2012-04-01 32k Palm Sunday 2012, John 12:12–16
In the name of Christ Jesus, Amen.
Our Scripture this morning is from the Palm Sunday Gospel read at the beginning of this service, from John chapter 12.
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him. (Mark 12:12-16)
Let us all pray,
Dear Jesus, on this Palm Sunday as we offer up our glad hosannas to you, may we, by your holy Word, see that you are the Son of David who comes in the name of the Lord, and are therefore indeed blessed. Amen
Dear fellow pilgrims, journeying to the Paschal Feast:
There is a strange similarity between this Sunday, we call “Palm Sunday”, and next Sunday, called Easter Sunday.
I say strange because, as we all know, the events that take place in between these two Sundays during Holy Week are the deepest and blackest of all of human history, and they include the betrayal, arrest, trials and crucifixion of Jesus.
And yet, while the days ahead recall the Passion of our Lord, these two Sundays are days which we look forward to celebrating.
All this while we have been speaking of our Sundays as being “in Lent” to allow them to be the little Easters that they are, and so even now, let us allow ourselves to be transported back not only to Jerusalem and it’s crowds, but also to Gethsemane, to the governor’s court, to Calvary and the cross, and singing,
Jesus I will ponder now, on Thy holy passion, With Thy Spirit me endow For such meditation. Grant that I in love and faith May the image cherish Of Thy suffering, pain, and death, That I may not perish.
But let’s consider the joy of this day. Joy that expresses itself in the words of the people in our Scripture when they shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
For the joy of Palm Sunday is this, that with those first Palm Sunday crowds we see that Jesus is the Messiah; that he is truly the Son of God. And we also know joy today, because we see Jesus as he comes to us in the name of the Lord; that He enters Jerusalem to be the Savior of all mankind.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem so long ago the scene was quiet different than here today on this Palm Sunday, at Frankentrost, Michigan, thousands of miles from Jerusalem.
On that first Palm Sunday Jesus approached Jerusalem and coming to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. His disciples brought the donkey and colt to him as he had instructed, and they placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. And a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” That is what the Gospel writers tell us happened on that first Palm Sunday.
Yet we call this day Palm Sunday because, like that first Sunday before Good Friday almost twenty centuries ago, when the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem while the people placed and waved Palm branches before him, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David,” we too, sing hymns to Him and our little children raise their praises!
Indeed, as one Palm Sunday hymn raises:
‘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 blissful presence Eternally rejoice!
Palm Sunday whether now or then is when the people of God hail his Son with the name that is properly his, calling him the Son of David: the King of Israel. Recognizing Jesus as the Christ: true God, and true man.
This Messianic name was given to Jesus long ago by the Heavenly Father. The scriptures record the words of the heavenly Father, spoken long before the creation of the World. Words spoken in eternity:
(Psalm 2:7) You are my Son, today I have begotten you.
(Psalm 45) God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
(Psalm 29) Ascribe unto the Lord the glory due His name.
(Zechariah 9) From the house of the Lord we bless you.
In the Service of the Sacrament we sing,
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He, Blessed is He, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!
But we also know that on that first Palm Sunday not all who were present at Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem held to the Words of Scripture, and Jesus was to encounter enemies who would seek to deny him his title as the Son of God.
We heard this morning how Jesus enemies spoke against Him. Later at his trial, Jesus enemies would scream at him, “Tell us, are you the Christ!” His reply of course, was “I am.”
At this they tore their clothes and said, “there, we have heard it for ourselves, this man is guilty of blaspheme.”
You’ll recall that at the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, Simeon had told Mary that Jesus came into the world so that the hearts of many might be revealed.
It was too much for them to be in the presence of the one who rightfully deserved the praise and adoration of the people. They perceived that the Son and heir was in his vineyard, and these wicked servants wanted to kill him and throw him out so that they might posses it.
How truly blessed are we that we know Jesus! We believe in him. We believe that Jesus is the holy and righteous Son of God. We want to worship him today. It is a wonderful blessing to know Jesus and that he is indeed the David’s Son and David’s Lord.
That first Palm Sunday was a day of blessing Jesus, to call him blessed. Why? There was much enthusiasm about Jesus because of what the crowds had heard he had done, including the raising of Lazarus.
Luther tells us that that is the biography of our dear Lord. He writes,
He preached in Galilee, and He healed the sick and ailing. For two years He served many people with the Gospel, but at the same time He aroused the resentment of the chief priests and the Pharisees. On this journey to Jerusalem He preached and performed many miracles. Now that the last year had come and the time had arrived for him to die for us poor sinners, He bade Capernaum farewell, never to return there again, and set His face toward Jerusalem. His mother Mary and many other women accompanied Him on this trip, as the Gospel tells us.
The group progressed at a leisurely pace; for Christ devoted much time to preaching and performing miracles along the entire route through Samaria and Galilee to he royal capital, Jerusalem. And as we hear, He made an impressive entry into the city as a king and a lord of that realm. And when the Lord journeyed from that countryside to Jerusalem, preaching and working miracles, the chief priests accused and condemned Him, because, among other things, they alleged that He had misled the people all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.
This is recorded by the evangelists to give us a brief biography of Christ. He labored with the Word of God as a pastor: He visited those in need of His help; He served all people night and day, whether they lived by the sea, in the wilderness, or elsewhere; and He performed miracles.
…The Lord’s biography deals exclusively with His service to mankind. It tells how He enlightened people with the divine Word, how He comforted the mournful, how He preached to the Jew and the Gentile, how He exercised demons, how He fed the hungry, and how He healed those afflicted with diverse ailments—all this according to prophecy.
Because of the wonders many of the people recognized that Jesus was a blessing. But Christ’s coming and his blessing to mankind was even deeper than the miracles. Paul tells us in the Epistle lesson appointed for today,
Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very form of a servant, being born in likeness of man And being found in human form, he humbled himself to death—even death on a cross!
Jesus did not chose the easy part. His love for mankind ran as deep as eternity. That same love we hear and sing and pray about today and all this week. It is the love we will share at the communion rail today, and Thursday and next Sunday. It is the love that tells us good news that our sins are forgiven. It is a love that compels us to love one another even as I have loved you; to forgive one another. To serve one another.
Palm Sunday is like all Sundays in that our Lord comes to us through the Means of Salvation. With repentant and thankful hearts we receive him. And we keep the feast in that way, until our Lord’s reappearing. Amen.