Pastor Dan Borgelt
NOTE: This Palm Sunday Service was a Choir Cantata with Pastor Dan’s message woven in. The first 3 songs were:
Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, “Hosanna!”
As You Serve, Remember Me
“Palm Sunday is the Sunday that launches the focus of Jesus’ last week here on earth leading up, at least, until his arrest and crucifixion and ultimately his resurrection.
This is Palm Sunday which we’re celebrating in part, but then often we kind of go silent for a few days and then really things ramp up, to where we’ve moved in our service here this morning, to Thursday evening.
Thursday evening, the evening when Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had a meal with them… the evening in which Jesus would be arrested and betrayed. The eve of his crucifixion.
It’s this evening in which Jesus gathered together with His disciples and had this meal in which he took the bread, and he broke the bread in plain view of the disciples saying to them,
“This is my body which is broken for you; do this and remembrance of me.”
And then he moved on… later in the meal he took the cup, and holding it in plain view of his disciples giving thanks for the cup as well, he he held it in plain view of them saying,
“This cup represents a new covenant which is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
And so on this eve of Jesus’s crucifixion we are reminded that Jesus was not thrown off by the events of being betrayed and being arrested and then being crucified, but rather he knew it was coming.
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So who could blame him. Who could blame him for being maybe a little self-centered, a little inward thinking during this time, knowing all that was going to be happening to him.
And yet the Scripture repeatedly tells us that even on this evening Jesus is thinking of his disciples, those who have placed their trust in him… even during such events Jesus is thinking of folks like you and me.
He did many things to show his thought process for us and his thinking of us. The Scripture says that he showed us the full extent of his love by washing his disciples’ feet.
In John Chapter seventeen he teaches them around the table in this long wonderful discord… passionate teaching like a parent wanting to pass on this last wisdom to the child before they drop him off at college… knowing the separation is happening, he’s teaching them… letting them know that they’re going to undergo some of the difficulties that he’s about to undergo.
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And then finally he ends this teaching by praying.
He prays right there in plain view of them… that they might hear and see; like a pastoral prayer, He prays aloud. And one would think, well maybe this is the time where Jesus moves into selfishness, and he’s focused on all of his needs and concerns… and again who would be able to blame him if that was the case.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
He does pray for himself for a small period of time, and then probably three times the amount of that he shifts his prayer to the disciples who would place their faith in him and this is what the Scripture tells us he prayed. In John 17:20 Jesus says,
“My prayer is not for them alone…” [speaking of the original 12 disciples; then he says], “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
Do you hear what that just said? … the wonder of what that means.
It means if you’re here today and you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that some two thousand years ago, on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for you.
Now he may not have prayed for you the way you would’ve wanted him to pray for you had he asked you, “What would you like me to pray for you about?”.
Had he taken the time to ask us and say, ‘Hey what do you want me to pray for?”, many of us would have said things like, “Oh I like to get into a certain college.” or “I’d like to get a certain job… or I’d love to move into a certain house or neighborhood.”
Or maybe you’d say something admirable like, “You know I have a health concern that I’d like you to pray about Jesus.” Or someone else’s health concern that you’d like him to pray about.
But he didn’t pray for any of those things on this particular Eve. No, instead what he prayed for was this, in verse twenty one,
21-23 that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me.“
Jesus comes along and of all things to pray about, he prays that you and I–that the church would be one–that we would be complete unity.
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Now what does he mean by that?
Well he certainly doesn’t mean things like, “Oh by being one, that must mean we all come from the same socioeconomic background… or we all have the same political world view... or we all have the same theological opinion on every single issue… or that we all have the same ethnicity… or our skin color is all the same… or any of that stuff.
In fact the beauty of him praying for us to be one is that in having all of those things different and not in common with one another, he still is seeing that we would become one.
One in a more beautiful and profound way that meant then we might first think he meant us to be one. One in a way that says we are:
- One in worship. Not some of us worshiping and others watching the rest worship, but all of us worshiping as one.
- One in service. Not some of us serving and others watching others serve, but all of us one in our service.
- One in kindness and grace. Not some of us ready to show kindness and grace and forgiveness to others.. and others unwilling. But rather all of us being willing to show that.
A oneness that is far deeper and more meaningful than perhaps the oneness that first comes to our mind.
[00:06:32] – – – – – – –
Now, speaking of which comes to our mind and I’m concerned that you’re getting the wrong idea of what Jesus means by us being one… like you’re picturing you’re having coffee with a good friend and you guys are just like one with each other.
Or maybe a twin and you finish each other’s sentences and you’re like one or something… or maybe even your spouse.
No, this is different from any other relationship… it’s the relationship that Jesus calls the church to have with one another–the standard of oneness that Jesus gives us is incredibly high.
Look at what the text says and verse twenty-one,
“just as you are in me and I am in you.”
That’s the standard for our oneness. He goes on to say in verse twenty-two,
“as we are one.”
In other words what Jesus is saying is that we are supposed to be one with one another like Jesus and the Father are one,
That’s an incredible standard isn’t it?
Jesus and the Father’s Oneness is a difficult theological thing to try to expound upon, to try to grasp. But I think that we can all just imagine that they probably had an incredible oneness and we can all probably be willing to admit quickly that we don’t always have that oneness with one another.
That’s the standard of the oneness that he calls the church to have together. But for what purpose? For what purpose does he call us to such great Oneness?
The Scripture tells us the purposes is… (v21),
“so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
And then he goes on in verse twenty-three,
“To let the world will know that you sent me...”
So you see that the purpose of our oneness is so that we become greater, and more impactful, more effective at letting the world know about Jesus and the events that were celebrating this week, then we could as a group of individuals.
He’s inviting us to come and to be a part of something that we would never be able to accomplish on our own; so that our oneness is not to the end that we become a close-knit family that unintentionally closes its doors–that no one else is welcomed into. But rather the opposite:
We become a missionally sent group of people who are affective, more capable than we would be able to be on our own at letting the world know of how much Jesus loves them.
That’s why he calls us to unity into oneness.
[00:09:06] – – – – – – –
Whether a man or woman or child comes to relationship with Jesus is really a matter between them and God isn’t it… ultimately. But this may be the single greatest aspect of that process that is in our ‘duty, if you will–to be one. To be one so that we can more effectively let the world know about Jesus.
Church, you should know… that we’re praying for you this morning, praying for you this week, that all of our thoughts, and our actions, and our words, move this church towards unity and oneness, so that the world may know of Jesus’s love for them.
CHOIR INTERLUDE [00:09:57]
Alone in the Garden He Prays
Behold the Lamb of God!
There are few people who doubt that there was a man named Jesus–a Jewish man named Jesus from the rather insignificant town of Nazareth who was crucified… crucified at the request of Jewish priests demanding his crucifixion… crucified at the request of crowds who joined them… crucified at the hands of rather indifferent Roman leaders and also crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers.
There are few people who doubt the historical reality of those events, but there are some, many actually, who make the mistake of thinking that Jesus’ value, if any at all, was found exclusively in his life.
We hear things like, “Oh Jesus was a great teacher,” or, “Jesus was a wonderful prophet, he came to sort of show us the way.” And then they make the conclusion that in him being crucified that his death was really just the outcome of being so significant in society, of standing out from the norm, like a Martin Luther King Jr who comes along, whose value is found in his life, and who’s put to death merely as a result of going against the grain.
Many people think of Jesus that way.
Others might come along and make the mistake of thinking of Jesus’ value, that it’s found exclusively in his death. Some who’ve been brought up in the church have been taught that Jesus’s death is impactful and significant to them, and certainly it is. But the real value is found in when we bring the two–Jesus’ life and his death together, and we begin to realize that the one being punished to death is the only one whose life deserved no such penalty.
What shall we say in this matter?
Should we should we declare that God is unjust then? Should we declare that God is somehow unjust for allowing Jesus to be crucified… he who had done no sin?
Well certainly we would have to declare God to be unjust if Jesus was being crucified for no sin at all. But it is the Scripture that tells us not that he was crucified for his mistakes and sins, but rather for ours.
And so we see that Jesus’ actions are designed to accomplish our forgiveness.
And if there’s any seed of doubt for us, wondering whether or not Jesus has really accomplish your forgiveness through His death on the Cross, we might allow his words on the cross to drive away that doubt, for here’s what Jesus said while being crucified.
It is the Scripture that tells us in Luke 23:32-34, that,
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
To clarify who Jesus is speaking about when he seeks their forgiveness,
- he’s speaking about all those around him who have participated in the process of him being crucified;
- he’s speaking of the Jewish leaders who unjustly ran a trial against him, who spoke lies against him, who stirred up the crowds and demanded that he be crucified;
- he’s speaking of those in the crowd who joined their leadership and also chanted for Jesus’ crucifixion;
- he’s speaking of the Roman officials who had the power to stop this from happening but did not;
- he’s speaking of the Roman soldiers who actually carried out Jesus’s crucifixion.
And Jesus says of these people, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
I mean the mere fact that Jesus was praying this prayer; the mere fact that what this reveals about the character of Jesus and the character of God, should give us a greater sense of confidence that we have indeed been forgiven. [00:14:19]
I mean for when we mess up against another person in life, it’s usually all we can do to somehow encourage them that they should desire to forgive us, let alone whether or not they’ll actually be able to forgive us.
I mean not only should Jesus’ words in seeking their forgiveness give us confidence in our forgiveness, but also, as we go through the Scripture, we begin to see that Jesus’ prayer here is actually answered.
There’s a Scripture that tells us in passages like Matthew 27:54 that the Roman centurion and the soldiers involved in this process, some of them come to faith in God. Here’s what the Scripture says, Matthew 27:54.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Here’s Jesus’ prayer for those around him to be forgiving starting to be answered.
We go on in Acts 6:7, we ask ourselves what about the Jewish priest, what about the leaders who really made this thing happen to Jesus? Surely they might be somehow excluded… maybe Jesus wasn’t thinking about them. And here’s what the Scripture tells us,
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
It’s not only encouraging when we think of our own forgiveness, and wrestle with our own forgiveness to think that Jesus said “Father forgive them” of those who were crucifying him, but it’s even all the more encouraging to start to see Jesus’ prayer in this way answered and unfolding.
For some people in our lives have desired to forgive us before, but they haven’t had the character to do so. And here we are reminded that Jesus not only reflects the forgiving character of God in his desire for us to be forgiven, but that it becomes a reality in our lives as well.
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Let me ask you this morning church… what have you done that is worse than being involved in the crowd that crucified Jesus Christ?
What have you done, if Jesus can say to them, “Father forgive them“, that he’s unwilling to say to you, “Father forgive her… father forgive him.”
I know some of you have made mistakes in your life in the past that have maybe been haunting you now for decades. Others of you are struggling with sin in your life in such a way that you are really beginning to question whether or not you’ve crossed the line… whether or not Jesus’ words are no longer applicable for you. And that struggle with sin, the sin you’ve made in the past, the devil, the enemy has used as a footstool, and he’s begun to speak into your head and into your life that these words that Jesus says, don’t apply to you.
And we want you to know this morning, that we are praying for this congregation, praying for you, that by the grace of God, louder so much louder than what the enemy would say to you on this matter, you would hear Jesus saying,
“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
How Can it Be?
Christ Is Risen, Sing Alleluia!
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