Pastor Mike Gerhardt, April 9, 2017, Dancing in the Streets, Matthew 21:1-17. I love a parade, as long as I don’t have to stand in the cold. Our first parade in Watertown was the Christmas parade through the square in 2013. Dennis Pucci was leading a choir as we stood in sub-freezing temperatures. I remember another cold parade. I grew up in the projects of Northeast Philadelphia PA where as a child my family would enjoy a Franklin Ave parade on the 4th of July. I remember a special parade in downtown at Main and Vine on a cold January first, the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade. Mummers are mostly male fraternities who dress up with wild sparkling outfits with headdresses and caps and dance with swaying and spinning and big bold stepping called the Mummers Strut. They do this while playing several dozen banjos. What a pageant, what a sound, what a sight!! I really loved it for about 20 minutes, which is when I realized it was freezing cold. On my father’s shoulders, I could see all the parade. I picture a similar scene when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. The first thing you would notice is Jesus miraculously riding an unbroken colt. To the untrained eye, you might not notice the colt, unless you saw its mother close at hand. A donkey was a symbol of humility, peace and Davidic Royalty as found in Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. A surge of celebration hit the streets. Not only was the city crowded with visitors for the Passover but the coming of this notorious prophet added to the excitement. Could there have been dancing? I am sure of it. Many thought Jesus to be the Great Messiah, the Son of King David who would bring the promised Kingdom and release them from the oppression of Rome. He would make the lame to walk, the blind to see and would provide for the widow and orphan. I would be dancing! How about you? But would that be right, some conservative believers still do not allow Christians to dance. Billy Sunday preached a sermon called Dancing, Drinking and Card playing in October of 1915 basically led to Prohibition (means to prohibit practices that are harmful). He whole heartily condemned the practices for they were associated with lascivious and immoral living. Alcohol and cocaine were consumed by the masses and in great quantities back then. But what about dancing? Dancing appears 27 times in the English Bible and one Hebrew word is translated elsewhere: skipping or leaping with joy. The context is often celebration. The word celebration appears in the NIV over 80 times. Do you have reason to celebrate? When Jesus came to town there was a celebration.
In 2 Samuel 6:16 we read that King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant of God. This was good dancing unless you were Michal his wife who despised David for dancing in his shorts before his subjects. In Matthew 14:6 King Herod asked the daughter of his wife to do an erotic dance after which he promised half of his kingdom, she wanted the head of John the Baptist…so ended his life. We can make a case against this kind of dancing. Now there is always someone who doesn’t want to dance. Jesus said of the Pharisees and the Teachers in Matthew 11:16-19 To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions. Can you see them: arms crossed, a scowl on their face, standing in judgment- you’re not going to get me to dance? When you are rejoicing, happy or dancing there is always someone in the crowd who may criticize you. What makes you so happy don’t you know there is a war somewhere in the world? Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice when someone is rejoicing. Sometimes we are too busy to get emotionally involved. Sometimes we are too into ourselves to join the dance. Do you feel the Outpouring of Judgment! That reminds me of a story: Josh was driving his new Jaguar in Chicago when a brick hit its shiny passenger door. Brakes slammed, gears ground in reverse back to the spot of impact. The young executive grabbed the kid who through the brick, pushed him against the car and shouted, that is going to cost you lots of money. The frightened boy sobbed, no one would stop, and it’s my brother he rolled off the curb and into the street out of his wheelchair. He’s hurt can you help me? Josh’s head of steam evaporated. He lifted the boy’s brother back into the wheelchair, wipe the scrapes with his handkerchief and then watch as the little boy push his brother toward their home. Josh never did fix the dent in his Jag. It reminded him to not miss an opportunity to join in the dance we call life together. But are we taking the time? When is it a good time to dance? Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, …God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. Psalm 30:11-12. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
In our passage, Hosanna means simply SAVE! God saves us, as some interpret. Salvation comes from God. Even the children were shouting in the temple, save us to the son of David. When Jesus came, he was bringing salvation to his people. Later that week he would lay down his life as the Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is our only hope of Salvation to all who believe in his name. Years ago, Jake Porter a member of the Northwest High football team in McDermott Ohio was born with chromosomal fragile X syndrome a common cause of mental retardation. He couldn’t read or write but he loved football. Coach Dave Frantz wanted to do something special for Jake in the fall of 2002. As told by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated, “Frantz called the Waverly Coach and suggested that they allow Jake to run one play at the end of the game. So with Waverly leading 42-0, Franz called a timeout. Jake trotted out to the huddle. Play resumed and Jake got the ball. He started to genuflect as he practiced all week. Teammates told him to run but Jake started going the wrong direction. The back judge rerouted him. Suddenly the Waverly team defense parted like peasants for the king and urged him to go on his grinning sprint to the end zone. Imagine having 21 teammates on the field. In the stands, mothers cried and fathers roared. Players on both sidelines held their helmets to the sky and cheered. Jake had the run of his life, scoring the touchdown heard round the world.”
God has high purposes for each of us. God wants us not just to sit on the sidelines and watch, nor does he want us to get the ball and fall to the ground under a pile of sweaty bodies, though that can happen. He wants us to take the ball and score a touchdown. He wants us in the game. He wants us in the parade. He wants us dancing. That is why Jesus came.
The crowd on that Palm Sunday was cheering Jesus to be God’s man to bring the Kingdom. That is exactly what Jesus did; little did they know that meant dying a brutal death on a cross. The parade was a pre-celebration of Jesus conquering sin and even death for us when he arose. Now that is something to dance about. Are you taking the time to dance? Have your sins been washed away by the blood of Jesus? Ask yourself, are you living with joy and peace God meant you to have? Are you celebrating today as the children were in Jesus day? Celebrate the coming of the Lord with dancing.