Palm Sunday: The Road to Victory

“The Road to Victory” Luke 19:28-40 

I’m a child of the mid-west! I love corn on the cob, soybeans, dairy cows, John Deere Tractors, and the Indiana State Fair! It’s a special thing, I love living in the South and I’ve been here as long as lived in the mid-west, but there are some things you can never “take out” of the mid-west boy.  One of those things is the love and passion for “real” automobile racing, that’s right, “real” auto racing! Not where you paint up some street car and run in circles for a measly 180 mph, but where you let it all be seen, and you run a conservative 250 mph! That’s right my friends, the Indianapolis 500!

I attended my first Indy 500 in 1967 when I was 6 years old.  The infamous A.J. Foyt finally crossed the finished line on Monday, May 31st after a tornado warning and severe storms stopped the race on Sunday, May 30th.  It was the loudest, most populated event I had ever seen. It was hot, it was loud, but it produced in me a feeling that I’ve never forgotten nor released and relived as much as possible since that memorable day in 1967. I have missed 11 race days since 1967, which calculates that I have been to 37 Indianapolis 500’s! I have had seats from the wild and crazy infield, to plush box seats, but now my seat is in Turn 2, Row 11, Seat 26. I love my seat in Turn 2! You see the cars screaming out of Turn 1 with a quick back to the right as they enter Turn 2 and then a quick exit into the backstretch headed for Turn 3! What a rush! Then your imagination has to take over for the next 20.2 seconds until the cars cross the brick line and enter Turn 1 and greet you again in Turn 2. It’s a great seat until the final lap and you see that lead car enter in the backstretch and head for Turn 3, Turn 4, and the Checkered Flag, but as your head turns with a car going 246 miles an hour it is quickly “out of sight” and a lot can happen in the next 10 seconds on the road to victory!

In our text this morning from the Gospel of Luke we have another story about “The Road to Victory”!  We have a story that describes for us the triumphant entry of the King Jesus! The people are so very excited about this entry of a person who had done such great and wonderful things and now He was coming to their hometown! Now, he wasn’t coming in a super charged Penske racing machine, but he was coming on a donkey!!  A donkey that He had basically told his disciples to go and “take” from a man in the city. Yet another twist, why would a King come into a city on a donkey and not a horse?  Well, the fact is that most true political Kings would have come in on the best of Stallions and their best clothes. Jesus, however, in His humbleness, mounts a donkey, a servant animal, and enters the city. Yet, on His entrance, the disciples and those around Him place their cloaks on the ground as if to make it a Holy place for Him to travel.  

As Jesus continued down the path from the Mt. of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples (and followers) began to “praise God joyfully with a loud voice for “all that they had seen” saying, 

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

Then the “learned ones” the Pharisees in power said to Jesus (actually Rabbi), out of fear, “order your disciples to stop!” Jesus then answered them with a statement that caught them off guard and most likely irritated them beyond belief, he told them that even if the humans stopped praising God and were silent, the earth (the stones) would shout out!” This conversation in itself sets the great tone that this procession was so great, that all creation rejoices in Christ the King!

We have started Holy Week here at St. Timothy’s this morning! We have started the procession! We have started down the “road to victory”! However, the road is not always a pleasant road as we will see this week. We have a great and glorious entry of the King into our presence this morning! We give a holy and loud proclamation that Christ the King is amidst us this morning, but what will happen later this week?  

One of the great things I love about the Indy 500 is all the pomp and circumstance that comes before the actual race. The 500 Marathon, the 500 Parade, all the social events, the gathering of friends that I see on that weekend that I don’t see or sometimes even talk to, the other 363 days of the year. But when we gather, we know exactly what we are there for, to celebrate the road to victory! Sure, we all have our favorite racers, the Andretti’s, the Unser’s, the Foyt’s, the Hunter-Reays, and the list goes on and on.  We come wanting to celebrate a winner! We come with the anticipation of following someone down the road to victory!

As I have journeyed this Lenten season, I have had a nagging desire to celebrate Christ on the road to victory! But I have had to hold back because I knew the story wasn’t complete. We had not yet experienced the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we hadn’t had the arrest of my Jesus, we hadn’t had the trial of my Jesus, and we hadn’t experienced the dark death of Our Jesus! The Road to Victory was not complete! The road to victory is one that takes time, it takes patience, it takes discipline, it takes endurance, and it takes faith and longing! 

Then why is it that we have this beautiful entrance story of Christ to Jerusalem? I firmly believe it’s because we have the faith that Easter will prevail! The discipline, however, on the road to victory, is what is required of us this week! We are required to engage in the final days of Jesus’ earthly life in order to comprehend the victory! The racers in Indy have the entire month of May to prepare for that final trip to victory lane! We, as Christians, have had almost forty days to prepare for this Road to Victory. We have to be engaged in the journey in order to understand and appreciate that which will greet us next Sunday morning!

The next several days and the final days of Holy Week require us to be a part of Jesus’ life in a way that will transform us to become a New and Easter people! We have witnessed and participated in a parade this morning that sets the stage for the final week of our Saviour’s life! At least His earthly life. Now that we have had our pomp and circumstance and the joy of Kingly entrance it is now time to “walk with the King” this week and “stand with the King” in order that we can attempt to understand the suffering, death, and experience the resurrection of the one whom we claim to follow and believe!

This is not an easy week! This is not a joyous week! The joy will come in the morning, but it will be Easter Morning! Not before!

So once again I invite you to walk this Holy Week with the Saviour Jesus Christ, to walk this week with King Jesus! And to understand the “rest of the story”!  

I want to close this morning with the reading of a poem written by Frank Carl, entitled, “Twas the Sunday before Easter” (See PDF for poem).