkey-----Donkey One.

And he had a whole different travel agenda than a worldly leader.
 

His purpose for traveling wasn’t about fancy election speeches or charging $5000 dollar plate campaign dinners.

Instead Jesus had a different travel agenda…..
 

But what exactly was on Jesus’ travel agenda as he rode into town with the cheering parade that first Palm Sunday?

Well symbolically we can see that Jesus’ objective was quite the opposite of another processional parade that would have happened that day.

On that same day in Jerusalem, to begin the celebration of Passover, Pontius Pilate, the Roman Military governor would have also been riding into town.

And as Pilate rode into town his ride would have been more closely compared to Air Force One----it would have been a great stallion; a war horse.
 

Pilate represented military might and power.

But Jesus, on the back of Donkey One, with palms waving, exemplified just the opposite----
 

Instead of the symbol of power and military might, Jesus came into town bringing forth the ultimate and unconditional plan of peace.

As Jesus came into town that first Palm Sunday, he knew that death awaited him. And yet Jesus purposely chose a different way; the way of non-violence and peace.
 
Instead of choosing the way of fighting his enemies that were to crucify him or to run from them cowardly, Jesus championed another way of defeating the violent ways of the world.
 

And it’s a way that is often not chosen. But when it is----it proves to be more powerful than military might that changes nothing.

In East Germany in the late 1980’s, a group of people got together in a church in Leipzig and prayed for freedom and peace. Every Monday night they came together and the group grew and grew.
 
Eventually their persistent but non-violent call for freedom led to the government dropping the barb wire fence to let them go to other parts of Europe.

But then, those who were left behind began to do the same. They followed the non-violent ways of protest and became known as The New Form.

On September 25th 1989, there were 6000 people who met at that old cathedral church. By October 2nd there were 20,000 more that stood outside with them in solidarity.
 
And of course we remember what happened next-----the fall of the Berlin Wall.
 
There are other examples we have seen of Jesus’ way of peace---Martin Luther King Jr. comes to mind in the Civil Rights movement.
 

Jesus’ agenda on the back of Donkey One was not him being some helpless victim that was going to be beaten and crucified.

Instead he came to bring forth a new way to conquer the violent ways of darkness in this world.
 
And it’s a way that ALL Christians are to embrace.
 
Whether we embrace it individually in our daily lives with the people we live among or on a broader scale together when the ways of violence and power manifest themselves, we are called as Christians to always choose the way of peace.
 
Even when we see that it won’t work, we still choose it.
 
As Ghandi said “nonviolence should be practiced not because it works, but because it is right.”
 
It is the way of our Lord.
 
Jesus calls us to climb aboard Donkey One with him and purposely choose the way of peace.
 

Now along with Jesus’ travel plan of peace, he also had another purpose to his Donkey One trip to Jerusalem. ----it was a format of forgiveness.

When Jesus came riding into town, he was surrounded by a fickle crowd of people who represent you and me.

These were people who were cheering Jesus one moment and just a few days later were calling for him to be crucified.
 
A good example is how I am with my sports teams. Cindy can attest how I can be pulling for my teams one second and the next minute I want to fire the coach and get rid of all the players.
 

And I think if we’re all honest with ourselves we can do the same with God.

One minute everything is all fine and dandy and the next minute things go bad with our health or things aren’t going the way we want in our relationships or our jobs and we get angry at God or try to punish God by not praying or coming to worship.
 
We can all be fickle in our faith….But Jesus came riding in on Donkey One to save us from our fickle faith. He purposefully rode into town to die for our sins.

Whenever we think God doesn’t care for us or when God isn’t being the magic genie we want him to be----- we need to stop and visualize Jesus riding into Jerusalem; we need to remember the betrayal, the beating, and the dying he did for us because He does love us.

I love the old hymn “O How He Loves You and Me”----He gave his life, what more could he give…..
 
Jesus’ travel plan had a plan of forgiveness----he died for our fickle faith………………………
 

Finally the last travel agenda item on Jesus’ Donkey One visit that I want us to look at today was Jesus’ plan to serve.

Jesus came riding into town on the back of a donkey to signify that he wasn’t about trying to glorify himself. He came to glorify God by lifting us up; by serving us.
 
Meanwhile, the way of Pilate, riding on the back of a war horse at the other processional was about serving themselves.
 
It was about the love of power and accolades; approval and applause.
 

You know, if we took a diary of our thoughts and actions each day, might see how we fall for this way of promoting ourselves.

Even as we serve others, our hope is for accolades; our motivation is to be exalted by others as a person who is good.
 
But Jesus didn’t come in on that lowly donkey to be praised at how humble he was. His purpose wasn’t to be martyred.

Jesus was humiliated and died the death of a common criminal in order to free us from the bondage of trying to glorify ourselves.

Jesus, on the back of that Donkey, defeated Satan and that way of the world that tempted him to be a martyr, to be a spectacular leader.
 
Satan wanted him to be a fixer. We often think about how Satan tempts us to be bad.
 

But where Satan really tempts us is to be good.

Satan wanted Jesus to come and fix the whole world. He wanted him to come and heal everyone. Because if he did he would be lifted up as a great man; a superman.
 
But in doing so, he would have fallen hook line and sinker for Satan’s trap---to glorify the self as a great good doer; to embrace the way of power of this world.
 
But Jesus came to defeat the fixer way of the world.
 

So ask yourself today where am I trying to be a fixer instead of a server?

A servant isn’t there to fix people. A servant is there to suffer with us. To cry with us….They care for us without any other motivation.
 
I love the true story that one of my previous pastors, Bob Moore told when he was a very young minister in his first pastorate.
 
A woman had just lost her husband and the family was all at their house grieving.

It was filled with the man’s children and grandchildren and friends and members of the congregation.

Bob felt the expectation as the pastor to come in and give words of comfort and to pray an excellent prayer and to fill the professional preacher role.
So what does Bob do? Well as he listens to the family and they’re all weeping---Bob begins to cry.
Here the professional pastor who was supposed to fix them with words of comfort and words of hope cried!

Ashamed, Bob left the house and decided to get out of the ministry. How could a pastor cry like that at a time like that?

But then the wife of the late husband came and gave Bob some words that he would never forget.
 

She said I want to thank you so much for being such a wonderful pastor to us. You gave us the best gift you could give us----You cried with us.

Bob wasn’t being a fixer---he had simply been a servant.
A suffering servant who didn’t need to ride the white horse to fix people. He just needed to be on the back of a donkey to serve them by his presence and the care of his tears.
 
Jesus on the back of that donkey reminds us that he came to serve us and still does as he will weep with us in our times of need.
 
And he also frees us from being fixers that we might embrace the way of the humble servant to others……………..
 
In closing, on this Palm Sunday you and I are being reminded of who our Lord and Savior really is.
 
He is the Prince of Peace, a humble servant who came to offer us love and forgiveness even in our fickleness.
 
And he came to show us another way—the way of the power of unconditional peace, the love of our enemies that truly defeats the ways of this world.
 
And he came to offer us freedom---freedom from trying to be fixers needing to glorify themselves to simply be servants.
 
So today on this Palm Sunday, let us wave our palms; let us sing Hosanna as we travel the road of his passion this week.
 
Let us give thanks that He refused Air Force One and rejoice that he chose to ride on Donkey One for you and for me.
 
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen