Verse of the Day

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
The name Palm Sunday comes from the palm leaves, along with clothing and other honors strewn along Jesus’ path as He came in to Jerusalem the first day of the week before His crucifixion.  Of interest, only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion, every one else, including Jews, Romans and the Christians, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. The moon was almost full, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel.  Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate.  The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives.  They expected Him to come in and proclaim His rule.  And that He did, but not in the way the people were looking for.     Those who thought of Him as Lord looked for a Kingdom of this World to be established. Sunday was a day of triumph and fulfilled the anticipation of the Jews of a day for which they had waited four centuries.  The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture.  They were certain that He would free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule.  The Jews would finally be on top of the power pyramid.  They would rule the world under Him!  Yet, that was not to be.  The day in the temple!  Holy Cow!  Here their savior was throwing people out of the temple, not throwing the Romans out of Jerusalem.  They were sad to learn He came not to rule this world, for that time was not yet come; He came to give them the key to eternal salvation.  He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom.  They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life.  What a disappointment!

The Propers for today are found on Page 134-137, with the Collect first:

The Sunday next before Easter, commonly called
Palm Sunday.
The Collect.

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Good Friday.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle for today, which came from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, starting at the Fifth Verse of the Second Chapter.

Paul reminds us that if Christ, the Son of God, was obedient to God, we should so be.  Also, as a result of that obedience, God hath given Jesus the name to which all of earth should bow.

et this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This morning’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, starting at the First Verse of the Twenty-Seventh Chapter and tells the story of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death.  The Gospel was read by in parts, with Hap as the Reader, Jack as Jesus and Judas, Ryan as Pontius Pilate, Dru as Mrs. Pilate.  We all read the Crowd part together.

The normally powerful Gospel seems even more powerful when read as a play, so to speak.  The crowd’s part is very hard to read as it reminds us of our dark side.  If you did not make it to church today, please find someone to read this with in parts.  It is an uncomfortable experience that you nonetheless should not miss.

Gospel of Saint Matthew
starting at the First Verse of the Twenty-Seventh Chapter

Reader: The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew: When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying,
Judas: I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
Reader: And they said,
Crowd: What is that to us? see thou to that.
Reader: And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said,
Crowd: It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
Reader: And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying,
Pilate: Art thou the King of the Jews?
Reader: And Jesus said unto him,
Jesus: Thou sayest.
Reader: And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him,
Pilate: Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
Reader: And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them,
Pilate: Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
Reader: For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying,
Pilate’s Wife: Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
Reader:  But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them,
Pilate: Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?
Reader: They said,
Crowd: Barabbas.
Reader: Pilate saith unto them,
Pilate: What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?
Reader: They all say unto him,
Crowd: Let him be crucified.
Reader: And the governor said,
Pilate: Why, what evil hath he done?
Reader: But they cried out the more, saying,
Crowd: Let him be crucified.
Reader: When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying,
Pilate: I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Reader: Then answered all the people, and said,
Crowd: His blood be on us, and on our children.
Reader: Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying,
Crowd: Hail, King of the Jews!
Reader: And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying,
Crowd: Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Reader: Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
Crowd: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Reader: The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Jesus: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?
Reader: that is to say,
Jesus: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Reader: Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said,
Crowd: This man calleth for Elias.
Reader: And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said,
Crowd: Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
Reader: Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Moment of Silence
Reader: And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying,
Crowd: Truly this was the Son of God.

Please read this out loud.

Having read this, do you see yourself in the crowd?  The crowd were not a random group of bad Jews, the crowd is us.  There is a little or more of the crowd in each of us.  Uncomfortable?  Yes.  But, sadly very real.  Yet, if we realize this, we can act to make ourselves less of the crowd and more of the Christ.  For in us each is the crowd and the crown.  We chose, each of us, which it will be, crowd or crown.  One simple letter of difference, yet the gap between the two is bridged only by Christ.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly  contained in the forewords above. 

 Consider these words from the Collect:

… thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection…

In the Collect, we acknowledge that God sent His Son to be our Savior.  We ask His Help that we might follow the example Jesus set of humility and patience, both rare qualities in us, that we might be part of the resurrection.

Jesus set the standard of obedience to God’s will and He expects us to follow Him.  It is a hard thing to do.  But, do you think your path is harder than that set forth for Him as laid out in the Gospel for today?

Jesus knew what was coming, how much it would hurt both His Body and Soul as He went through with the crucifixion and subsequent decent in to Hell.   Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live.  If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you?

