Overcoming Obstacles and Oppression

Palm Sunday Sermon Precis 28.03.21

Mark 11:1-14

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’

4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,


‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig-tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.  © NIVUK


For most of our lives we are expending effort, physical and emotional, on overcoming one obstacle after another. I’m sure you could make a list of the obstacles you’ve faced in your lifetime. Perhaps it was achieving good solid study patterns despite all the distractions. Maybe it was, examinations and job interviews. Romance, courtship, proposal. These can be especially challenging and stressful. For most people it’s been financial needs. Then there are relationship struggles, loneliness, conflict, anger, bitterness, regret. The lists are endless.

Depending upon your experience, your resilience, determination, and perseverance, you may have conquered many challenges to this point, and on average you will have just as likely, failed, given up and walked away from others.

To be alive, is to struggle, and to struggle with the opposing forces that confront us from the outside as well as facing our own internal battles. On the whole, most people want to be contributors, achievers and winners. We want to be seen and respected as adding value to the world. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes not and the larger the obstacle it seems, the larger the degree of opposition and struggle.

If we add to this an existence that sets out to oppress us, then at times the struggle seems nigh-on impossible. It’s as if we constantly come against a brick wall and can’t advance further.

There are three primary ways in which we can become oppressed. They are the devil, the human world and our own ego.

Let’s look briefly at these three oppressive regimes.

The Devil

Temptation is the devils first tool. He is the voice in our ear that loads us down with all kinds of tempting distractions. Must dos. Should dos. Have to dos. In our modern world, the lists of distractions are endless and relentless. Things to do, people to listen to, ideas to consider, celebrity lifestyles to pursue, work To Dos that cover pages. Leisure possibilities that are endless and YouTube and Netflix and TED Talks. And, most often at the end of all our lists, is family and friends and finally spirituality and maybe God.

The devil’s other devastating strategy is to kill and destroy. He lies to us about our worth. His lies are the prompts behind all devaluation of human life. We listen and we give in to the lies and believe that we and others have no worth in this life or the next. Bitterness and despair take hold and so we become oppressed and probably depressed with it.

The human world consists of all oppressive human structures in the world. The creation story in Genesis demonstrates that human beings allowed corruption and its consequent oppressive forces to separate us from the love of God. This separation is what causes us to stumble so often through life.

We are all aware of the external oppressive forces: Bad government – nationally and in our homes. Bad business including lying, cheating and manipulative media companies that sow confusion and division. And bad religion that not only does evil but fails to do good.

Our Ego or false self

That’s the internal forces within our mind and soul.  These are the false constructs we create for ourselves; our false world views that are based, not on truth, but on the lies we have bought into and the lies we have told ourselves. These corrupted and false constructs make us slaves to our internal rules and/or make us lawless rebels against God our loving Father. We become a law unto ourselves, without any significant love, compassion and respect for ourselves or others.

Palm Sunday and Holy week is a time to remember and celebrate the restoration and saving grace of God in Jesus our King for us. For you.

The story of Palm Sunday through Easter shows us, that at the greatest cost, Jesus came to subvert the power of the devil the human world and our false self and replace them with the Kingdom of God that is exemplified not by oppression in any form but by Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and a clear-thinking sound mind. This is the power of the cross. It changed everything and it continues to change everything. There is no power that can condemn God’s children anymore. We are forgiven and we are saved and we are being healed from those old oppressive ways and we are being made into new creations.

On Palm Sunday, the governor of Judea rode into Jerusalem on a war horse with and army to back him up. Perhaps with the forced cheers from an unwilling crowd, as was the Roman way. He road in to execute the violent Peace of Rome (Pax Romana), with its oppressive governance and tax regime.

The religious officials waited inside to collect temple taxes and enforce their oppressive religious laws.

The human world was as good as dead. People’s hearts were as good as dead. Empty, hopeless and with no vision of a better future. Its leaders of all the oppressive regimes were as dead as the fig tree Jesus so prophetically cursed.

On the other side of town, Jesus humbly road alone upon a donkey into Jerusalem surrounded by cheers of hopefulness and celebration. Jesus willingly riding to his death to destroy death and the sin of the false self and the power of the devil. In doing so he established the loving and hopeful rule of God, for us.

While the world and all its people rolled forward, one day into the next with no hope of a better life, Jesus prepared to make the world alive, productive, and fruitful again and he has done it! It is finished.

Hope, Love, faith, joy and a full and fulfilling life are totally accessible through Jesus because of his willingness to sacrifice himself for our sake. Jesus has made Father God known to us and accessible to us and wants to make himself known to all people everywhere.

We will continue with the struggles of life but now we have real power over oppressive forces. We are able by the power of the Holy Spirit to discipline and lead ourselves away from evil toward good. We have power to discern the lies of the devil and command him away in Jesus’ name. And while we may not always have immediate power to overcome oppressive government, we have the internal resources to resist our own corruption and stand against injustice because we have the knowledge that death has been destroyed. Our lives are eternal. Death holds no threat for the children of God.

How does this happen? How do we access God? Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Let him in. Put aside temporary and useless distractions. Stop listening to the devils lies and listen to Jesus. It is God who has established your inestimable worth. Believe Jesus is who is said to be and believe you are who he says you are.

For Monday

Q. What oppressions have you experienced or observed?

Q. Was there a time when God relieved you of you suffering? Do you think he would do it again?

‘If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.’ John 8:36