St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Palm Sunday Slide

Palm Sunday
John 12:12-43
March 24, 2024

The Gospel is read again…

Between the Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey and masses of people were praising God and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna in the Highest,” and laying their cloaks and palm branches down before Him, between Sunday and Friday, just five or six short days later when the masses were instead shouting “Crucify Him, we have no king but Caesar,” and spitting on Him and laying their insults before Him, what changed?

Why were the people so excited on that particular first day of the week, thrilled and filled with praise as Jesus enter into the city, only to become disgusted with Him by the end of the week and wanting Him dead?

Well, we can read about this in the Scripture, and the crowd’s ecstatic, overjoyed disposition to Jesus’ entrance into the holy city was because the news head spread that Jesus had raised a man from the dead, that Lazarus came walking out of the grave.

A king who can raise men from the dead; that’s the kind of king you want to get to know! A king who can raise the dead can do pretty much anything.

Now imagine if you found out that such a king was coming to your house. What would you do? Well, depending on how much time you had, you might make your house look better than ever, give it a new paint job, clean out the pet stains on the carpet, clean the sidewalks, mow the grass to perfection, literally roll out the red carpet – make the place worthy of a king…if such a king were coming to your house. And this is precisely what the people of Jerusalem did, isn’t it? They cleaned up, they prepared, they made ready the coming of the king.

But what if you heard that a thief was heading to your house to pay you a visit? Totally different scenario, isn’t it? You’d lock up and hide your valuables. You’d add more locks to your doors and windows. You’d stand guard at the door, and you’d do whatever you could to deter that thief from getting anywhere near your house; I know I would.

Here’s the REAL question, the important question, the only question that matters: How did Jesus describe and convey His entry into Jerusalem? Did He enter in as a mighty king, or did He come as a thief?

Mark’s Gospel tells us, right? Jesus says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.  And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him.”

The people thought Him a king who was coming to cleanse Jerusalem and Israel of its depravities and to put right the royal throne with a true Davidic king, and maybe even fix the priesthood and to return Judaism to its golden days. What a thing to marvel and praise; what a time to live for these celebrants who were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.”

Little did they know that Jesus did not come to be such a king, but He came to be a thief. He didn’t come to bask in the glory of a golden throne with red-padded cushions and wearing the royal crown of gold and jewels, but He came to be pierced by the rusty nails of a wooden, bloodied cross and to wear a crown of thorns and to be displayed naked before a people who mocked and spat upon Him. That’s why He came. He did not come to be the king the people wanted; He came to be the scandalous king we all needed.

While in Jerusalem these Greeks seek out Jesus in order to speak to Him. Philip and Andrew get the request and they run to Jesus, and what does Jesus say? “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, for a grain of wheat to die and fall to the earth, for the Son of Man to be lifted up.” No earthly king would have a troubled soul for going to a throne in a palace. But Jesus has a troubled soul because he has come to reign on a different throne. And even in His turmoil, Jesus will not abdicate; He will not deny His coronation, even though enemies and death-dealers encamp around Him seeking to murder Him.

Isaiah calls Jesus our Prince of Sorrows who is acquainted with grief who has come to be pierced because we, because you, because me, WE have sinned, WE have fallen so very short of God and His will. God, the Creator of the universe and of every human soul, He, from the moment Adam sinned, has received from us nothing but mockery, ridicule, hate, disbelief, and disdain. Every moment we place everything in life – our money, our possessions, our work, our leisure, our own bodies and wants and cravings, our own opinions and understanding ahead of Him and His holy Word; every time we use His name dishonorably; every time we forego church and worship for our own desires and time; every time we distain those who He has placed over us to protect us and rule us; every time we exhibit hatred or anger toward others; every time we look at another human body with impure thoughts and engage in those impure thoughts; every time we take from our neighbor what isn’t ours to take; every time we slander our neighbor or use ungodly words against him, every time we covet what isn’t ours…every time we break any of the commandments, we also find ourselves crying out with the crowd, not “Hosanna,” but “Crucify.” Whenever we sin and fall short of His glory, we want Jesus, the Christ, dead and out of our lives.

But this IS why we sing, “In the CROSS of CHRIST I GLORY!” This is why we look up to the Son of Man lifted up. For it is on this cross where the robber king dies, only He is not the robber – we are the robbers. He is not the adulterer – we are the adulterers. He is not the liar – we are the liars. He is not the criminal – we are the criminals. And yet, upon that cross our sins are taken from us as far as east is from west. Jesus, who came to serve and humble Himself, He is truly our Lord and God because only God could take the sin of the whole world, die, and those sins die with Him.

Thanks be to God, your sins are no longer yours – they now and forever belong to Jesus. And you, instead, you get His righteousness, His holiness, and His inheritance.

This week, follow your Lord from Triumphant entry to tomb. See what He has done for you and believe. Amen.