Mission Statement: The Lutheran Church of Our Saviour desires to be a community of Christians whose faith is active in love.

What Mutes The Joy?

Palm Sunday

March 28, 2021

Luke 19, 29-44

It had started out as a regular morning for Josephus.

He awoke early dressed, had his breakfast and was headed out the door to go work in his workshop when Josephus spotted two thieves about to steal his young donkey.

Living near the gate to the city, Josephus was used to a certainly level of thievery … the crowds made it easy for someone to just grab something off a table or window sill and just keep on going. Things went missing all the time.

But these two thieves were pretty brazen.

Jacob get out here,” Josephus yelled to his brother. “Someone is trying to steal the colt!

 “Why are you untying it? Leave it alone,” Josephus asked the two men as they were untying the reins from the post.

He remembers the look on the strangers’ faces when they heard his question. The two men looked at each other and then one of them said,

The Lord has need of it.

Oh sure, the Lord needs my donkey,” Josephus thought to himself. “These are not the most imaginative thieves.

He was about to send his son to get the authorities, but something made him change his mind. Perhaps, it was their earnestness when they answered his question,

He gestured toward the city gate “Peace be with you.

A little while later, Josephus found himself in the crowd … watching a rabbi sitting on the back of his colt … riding toward the gate from the hill opposite the city.

People were tossing their cloaks on the ground in front of the pair … it was like a conquering general or a king was coming.

The people around the man and the colt were shouting something. At first he couldn’t hear it … but as the rider got closer, Josephus could understand:

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!

Josephus grabbed his cloak and threw it on the road with the rest.

Others in the crowd began joining in the shouting … soon Josephus found himself shouting, as well.

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!

Josephus’ heart was racing … filled with joy and a sense of hope.

Then, a few men from the crowd stepped toward the man on the colt.

Josephus could hear them plead with the man to quiet the people in the crowd … but the shouting continued and got louder as others around Josephus joined in …

It was becoming quite a celebration.

Josephus wondered why those people would try to mute the people’s joy … and … most importantly … how he would get his colt back.

The Pharisees haven’t been portrayed too well in Luke’s gospel.

Even though they’ve stayed close to Jesus and even invited him to meals … the Pharisees have grumbled and criticized … they tried to entrap Jesus … and they’ve sought to control Jesus and how he ministers … to whom he ministers … and to whom he teaches.

The Pharisees are all about protocol and sticking to what the community has come to expect. The Pharisees have been critical and questioning … but they haven’t been hostile toward Jesus … at least not to the extent the Temple authorities have been … and will be.

Now, they plead with Jesus to silence the disciples and stop the shouting. Luke hints that the disciples’ numbers include people in the crowd that lines the road into the city.

The joy of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem reverberates through the valley between the Mount of Olives and the hill where Jerusalem is situated. You can imagine the echoing cheers … growing louder with each voice that joins in.

You have to wonder why the Pharisees are so concerned about these joyous shouts?

Were they concerned that the noise would alert the Roman authorities and lead to a military crackdown because the Romans might believe there is a rebellion underway … or do they disagree with the royal welcome Jesus is receiving as he enters Jerusalem?

Are they jealous with the response Jesus is receiving?

Throughout Luke’s gospel, the Pharisees demonstrate that they are more concerned with order than they are with justice. They want Jesus’ teaching and his activities to be safe and absent of any hint of things that would rock the status quo.

In Luke, the Pharisees are flawed human beings, who, rather than proclaim the things they have seen, would rather keep silent and not upset those in authority.

Today is the final time we hear from the Pharisees in Luke’s gospel. But before they exit the scene, Jesus tells them that even if the people stopped shouting … the stones would take up the call and begin to shout, as well.

In other words, those who had been silent would suddenly give voice to what they had witnessed and experienced. Those who were silent would be the ones shouting “Hosanna!” at the top of their lungs.

Framed by Luke’s story at the city gates, who among us would be open to joining with the disciples and the crowd in shouting “Hosanna!” today? Would we be the stones upon which the church is built and the promise of the gospel is shared?

By riding into the city on the back of a donkey, Jesus is making a theological and political statement … declaring himself the long-awaited king that had been promised by the prophet … something the disciples travelling the road with him proclaim … something we too are called to proclaim through our words and actions.

We had been called into a period of reflection and repentance during the past few weeks of the Lenten season.

It is a season of preparation.

It was when we had the opportunity to identify and discard those things that hinder our service to others and our relationship with God … those things … perspectives … attitudes … expectations … that keep us from embracing or sharing the grace we have received.

The things that … like the Pharisees today … seek to mute our joy … our willingness to shout “Hosanna!” over Jesus’ entry … identity … and place in our lives.

And to discard those things that have us act like the Pharisees in today’s story … trying to silence the voices of others … to keep their stories from being heard … to remain mute stones in the life of the world.

Once we shed these obstructions, then we can give full voice to our faith and full expression to the gift we have been given through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

And that would be unbridled joyful noise indeed.

Hosanna!

AMEN

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