PALM / PASSION SUNDAY – March 20, 2016

 SCRIPTURES – Zechariah 9:9-10; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 19:28-40


"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"


Boy, how happy Jesus’ disciples must have been on that glorious Sunday when He was welcomed into Jerusalem by the praises of the people. They were crying out the words of Psalm 118, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were finally getting it! Everything would now be better!!


Yes, it sure would be nice if everything changed for the better. As a golfer, I’m always hoping for this. Recently, in Golf Magazine, I found just the change for my game that I’ve been looking for. Tour pro Jimmy Walker had advice, complete with pictures, on how to hit iron shots with total control. “Turn your right shoulder under your chin––then stop,” he said, and a picture showed him doing so. When I looked at the picture, I immediately started laughing. His left shoulder, not his right, was under his chin! The editor sure missed that one!


Of course, that miss was no big deal. It won’t hurt anyone. Missing it when it comes to Jesus is huge. The people of Jerusalem who cried out, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” –– they said the right words; but, really, they had no clue what they meant, and this had a big impact five days later. Then their cries changed to “Crucify Him!” They became opponents of Jesus.


Jesus knew this; but He came to them anyway. He knew the words of Ps. 118 and their meaning, and He came to fulfill them and every other word of Holy Scripture. He did so, and by doing so He has changed everything for us.


How we need this! For, even when trying to do our best we can, and do, fail. The people of Jerusalem greeted Jesus with the right words, and then not only failed to follow up on them but even turned to cry out for His death. And, if you think that you are better; if you think, “That wouldn’t have been me. I wouldn’t have joined in that!” then think back. Think back to the times you went along with the crowd in doing wrong. Think back to when you were in school and joined others in saying bad things about a teacher. Think about when you remained quiet instead of speaking up to defend someone who was being falsely spoken against.


We all fail. We all sin. And, so it goes in our lives. We can make changes, and sometimes do so for the better, but even with our best efforts we fail. Is this a big deal? It is with God. “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them,” says Gal. 3:10. And, how well are we to do them? Jesus says, “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And if you are not, “The soul that sins shall die.” (Rom. 6:23)


Here’s where you must focus upon Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem upon a donkey. He knew what He was doing: He was entering Jerusalem as our burden bearer. In five days He would bear the burden of our sins and die for them. He knew this. But, He also knew that by doing this He would rule over our sins, our death, and the hell our sins threaten. In the way He entered Jerusalem He proclaimed this.


Did you know that Jesus was not the first one to enter Jerusalem on a donkey and be welcomed by its people as their king? Nearly a thousand years before another son of David – Solomon – did the same thing. The story is in 1 Kings 1. King David reigned as king of Israel for forty years, and he had promised his son, Solomon, that he would be the next king. But when David was old and feeble an older son, Adonijah, decided the time was right for him to assume the throne. He got the support of the general who led Israel’s army and of the high priest and made preparations for his coronation. When this was reported to David, he immediately had Solomon anointed by the prophet Nathan, sat him upon his own donkey, and had him ride into Jerusalem to the sound of trumpets and the praises of the people. So, despite the plans and schemes of Adonijah and his powerful supporters Solomon succeeded his father David as king, and he ushered in a period of great prosperity and peace, a peace that was in keeping with his name. For, “Solomon” comes from the Hebrew word shalom, “peace.”


Did the people who on Palm Sunday greeted Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna to the son of David!” and "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” have the story of Solomon in mind? Did Jesus’s disciples? I doubt it. Jesus certainly did, for He came to us from God to complete and fulfill every word of Holy Scripture. He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and ascended the cross on Good Friday, as a King: the King who came in the name of the Lord to be our eternal King. Despite the opposition of foes, and all the powers of hell; despite the burden of our sins, and the fierce anger and justice of His eternal Father that was poured out upon Him as He bore them; despite His death on the cross and His burial; He ruled as King. His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey announced this. It was a foretaste of His triumphant resurrection from the grave and His ascension into heaven to the praises of God’s holy angels. Jesus is our King, our Solomon. He has established peace with God for us, an eternal peace that, if it were up to us and our efforts, we would never attain.


Hang onto this as we enter into Holy Week and again recall the horrible sufferings of our Lord for us, sufferings He endured because of us. His sufferings are difficult to look upon, for they show us very clearly and bluntly that our sins are far more than little mistakes, like putting “right shoulder” instead of “left shoulder” in a magazine article. Our sins, our failures have brought about the horrible sufferings and death of the Son of God! But, He entered into them as King. He rules as King over them. Jesus truly is "the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” and He has brought us peace with God. Glory with God in the highest heaven is ours!