Palm Sunday

March 24, 2002

Text:            Matthew 26:14-27:66 (emphasis on 27:15-26)

Title:     “March Madness”

Chris Mesa



            I            March Madness

-                     that’s the name for the NCAA basketball tournament

-                     I’ve watched a little bit of it

o       Duke vs. Indiana

o       Watched for religious purposes (Duke is United Methodist school)

-                     most entertaining thing for me was the last few seconds

o       Indiana Coach

o       roller coaster

§         Duke up double digits

§         Indiana comes back up by 4 with just seconds left

-                     Duke comes down, makes miraculous 3 point shot and a foul is called, giving Duke a free throw and a chance to tie game and send it into overtime

§         You should have seen the IU coach

§         Up cheering, ecstatic, arms in air when IU up by 4

-                     But when Duke scored and the foul was called, how quickly

those cheers turned into groans.

expression of joy vanished as he covered his                  grimaced face with his hands and literally fell to

the floor, as if he had been shot

-                     How quickly things change

-                     How quickly the thrill of victory can be transformed into the

agony of defeat

-                     Duke missed the FT, the ball bounced around and both coaches surely died a thousand deaths as the clock ticked those last 3 or 4 seconds away and IU came away with the win

-                     how quickly things change

-                     how quickly thrill of victory can be transformed into the agony of defeat


II            Golf

-                     recently played a round of golf with a gracious friend

o       won’t bother to tell you about all my bad shots

o       we won’t get out of here till 5pm

-                     I will tell you of my one success, my one thrill

o       par 3

o       8 iron

o       straight and true within 3 or 4 feet of cup

-                     on outside, acted as if no big deal

            it was ok, I’ll take it (golf etiquette, I suppose)

-                     on inside – Wow! I can make birdie

§         thrill

-then missed birdie putt

                                    on outside – Oh well

on inside   - agony, because I knew I wasn’t likely to get another birdie chance all day

            how quickly thrill of victory transformed to agony of defeat

            how quickly things can transform


            III            Not just in golf or basketball either

-                     a little over 6 months ago

-                     Sept. 11

-                     How quickly things changed

-                     How quickly our world changed

o       still changing

How quickly things change

-                     but not just a continent from here

-                     a man travels a local two lane road

-                     maybe the roads are wet, maybe he’s distracted by thoughts

of this next job, his next meeting, or even of getting home to his family, friends

o       another vehicle approaches

o       someone loses control

o       wrestling with their vehicle, trying to get back

into their lane

-                     the unthinkable happens

-                     a horrible collision

-                     and in the blink of an eye

o       someone’s world is transformed

o       life is transformed into death that quickly

o       with one turn of the wheel

o       how quickly things change

o       how quickly the joy, the promise of life can seemingly be

swallowed up in the darkness of death


IV            The crowds were cheering as Jesus came into town

-                     there was celebration in the air

-                     Matthew says:  the crowds were saying “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee”

-                     Victory celebration

o       Messiah has arrived

o       Deliverance is here

o       We’ve won

-                     it’s a victory parade

-                     Remember when the Cowboys were good?

o       won Super Bowl

o       several weeks passed – victory parade thru downtown Dallas, where fans greet their victorious warriors with cheers and celebration.

-                     that’s what this was

o       victory celebration

o       victory parade

-                     Jesus is here – prophet is here

-                     Messiah is here – Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

-                     We’ve won

-                     We’re the champs

-                     How long did it last?

o       The cheering

o       The shouts

o       The celebration

o       Hours?

-                     Just a few hours later, many of those same people who

cheered “victory for the son of David.”

-                     those same “supporters” who threw down their cloaks and

their palm branches in front of Jesus as he passed by

-                     many of those same folks were likely some of the same ones who now cried out

o       let him be crucified

o       Pilate had asked the crowd

§         The mob     

o       Who shall I release for you

§         Barabbas the criminal

·        Or Jesus your King

§         The guy you just had a parade for

·        Or this criminal

-                     how does the crow respond?

o       give us Barabbas

o       as for Jesus, let him be crucified


Apparently Dallas wasn’t the first to experience fair weather fans


How quickly things had changed for Jesus

How quickly thrill of victory had become agony of defeat

o       agony of death

o       it’s madness

§         March Madness


            V            How does Jesus respond to a fickle crowd

-                     does he change as they’ve changed

o       obviously, his philosophy of peace, his soft-spoken demeanor, his aversion to violence hasn’t worked

§         he’s to be crucified

o       so what will Jesus do

o       will he call down legions of angels to free him from his unjust captivity

§         will he take vengeance on the evil Pharisees who

have betrayed and framed him?

§         is it time to kick some Sanhedrin butt?

§         Does Jesus say that?

§         Does Jesus change, like everyone around him has changed?

§         how does he respond to a world changing around him?

-                     no change in philosophy

-                     no change in procedures

-                     no change in techniques


Jesus responds with just more of the same

-                     2 things

1                    minimize human suffering

·        the thief

                                                                                                                           i.      Jesus’ compassionate response to one who suffers, even as Jesus himself suffers

2                    obedience to God

·        the cross

                                                                                                                           i.      Jesus’ willingness to give his life


People ask me

-                     how will I as clergy respond to changing world

o       post enlightenment

o       post Sept 11

o       anthrax

o       Enron

o       Catastrophic, auto accident world we live in


-                     will I adopt new philosophy, utilize new techniques, develop new procedures


-            will I change as world changes?


My answer

-                     freshen up techniques

-                     tweak procedures


But stick with basics

1                    minimize human suffering

-                     see with open eyes

-                     respond to need

2                    obey – better than before


-                     we freshen our technology

-                     we tweak our procedures

o       100 years ago, electric lights and microphones just fantasies

§         now can’t do without


Other technology coming

-                     screens with visual cues, Powerpoint presentations

-                     multimedia presentations in worship

-                     modern music


these changes are coming (and soon)

-                     we freshen our techniques

-                     we tweak our procedures


but this doesn’t change

            we respond to changing world as Jesus did

                        minimize human suffering

                                    reach out to others

                                                family friends church community

                        obey the Father


What will you do

How will you cope with a world that can be transformed in the blink of an eye or with one turn of the wheel


Two things:

1                    minimize human suffering

2                    obey God


Isn’t that enough?