The story of Palm Sunday (the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the story with the humble beast, the shouting crowds, the branches, the coats and cloaks spread like a carpet upon the road) is a big biblical deal that featured and has centre stage and pride of place in all four gospels.
Scholars explained that ‘Palm Sunday is the day the followers of Jesus grew up, found their voices, summoned their courage, and assumed their role as witnesses to God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.’ Transfiguring Lent especially in the seductions of today’s culture point to Palm Sunday as ‘the day Jesus’ followers stepped out onto the world stage, stepped out in earnest as players and protagonists in the realm of God.’ According to Nancy Taylor, before the journey begins with shouts of praise, ‘the followers of Jesus had been just that: followers, largely passive, if keen observers of his ways.’ She explained that, on Palm Sunday ‘a shift occurs, a transformation begins.’ Palm Sunday is about transformation that transfigures the followers of Jesus in defiance and against the secular power and authority of Rome. Palm Sunday summons the church into shout of praise, just as the followers of Jesus shouted in public that they belong to God and not to Caesar.
It was on Palm Sunday that the church found its feet and found its voice and swore allegiance to the Prince of Peace. The reflection is that it was on Palm Sunday that the church is reborn and release from every limitations. The reflection is that Palm Sunday is to be reborn in you and me. Beloved, there are two parades that are going on in the world today. In our Gospel reading today, on the other side of the city, King Pilate is parading in on a seductive horse in today’s culture and the colt meant for Jesus’ triumphant parade to every nook and corner of the world is tied down, deaf and dumb. The seductive horse in today’s culture is promoting war and anarchy but the colt, the church meant to transport the Gospel of Jesus to every nation is calling for help to be set free from the control of the seductive horse. The church that is tied down is not the building but you and me. The questions for us to reflect upon are: What needs “untying” in you and me? What is there within us, or a part of our lives, that needs to be released, let go, untied, so that we can join in the triumphal march of life as a full participant in mission and evangelism? How are you tied down? What is tying you down? The story of the Samaritan woman suggests to us that tradition can tied us down. The story of the woman with issue of blood suggests that sickness can tied us down thereby limiting our potential and functionality. The story of Judas suggests to us that money can tied us down and the story of Lucifer, the bright morning star suggest to us that sin and especially pride can tied us down and ultimately kill.
“Untying” the church to give the Gospel legs summons us to release ourself from those things that we seem to value above almost everything else. Are you tied to your possessions? Are you tied down in knots by addictions or compulsions ‘alcohol or drug or cigarette addictions, or compulsive eating, or other self-destructive behaviours – and such behaviours can harm us, not only physically, but also psychologically and spiritually?’ Are you tied down to negative and unloving feelings towards others? Are you tied up to self-pride that prevents you from freeing yourself ‘from the chains of jealousy, resentment, or intense dislike?’ Are you tied down by your excess baggage ‘and held back from the passing parade of life by the burden of our sins, past sins or those present right now?’ Untying the church to give the Gospel legs invites us to be released from a profound sense of unworthiness that leads to feelings of resignation, hopelessness, apathy, or depression.
Beloved, the Lord need you and me for His purpose and our obedience is better than sacrifice. Just as Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, God is calling us to obey and untie every inhibitions on our ways. Many churches are tied up not only in the city just as many Christians are tied up at home and in their workplaces. The truth is that the Gospel is powerful and alive but the Gospel is handicapped in the seductions of today’s culture. The Gospel needs colt (church) back to ride upon, it needs a colt (church) voice to proclaim the Risen Lord. The reflection is that the Gospel is deaf, and dumb … and mute without ‘untying’ the church to give the Gospel legs. Let us with Van Deventer sing this song:
All to Jesus, I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
O Lord, untie me and the church from every addiction, self-pride, excess baggage, sin, and sickness in Jesus name.