By the way, the Chief Priests, who had so much invested in their 613 laws, likely searched far and wide for the crowd to convict Jesus of the crimes they found against their system.  Their system, not God’s.  Remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see.  They would not see because what was being shown to them was a new way that would interfere with their comfortable way of living.  A new way that asked for them, no demanded of them, accountability unto God for their actions.  While that crowd was no self forming group naturally set on condemning Jesus, but a handpicked gang. 

Make no mistake, we are that crowd.  And, like Pilate, no matter what we say, we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility.  Thus, we must separate ourselves from the crowd.  Separate, that is to make ourselves holy, set aside.

When the time comes, how will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today we get a brilliant and inspiring sermon discussing the events of Holy Week.  Hopefully, you read last week’s explanation of Holy Week, your understanding of all that it means will grow with this sermon.  I beg you; take the time to read this:

Sermon Notes for PALM SUNDAY
1 April 2012 Anno Domini
St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox

The Collect

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Bible is populated with a number of Great Lone Hills that rise majestically from the dunes and deserts of the wilderness of sin. That which we approach today in observing the impending crucifixion of Christ is the great mountain of grace and mercy at Calvary – a mountain of unmerited mercy and grace for the chosen of God. It was foreshadowed by the interdicted sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in the same mountain range as that of Calvary. These smaller mountains of God's grace are like small foothills of promise that rise in growing measure toward the heights of Everest which is the true Calvary. The sacrifice of Christ was the consummation of all of God's prophecies of redemption, salvation, and atonement. It was the final act that opened the floodgates of mercy and the fountain of eternal life for all who are those of faith.

There was nothing reasonable about the sacrifice of Christ. He came to shed His life's blood for those who were at enmity with Him and His Father. As our fathers climbed each successive mountain of grace and prophecy, their perspective prevented their clear view of the ultimate mountain of greatest towering stature that loomed beyond the crest of the last lesser mountain that foreshadowed Calvary. Mount Moriah upon whose brow, Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac, precluded the full view of that sacrificial fulfillment in Christ. As well was the fullness of the Promise occluded from the view of Moses upon Mount Nebal.  It was the faith of Abraham, Moses, and others in the satisfaction of the benefits of salvation that made the coming reality of the redemption an accomplished and known fact centuries before its actual fulfillment.

As we begin our observance of Holy Week, it will be revealing to our souls if we view the significant events of the week in order of their occurrence:

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Lord's Day. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, (John 12:12) This was the day that the Passover Lamb was to be set aside and kept for its sacrifice on the eve of Passover. Truly, Christ coming into Jerusalem to be kept until the 14th Nisan was the full picture of our Passover in Christ. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  (1 Cor 5:7-8) The unleavened bread with which we observe the Passover represents the truth and sincerity of Christ our Passover.

It is noteworthy of the fickle and wicked nature of man that the same people who were shouting Hosanna at the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem were the same who would be shouting for His crucifixion less four days later.

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt (John 12:12-15)

Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to express His humility.  He had travelled to Bethlehem on a donkey at the beginning of His life.  At the close of His life, He again rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people cast palm branches before Him shouting "Hosanna" a word of Hebrew origin Ho - see us,  Yasha- na (save). This is why we refer to the day as Palm Sunday. It is the day that we, like Christ, begin our observance of Holy Week in preparation for our Passover in Christ. (Explain Passover: Exodus 12)

The Jewish rulers were enraged at the honor the people showed to Christ. They could have been part of the celebration, but chose to be part of the gloom and hate. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. They conceived in their hearts to destroy the source of their anguish. The devil, like governments, can tolerate no opposition.

Jesus would observe the Passover meal the night of His taking by the Jews in the Garden at Gethsemane. He would serve the meal to Judas, and the disciples, knowing beforehand that the disciples would flee from Him once the tables were turned against Him, and Judas would betray Him with a `kiss.' As Mary had anticipated His coming Passion (unwittingly), and bath the feet of Christ with ointment, Christ will now signal that act of humility by bathing the feet of His disciples at the Passover meal.

On the eve before His crucifixion, the Lord went into the Garden at Gethsemane to pray. He took His three closest disci0ples, Peter, James, and John, who could not keep awake even in the last moments of the life of Christ. We, too, cannot keep our attention on the Word even during the sermon most frequently. How vain and fickle are we.

When the Jewish soldiers came to take Jesus captive in the Garden, His identity was pointed out by Judas who went to Christ and kissed His cheek, thus betraying the Lord of glory with a kiss.  And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? (Luke 22:47-48)

That was a betrayal of eternal repercussions for Judas, and for us.

