SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY
5TH SUNDAY IN LENT/PALM SUNDAY
APRIL 14, 2017
Title: “What is your Attitude?”
Text: “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19: 37-38).
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:28-40.
The story is told of how every day, an old man sat in his rocking chair with his granddaughter outside a petrol station, greeting tourists who passed through their town. One day, a man who seemed to be looking for somewhere to live asked, “So what sort of town is this?” “What sort of town do you come from?” the old man replied. The tourist answered, “Everyone criticises everyone. It’s really bad.” “That’s just the way it is here,” said the old man. A few days later, another man asked, “So what sort of town is this?” “What sort of town do you come from?” the old man replied again. The tourist answered, “It’s great. Everyone gets along so well.” “That’s just the way it is here,” said the old man. After the man left, the granddaughter said, “How come you told the first guy this was a bad place to live, and the second guy this is a great place to live?” “Because wherever you go, you take your attitude with you, and that’s what makes it good or bad.”
We all have attitudes about the things in our lives. We can have a positive attitude. We can have a negative attitude. We can have an attitude about love or an attitude of hate. We can even have an attitude of indifference. What is important is the attitude we have about the circumstances we encountered in our lives. Our attitude is what cause us to view the circumstances in our lives as a blessings or a curse. Our attitude will determine situations that will affect us, our families, those around us, and even our lives. Our attitude is a choice. Each one of us will not know what we will run into, but we can determine our attitude towards whatever it is, or whatever it is going to be.
Our attitude is a choice. It is something that’s very valuable, because it lets us be in control of how we feel inside. If attitude was not a choice, we could not follow Christ, because Jesus requires of us some unexpected attitudes in certain situations. Have you ever had anyone tell you, you need to change that attitude or get rid of that attitude as soon as possible? Having a bad attitude or a poor attitude can really destroy relationships and will hurt us in the long run.
Charles Swindoll said this about attitude, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of Attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important: than facts, than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do, than appearances, than giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our Attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”
Palm Sunday is a time to examine our attitude towards each other, but more importantly towards Jesus. The first Palm Sunday occurred during the PassOver. Jerusalem is filled with people from all walks of life. It was not about a parade. It was not about a king coming to town. It was about a prominent Jewish festival. But Jesus appeared in the picture. Jesus chose to ride a donkey on that day. The people were surprised. God word tells us in the four synoptic gospel that Jesus riding on a donkey during the Passover “cause great stir in the city.” Huge crowd of people had gathered. In the crowd were people with different attitudes. There were those who are committed, and true followers of Jesus. These were people who have flaws and weakness but wants Jesus to rule their lives. They had the attitude of gratitude, attitude of praise, and attitude of service. There were others in the crowd who might encountered Jesus, heard about his miracles, but not the king they were expecting. They were excited about a Messiah, but were disappointed about Jesus. Those with positive attitudes towards Jesus is what matters the most. Let us see this morning how our attitude match up with those in the crowd.
Now Jesus has less than a week to live, and He knows it fully well. He has finally decided to make it known publicly that He is the long awaited Messiah, the King that God’s people has been waiting for, for hundreds of years. We read in the Old Testament a prophecy about a King who would come into the city riding on a colt. Zechariah predicted it would happen over 500 years before Jesus was born. The time had finally come and Jesus was ready to take the next step. Can he count on everybody’s cooperation?
He’s starting to get ready for his whole reason for being, which was to obey God the Father. He calls his disciples and chooses two of them. In Luke 19:30-31 Jesus said, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ’Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ’The Lord needs it.’” Now the word Lord here, is the name for God which is found in the Old Testament.
So Jesus is saying, tell them “God is about to do something great with it” Now here’s the first opportunity for an attitude. Suppose you had been there as one of the disciples. Would you have gotten upset and became envious that Jesus chose those two and not you? Some kind of miracle is going to take place with this colt. Why do they get to be the ones to go?
Few things are as damaging to the body of Christ, than people having the attitude, “I should have gotten that part, or my child should have had that part.” The attitude of envy causes us to say things about others that should never be said. We question their motives, their hearts, and their intentions. We forget that we are called the body of Christ, not the interchangeable parts of Christ. Jesus does not treat us the same, because He has different roles and ministries for each of us to fulfill. Some of us would have said, “if he was going to do it for the two, then he should have done it for the 12. That’s the only way to be fair.”
Sometimes we get upset with others over God’s call on their lives, when we do not understand what price they have paid to get to where they are. Sometimes God cannot use us in the spotlight, because we’re unwilling to pay the price to get there. Now here are these two disciples are going on the word of Jesus. As they are walking along, one of them probably said, “So how much money did Jesus give you for the colt.” The other said what, “I thought he gave you the money to pay for it.” What’s our attitude when God calls us to do something, but God does not give us anything to accomplish it with except His Word. All we know is that God told us to do it.
At the heart of Palm Sunday is Jesus’ desire to bring peace into our lives and to be willing to carry whatever burdens in life that are weighing us down. But the only way Jesus can complete his desire, is for us to allow him to march in and take over without having to fight us all along the way. Have you ever told God, ”you can march over there, but don’t come this way because I’m not yet ready to surrender.” Wherever Jesus is not fully welcome in our lives, is where the real battle is taking place for our attitudes. We’re doing all kinds of things hoping to find some peace, but God is saying, until you get your attitude together right here, you shall not have peace as you seek for it.
When the two disciples returned with the colt and the donkey, they placed their coats and garments upon the young colt to serve as a saddle for Jesus. This is one attitude of those who wanted to immediately offer Jesus the best that they had. They took off their coats and clothing and begin to lay it down the pathway as to form a royal carpet for the animals to walk on. They were not concerned that their clothes might not be reusable or that they would not be able to get them back. Their focus was on going all out to honor Jesus Christ. Is this your attitude when it comes to serving God? Lord you can count on me to give whatever I have without thinking about it. This was the attitude of the group that gave ‘above and beyond’ what was expected.
Then there was another group with another attitude at the parade that day. It’s the attitude of giving something good, even if it was not the best they could give. They kept their coats and clothing, but they were willing to go and cut down the palm branches and lay them down as a means of honoring and respecting Jesus. They are in the parade and they look pretty good.
This is where many people are in the church today. They’re doing a pretty good job, and investing themselves in the work of the Jesus, but they haven’t decided that all that I am truly belongs to God. They believe it as a head knowledge, but it is not a reality in their hearts. They are still not convinced that doing things God’s way is the best way to handle their lives.
Then there were those who were there, but they never actually became a part of the parade, they just sort of stood alongside the road and cheered a little bit. They were willing to take notice of Jesus and to even give him a handclap, but they were too concerned with other things to actually get involved. As soon as Jesus passed them by, they went on about their business as people do once the parade is gone.These are the people who claim to know Jesus, but are not committed in any church, nor do they seek to live the lives God has called them to live. Their attitude is, “well the Lord knows my heart.” The Lord does know our hearts, and what God has to say about our hearts should cause us to run and give our lives to Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, our hearts are in need of a major overhaul.
We can go on and on and point out different attitudes in the crowd on that Palm Sunday. The most important thing to remember here this morning is “What is our attitude toward Jesus? If our attitude toward Jesus is one of absolute acceptance, then let us join hands and shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” God bless you all!