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Palm Sunday: Open Gates

Listen to the sermon here.

Matthew 21:1-16

When Jesus enters into Jerusalem through the East Gate and from the Mount of Olives, he follows a traditional route for conquerors of the city.  However, when people shout “hosanna” (“Save us”), their perspective is not quite the one Jesus has in mind. The King returns to His city to conquer sin, death and the devil, not the Roman Empire.

As Jesus enters into the precinct of the temple, Matthew tells us the first thing Jesus does is to overturn the tables of the money changers. The triumphal entry is seen as a major disruption of the established order: the whole city was “stirred up.”  When the people ask “who is this?” some get who Jesus is and others don’t.  Upon hearing the children inside the temple echoing the hosanna praise from the crowds outside the gate, the chief priests and the scribes are “indignant” and ask Jesus: “do you hear what they are saying?” which prompts Jesus to respond with a Scripture from Psalm 8:2,  “out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies, you have prepared praise.”  The irony cannot be missed: those who should know (the learned class) don’t get it, but the children do.  What a marvelous image of children in tune with the worship of the Living God!

What’s our own reaction to the triumphal entry?  Do we sing with the crowd, “hosanna save us” with the misguided expectation that Jesus will be our political deliverer?  Do we think of him as a prophet from Nazareth, a good man and example, but nothing more?  Or are we “indignant”  because he is disrupting the established order? Do we recognize that “he does wonderful things?”

The gate/door imagery also gets very personal:  Jesus knocks at the door and wants to enter into our lives (Revelation 3: 20). In fact, He Himself is a door: “I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).

This Holy Week, let’s make sure we open the ‘gate’ of our heart, so that the King of Glory may come in.  But be also warned, that when he comes into our “temple,” our own lives, this too may cause major disruption and adjustment.  This is after all His house, not our own anymore (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

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