9 April 2017
Text: Matt 21:1-9
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
The sixth week of Lent has begun, dear friends. Holy Week is finally here. It begins the same way that the First and Holiest of all Holy Weeks began: with palms and Hosannas to the Son of David. It began by a royal welcome to our King. It will reach its pinnacle with the cross and the empty tomb. We remember our King’s regal Palm Sunday entrance to claim His throne, leading on that Good Friday to His coronation that is like none other in history, and culminating in next Sunday’s Paschal victory celebration in the most unlikely of all places: a grave.
Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is not just a great teacher or a really nice guy or a role model. He is not our buddy, nor our genie in a lamp. He is a King. He is our King. He is the King. He is the Creator and the Ruler of the universe. He is being welcomed to Jerusalem in the exact same way that David’s son Solomon was brought into the Holy City to receive his crown. And make no mistake, Jesus is the Greater Son of David, and He will likewise receive a crown – not of gold or silver, but of thorns. He will be hailed as a King – not in reverence, but in mockery. He will be brought to the palace – not as the potentate but as a prisoner.
His Kingdom is not of this world. Nor is it like anything this world has ever seen.
Very seldom will a king lay down his life for his countrymen. And never does a king willingly die for his enemies – but this King does just that, and more.
In our day and age, most of the kings still left in the world are mere figureheads: hollow men with portraits on paper money and stamps, human props trotted out on national holidays to wave to the crowds and pose for pictures, powerless men who have nothing to do with actual governance.
And King Jesus seems even more pathetic at first blush. Here is a King who goes about barefoot. He has no throne to sit upon, no palace to live in, no country to call His realm. Instead, this King is destined to hang upon a cross, take up His abode in a tomb, and be rejected by the very people of whom He is King.
But what is really happening, dear friends? Here is the King of the Universe who is truly God and yet who takes upon Himself human flesh and blood. He willingly enthrones Himself upon the cross out of love, to rule as no other Sovereign in history, to reign eternally in love and forgiveness, with both unlimited power and boundless mercy. And He allows His dead body to be laid in a tomb – the abode of the dead, the fate that awaits every sinner from Adam and Eve, to the present, and until the last day. He takes up His Sabbath residence in the cold stone grave in order to blow it up, to turn the grave from the place where even every king is defeated, transforming it into a place where even the lowliest servant of Christ is victorious. Jesus has come to turn the world on its head, to turn a sign of torture into a sign of life, and to turn a place of mourning into a place of celebration. He has come to pay for your sins with His blood, and to offer His righteousness as a trade for your sinfulness. And only He has the power to do this. And so we sing: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Our modern-day powerless kings cover themselves in gold and furs and jewels, though they can do nothing. But our True King, the Son of David, our King who comes to us humble, and mounted on a donkey, comes to us without even a robe to cover Himself upon the cross, and yet His might is limitless and His power beyond all reckoning. He is covered with a burial shroud that explodes with light and energy as His body is reanimated, as He walks effortlessly out of the tomb, and as He appears to His disciples. He clothes Himself to this day humbly, mounted by His Word, coming to us by means of bread and wine, His triumphant body and His sacrificial and saving blood, bursting from the tomb, blasting through space, and transcending time, reigning from the altar, given to you, here and now, more powerful and fearsome than an exploding galaxy, and yet as tender as a flower swaying in a gentle April breeze.
That one wafer and that one sip, dear friends, contain the power to destroy and rebuild the entire universe in the blink of an eye. And it is given to you, as a free gift, a merciful King’s Ransom from your Lord, the gift of Himself, the gift that means you will live forever, and even your body itself will rise from the grave, as His has done. All of this is given to you as a free gift, which you claim unto yourself by simple faith in His Word, calling to mind your second birth by means of baptism – all of which is what we are expressing when we say each and every time: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
For all of this is embedded in that little word “Hosanna” – which means “Save.” Unlike today’s figureheads and even unlike the kings of the past who actually ruled, King Jesus is not merely a Ruler, but a Savior. He has come to rebuild our broken world and to place us upon His throne. He has come to reconcile and renew and re-create. He has come to forgive sin. He has come to destroy death. He has come to obliterate Satan.
It may have been the understatement of all time when our Lord told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Let us pray that this holy week will be a time of holy joy as we ponder our King, as we hear the Word of the King, as we are rescued by the King, and even as we are allowed to sit at table to eat and drink with our King, as we ponderZ anew that our King has come to defeat our bitterest enemies and to bring us victory and peace.
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.