Where Are You Headed?


Message Title: Where Are You Headed?
Theme: Seeking
Main Text: Matthew 21:1-11
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a;
RCL Scripture: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66 or Matthew 27:11-54
Focus: Jesus enters Jerusalem during Passover.
To consider the box we place our Messiah into because of our own expectations and ideas.
Other Notes:
PALM SUNDAY// *sanctified art curriculum// COMMUNION – Baptisms, Breakfast & Egg hunt next week!

SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 50:4-9 The LORD God gave me an educated tongue to know how to respond to the weary with a word that will awaken them in the morning. God awakens my ear in the morning to listen, as educated people do. The LORD God opened my ear; I didn’t rebel; I didn’t turn my back. Instead, I gave my body to attackers, and my cheeks to beard pluckers. I didn’t hide my face from insults and spitting. The LORD God will help me; therefore, I haven’t been insulted. Therefore, I set my face like flint, and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed. The one who will declare me innocent is near. Who will argue with me? Let’s stand up together. Who will bring judgment against me? Let him approach me. Look! The LORD God will help me. Who will condemn me? Look, they will wear out like clothing; the moth will eat them.


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Have you ever met a celebrity?
    1. Did you keep your cool?
    1. I didn’t – I ran into one of my favorite comedians at a Starbucks before attending their performance and … well I froze. Fortunately, Josh was willing to ask for a photo while I just had this starry-eyed look on my face.

TRANSITION:  There is some humility that comes in the after math of being starstruck or “fangirling” as some would say. I always thought I would play it cool but I guess I played the fool.

In our text for today, We see a starstruck moment but what are the crowds hoping for?

MAIN TEXT: Matthew 21:1-11 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that their master needs them.” He sent them off right away. Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.[a] The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them. Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord![b]Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”


  1. Context:
    1. Each of the gospels have a different goal in their retelling of the Jesus story. You will notice their details and order may be different because of those goals. Gospel of Matthew comes from a Jewish perspective, the audience will be listening for the author to connect Jesus to the Jewish Messiah.
  2. The Triumphal Entry is one passage where the gospels have different details but the gist is the same
    1. It’s time for the Passover Festival
    1. Disciples get him a donkey (or two) to ride (how does one man ride 2 donkeys???)
    1. Jesus enters Jerusalem
    1. Cloaks (and sometimes branches) were laid on the road
    1. Some people shout praises to God
    1. Other versions of the triumphal entry:
      1. Mark 11:1-11 (short and sweet Gospel)
      1. Luke 19:28-44 (Gentile Gospel w/ humanity emphasis)
      1. Not in John (Gospel emphasizing divinity)


  1. What we don’t get from the text is the cultural details unfolding at the same time:
    1. Fascinating fact: “Each year at Passover, Pontius Pilate, Governor and representative of the Roman emperor, came to Jerusalem from his coastal residence in the west. Passover was often the scene of political disturbance and protest of the Roman rule and occupation of the Holy Land. The mission of the imperial soldiers with Pilate was to reinforce the Roman garrison permanently stationed in the Fortress Antonia, overlooking the Jewish Temple and its courts. It was best that the Governor and his cohort was on hand to tamper down the flames of insurrection. Who knows what the people shouted, if anything? No doubt the elite of the city were there to greet the representative of the Emperor. There were no whispers or uncertainty about Pilate.”[1]
      1. Scholars ponder if those branches were supposed to be used to usher the earthly ruler into Jerusalem… not Jesus.
      1. The people were practicing traditional kingly parade behavior… was it for Pilate or for Jesus?
  2. In a short period of time (Sunday to Friday) the words in the crowds shift from words of praise & pleas to words of condemnation. This has always seemed like an attitude switch that might give you whiplash. 
    1. But the people want to be free from the Roman yoke. Many are thirsty for revolution. It’s no wonder the crowds choose Barabbas (a rebel) rather than Jesus (a teacher & miracle worker). Barabbas is an emphasis of what solutions they’re choosing.
    1. Jesus did not fit the “tough” for the solutions they craved. Even Peter carried a sword expecting revolution but Jesus had a different solution designed.

APPLICATION: To consider the box we place our Messiah into because of our own expectations and ideas.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  How easy is it for you to admit you were wrong or concede to another person’s argument?
    1. How would people in Germany post-WWII continue on or even the us civil war- how does a country heal after in-fighting? (we really didn’t, decades of racism and division)
  2. Reflection questions:
    1. Which parade would you join in Jerusalem? The parade for a man calling you to love your enemies or a man with power to stomp out his enemies?
      1. “If you are quick to place yourself in Jesus’ parade, I encourage you to pause and considered these questions honestly:
        1. When have you aligned yourself with systems or people who have used their power for violence or to uphold the status quo?
        1. When have you embodied power through vulnerability and love for your neighbor?“ (sanctified art questions)
    1. Either Or:
      1. Do you follow a Jesus that matches your goals and ideals?
      1. does Jesus have the same enemies as you or do you follow a Jesus who challenges you to love your enemy
      1. is your Jesus taking up arms to go into battle or is your Jesus dying on a cross EVEN for his adversaries
  3. Have we molded Jesus into a box that fits our personal preferences and ideals?
    1. Active Challenge: turn on the news and ask yourself: would Jesus have the same opinion as me about this subject or would he be pushing me to consider things from a different angle?

CONCLUSION: Where are you headed?And is the One True Jesus leading the way?


[1] https://stfrncis.org/the-other-procession/


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