Turning a Palm into a Cross
It's Palm Sunday, it comes round every year and it seems to have
come round a lot quicker this year, that's because of the way the
early church fathers decided to configure the Christian year. They
decided that Easter would be on the first Sunday, after the first
full moon, after the spring equinox. And it's probably the earliest
it can be this year.
Palm Sunday, is such a turning point a landmark, it seemed to be the
moment when Jesus was accepted by the world, the moment when his
peers turned up and accepted him as the messiah. And then so soon
after that we have the cry for his crucifixion, so soon after that
We've seen this morning how easy it is to turn a palm frond into a
cross and we've all done it, I would dare to suggest this morning
that we do that every day of our lives, that every day we turn that
palm frond of welcome into a cross for Jesus.
Some of you who were at the prayer breakfast yesterday morning know
we had different conversations at the table. At our table the
conversation turned around and as we were talking someone mentioned
'you know every morning when I get up I pray, lead me today Lord,
keep me in your way, I commit my life to the Lord and usually within
twenty minutes, I fall.' I was impressed with that brother, I was
impressed that he lasted twenty minutes, I was. On most mornings
I've fallen before I get out of bed, wrong thoughts, wrong ideas,
wrong desires, even the thought, 'I'd rather stay in bed this
morning than get up and face the world', how often do we turn that
palm frond into a cross in our lives every day.
Because really, no sooner have we accepted Jesus, no sooner have we
recognised who He is and what He has done for us, we leave and we go
our separate way and sin and crucify Him all over again as we fall
into sin and fall into old habits.
We're all good at getting caught up in the euphoria of the moment,
as were all those people on that first Palm Sunday. We're all good
at picking up the palm leaves and waving it about. We've had a
marvellous time of worship this morning, and we've all been
praising. Praise God Hallelujah, hosanna to the Son of David. And
then we take the first step towards making that cross that we did
We break off, we break off from the Palm, and we lose our source of
strength and we lose our source of everything that we need in our
lives and we start making that cross.
It was easy to make that cross this morning once the frond was off
the tree, we couldn't do it if it had still been attached to the
Last week I spoke about the passion that Jesus showed for us, in
going to the cross, it wasn't just love, it wasn't just care, it was
passion, and I spoke about how we need to have that passion in our
You know the world out there is full of people with passion. People
are passionate about so many things. Today as some of you may know
is the first Gran Prix of the season. It already took place because
it was in Australia, and if you didn't hear it Lewis Hamilton won.
People get passionate about motor racing, millions upon millions
will have been glued to the TV screen at some unearthly hour of
three or four o'clock in the morning to see cars going round and
round and round and round and they're passionate about it.
People get passionate about football, even the American variety,
they get passionate about Rugby, there will have been hundred of
thousands watching the 'six nations' action yesterday. Even cricket
get's people passionate, can you believe that? Even cricket gets
people passionate, which begs the question what do we mean by
passion? The dictionary says passion is a strong emotion, a strong
enthusiasm. So what are we saying, we are saying that when Jesus
showed passion for us, He showed emotion, He showed enthusiasm. The
word enthusiasm in turn means eagerness and interest, that's my God.
He's enthusiastic about me He's eager and interested in me. He went
to His death with enthusiasm because He knew my needs.
And because He is passionate about me, I hope I can be passionate
about Him. Because He is enthusiastic in about me, I hope I can be
enthusiastic about Him. Because He's interested in me, I hope I can
be interested in Him.
I don't know about any of you but that video that we watched this
morning, 'The Bridge' spoke to me. It's not a new video. It's not a
new story. It's one that we've seen or heard before. But it's one
that gives a very clear and strong message; the father had to make a
choice. There are always choices in life, the life of his son, his
son who he loved dearly, against the lives of all the people on the
train. Which takes me back to Star Trek, and that scene in the Star
Trek movie the wrath of Khan where Spock says, 'the needs of the
many outweigh the needs of the few.' Actually in the case of the
video and in the case of the cross, the needs of the many outweigh
the needs of one. And lest we forget what those needs are, they are
the need of life, because without that sacrifice there was only
I don't know if you noticed the people who were on the train in the
video; it said it was the lonely, the angry, the selfish, the
hurting, and the addicted. They are no different from the people
outside the doors of this church this morning. They are no different
to some of us in here this morning
For them, and for us, Jesus died on a cross, with enthusiasm, with
eagerness, with interest in our salvation, and to me that's mind
boggling. When I watched that video and I saw the anguish on that
father's face, the sorrow, the despair, I couldn't help wondering
what God must have felt like, on that day we call Good Friday, over
two thousand years ago. And you'll say to me well God is God, he
doesn't fell like that. Well yes He is, and Jesus is God, and last
week we read that Jesus wept
And I can't imagine this passionate God watching as the crown of
thorns was placed on His son's head, as they stripped Him, and
whipped Him, as the nails were driven into His hands and His feet,
as the spear was thrust in His side. I can't imagine this passionate
God not weeping, weeping for His son and weeping for a lost humanity
that put Him on that cross.
