Pastor Michael Frye:

I LOVE A PARADE!

DON’T YOU?

THE BANDS, THE CROWDS, COLORFUL BALOONS, THE CREATIVE FLOATS…..

HOW COULD YOU NOT HELP BUT FEEL GOOD AT A PARADE.

I PLAYED TROMBONE IN THE A. L. BROWN HIGH SCHOOL BAND IN THE KANNAPOLIS
CHRISTMAS PARADES, WE WOULD BRING UP THE REAR OF THE PARADE JUST BEFORE
SANTA CLAUS.

THE ROUTE WAS A LITTLE OVER TWO MILES LONG, BUT WHEN WE GOT TO THE SQUARE
IN KANNAPOLIS, WE WENT ALL OUT…

INCREASING THE CADENCE, LIFTING OUR KNEES PRACTICALLY TO OUR CHINS, AND THE CROWD WENT WILD.

THAT IS QUITE AN ADRENALIN RUSH TO HAVE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE CHEERING YOU ON AS YOU ENTER THE TOWN SQUARE.

WITHOUT TRYING, JESUS BECAME THE MAIN ATTRACTION IN AN IMPROMPTU PARADE.

HE PROBABLY WASN’T IN A PARADE SORT OF MOOD SINCE HE HAD RECENTLY COME DOWN
FROM THE MOUNTAIN OF HIS TRANSFIGURATION AND HAD SET HIS FACE TOWARD

JERUSALEM, KNOWING THAT HE WOULD DIE THERE.

BUT HE HAD TO BE ENCOURAGED THAT THE CROWD, WHICH HAD COME FOR PASSOVER
FROM ALL AROUND THE KNOWN WORLD, HAD HEARD ENOUGH ABOUT HIM THAT THEY
WANTED TO GREET HIM AS HE ARRIVED.

MAYBE… JUST MAYBE… HE WAS FINALLY BEGINNING TO MAKE AN IMPACT ON THEIR
UNDERSTANDING OF MESSIAH AND SALVATION…

OR NOT.

UNFORTUNATELY, JESUS’ REPUTATION AS A PREACHER AND HEALER, AND RANDOM RUMORS THAT HE MIGHT BE MESSIAH GENERATED SPECULATION THAT JESUS HAD COME TO LEAD AN INSURRECTION AGAINST THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND MAKE ISRAEL A GREAT NATION AGAIN.

MANY IN THE CROWD WANTED TO MAKE HIM KING.

SO A LARGE PORTION OF THE CROWD TREATED HIM AS A DIGNITARY AS HE RODE INTO TOWN ON A DONKEY, THROWING CLOTHING AND PALM BRANCHES ON HIS PATH TO WELCOME HIM.

CONQUERERS OFTEN RODE INTO A TOWN ON A DONKEY AS A SIGN OF PEACE… IT HAD TO BE QUITE SOBERING FOR JESUS, WHO KNEW HOW THE WEEK WOULD END, BUT HE DIDN’T RAIN ON THEIR PARADE. HE ALLOWED THEM TO CONTINUE SHOUTING HOSANNAS AND PRAISES.

THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES WEREN’T TOO HAPPY WITH THIS TURN OF EVENTS, AND THEY
SAID SO; BUT JESUS WARNED THEM THAT THERE WOULD BE NO WAY TO SUPPRESS WHAT
GOD HAD SET INTO MOTION.

EVEN SO, THEIR PLOT THICKENED AS THEY CONSPIRED TO GET RID OF JESUS.

THE STORY WE HEARD THIS MORNING CONTINUES TO CHANGE IN TONE, AS PEOPLE WHO
EXPECTED JESUS TO BE THEIR POLITICAL AND MILITARY LEADER BEGAN TO SEE THAT HE
HAD TAKEN ON THE ROLE MORE OF A SERVANT THAN A KING.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS FOUND THEIR MAN ON THE INSIDE TO HELP THEM TRAP AND
ENSNARE JESUS… JUDAS… ONE OF JESUS’ OWN DISCIPLES WHO ALSO WAS BEGINNING
TO BECOME DISENCHANTED WITH THE WAY THAT JESUS WAS CONDUCTING HIS MINISTRY.

