Palm Sunday: Jesus Shows Up

by Rev. Timothy C. Cartwright

Several years ago, The Lutheran Witness printed a humorous story submitted by Rev. David R. Liefeld:

It was Palm Sunday, but because of strep throat, Sue’s 3-year-old son had to stay home from church with a baby-sitter. When the family returned home carrying palm branches, he asked what they were for.

“People held them over Jesus’ head as He walked by,” his mother explained.

“Wouldn’t you know it,” the boy fumed. “The one Sunday I didn’t go, Jesus showed up!”

In the addiction and treatment world there is a set of steps that guide individuals who are on a path of recovery and restoration. Step 2 is “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Two former Texas governors, Ann Richards and former president George W. Bush, each addressed personal challenges with alcohol. Anthony Hopkins, Brett Favre, Whitney Houston, Samuel L. Jackson, Betty Ford, and Stephen King also have had issues with use and abuse. All now have lives that are restored to health and sanity.

In our own lives, there are times when we conclude that we have missed Jesus’ arrival. We lay sick in our beds with strep throat. We despair. Then, Jesus “shows up!” Jesus is the “power greater than ourselves” who arrives to restore us to sanity and wholeness.

Read Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12. Notice the similarities and differences in these “Palm Sunday” accounts. Palm Sunday, the day we recognize Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, often called the “Sunday of the Passion,” is the day when Jesus “shows up.” He rides into Jerusalem on a young donkey. His entry is hailed with sounds reminiscent of “Hail to the Chief.” The crowds shout “Hosanna!” and wave palm branches.

Even before His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus “shows up” in the lives of people. In the following texts, who were they, and how did Jesus “show up”?

Luke 19:1–10

____________________________________

____________________________________
Mark 10:13–16

____________________________________

____________________________________
John 11:17–37

____________________________________

____________________________________
John 11:38–44

____________________________________

____________________________________
Mark 10:46–52

____________________________________

____________________________________

Mr. Mister, a secular pop-culture band of the 1980s, in a chart-topping song entitled “Kyrie,” asked for mercy (Kyrie eleison—“Lord, have mercy”) over a dozen times as they portrayed the challenges associated with life’s trek. Who will show up in the middle of our lives? Jesus shows up. He brings mercy and forgiveness. He enters Jerusalem and our circumstances. He comes to bring us back into a right relationship with God, with ourselves, and with our neighbor. He restores integrity, hope, our hearts, and our very lives. “Hosannas” and a triumphal donkey ride inaugurate Holy Week. Yet, the week gives way to shouts of “Crucify Him!” However, we now cry with blind Bartimaeus, “Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy!” Palm Sunday is a message of hope. He will rise!

About the Author: Rev. Timothy C. Cartwright is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Ashland, Ore.

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

Comments are closed.
LCMS News & Information