Night in the Garden
By Bishop Jerry Ogles

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. John 18:3

Out of the darkest Halls of Hell
Came the marchers with torches raised.
Into the Garden quiet and still
They wandered forlorn and crazed.

Up to the Sovereign Lord of Love,
Their spears shining bright in the mist,
With arrogant air and a hateful shove
They took Him who wouldn't resist.

Now to the head of Scribe and Priest
Was the Savior led that night,
And to Herod's Court and Pilate's Seat
Where Right gave way to the Night.

To the craggy heights of the Lonely Skull
They took Him and laid Him down
And into His Hands of Love they drove
Iron spikes with a terrible Sound!

On His Brow a thorny Crown He wore
And His flesh was torn and bruised.
His Heart of Grace grew cold and sore
As the Spirit of Life was loosed.

The world of woe a Hope has found
In the Promise made sure by His Death
And the Saints of God with Faith abound
In the Fields that our Lord has Blessed!

The courageous Peter drew a sword and severed the ear of one of the guards. He had much courage in the presence of Christ, yet, when separated from Christ in the Garden, that same Peter denied Christ shamefully three times in the night.

Christ (the true High Priest) was taken to the Jewish High Priest where He was mocked, beaten and ridiculed. He was blasphemed and the Sanhedrin presumed to interrogate the Son of God. Having falsely accused Him, they led Him to Pilate the Roman Proconsul.  Herod would be considered a pretty good Democrat or Republican today – he was quite politically correct. He found no fault in Christ, but wished to pass the buck by sending Jesus to Herod who also mocked Christ and tried to humiliate Him. He then returned Jesus to Pilate. King Herod and the Proconsul had previously been bitter enemies, but in their mutual estrangement to Christ, they became friends at this time.

The devil's children are united in their opposition to God always.

To be honest, even the Gentile, Pontius Pilate did attempt to set Jesus free, but the moment he attempted to do this, the Jews raged against him and threatened him with a charge against his allegiance to Caesar.

Pilate, after an established tradition of setting one prisoner free at Passover, decided to offer up Christ as the man to be set free. The Jewish rulers would hear none of this. They demanded, instead that Barabbas, a depraved murderer, be set free instead. Let me tell you here and now, that Barabbas represented each one of us. Because of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, we all, who were offenders against God and man, have been set free.

Please note this political decision of poor and cowardly Pilate: And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will. (Luke 23:13-25)

So Christ was beaten with many stripes, tortured and delivered up for crucifixion – a crown of thorns on His head to ridicule His claim to be the Son of God.

He was cast without the gate of Jerusalem as the Son of the Owner of the Vineyard. Along the Via Dolorosa, He carried His heavy cross – the cross intended for you and me.  He was driven all the way to Golgotha on Calvary's brow and crucified between to criminals. The events of that day will await further revelation in next week's sermon for Easter.

Are you ready to partake of the Communion of the Lord's Table?

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has an excellent command of scripture and is able to present it in a manner which is completely understandable to the rest of us.  This year’s sermons are being drawn from the book of Psalms, or, as it is known by Anglicans, "The Psalter" which begins on page 343 of the Book of Common Prayer.  Today he discussed the psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 24.  We think you will really enjoy it!

God the King of Glory
Psalm 24, Philippians 2:5-11, Matthew 27:1-54
Palm Sunday
1 April 2012

rant, O Lord, that by thy holy Word read and preached in this place, and by thy Holy Spirit grafting it inwardly in the heart, the hearers thereof may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and may have power and strength to fulfill the same.  Amen

Psalm 24. Domini est terra.

HE earth is the Lord’s, and all that therein is; * the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, * and stablished it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? * or who shall rise up in his holy place?
4 Even he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; * and that hath not lift up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, * and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek him; * even of them that seek thy face, O God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; * and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? * It is the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; * and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? * Even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Today we enter the last week of Lent. In times past, the prayers and fastings of Lent were even more devoutly observed during this week, and the people of God spent the evenings together in Church.  Thus, the Prayer Book gives Collects and readings for each day of this week, just as it does for Sundays.  I can imagine whole families and communities coming together in worship, prayers, and fastings, as they gathered around the Scriptures to read of the great work of Redemption accomplished by Christ Saviour.  Though we can't spend every evening in Church this week, we can still gather around the Bible in our homes, and, with prayer and fasting, read again the story of our Saviour's love.  I encourage you to do this.  With all that is in me, I encourage you to do this.