GRADUALLY, THE SENSE OF EUPHORIA AND AWE WANED AS PEOPLE BEGAN TO WONDER
JUST WHAT KIND OF KING JESUS WAS.

HE WAS, OF COURSE, KIND AND GENTLE TO THOSE WHO CAME TO HIM FOR HELP, BUT TOO MANY QUESTIONS BEGAN TO BE RAISED ABOUT HIM AND HIS SMALL BAND OF DISCIPLES.

THE BIBLICAL STORY TELLS US THAT JUDAS WAS JESUS’ BETRAYER, AND HE EVENTUALLY
BECAME DESPONDENT OVER HIS TREACHERY AND HANGED HIMSELF…

BUT JUDAS WASN’T THE ONLY BETRAYER THAT WEEK.

SIMON PETER, ONE OF JESUS’ MOST TRUSTED DISCIPLES, CAME TO DENY THAT HE EVEN
KNEW JESUS ON THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS FOR FEAR OF HIS OWN LIFE.

AT THE TIME OF JESUS’ ARREST, THE DISCIPLES ALL SCATTERED, AND MOST OF THEM
WENT INTO HIDING TO SAVE THEIR OWN NECKS.

UNLIKE JUDAS, THEY DIDN’T SELL JESUS OUT FOR SILVER, BUT THEIR LACK OF SUPPORT
AND FEAR PREVENTED THEM FROM BEING THERE WHEN JESUS NEEDED THEM MOST.

EVEN THE MANY FOLLOWERS WHO TRAVELED INTO JERUSALEM WITH JESUS BECAME
INCREASINGLY MORE SCARCE. THE ONLY ONES WHO SEEMED OBLIVIOUS TO THE
THREAT OF BEING SWEPT UP WITH JESUS WERE THE WOMEN WHO MADE AN EFFORT
TO SEE THAT JESUS WOULD BE CARED FOR BOTH IN LIFE AND IN DEATH.

I CAN REMEMBER PREACHING ON THIS TEXT IN MY INTERNSHIP IN DALLAS, TEXAS, IN 1972.

THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO MESMERIZE THE CONGREGATION AND DRAW THEM INTO THE
STORY, SO I LET OUT ALL THE STOPS…

I WENT INTO THE TREATMENT OF JESUS AT THE HANDS OF HIS CAPTORS IN GREAT DETAIL,
TUGGING AT THE HEART STRINGS, PRACTICALLY BRINGING EVERYONE TO TEARS.

THEN, I WENT FOR THE FINAL EFFECT, AS I SAID TO THE CONGREGATION: “HERE WAS
JESUS, SUFFERING AT THE HANDS OF HIS CAPTORS, BRUTALLY BEATEN, A CROWN OF
THORNS PLACED UPON HIS HEAD, THE WEIGHT OF THE CROSS BEATING HIM DOWN
UNMERCIFULLY.

AND KNOWING JESUS TO BE INNOCENT OF ANY CRIME, NOT ONE OF JESUS’ DISCIPLES,
NOT ONE, WOULD SHOUT NO.

THE CHURCH GREW QUIET, AND I WAITED PATIENTLY THROUGH THE SILENCE TO BRING
THE SERMON TO A CLIMAX, WHEN OUT OF THE FOURTH ROW OF THE CONGREGATION
CAME THIS DEFIANT SOUND FROM THREE-YEAR-OLD SARAH: “NO, NO, NO.”

WHAT AT FIRST SEEMED LIKE AN EMBARRASING TURN OF EVENTS THAT THREATENED
THE INTEGRITY OF MY WELL-PREPARED SERMON ACTUALLY BROUGHT OUT THIS
COMMUNAL SIGH OF RELIEF AS THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION CHIMED IN WITH SARAH,
“NO, NO, NO.”

