His pleasure and Passion… until you eternally sing, “Hosanna!” / Palmarum 2017 / Matthew 21:1-9Pr. Christopher Gillespie
April 09, 2017
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
Whatever is told of Jesus Christ in the Holy Scriptures is given for your faith and life. There is no one else to give you hope. There is no power in no one else to live each day without fear. The world is full of wisdom for righteous living. The second table of the Ten Commandments reveal what we already know to be true by nature. But apart from Jesus, we would know nothing of a loving and merciful God, who not only made us and preserves us, but does this to redeem us.
Therefore the story of Christ’s incarnation, His birth, His life, and His ministry are given for your benefit. The story you heard today of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His suffering, and His death is the sole object of your faith. For apart from Christ crucified, there is no comfort, no hope, and no future. What wondrous love God the Father has for us in that while we were still sinners His Son Jesus died for us.
One of the only readings you will hear more than once throughout the church year is the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Today you heard the account from the Evangelist St. John. On the first Sunday in Advent you heard the same story from the Evangelist St. Matthew. At the end of November, we stood at the gate of a new church year. We learn of Jesus coming into the world in the flesh. We learn of Jesus coming to us in the Word preached and in His body and blood in the Sacrament. We learn of Jesus coming again to judge the living and the dead.
But the same text is also suitable for us today as we begin this Holy Week. Each day this week you will hear again of Jesus’s great love for you by suffering your guilt and shame and dying your death. This week will be kept holy by you as you gather together to gladly hear and learn this Word of God. No other event in the human history is worthy of your devotion and detailed consideration. Today we enter into the final and decisive act of God in Christ to defeat your enemies and win for you the victory.
Specifically, let us today consider Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. All Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Thus, it is worthy of our meditation for our comfort. And the Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Therefor today’s reading may serve us as a warning.
All the host that gathered around Jesus were delighted. They believed Him as the One Who has come, the Messiah or the Christ. They proclaimed Him the King who comes to save them. But we know they misunderstood the prophecies of the Messiah. They hoped for a fleshy king, who would fill their bellies and make their lands rich with milk and honey. Their false hope was like that of the Emmaus disciples. They believed the Messiah would redeem Israel from the rule of the Romans and other earthly tyranny, gather together the troops and command the armies as their new leader.
But how far away from their expectations and plan was Jesus! As we sang last week, “Sometimes they strew His way, And His sweet praises sing; Resounding all the day Hosannas to their King. Then “Crucify!” Is all their breath, And for His death They thirst and cry.” Just days after they proclaimed Him king, they saw Him stand before the High Council, before Pilate, and at Golgotha. Above His the head of Christ as he was crucified, they read: “Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
How easily those who once worshipped him not days later reject Him! When the false desires of Jesus do not come to pass, how quickly hearts cool, sentiments change, and the once faithful become enemies of God! You know this to be true. Every one of us knows someone, who once belong to Christ but has now made Him their enemy by unbelief.
And you ought to understand this too well. Even a cursory examination of your own heart will reveal how you “Hosannas!” today will soon turn to cries of “Crucify Him!” as you once again embrace your own idols, place yourself back under the bondage of your sin, and listen to the lies of the Devil and this world. We must hear Christ crucified preached constantly. Otherwise we will once again think our sin as “no big deal,” the temptations of this world as “mostly harmless,” and the lies of the devil as “worth considering.” Thus, our faith Him would wither and die, and we plunge headlong into disbelief, shame, vice, and utter despair.
Therefore we hear today and by the power of the Holy Spirit believe again rightly. We rejoice with the crowds as they cry out “Hosanna! Lord, save us!” We know He is the promised Son of David. We know His is truly the King who goes into the King’s city. But we know His kingdom is not of this world. And His enemies are not the Jews, the Romans, or even you the Gentiles. The victory He comes to win is not over flesh and blood but over powers of darkness, the spiritual powers that once ruled over us. He alone is the victor and champion the final, decisive confrontation with death and the devil.
We see in Christ’s entry into Jerusalem the beginning of the end of our bondage to sin, the foul reign of death, and the tyranny of this world’s ruler, the Deceiver. Despite his humble appearance, riding in on an ass, despite His inconspicuous appearance as the son of a common woman named Mary, and despite his unarmed band of disciples, we believe He is the king who comes to save us. He is the eternal King who rules in divine wisdom, power, and love. He comes not by chance but that everything written from Moses and Prophets would be fulfilled, as has been the mind of God from even before the foundation of the world.
Many times before Jesus has come to Jerusalem. But on that day, that seventh time, He does not come in on foot but rides into Jerusalem in order to take possession of His city and set up His kingdom. He is the king and He will have His kingdom. Jesus answered [Pilate], “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36-37) All four Evangelists report it.
Many times He could have escaped from these earthly enemies, commanding even twelve legions of angels. But now, today, His hour has come to save you and all sinners. He enters into the Holy City to present Himself as the true Passover Lamb for the Easter festival. Jesus comes most willingly. As He speaks through the Psalmist: Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:7-8) He comes to conquer your enemies in your place through His sacrificial death. He comes to gather all to Himself (including you!) and reign in His kingdom forever by His love.
You also rejoice in the cross of Christ where Christ rules for you. In the suffering and dying Christ, all the royal majesty is concealed under the form of a servant. For this reason He has come, as He told the disciples frequently, that the Son of Man must suffer and be crucified and on the third day rise from the dead. Therefore His church proclaims the same to you. And in His kingdom, you receive Christ Jesus as your royal robe as you are adopted as sons of the King in Baptism. You receive the absolving Word of the King, forgiving you of all your sin. You receive the eternal feast of the King in His body and blood, given and shed for you for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.
In this Kingdom this week, you are given to remember this Holy Week how our Savior King came to Jerusalem to endure the unspeakable sufferings for your transgressions, to suffer the torment of your doubt in Gethsemene, to unjustly accused and condemned by your earthly judges, and to suffer your death by crucifixion. This is how He wins for Himself alone the kingdom and you His royal family. This is His pleasure and passion, to die for your and give you His grace that you would remain His companions until you eternally sing, “Hosanna!” to Him in His kingdom of glory. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
Grace Lutheran Church