Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Pastor Paul's April Message 
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

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Dear Members and Friends,

​On Palm Sunday, I spoke about a misguided celebration. The first Palm Sunday crowd was excited. They laid their leafy branches on the road, along with their outer garments. They paved the way for the royal procession. Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Chosen One, the longed-for king, was entering the holy capital city of Jerusalem. There were shouts of, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” The crowd was expecting something significant to happen. King Jesus was going to bring back the glory days of Israel. He was going to make Israel a great nation again, with land and wealth. No longer would they be controlled by a foreign government.

The first Palm Sunday crowd was misguided. They were excited about something that did not happen. They were following Jesus for the wrong reason. Jesus did not come into this world to become an earthly king. As he predicted, Jesus entered Jerusalem to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and to be condemned to death. Jesus entered Jerusalem to be mocked and flogged and crucified. The first Palm Sunday crowd got it all wrong. They didn’t really know who Jesus was and why he came.

“After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, that he has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him. This is my message for you.’ So, they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

This is the real celebration! It is not about a prophet entering Jerusalem seeking to be an earthly king. It is about the Son of God, suffering, dying, and being raised on the third day. Jesus is not the king of Israel. Jesus is the king of heaven and earth. Jesus is the Lord of our life. We do not read about Jesus, king of Israel, reigning between the years 30 – 50 AD. Quite honestly, that would not be significant for us at all. Instead, we have King Jesus, Lord and Savior, ruling our hearts and minds every day of our lives.

Just as Jesus appeared to the women on the road, Jesus meets us on our way each and every day. Jesus is alive! He leads us and guides us. He loves us and supports us. He motivates us and inspires us. He gives our lives meaning and purpose. Yes, we have reason to celebrate. The tomb was empty! King Jesus was raised from the dead! He is alive and, in our life, today!

In God’s Service,