Living Water Community Church - Sunday Worship
Jn 12.12-19 - “The True Light Was Coming into the World”
This morning I want to look at Palm Sunday in light of the whole story of John’s Gospel. But before we do that, I want us to become a little more involved in the drama. So we’re going to do a little call-and-response. Stand up, and repeat after me:
Blessed is the coming one! Blessed is the coming one!
The one who come in the name of the Lord! The one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the king of Israel! Blessed is the king of Israel!
Now everyone can take a seat.
The second paragraph of Jn reads:
The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--to these he has given the right to become God’s children. (Jn 1.9-12)
This is how John begins his Gospel story of Jesus’ life. Why does he begin this way, with these words? More importantly for us today, what do these words have to do with the story we’re celebrating today, with the Palm Sunday crowds going to meet Jesus as he comes to Jerusalem?
The world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. Jesus, who John calls the true light, was coming into the world. But the people living in our world, they refuse Jesus. They don’t welcome him; they turn him away. How does this fit with the crowd waving palm fronds on the road to Jerusalem?
I should admit: Palm Sunday’s always left me a bit confused. The church spends the six weeks before Palm Sunday identifying with Jesus’ approach to the cross, during Lent. We find ways to simplify our lives, to leave room to reflect on them; we fast; we mourn as the tragic shadow of the cross stretches out over us. But then, just before the end of this quiet season, there’s Palm Sunday--and we’re out singing in the streets, breaking out the party favors, shouting down the house. It’s only five days later when we’re back to mourning and contemplation as Jesus dies on a cross. Palm Sunday doesn’t seem to fit very well.
The world did not recognize him.