Vol. VIII — No. 50 December 17, 1967


The Unchanging Message for the Church: “Behold, Thy King Cometh!”

Matthew 21:1-9

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

In Christ Jesus, who has come, is ever coming, and will once again come to His people, Fellow Redeemed:

“Tell ye the daughter of Sion.” Our text is a message for the “daughter of Sion,” who is “the daughter of Sion”? Sion is one of the mountains upon which Jerusalem was built. It became used by the prophets of old as the capital and center of God’s people. Thus “the daughter of Sion” is a descriptive designation for the children of God, the believers, the Church of God.

There’s a message for “the daughter of Sion.” What is it? “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” Your King is coming! That’s the message. And that has been the message for the Church of every age. It’s a message that never changes. It’s a massage that fits every age. It’s a message that the Church always needs.

The Old Testament prophet Zechariah proclaimed that message to the people of his day in these stirring words: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” These words were spoken to believers who were waiting and longing for the fulfillment of the promises made and repeated again and again over the centuries. Every pious child of God waited for the coming of the King.

When our Lord entered Jerusalem the Sunday before the beginning of His passion, He consciously fulfilled these prophetic words of Zechariah. Matthew, who wrote primarily to Jewish readers impressed upon them that what happened that day happened according to the ancient prophecy: “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”

The historic event of His coming into Jerusalem is past, but His coming continues. He taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” He does come and He is coming to us this day in His Word, even in this very moment. Your King is coming in the message being preached this morning, in the Scripture readings, in the hymns and prayers. The message for the Church is always the same: “Thy King cometh to thee.”

Let us also realize that there are eschatological overtones to that message, for He, our King, shall come once again in glory at the end of time. Our Bible closes with the promise of our King: “Surely I come quickly. Amen.” and with the responsive prayer of God’s people, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22:20.

Let us this morning consider more closely—


I. In utter lowliness through the Word of Forgiveness, not by outward power.

The scene that unfolded itself on that first Palm Sunday symbolized, yea was a visual demonstration of, the utter lowliness in which the King came and comes. His disciples were commissioned to find an ass tied and a colt. Jesus rode on the colt of the ass. Such an animal was a beast of burden, used as a wheelbarrow or as the forerunner of a jeep or pick-up truck. The Lord Jesus, who is the Lord of all creation, could have secured a pure-bred stallion from the stalls of Pilate, but he didn’t want that, for His coming this time was to be in utter lowliness. When He shall come in glory at the end of time, He is pictured as riding upon a white horse with the insignia proclaiming His identity as KING OF KINGS, AJD LORD OF LORDS. But that time He came in utter lowliness, riding upon the colt of an ass.

Why this visual demonstration of lowliness? His entrance into Jerusalem was to prepare the people for what was to follow in the days of humiliation when He was establishing His Kingdom. Recall that a year earlier the people wanted to force Him to become King because He had the power to feed them without any effort on their part. Jesus refused to take that course. when shortly thereafter He began to tell His disciples of His forthcoming suffering and death, Peter tried to dissuade Him from taking that course. He was severely rebuked for His efforts, for so it had to be. The victory over sin and death and Satan could be achieved in no other way than by His submitting to every demand of God’s law in perfect obedience and then suffering the punishment that God’s law inflicted upon the guilty. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He felt the full fury of divine wrath, being forsaken of God and rejected by man. He conquered through obedience, suffering and death.

How does He continue to conquer? Through the foolishness of preaching, preaching the Nerd of Forgiveness. The King comes with ever the same message: “Thy sins be forgiven thee. Go in peace.” You and I have again come to this House of God with stained hands. Oh yes, we washed. We’ve had our baths, but we cannot remove the stain of sin. He brought that with us again this morning, and we laid it at the foot of His cross when we made confession. Then the King came to us in the words of the absolution and assured us that He has had mercy, that He has forgiven us, that He would assure us of His pardon and peace. So the King has come and still comes.

But so many reject that lowly coming, even as so many in the past have done. The church today has for the most part cast aside the coming of the Lord through the Word of Forgiveness. It would have the Lord come and change the social order, remove all injustices, guarantee equality for all, and provide for all without their lifting a finger. To attain these ends churches have and are banding together to apply political and social and economic sanctions against all and any who stand in their way. Boycotting businesses, lobbying in the halls of legislatures, threatening economic and political reprisals, advocating and sponsoring civic disobedience—these are the methods, the power methods, by which the modern church hopes to force the coming of Christ upon society. What folly! What a total rejection of the reason and purpose of His coming! What a declaration of spiritual bankruptcy! Let us disassociate ourselves from all such!

