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April 9, 2006 (Palm Sunday)

Intern Pastor Joshua Graber

Mark 11:1–11a

What if you heard Jesus was coming to Honolulu? And that he was arriving this morning?

What if we’d all already heard reports from the neighbor islands on Hawaii Public Radio for several weeks now, that Jesus has been touring the country on the neighbor islands with some of his disciples, mostly fisherman actually? We’ve heard he’s doing miracles: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and proclaiming the good news to all. Some even said he is able to surf without a surfboard! And now, this morning, he’s finally coming to the big city.

Honolulu is lot like Jerusalem would have been: The center of power and commerce for the islands. The meeting place of many cultures. Home to the greatest military power in the Pacific. Home of the biggest tourist destinations where the world gathers. Imagine if Jesus were going to end his tour by coming here and we were all overjoyed by the prospect that he was coming here to stay!

How would we welcome him? What if he was coming in by plane from one of the neighbor islands? Would he fly Hawaiian, or Island Air, Aloha, or some mainline carrier?

Would we greet him at the airport and pile leis up to here (Webmaster’s note: holding his hand at near the top of his head) on him? So he could barely see?

Would we all drive over to the airport to pick him up or send one representative? Would he send for a car? Do you think he’d ask for a taxi, or a limo, or a Hummer, or maybe our suspicions are correct and he’s a bleeding heart liberal and would want an electric hybrid car, or maybe he’d ask specifically for a colt—I mean a Dodge Colt of course.

Imagine the anticipation: What will he say about the mayor dumping 48 million gallons of sewage into Ala Wai canal? What will he say about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement? What will he say about the outrageous price of real estate or the way the military built the roads? What would he think about the way missionaries brought their faith to these islands?

Oh this will be a reckoning...but whatever he says we’ll back him up, right? However he weighs in on these subjects, we’ll back him up, right?

He’ll be the new authority of course. We’d support him taking over the whole show as soon as he steps off the plane. It would be great if he would immediately take over the government and set things straight. He should be the king of all of Honolulu County. With Jesus in charge, Hawaii will finally be the paradise we all imagine with no problems what so ever! He’ll straighten everything out. And it will give everybody else in the world one more reason to know that Hawaiians are the most blessed of all peoples, right!

How would we greet Jesus? How would we welcome him if he were coming to this city? Would we still shout Hosanna, “God Save us”? And would he live up to our expectations?

Would we be disappointed when he rides into town on a colt not a limo? Would that crimp our style and make our hero look bad to the secular friends we invited to the event? And when his idea of leadership looks like submission in the face of corruption and power, would we question him openly? Would we be frustrated if he seemed to be showing weakness rather than strength? Would we be upset that he doesn’t destroy the forces of evil we see with lightning bolt of chi from his palms? Would we demand that he ascend to a throne of power, right here, with us, forever? And when push came to shove would we tell this Divine man the proper way he should be God for us?

Would we be upset if our hopes, our passion for Jesus, ended up on a cross? Would we understand what this meant? And why it needed to happen?

This day has two names. “Palm Sunday” begins with Jesus in glory and “The Sunday of the Passion” ends with his earthly disgrace and suffering as a servant for the world’s sins—dying before our very eyes when just days before the people of the city were full of hope and expectations for him to reign as an undeniable, invincible sovereign of a new and eternal kingdom on earth.

On this Sunday we recognize that Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Passion should be remembered on the same day because they represent two sides of our relationship with Jesus.

The side that wants Jesus to make everything perfect, to fix the world according to our standards; and the side that we know through the cross, that tells us this world is full of suffering and our God has planted himself in the midst of it with us through Jesus.

Why did things happen the way they did? Because we do need a Savior—not a new American idol or a Hawaiian idol, not a new king, but a savior.

The reason we shout “Hosanna” is the same reason we go to the cross. Jesus knew we needed a savior, and he was the only one who knew how to deliver that salvation.

We may not like where Jesus takes us. We may have preferred other paths than the one to the cross that he shows us. We want glory, but God has a different idea of glory.

It is on the cross where true glory is revealed for all the earth because it is on the cross where true love is revealed for each of us. And it is only through this glory that our calling as Christians is revealed. That journey, this entry into Holy Week, starts with our cry “Hosanna God save us!” Because we know it’s true not just for Jerusalem, but in this town, in this time, and in our hearts Amen.


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