“From Hero to Zero” (Palm Sunday)

April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday

Matthew 26:47-56

“From Hero to Zero”



Intro:  On Sunday they hailed him as their hero.  They expected Jesus of Nazareth to be the king they imagined him to be.  A king who would overthrow the Roman government and Make Israel Great Again!  But that was never his intention and no one, not even his closest friends and disciples grasped what he was really about.  


Sunday was a tremendous day in the life of Jesus.  An encouragement?  A reminder that people were looking for a better way?  A statement that they were putting their faith in him?  Jesus received their adoration and praise all the while knowing that he would not be delivering what they were anticipating.  For the time, he was their hero and he let that be.


Jesus spent Sunday through Wednesday nights in Bethany.

Monday and Tuesday he went into Jerusalem and attended to matters in the temple as well as ministered as he always had.

Wednesday is known as the “silent day”.  Jesus stayed in Bethany.  Perhaps it was the calm before the storm?

On Thursday he sends Peter and John to set up for the Passover meal and by sundown Jesus joins them in the upper room for the meal - his last meal.  After the meal he washes the disciples feet and then goes out to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  It is there that he is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Sanhedrin.  Let’s read this account from Matthew 26:45-56.


From there he is taken to the house of the Hight Priest and court is convened.

Peter betrays him by denying that he ever knew him.

As Friday dawns, 

    •    First trial, before Annas [nightime hours]; Annas is looking for an accusation, biding time till Sanhedrin is gathered at High Priestly villa

    •    Second [and primary] trial before Sanhedrin, Jesus is condemned, misused

    •    Third trial, immediately at dawn [meanwhile, Peter denies Jesus a third time; Jesus looks upon him]; the condemnation repeated, then Jesus taken to Romans

    •    Fourth trial before Pilate 

    •    Fifth trial before Herod - during which Herod wants Jesus to do a trick for him/perform a miracle of some sort

    •    6th trial before Pilate with the following results:

    ◦    Jesus is scourged; the city cries, "Crucify Him or we will tell Rome!"

    ◦    Jesus is finally turned over to be crucified

    ◦    Jesus mocked (Roman soldiers); crown of thorns

    ◦    Judas hangs himself

    ◦    Jesus bears His cross to gate on north of city and is crucified around 9 am


As Jesus hangs on the cross through the morning and early afternoon, he is taunted and accused and abused.  He speaks seven times and through the centuries Christians have hung onto these words:


Jesus' Seven Sayings from the Cross

    •    "Father, forgive them..."

    •    Speaking to one of the thief's he was crucified with, ”Today you will be with me in paradise"

    •    Speaking to his mother, ”Woman, here is your son and

        to John he said “Here is your mother”. [darkness: noon – 3 pm]

    •    "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

    •    "I thirst"

    •    "It is finished"

    •    "Into Thy hands..."

The Death of the God-Man

About 3 pm; veil torn, rocks rent; some graves opened and people rise [to mortality] and go into the city

    •    Jesus' side pierced to prove that he is dead and he is spared the breaking of his legs - this was the usual way the Romans sped of the death of those being crucified so that they couldn’t raise themselves up to breathe.  This also went to fulfill the Messianic prophecy that none of his bones would be broken.

    •    Passover lambs slain in temple

    •    Jesus buried by sundown




    •    At the request of the Jewish leadership, Pilate grants a guard and sets a seal on the tomb of Jesus



From hero to zero in the course of a week. Sobering.  I wonder what part of the agony Jesus felt the most?  Was it the physical beatings or the betrayal by his disciples.  The last words of the passage we read from Matthew says: “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.”  Talk about feeling deserted!


I would wager that we’re about the same as the disciples.  We cheer on Jesus when we are expecting good things from him.  But when we are disappointed that our anticipated hopes have not been met we turn. We doubt. We run. We accuse. 2000 years later, we help to pound the nails into his hands and feet.


This week in the history of Jesus, reminds us of our own doubts and fears.  It poses the question, “Do we really trust that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords?” And do we believe that he died to forgive us for our sins? Do we believe that he hears our prayers and answers them?  Do we believe that he conquered sin and death for all time - for us here and now?


How we live our life reveals the answer.  What is your life saying about you? I encourage you this week to tend to the care of your soul.  Don’t worry about what others are and aren’t doing around you.  Be attentive to your heart and mind and tongue and ask constantly, “Am I living like I believe?”


It seemed appropriate to have our Prayer of Confession after the sermon this week.  I invite you to enter into it with mindfulness.  And in the silence that follows, I encourage you to listen for God to speak to your heart. What might he call you to do this week in regard to the living out of your faith?  Let us pray.