Palm Sunday April 17, 2011
160, 162, 363, 161
Dear fellow-redeemed by the blood of Him who came to the cradle that He might die on the cross:
“Then, as [Jesus] was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!’” (Luke 19:37-39).
How did Jesus answer? He said to them: “I tell you the truth that if these should keep silent, then the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40). The Jewish leaders got their wish. Within a week the shouts of praise for Jesus had stopped. Instead, the people were crying hatred and murder against Him. Jerusalem had rejected its king!
However, in 70 A.D., the very stones of the temple cried out in judgment against the Jews while praising the King whom the Jews had rejected. History tells us that the Romans so completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple that Jesus’ words came true: “not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (cf. Matthew 24:2).
The Palm Sunday hosannas of the crowds ceased. But this was not the end of the hosannas to the King who came in the name of the Lord. For as He and His kingdom continue to come, so the songs of praise continue to rise from the glad hearts of His believing saints! My fellow Christians, “LET GLAD HOSANNAS RING TO CHRIST, OUR LORD AND KING!”
Psalm 145 is the only Psalm with the title: “David’s Psalm of Praise.” The Psalm begins with these words: “I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.” [v.1] Our text for today begins with verse 10 as follows:
All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
There is something about every created thing which brings praise to our Lord, the King of Creation. Next Sunday, the white and fragrant lily will display itself in our churches. By its very existence the lily praises the Lord, even as all the beautiful flowers, plants and trees praise the Lord who made them. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament (sky) shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Even those works which strike fear in the hearts of men praise the Lord.
Walking outside in the early morning I have heard the cardinals, thrushes, finches and towhees singing the Lord’s praises in our yard. The birds praise the goodness of their heavenly Creator Who provides all their needs, even though they do not sow or reap or gather into barns.
Then there is man himself, the crown of God’s creation. If you want to get on the bad side of the atheistic evolutionist tell him that his very existence and power of reason testifies that there is a God of tremendous wisdom and power to create by design!
Truly, “all Your works shall praise You, O Lord!” Yet, neither the birds, nor the sea, nor any creature praises the King because of the exercise of his will and intellect. Even man—who possesses the power of intellect and has the greatest reason to praise His Creator-God—does not naturally praise the true God and King of creation.
However, when you and I and all true believers in Jesus Christ praise God, it is not only with our reasoning will. We also have faith’s reverence and loving gratitude toward our God and King. This makes our praise of God a “blessing” of Him. “And your saints shall bless You,” David says.
We bless the King today. We wish Him well as He goes forth to establish His kingdom of grace among men. We do this just because we are saints or godly ones through faith in His redeeming life and death for the world of sinners. Because we have received grace through the working of His Holy Spirit we enjoy the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life everlasting! We, more than all the rest of creation, know the worthiness of our King to receive our glad hosannas!
But how shall His godly ones bless Him who comes in the name of the Lord? It’s an easy thing to go about saying, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” But David says that the hosannas of the Lord’s believing saints are much more substantial than merely saying, “Praise the Lord!” David says: “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts and the glorious majesty of His kingdom.” [vv.11-12]
In today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel account, why did the multitude praise God and bless the King that first Palm Sunday? We are told that it was because of “all the mighty works they had seen” (Luke 19:37). The war-chariot on which our King rode into battle was a donkey, not a submarine or a stealth bomber; and yet, His humble march to the death of the cross conquered the army of Satan—a more powerful army than all the combined armies of human history!
Even if the sons of men were able to harness all the water in the world for the production of hydro-electricity, we can still speak of the greater power of “the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:26). For by means of the waters of baptism our mighty King washes away sins, creates the light of faith within us, and brings us to the light of Heaven’s glory!
When all the words of the politicians in the world have failed to comfort those frightened by terrorism and tyranny, when all the words and works of the world’s elite philosophers, educators, scientists, and doctors have failed to bring life and peace to the dying, sin-burdened soul, we may proclaim the Gospel of our King, which is God’s “power (literally “dynamite”) unto salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Now, if, according to the Psalm, the King’s godly ones shall talk of His power and His mighty acts, then they shall also be speaking of the glory of His kingdom. His great power works for the glory of His kingdom, especially His kingdom of grace. The Kingdom of Grace is not a visible and grand church which rules over the people of the earth by external force or riches. The Kingdom of Grace is the invisible body of all true believers in Christ.
This body has few earthly possessions and has suffered a great deal through the centuries at the hands of others. Even today we are hearing of increasing persecutions against Christians in Muslim controlled countries. But these godly ones can boast of a King who rode in humility among men in order that condemned sinners might once again walk safely in the presence of almighty God. Can you think of an earthly king who can offer his subjects the glories of heaven?
Finally, we shall say with King David: “Your kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” [v.13] These words were once inscribed on the door of an early Christian church in Damascus. But from the 600's to the 1800's this church served chiefly as a Moslem mosque and was regarded as one of the holiest of Moslem sanctuaries.
Down through the centuries the name of Christ was blasphemed inside these walls, the believing saints were cursed, persecuted and slaughtered by the Moslems. But when religious liberty was partially restored in the 1800's, Christian missionaries found these words, still readable after 1200 years: “Your kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.”
Historians tell of the glory and splendor of the Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. But archaeologists must rummage through the ruins of these ancient kingdoms in order to learn of their existence. The Kingdom of Grace, on the other hand, established by Jesus Christ, the King of kings, continues to march through time and on to eternal glory! When His subjects fall and offend their King by their sins, he heals and lifts the up with the repeated proclamation: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Let glad hosannas ring to Christ, our Lord and King!
Hosanna in the highest”
That ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer,
The Lord of heaven, our King!
Oh, may we ever praise Him
With heart and life and voice
And in His glorious Kingdom
Eternally rejoice! Amen.
[TLH 161:3, adapted]
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.