Sunday message 1 April – No voice from heaven on that day…

Reading: John 12:112-16

You can’t have Palm Sunday without this reading. Simple really – only John records that they waved Palms. As a Palmer I am very happy to be celebrating this day!

There is something ominous about it though.  Something that worries me.

I know that you know that it wasn’t long before the crowds were baying for his crucifixion – his death!

We know that people are fickle – they change easily. And we can easily find fault with the people of the day – who were not very good at resisting peer pressure – they went with the crowd.

There’s something scarier though:


–         There is something in us that resonates in a bad way. Our culture has trained us – infiltrated us – to want it so badly.


–         THANKS

–         FAME

–         POPULARITY

–         SUCCESS.

That’s us! Not that we don’t believe we would have been caught up with the masses! We know that we are no different!

WHAT HASN’T CHANGED SINCE LAST EASTER – and the 24 before that I have been doing this kind of thing – reflecting on this story – is us!

We prefer the rejoicing and the celebrations!

We want EVERYTHING to be like Palm Sunday!

The WOW factor – which even in the church can mean WATCH OUR WORSHIP! Look how we do it!

And our visitors (apologies if you are one today – I’m sure this isn’t you!) – come to shop around for a church that looks successful! We’ve all been badly acculturated.

We live in this world of unbiblical values – and like a goldfish in a bowl can’t get the idea that we should talk about the water we swim in.

And it’s poisoned and polluted – it will eventually kill us.


And we often try TOO HARD – because perhaps there is still the little child in us waiting to hear the absent or silent parent’s voice – WELL DONE!

And for those of us in the ministry we so want to please others – whatever the cost!

But worse still we are Adam and Eve in the garden – listening to the snake – who offers us the opportunity to BE LIKE GOD! To take His place – He is the only one who should receive honour and power and dominion and praise! So if we are thanked for something – we can and should simply say PRAISE GOD!

Jesus’ needs.

Jesus needed voices of affirmation too – at his Baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and definitely in the Garden.

And on the cross it must have been tough – because the sin of the world and all our rubbish was so abominable – so terrible – that he would have felt alone and forsaken.

And yet even in his darkest our –his dark night of the soul – he can still say MY GOD MY GOD…


Perhaps the voice was silent on that day! Perhaps God said nothing. Not that He should have – not that He didn’t know that this was a temporary glitch that would end with the reality of suffering and blame! Recriminations! Guilt! Embarrassment! Imagine how Jesus’ closest friends felt after his death? We get a glimpse of this in the two on the road to Emmaus.

As elders in training recently  we read a short extract from a manual on leadership which talked about success and its trappings. I think success is a subtle slave!

Yes we want to do it right – to the best of our ability – we want to honour God! That’s subtle and tricky! Flash preachers say that too on TV!

But will we obey Him?

Will we like Jesus set our faces resolutely towards Jerusalem? (Luke 9:51).

Will we be resolute? Determined? Passionate enough about God’s Kingdom and wanting it to happen on earth just as it is in heaven SO MUCH that we would die for it?

I am intrigued at the hype over the latest Hollywood movie craze – the Hunger Games! If you don’t know the story – it’s based on a trilogy of books for teenagers. A post-apocalyptic dystopia – is the phrase used – a repressive society with a gladiator-type competition where it’s kill or be killed! And of course there is the character who sticks up her hand and volunteers to replace her little sister who is chosen to participate in this futuristic gladiator rumble created as a reminder of the control exerted by the state (not unlike the way the Romans used crucifixion).

I had a discussion with one of our youth leaders about the movie. There are good questions that come out of it for this generation!

The best question is this: IS THERE ANYTHING IN THIS GENERATION WORTH DYING FOR? And for our young people: Are you as hyped up about Jesus as you are about the Hunger Games and the number of days until the release of the sequel? 600 days is it?

Great questions. And of course – is there anyone really worth living for? Yes of course! The one who died for us is the one for whom we live. The question is – are you really prepared to follow this Jesus? Are you prepared to set your face resolutely towards your Jerusalem – whatever challenge God is calling you to? Look where it landed most of his first followers!

These are good questions. Let’s take some time to reflect on them now!

On your own (I) or in groups (II)

  1. Who would YOU die for?
  2. Who are you really LIVING FOR?
  3. What do you think should CHANGE in your life for you to be more like Jesus?

About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. Preaching and teaching remains a joy.. More recently I have been doing some part time voluntary prison chaplaincy.

Posted on March 31, 2012, in Sunday Morning Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Marianette Moller

    Thanks Robin! Good “pitkos” and “padkos” for the week!

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