Let Us Stand Up Together

Let Us Stand Up Together (A Sermon for Palm/Passion Sunday)
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (Cypress, Texas)
Isaiah 50: 4-9a
Matthew 26:14- 27:66
April 9, 2017

What a celebration we started with today. Beautiful weather, palm branches, shouting, singing, praising, hosanna! We welcomed a king to town today. Our king is here!

We want power. Even if we don’t want it ourselves, we look for others that have it. The Jews that welcomed Jesus were looking for a powerful leader to set them free and overthrow their opponents.

But Jesus didn’t do that. He didn’t ride into town as a conquering king. He came in on the back of a donkey. And he was in tears.

Because he knew what was coming.

And then we come to the Isaiah reading we just heard. “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”

That doesn’t sound like a king to me.

Our reading from Isaiah is one of the four Servant Songs, songs about the servant that was to come and set Israel free, bring light to the nations. This servant wasn’t going to look like a typical king. This servant wasn’t going to look like a typical victor.

This servant was to be obedient. This servant was to suffer. This servant was to persevere.

We’re about to read the Passion story. This is the heart of the Gospel message. This is the story of the God of the universe that became completely abandoned. This is the story of the creator of everything submitting to the authorities. This is the story of the author of life succumbing to death.

As you hear this story, remember that a few moments ago we shouted with exclamation at the King coming to town. Remember that crowds surrounded the One who comes in the name of the Lord.

But also remember that the One who came was not to be a typical king. Was not to be a typical warrior. Rather, he is a servant. He is obedient.

Maybe you, like me, have had a rough Lent. Maybe you, like me, are in the midst of suffering. Maybe you, like me, are waiting for the joy and peace and new life that comes from the grave.

But we don’t do it alone. One thing from the Isaiah reading really stuck out to me this week. Everything is written in the first person…”The Lord has opened my ear…” “I gave my back…” “I have set my face like flint…”

But there’s one line. This has stuck with me, because it seems out of place. “Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.”

We don’t know who this plural reference points to. It’s a mystery. But we do know that even in the darkest times of our lives, we have a savior, not a distant king.

We have a savior that rode into town on a donkey. A savior that remained obedient in Gethsemane. A savior that suffered torture, and humiliation, and death. A savior that came to the lowest point of the human experience, took it upon himself, and destroyed it.

We don’t walk this dark road alone because we have a God that has been there, and a God that is here, a God that is with us.

“Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.

Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

It is the Lord God who helps me.” It is the Lord God who helps us.

Amen.

Let Us Stand Up Together