Sometimes called,  "Holy Week," the last week of Lent is also called "The Great Week," because of the great things our Lord accomplished for us, and "Passion Week," because it leads up to Good Friday and the passion, or, suffering of Christ.  It begins today with Palm Sunday, which recalls the Lord's "Triumphal Entry" into Jerusalem.  The people expected Him to form and army and drive the Romans out of Israel.  Thus they gave Him a war hero's welcome, casting the branches of palm trees on the road as a sign of honour.  The Collect expresses the love of God in sending His only Son to die for us. Philippians 2:5-11 reminds us of the unimaginable condescension of Christ in becoming a human and going to the cross.  Matthew 27 shows Him enduring these things for our salvation.  Psalm 24 is that great Messianic Psalm that looks forward to the day when the Lord Himself comes to Jerusalem and ascends the hill of Zion to take His place in the Temple.  "Lift up your heads, O ye gates... and the King of glory shall come in."

Psalm 24 pictures Israel processing up the hill of Mt. Zion to worship God in the Tabernacle, and, later, the Temple. As they ascend the hill they ask themselves, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall rise up in His holy place?"  The Psalm also pictures God coming to the Temple to receive their worship, and it reminds them to open the gates, that is, to be receptive to His coming.  The Psalm is easily seen to contain three parts.  First is the declaration of the greatness of God as shown in creation. Second is the announcement of who is worthy to enter the holy place and stand in the presence of God.  Third is the description of God entering the holy place to receive the worship of His people and to bless them with His presence and grace.  It is this third emphasis that is the cause for reading this Psalm today.  It pictures God Himself coming to the city of Jerusalem.  At His arrival, the gates are opened wide for Him to enter and ascend Mt Zion to be enthroned in the holy place and in the hearts of His people.

It is easy to see the relevance of the Psalm to the Triumphal Entry of Christ.  Christ fulfills the Psalm, for it is in Christ that our God literally entered Jerusalem and the Temple.  And it is by enthroning Christ that we enthrone God in our hearts as King and God of us.

All of this has been the introduction to the sermon, and I have three points I want to emphasise from the Psalm.  First, Christ is the King of Glory.  Second, Christ makes us clean so we can ascend the hill of the Lord and rise up in His holy place.  Third, open the gates of your heart and let the King of Glory in.

Christ is the King of Glory.  This Psalm could not be more appropriate to the life and ministry of Christ.  It is as though David wrote it with Palm Sunday in mind.  And, of course, it was in God's mind when He inspired David to write it.  Christ is our Creator.  "The world was made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made" wrote the Apostle John in the first chapter of his beloved Gospel.  Therefore, all that the 24th Psalm says of the glory of God, it says of Christ.  The earth is Christ's and all that therein is, the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein.  Christ hath founded it upon the seas, and stablished it upon the floods.  Paul calls Christ the "lord of glory" in 1 Corinthians 2:8.  James uses the same title for Christ in James 2:1.  And we remember, of course, more words from the Gospel of John, which, after telling us that the Word was with God and the word was God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, says, "and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14).  So when we see Christ riding into Jerusalem we are seeing nothing less than the presence of God entering into His city and ascending to His Temple.  He is the King of Glory.

Christ makes us clean that we may ascend into the hill of the Lord, and rise up in His holy place.  It is obvious that the hill of the Lord and the holy place of Psalm 24:3 mean much more than simply a spot on the face of planet earth.  The Temple and Mount Zion, and the Tabernacle before them, have always represented something much greater and much more glorious.  They have always symbolised the very presence of God Himself.  And the Psalm addresses the great and pervading need of all mankind when it asks, who can ascend into the presence of God, and who shall rise up in His presence?  And what is the answer?  He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.  But who can claim to be that person?  Who can claim to be good enough to dwell in the presence of the Almighty and All Holy God? Our hearts confirm what the Bible tells us clearly, "all have sinned," "the wages of sin is death," and, "it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this, the judgment."  But the same Word of God that teaches these things also says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."  How can this be?  The Bible tells us the blood of Christ "cleanseth us from all sin."  By going to the cross and bearing the wrath of God in His own flesh, Christ paid the price of our sin, and accounts us as righteous in the eyes of God.  That is His gift to all who believe in Him in Biblical faith, and that is the way sinners receive clean hands and a pure heart and are enabled to ascend the hill of the Lord and rise up in His holy place.  

Finally, open the gates of your heart, and the King of Glory will come in.  In the Psalm, God stands outside of the city of Jerusalem and the massive gates of the city are closed.  The gates had to be opened to "let" God in.  There is great significance in this.  It signifies that we have to open the gates of our hearts if the King of Glory is going to come into them.  And this opening to God is a way of life, not a one time thing.  We have to open our gates, and keep them open if we want the fellowship and union with God we need above all else in this world.  Lift up your heads o ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

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