Let us rejoice with believers of all times at the message spoken to us again this day: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” But let us be aware that He comes only—

II. To those who offer of themselves, not to those who seek for themselves.

Have you ever thought about the spontaneity of the freewill offerings that were made unto the Lord that joyous day? The disciples were sent to fetch the ass and her colt. If anyone inquired the why and wherefore of their taking these animals, they were simply to say, “The Lord hath need of them.” The owners spontaneously and with utter freewill offered the animals to the Lord. Then the disciples took their own clothes off and laid them on the animals as saddles. It seems as though the people couldn’t do enough. Others saw what the disciples were doing and began to take off their clothes and spread them along the way so that the feet of the beast carrying the Lord would not even be exposed to the dust of the earth. Others began cutting down palm branches and strewed them along the way. Then the multitudes began to lift their voices and sing in the words of the ll3th Psalm: “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Each one gave of himself: his garments, his enthusiasm by cutting down palm branches, of his voice by singing. Here were people who surrendered themselves unto the Lord, as though saying: “Lord, here I am. I am Thine. Use me and mine, as Thou wilt.”

To such the Lord comes. From such as seek Him for themselves to achieve earthly, material ends, He turns away. Jesus fed the five thousand a year before. He did that because He had compassion upon the multitude. But when the multitude decided to make Him King because He could so easily provide social security from cradle to the grave for them, the Lord dismissed the multitude.

Think of what has and is happening today. Religion, the churches, the contributions of members are being used to get material things for people—to get slum clearance, to get better housing, to get opportunity, to get relief, to get political rights, to get a bigger voice in earthly affairs, to get power, black or white, to get more income, and so on and on. It’s always the same, “What’s in it for me? What can I get out of it? And the getting is primarily and almost exclusively in the area of material things for this life. To such the Lord does not come! Let that be known and broadcast far and wide.

The Lord comes to such as by the Spirit’s power offer of themselves—to such as say with Isaiah, “Here am I; send me,” to such as sing, “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” The Lord comes to such as say, “All that I am, I am because of Thy grace. All that I have, I have received as a gift from Thee. Lord, teach me to put myself and mine in Thy service.” To such the Lord comes. May He come to each of you!

He comes furthermore—

III. To those who pray “Hosanna,” not to those who would use Him for their own purposes.

Judas tried to use Jesus to achieve his purposes, to become wealthy and powerful. He lost his soul. The chief priests and leaders of the Jews decided to murder Jesus legally because they found that they couldn’t use Him to maintain the power structure of their society.

So it continues to this time. I recall some remarks made by the recently assassinated leader of the Nazi party, George Lincoln Rockwell. He tried to convince people that Jesus Christ would have and did in fact endorse his anti-Jewish racism. Jesus Christ has been made to appear as endorsing communism, as though voluntary sharing with others in love is the same as greedily stealing from others. when the political conventions come next summer, Jesus Christ will be asked and made to appear as endorsing first the party platform and political candidates of one party and then the other. So people continue to try to use Christ for their own purposes. All such He disavows. He turns His back on all such efforts.

But He comes and continues to come and loves to come to those who pray, “Hosanna.” That’s a Hebrew prayer which has been taken into our language, while the meaning escapes so many who use it. “Hosanna” is simply a cry for help, “Save now, Lord.” The unspoken cry of the woman at Jacob’s well whose slavery to sin was exposed by the Lord was a “Hosanna.” The cry of the penitent malefactor on the cross, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” was a “Hosanna.” The prayer that He taught us to pray, “And forgive us our trespasses,” is a “Hosanna.” The confession, which we have prayed again this day, “O most merciful God:…have mercy upon us, and…grant us remission of all our sins,” is a “Hosanna.” Whoever comes to the Lord for forgiveness, for mercy, for grace, for love, for pardon, for peace, for joy, for hope, He will in no wise cast out. Oh, how He delights to come to all such who in their own way and in their own words pray their “Hosannas.”

May we be among such! Let not the commercialization of the season, let not the daily routines and the extra activities of this time of the year, let not satiety and indifference hide from your view or obscure in your mind the reason and purpose of His coming He came, as His name JESUS tells all men—to save His people from their sins. Behold, He is knocking at the door of your heart, waiting for your “Hosanna” so that He can deliver to you His gift—the bounty of forgiveness and with that life and salvation. Amen.

—Pastor Paul F. Nolting

Preached - December 3, l967
Holy Trinity Independent
Evangelical Lutheran Church
West Columbia, South Carolina

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