Palm Sunday

  • 11 April 2022
  • Stuart Robinson

St. Peter’s Watsons Bay

John 12:20-33

Here’s a question: how do you see Jesus?

What is your perspective on who Jesus is, and what he stands for?

A group of people (from Greece) come to Jesus’ friends, and they ask to ‘see Jesus’ (John 13:29); they want to get a sense of who he is, and what he stands for – by meeting him, presumably.

How about you: how do you see Jesus?

*Perhaps your answer might be that Jesus was a great leader and teacher…maybe even a revolutionary who had the resources to free God’s people from Roman rule. That’s how many in the crowd in that Passover celebration in Jerusalem, 33 AD, view Jesus; they see him as the new King of Israel (12:13), the long expected (and prophesied – Zechariah 9:9) deliverer – verse 13.

*Or is it that you see Jesus as a miracle worker; a powerful and attractive preacher who can address the ills of this world with a word. That was the case, I think, with those who had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead – and their friends whom they told – verses 17-18. They’d turned out en masse (v. 18) to catch a glimpse of Jesus in action.

*Then there are those who see Jesus as a great disruption. His authority and his popularity were undermining their beliefs and their values. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were certainly in that category. Tolerating Jesus, they said, ‘was getting them nowhere’ – verse 18.

*Perhaps you might relate to Jesus’ disciples – who at that point (verse 16) didn’t really know what to make of Jesus’ identity and triumphal approach to Jerusalem. They were uncertain and they were unclear.

My question again, then: how do you see Jesus?

It might be instructive, if just for a moment, we note how Jesus – sees himself. 

And this text provides some rich insights into that question.

*Jesus sees himself as the ‘Son of Man’ (verse 23) – the sovereign, eternal ruler about whom Daniel spoke (Daniel 7:12-13) in the 6th century BC.

*Jesus sees himself as the one whose ‘appointed hour’ has come (verse 27): a reference to his death when he will be ‘lifted up’ (on a cross) – verse 32. This was his overriding purpose for coming into the world (verse 27).

*Jesus sees himself as the one on whom the judgement for sin will fall (verse 31) and, as a consequence, satan will be defeated (verse 31), and all people everywhere might experience the benefits of his death (verse 32). 

*Jesus sees himself – through these actions, as bringing honour and glory to God the Father – and God the Father, it would appear, verbally assents to this claim (verses 28-30)

*Jesus sees himself as the one who calls people to follow him and to serve him; to forsake ‘self’ and this world and to live in accord with his purposes and priorities (verse 25)

*Jesus sees himself as the conduit or bridge to eternal life for all respond to his call (verse 25, 26).

*Jesus sees himself as the one through whom people can live a life pleasing to God; God will honour (love and accept) all who serve Jesus (verse 26).

Rembrandt van Rijn made a decision to ‘see’ Jesus in the way that Jesus understood his ministry – and he (Rembrandt) expressed his faith and belief through a remarkable work of art: The Three Crosses.

If you were to look at Rembrandt’s 1653 etching of, The Three Crosses, your attention would likely be drawn to the centre cross on which Jesus died.

And either side of Jesus are the criminals – one in the light; this is the man who recognised Jesus for who he was.

And then there’s the fellow who mocked Jesus; he’s only partially illuminated.

As you look at the crowd gathered around the cross you may notice the expressions of the people who are caught up in the tragic events of that day; some are devoted to him, others despise him.

At the edge of the painting is another figure, almost concealed by shadows. 

Critics suggest that this is a depiction of Rembrandt himself.

This was Rembrandt’s way of saying, “I too am responsible”.

Rembrandt saw Jesus as the Saviour of the world – ‘lifted up’ on that cruel cross to bear the judgement for his sin, and for mine.

So how do you see Jesus, this Palm Sunday 2022?

It may be that some of you, perhaps for the first time, are seeing Jesus for who he truly is: the great Son of Man – the Saviour, who gave his life that you might know God’s favour and forgiveness now and into eternity.

Today is a day of decision, then; a decision to serve and to follow Jesus. 

So, I’ll close with a very simple Palm Sunday prayer that you may wish to make your own by echoing the words in the silence of your heart before God.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I see you as the great King who died to give me life.

I see that that death (and resurrection on Easter Day) sets me free from the power of sin, and free to follow you.

I see that God is honoured and glorified by your obedience, and I too wish to honour and glorify God in my life.

Thank you for drawing me to yourself. 

I ask for your enabling to follow and to serve you.


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