From Cheers to Jeers

Theme: The cheers of Palm Sunday turn to jeers on Friday.
Object: A sports pennant and some palm branches. (I used the Dallas Cowboys, but you can adapt it for your area.)
Scripture: The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" Matthew 27:21-23

Do you have a favorite sports team? I have always been a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys. A few years ago when the Cowboys won the Super Bowl,everyone was calling them "America's Team." Everywhere you looked you could see boys, and even some girls, wearing Dallas Cowboy t-shirts. After their victory in the Super Bowl, the city of Dallas held a parade and as the Cowboys rode through the streets of Dallas, the people cheered and waved. Now, just a few years later, the Cowboys are not so popular. Their fans expected them to win the Super Bowl every year and the Cowboys just aren't living up to what the fans expected ofthem. The cheers have turned to jeers, and many of their once-faithful fans have forsaken them to cheer for another team.

Did you know that the very same thing happened to Jesus? Do you know what these are? (Hold up the palm branches.) These are branches from a Palm tree. In the country where Jesus lived, the Palm tree was everywhere. The branches of the Palm were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, people used to wave Palm branches as they cheered in celebration when an important person such as a king rode through the streets of town. On the Sunday before he was crucified, Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey. As he rode along, people waved Palm branches and shouted and cheered. They shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" The people cheered Jesus as their King.

Just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers that he had heard on Sunday now turned to jeers. Many of the people who just a few days before shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" had now turned against him. They were now shouting "Crucify Him! Crucify Him! He is not our king. We have no king but Caesar." They were even offered the choice of whether to free a criminal named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Many of His once-faithful followers had forsaken him.

You and I have to make a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus and make him the King and Lord of our life, or we can choose to forsake him like the people who cried, "Crucify Him! He is not our king!" Will we be found faithful?

Jesus, Blessed Jesus, today we choose to make you King and Lord of our life. Help us to be strong, and to follow you, even when all others have forsaken you. Amen.

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