Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Palm Sunday March 24th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Green Wood”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On his way to the hill of the Skull to be crucified outside the city gates of Jerusalem, our Savior Jesus — already severely suffering from the Roman flogging — speaks a word of love and warning to those mourning for Him:
“For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31)
In this instance in His passion and suffering, Jesus referred to Himself as green wood. Why?
The answer is an amazing source of hope and comfort to us. It is the revelation of His life that would — at the point of His first speaking these words — overcome death. More important to you are the ramifications of your being joined to this green wood and what this union does in your life.
Come to worship. Receive Christ’s Word and Sacrament and rejoice tomorrow in the forgiveness of all of your sins. Not just as a teaching of the Christian Church, but as an experiential gift that will be actively received once again when Jesus comes to serve you in this service! It is hard to imagine that the very ransom that purchased our forgiveness and eternal life is given to you…there can be no doubt that you are in Christ and that your sins are completely washed away! Rejoice O Christian, Rejoice even as we enter this Holy Week and contemplate our Savior’s Passion.
For this Palm Sunday, we will assemble outside and receive palm branches and process together as the people of God!
I look forward to seeing you!
Here is an excerpt from the sermon tomorrow:

“When the Wood is Green”

(Luke 23:31)

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa

Introduction: So which is it? What vitally important day in the life of God’s Church and God’s people is it today? Is it the Sunday of the Passion or is it Palm Sunday?


Answer: Yes! He was entering into Jerusalem to receive Palm Sunday praises and He was entering into Jerusalem to commence His most severe suffering and passion which would lead to His gory and excruciating crucifixion to cover your sin with His blood.


  1. Jesus entered into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. It was a jubilant, celebrational, and victorious event. The palms were signs of welcoming royalty and the shouts of “Hosanna” which mean “Save now!” represented the confidence the people were placing in Jesus as a King and Savior.
  2. The question, however, comes in the form of understanding what kind of king and what kind of Savior. How many of those very same people understood why Jesus was coming into Jerusalem or understood for what purpose was Jesus coming into Jerusalem; why was He coming and what was He going to do? How many of the people in that original Palm Sunday crowd would change their minds just a few days later — while not all of them did — when the popular crowd would shout and request that Christ be crucified instead?
  3. For now, let me just say that while there was popular confusion about the Lord and His ministry, what is most clear is that Jesus Himself knew exactly why He was entering into Jerusalem. He had no illusions about it as is made plain in the Scriptures leading up to Palm Sunday. Here are just two:


Matthew 16:21: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”


Matthew 17:22-23: “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’ And they were greatly distressed.”


Part I: But Did Jesus’ Prior Knowledge Make His Passion Less Severe?


  1. Not in the least. Just compare what happened to our Savior to you or I having prior knowledge that we are going to undergo a surgery. Your prior knowledge does not make the surgery less painful. In fact, if anything the prior knowledge might present more hardship through worry, fear, and anxiety of what lies ahead!
  2. The nails that would tear into His flesh were still 5-7 inches long. The whips designed with embedded bone fragments and metal balls still tore at His flesh. In fact and again — if anything — Jesus had a better understanding of what was awaiting Him more so than anyone else who might suffer crucifixion.
  3. Still, this was an amazing situation to say the least: while His bodily suffering would go beyond anything we could ever imagine or experience, He still had a grasp on what God was going to do.
In Your Service and To Christ’s Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
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