Palm Sunday: “The Things That Make for Peace”

Passage: Luke 19:41-44
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, pained by the spiritual blindness of his own people, he wept over the fact that Jerusalem, the City of Peace, “didn’t know the things that made for peace”. Though Jerusalem had all the spiritual resources necessary to recognize Jesus as their true king and welcome his reign, Jesus knew that despite the celebrations of the crowds on Sunday, they would soon reject him, and crucify him by Friday, effectively saying, along with the citizens in the parable he had just told, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (19:14).

Ultimately, the people couldn’t see the things that made for peace, however, because they didn’t want the things that make for peace, and this same dynamic is true of us today. Whether individually or corporately, our natural desire is not to have Jesus reign over our lives (19:14), and because we don’t want him to reign over us, we are not able to see how his rule in our lives would be for our good. Jesus weeps over this condition of blindness, because he loves us, and because he deeply desires to gather us up under his loving authority and care for us.

Because of Jerusalem’s blindness, judgment was coming on the city, and within 40 years, it would be destroyed. It didn’t have to be that way, however. For in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, God himself was “visiting” his people, and showing them the nature of his rule. By looking at Jesus reigning from a cross, we can be healed the hardness of heart that is underneath all of our spiritual blindness. As we comprehend his love for us, we gain the assurance that his rule must truly be for our peace, our good, and our flourishing!

Sermon Outline

  • Jesus Weeps Over Our Blindness (19:41-44a)
  • Jesus Visits Us in Our Blindness (19:44b)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus Weeps Over Our Blindness (19:41-44a)

Q) Re-read Luke 19:36-40 (the triumphal entry) and Luke 19:41-44 back-to-back. Compare and contrast the “tone” of each passage. What makes for the difference?

Q) Re-read Luke 19:41-44 once more, and meditate on these verses as a group, lingering over the details. What do these verses communicate about:

  • Jesus’ heart for the city of Jerusalem
  • The depth of Jerusalem’s spiritual blindness
  • The severity of Jerusalem’s coming judgment
  • The ultimate reason for Jerusalem’s judgment

Q) Read Luke 13:31-35, which describes the first time Jesus laments over Jerusalem in Luke’s gospel. Why does Jesus compare himself to a hen longing to gather her children under her wings? What additional depth/insight does this passage give into the nature of Jerusalem’s spiritual blindness? What does this teach about how Jesus desires to relate to us today?

Q) In the sermon, Ben said that like Jerusalem was blind to “the things that make for peace,” because they didn’t want “the things that make for peace.” That is, because they didn’t want Jesus to reign over their lives, they couldn’t see how his reign would be for their good. How have you seen this principle—that what we don’t want, we can’t see—illustrated in our culture today? How have you seen it even among Christians? How about in your own life?

Q) What impact might this principle (that spiritual blindness is ultimately due to an unwillingness to submit to Jesus’ rule) have on our approach to evangelism?

Jesus Visits Us in Our Blindness (19:44b)

Q) Re-read Luke 19:44. What does Jesus mean when he said that the people did not know “the time of their visitation?” Why does Jesus describe his life, ministry, and death as a “visitation”?

Q) In his sermon, Ben said our spiritual blindness moved Jesus both to weep over us, and to “visit us”, rather than to sit cynically in judgment upon us, or keep his distance—which is often our instinct when we encounter spiritual blindness in others. In what ways have you been uncharitable to, or distant from others who are living in blindness?

Q) In his sermon, Ben said that’ Jesus death was “not only a substitutionary sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, but also a convincing demonstration of his tender intentions towards us, and insight into the nature of his rule”. How would you explain this truth in your own words? And how does seeing Jesus’ reigning from a cross help to heal us of our spiritual blindness?

Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking to your friend, who grew up in the church and who went to a Christian college, but who experienced what she describes as a “de-conversion”, and who no longer calls herself a Christian. “I just don’t see how religion makes someone into a better or happier person”, she says. “All religion seems like one big power play—all about authority. The Bible is always meddling in peoples’ lives—telling them who they can and can’t have sex with, what they’re supposed to do with their money, and things like that. I get that there are a lot of Christians who are genuinely good and happy people, like you, but I feel like they would be just as good—and just as happy—without some external authority telling you what to do.” Based on this week’s passage and sermon in particular, how might you carry on in this conversation with your friend?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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