Palm Sunday March 25, 2018
341, 162, 702 (alt. 160:1-4), 160:5
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (ESV)
Dear fellow subjects of the King of kings, fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus!
What do you think the chances are that the President of the United States would ever come to visit you at your house? Slim to none, right? Our President is much to busy and has much more important things to do than to visit you at your home. But if he did come to see you, how do you think he would come? Secret service agents would probably arrive a week before the President’s arrival. They would plan the exact route the President would take in town and plan for an emergency route in case anything went wrong. They would then line the President’s route with sharpshooters on the rooftops. The President would then probably fly into the largest airport in the area aboard Air Force One. From there he would then get into “the Beast,” the President’s bomb and bulletproof Cadillac limousine, and the motorcade, complete with police escort, would visit you at your home.
But that’s never going to happen. Just the chance of you ever personally meeting the President of the United States are highly unlikely. And there is next to NO chance that the leader of the free world would come to meet you at your home. The President of the United States is head of the most powerful nation on the earth. He has many responsibilities and many important things to do. He goes to meet the leaders of other nations, not average citizens like you and I.
Realizing this about a world leader like our president, makes the events of Palm Sunday all the more remarkable. While we would be amazed that a President or even a Governor would take the time to come and visit us personally, what does it tell us about Jesus when we are told in our text, “Behold, your King is coming to you”? While most powerful leaders would expect us to approach them, Jesus comes to us. Therefore, on this Palm Sunday, let us rejoice that the King over all kings comes to us. See how He comes to you HUMBLY and with SALVATION.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the President of the United States was, in fact, going to visit you. But to get to get to you, he was going to take a Greyhound bus from Washington D.C. to your town. And then when he was dropped off at the Greyhound bus depot he was going to ride a bicycle to visit you. It would never happen, right? Such transportation would be beneath our President. As leader of the free world he deserves only first class treatment. That is how the rulers of this world demonstrate their power and how important they are. The bigger the airplane, the bigger and more important the man.
When the prophet Zechariah addresses the “daughter of Zion” and the “daughter of Jerusalem,” he is speaking to the people of God. He tells the people of God to rejoice greatly and shout for joy because the King is coming and He is riding…a young donkey?!? That would be like our president traveling by Greyhound bus and a bicycle. A donkey has never been a symbol of great power, but a beast of burden. Donkey’s are not very regal or majestic animals, but are infamously stubborn. This is the King the people of God are to rejoice over?
HOW the King comes to His people is a demonstration of what sort of King He is. He does not come with strong military might nor by force. He is not one that comes with a great display of power and wealth. He is “humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This King comes to His people by humble means.
Jesus is the King of which Zechariah wrote and over whom the people of God should rejoice greatly and shout for joy. As you see Him riding humbly on a donkey, don’t forget who Jesus is. He is the very Son of God. The Scriptures declare of Jesus, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (Jn 1:13) This makes it all the more amazing that Jesus came “humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus was not just a king over a piece of land, He is the King who MADE the very land over which kings rule. Without the Son of God NOTHING would exist—no kings, no presidents, no Jerusalem, no donkeys. Through Him all things were made. Jesus is the King of all kings and the Lord of lords. And yet behold HOW He comes.
When the Son of God became man, He was not born to a noble family and raised with a silver spoon in His mouth. Instead, He came lowly and in the form of a servant. He was born of the Virgin Mary, a poor peasant girl from a poor village named Nazareth. His step-father was not the powerful Roman ruler of the day, Caesar Augustus, but a poor Jewish carpenter named Joseph. His life was not spent in spacial palaces with comfortable living. Instead, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58) He was not waited on hand and foot by servants, but rather a Servant King who Himself came to serve His Father and us.
Behold how lowly and humbly your King continues comes to you. Today, Christ the King does not come into your heart by great displays of power, but by the still, small voice of the Gospel. God’s Word does not seem like much for the eyes to behold, but neither was the colt Jesus rode on. Yet, your humble King is at work in the message of the Gospel. Through the good news of what He has done to save you, your King comes into your heart to set up His throne. Through His Word He continues to rule in your hearts and your lives, as He guides and directs you and causes you to bear fruit to the glory of His name.
Likewise the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is not much to look at. To the eye it looks like water being poured over a persons head and some words being spoken. But just as Jesus came lowly and riding a donkey, so too He comes lowly and gently through the water and word in baptism. Through this lowly Means of Grace He rides into the heart of the infant or adult and sets up His throne to rule as He sanctifies and cleanses that person. So also with Lord’s Supper. It looks like and tastes like simple bread and wine, but because of the Word connected with these humble elements, Jesus comes and gives His very body and blood to comfort and strengthen us.
Rejoice in the simplicity and lowliness of our King. He does not make you do great works to reach Him, but He comes to you! Through the lowly means of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, the King of all creation comes to you and sets up His throne to rule in your heart!
For some time, it has been a custom for heads of state to exchange gifts when they visit other world leaders. For instance, when our former president visited the Queen of England a few years ago, she presented him with a picture of herself in a silver frame and he gave her an iPod. So when dignitaries visit other people of power, they often bring gifts.
The King spoken of in our text would also bring gifts as He comes to His people. “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he.” Jesus is a perfect King because He rules fairly and He helps His people. Because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the matter of sin is taken out of the way. It has been removed through His death and resurrection. Jesus does not punish because of sin, but because of unbelief. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk 16:16) Those are the rules that the King of king rules by. The King brings salvation to all those who believe in Him as their Savior from sin, but condemns those who do not believe.
Zechariah continues to tell us what the King brings us. “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations.” Death, destruction, and war are a sad part of life in this sinful world. But lowly King Jesus brings something else. Without using the weapons of war, He will bring peace. The King has spoken, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) When Jesus rides into a person’s heart through the Gospel He brings the gift of peace—TRUE peace. It is the peace between us and God. Our sins had separated us from God, but our King came to reconcile us unto God. Jesus came to make right the relationship that we had made wrong. He brings true peace to the troubled conscience telling us that our debt for sin has been paid by His death on the cross. His resurrection from the dead is a peace pronouncement from God to the whole world.
Unlike the kings of this world, Jesus’ rule of peace is limitless. “His rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Wherever the lowly Gospel is preached, Christ is riding into the hearts of men with salvation. Wherever those humble, but mighty Sacraments are being administered, Jesus is speaking His message of peace. These are the gifts that King Jesus brings—salvation and peace for all!
Unlike the rulers of this world who expect you to come to them, King Jesus doesn’t wait for you to come to Him, HE comes to YOU! He doesn’t make you pass through security and then keep you at arm’s length from Him. Through the humble means of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, King Jesus comes right into your heart and takes possession of it. He brings you the salvation that HE earned for you through His death on the cross. He speaks peace to you through His death and resurrection. Therefore let us rejoice in the message of Palm Sunday as we see our lowly King who continues to come to us, riding the humble Means of Grace bringing life and salvation with Him! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Amen.
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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.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.