Based on: Luke 19:28–40
Take a look at this building. Look at how it was made. Do you see that curved ceiling? It would have been so much easier and cheaper to make it a slanted ceiling that followed the pitch of the roof, but think about how that curved ceiling reflects your voices as you praise God with your songs in with your spoken words. The people who built and designed this building were thinking about praising God. Look at what else they did. As you walk around the building do you see all the stone that was laid as a foundation for this building? And all the brick that was laid on top of it? They intended to praise God in this building for many years. Look at how the pews are gently curved so that no matter where you sit your body is facing a little more directly toward the baptismal font and the altar and the lectern and the pulpit. The pews are curved to focus your attention on those things that God uses to give you and bring you his grace. As you can imagine it would be cheaper to build straight pews. Also take a look at the windows. Each one is a reminder of one of the truths of God’s word.
There are so many details in this building that just simply cry out God’s praises. The stones, the brick, the ceiling, the pews, the windows, and more continue to speak on behalf of the people who built this building. It is a testimony to their love for God’s word.
Praise. That’s what the people of Jerusalem were doing on that first palm Sunday. They cried out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” And “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Not only their words, but every palm branch laid down and every coat placed in the donkey’s path was an act of praise for their king.
And this was there king. They recognized him and as their king, because God told them exactly what to look for through the prophet Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, oh daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” They saw the prophecy being fulfilled.
He deserves praise. This is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the one who performed miracles, healed the blind, made the lame to walk, even raised the dead. He is the one who saw Nathanael sitting under the fig tree before he met him, he knew this suffering that was coming, he also knew exactly where to tell his disciples to find that colt he was riding.
Yes, he deserves praise. He deserved the praise of those first Palm Sunday worshipers and he deserves the praise of the Palm Sunday worshipers right here at St. John’s today.
But take a look at the praise of those on the first Palm Sunday. How many of those continued to praise him on Good Friday? Where were the palm branches and coats to cover the path as he carried the cross? It seems that their praise was only for when times were good. Even his disciples left him when the suffering started.
What about the Pharisees? They had no praise for Jesus, but they claimed to worship God. They continued to go to the temple. They continued to offer praise, but that praise ended up only being praise for themselves because they rejected the one God sent. If you are not praising God in the way he wants to be praised, then you are not praising God!
Now look at our praise. It is Palm Sunday and we are here in this beautiful sanctuary giving our praise to our glorious King, but what about the difficult times? When sickness or tragedy comes do we blame God or give him praise? We give him praise here on Sunday morning, but what about out there when being a christian becomes uncomfortable? Do we give him praise or save ourselves from embarrassment?
What about praising him in the way he wants to be praised? How does God want to be praised? Simple, study his Word and tell others. That’s right, the best way to give praise to God is to listen to what he tells you about your salvation in his Word and then to share that with others.
Jesus deserves our praise. But if the love of God grows cold in our hearts and praise fails to flow from our lips, others will pick up where we left off. That would be good for them, but bad for us. It would mean that God has removed his word from our presence. It would mean we no longer cherish God’s Word and so he has gone elsewhere. It would be a judgment on our unbelief. We don’t want that to happen.
What will these stones say of us and our praise 100 years from now? If we fail to take the opportunities God gives us to draw closer to him, then this church will one day become empty or it will become full of people who offer praise our God doesn’t want.
May that never happen. May we praise God by cherishing his Word and studying all that he has done for us, not just on Sunday morning but as a regular part of our daily life.
That praise doesn’t happen often enough in our lives, does it? Yet, our failures gives us all the more reason to praise our King. He received praise from a less than praiseworthy crowd and endured the self-praise of the Pharisees so that he could go to Jerusalem to be their Savior.
He came to Jerusalem as a king, not to conquer it’s people, but to be conquered by it’s people. And in being conquered he conquered sin and death and Satan for them and for us.
He did not come just to receive praise on Palm Sunday. He came to serve. He came as one who did not seem worthy of praise by the world so that he could receive our praise by purchasing us with his blood. And he came so that he might receive our praise, not just for a lifetime, but for an eternity.
He deserves our praise on Palm Sunday and every other day of our lives. Our Palm Sunday King gave his life to purchase us for his kingdom. May we continue to cry out our Lord’s praises and may these stones and this building testify to our praise.