OF COURSE, WE KNOW THAT AT THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS, THERE WERE NO “NO’S”
AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS…

BUT THERE CERTAINLY WERE THOSE WHO WERE DRAMATICALLY EFFECTED BY WHAT THEY WITNESSED THAT DAY, AND THERE WOULD BE A SURPRISE WAITING FOR THEM AROUND THE CORNER A FEW DAYS LATER.

BUT IS IT NOT VITAL FOR EACH OF US THIS MORNING TO TAKE NOTE OF THE FACT THAT
JESUS, AS DISAPPOINTED IN HIS FOLLOWERS AS HE MUST HAVE BEEN AT THE TIME,
EXPECTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO DIE FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THOSE PRESENT, ALL
THOSE WHO HAD HIDDEN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, EVEN HIS CAPTORS AND
EXECUTIONERS… AND EVEN MORE AMAIZINGLY… HE DIED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS,
INCLUDING YOU AND ME.

WE ALSO HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE HUMAN CONDITION IN THIS IMPERFECT WORLD
DOES LEND ITSELF TO ONE’S BEING MANIPULATIVE, DISTRUSTFUL, ARROGANT, AND
UNFORGIVING.

WE, TOO CAN KNOWINGLY OR UNKOWINGLY BETRAY THE TRUST OF A FAMILY MEMBER, OR FRIEND, OR CO-WORKER, OR FELLOW CHURCH MEMBER.

IT TAKES COMMITMENT AND COURAGE TO STAND FIRM ON THE PRINCIPLES OF FAITH,
ESPECIALLY WHEN WE HAVE A SENSE THAT DOING SO MIGHT PUT US IN DANGER OR IN AN
EMBARRASING SITUATION.

THE UPSIDE TO ALL OF THIS IS THAT ONCE JESUS’ DISCIPLES FINALLY UNDERSTOOD (THROUGH
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GUIDANCE) THAT JESUS IS INDEED THE MESSIAH, THE SAVIOR OF THE
WORLD, THEY WENT STRAIGHT INTO THE DANGERS THAT CONFRONTED THEM WITH
CONVICTION, DEDICATION, COMMITMENT, AND COURAGE THAT ALLOWED THEM TO ENDURE
PERSECUTION, AND EVEN DEATH, IN ORDER TO TELL THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS’
SACRIFICE AND LIFE-GIVING SALVATION.

THEIR STORY HAS BECOME OUR STORY…

THEIR MISSION, OUR MISSION…

THAT IS WHY WE DEDICATE AN ENTIRE WEEK PRIOR TO THE CELEBRATION OF THE
RESURRECTION TOWARD RE-LIVING, NOT ONLY THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY OF JESUS INTO
JERUSALEM, BUT ALSO THE TRAGEDY AND SUFFERING OF AN INNOCENT CHILD OF GOD
WHO TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF TO SET US FREE FROM THE BONDS OF SIN AND THE
FINALITY OF DEATH.

ONLY WHEN WE UNDERSTAND AND VICARIOUSLY EXPERIENCE THE PAIN THAT JESUS
ENDURED, CAN WE TRULY BEGIN TO COMPREHEND WHAT AN AMAZING GIFT OUR LORD
HAS GIVEN US IN THE RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN TO A FUNERAL OR MEMORIAL SERVICE AT ST. MARK’S, YOU WILL HAVE
HEARD THIS WORDS READ BY THE PASTOR: “FOR IF WE HAVE BEEN UNITED WITH HIM IN A
DEATH LIKE HIS, WE SHALL CERTAINLY BE UNITED WITH HIM IN A RESURRECTION LIKE HIS.”

I HOPE YOU WILL TAKE THE TIME THIS WEEK TO EXPERIENCE, THROUGH MAUNDY
THURSDAY AND GOOD FRIDAY WORSHIP, THE PASSION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR,
JESUS CHRIST.

I BELIEVE DOING SO WILL ENRICH, NOT ONLY YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING AND DEATH, BUT YOU WILL ALSO TAKE MORE PERSONALLY THAT YOU, TOO, WILL “KNOW A RESURRECTION LIKE HIS.

THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND
MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS.
AMEN.