Earlier this week we had a visit from a class from St Christopher's
School, I was asked to tell them about the church. I was also asked
to tell them about the various things around the church the
instruments, the bible, the cross, the flowers, the stained glass
window, and then to explain about communion. So I explained to them
about the last supper, I told them about the cross; I told them
about Easter and the empty tomb. And at the end they were all asked
questions if they wanted to ask questions, and children being
children asked some interesting questions.
One of them asked me how often I got paid, I was tempted to say 'not
often enough', but I didn't. Another wanted to know if I could count
in twos, I could. One of them asked me what I did, I tried to
explain that, not easy to a child. Another one asked me how I got
the job. One of them asked me what my favourite song or hymn was,
and I had to think about that, but I didn't have to think for very
long, because for as much as I like the contemporary music, I love
all the songs we sang this morning, and as much as I like the
Hillsongs type of music, my favourite hymn has to be one that says
what I feel, and when I think of what God in Jesus has done for me
on the cross, my favourite hymn has to be;
When I survey the wondrous cross,
on which the prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
When we look at the cross in our humanity, when we look at the cross
with human eyes, there isn't much wondrous about it, is there? It's
bleak, it's dark, it's a place of sorrow, a place of pain, and often
when we look at it a place of guilt because we see on it our sin.
But what the verse is saying is the essence of our calling, 'I pour
contempt on all my pride'. We tend to think of pride as being, '
thinking too highly of ourselves' but there's so much more to pride
than that, it's arrogance, it's presumption. The arrogance that
says, 'I can do things my own way', the old Frank Sinatra song, ' I
did it my way'. The arrogance that says, 'I know best'. The
presumption that sometimes says, 'it's about time God saw things
through my eyes, through my perspective'. ' God doesn't understand
what I'm going through', and God says, 'yes I do understand, I do
understand, that's why I made provision for your salvation, before
the beginning of time'. 'Not to give you an easy life on this earth,
not to make everything run smoothly for you, not so you can enjoy
yourself and do what you want, but to make it possible for you to
spend eternity with me in heaven, as opposed to spending eternity in
the fires of hell.'
The hymn goes on;
Forbid it Lord that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ my Lord,
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his love.
And I often wonder 'Do we?', 'Do we?' We sing it, but 'Do we?' are
we prepared to sacrifice the vain things that charm me most, think
what those are, the things that attract you in the world, the things
that please you, the things that give you joy, are you prepared to
sacrifice them to His love, the way that He sacrificed His life for
you on His cross.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down,
did e're such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.
Nothing in all creation can compare to that love that we see in the
cross of Jesus, that love which God has shown to us in Jesus, which
is why nothing in all creation can demand the love, the respect, the
worship and the adoration which we owe Him, and which we so often
deny Him, as we continue to crucify Him in our lives every time we
turn to our old ways, and do things our way.
And the final verse of the song says where it should all be going;
Where the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small,
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Because at the heart of the message of the cross is the fact that we
can be redeemed, that we can be changed, that we can be saved. Like
that girl in the video that we watched this morning could overcome
her addiction and turn her life around, we can know new birth, but
only if we allow Him to work in us, only if we stay attached to the
tree, and the moment we come away from it we start building a new
I don't know what's going on in any of your lives, I know what goes
on in mine, I know all the pressures, I know the contradictions, I
know the sins, I know the desires that inhabit my mind, and I know
that I constantly need to come back to this cross, constantly need
His help to sort myself out, If I am going to stop the sinful nature
that is in me control me and build a new cross all the time.
I hope that today I can encourage you, we are coming up to Good
Friday, it's not that we don't remember His death every day of the
year, it's not that we don't remember His resurrection every day of
the year, but we are in a time of year when we especially remember,
especially remind ourselves of His sacrifice. And I hope that you
can join with me this week in a new decision, a new desire, a new
focus, to seek that passion that we talk about, that passion that we
sang about this morning, to seek His Spirit to fan into flame that
passion in our lives to regain that enthusiasm and that eagerness,
to follow in the path that He has marked, which is not an easy path,
a path that He has marked which leads to suffering and a cross, but
a path that He has marked which is a way of life and a way that
leads to life, and a way that others need to know of because they
need that life, like we needed it when we first came into a
knowledge of Him.
I encourage you this week, spend time with Jesus, spend time seeking
His face, spend time seeking His will for your life, spend time
seeking His empowerment for your life that you might be able to live
for Him, as He died for you, with enthusiasm.