Our King Has Come!
Dear Lord Jesus—my Savior, Lord, and King; as I enter into Your presence this day, may I do so with a heart filled with humility and with lips overflowing with praise. May I join the welcoming crowds of that first Palm Sunday in crying out to You, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Please instruct my mind and reign within my heart, so that I might ever rejoice within Your kingdom now and forevermore. Amen.
Zechariah prophesied that the Promised Savior would come as a lowly King riding on a donkey and ultimately setting sinners free and giving them forgiveness and hope!
Paul calls upon us to have the mind of Christ—to be humble and to serve others as did Christ, knowing that God has exalted Jesus above everyone and everything else.
Text: Matthew 21:1-9
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Himon them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’Hosanna in the highest!”
In Christ Jesus, our King who exercises all authority on behalf of us—His Church, dear fellow redeemed:
When the topic of kings and queens is raised, what comes to your mind? England… Buckingham Palace…perhaps some other nation or location in Europe? Or do you think of fairy tales—Snow White, Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast? I believe that most of us think of things quite remote or unreal when we think of kings and queens, because royalty simply is not part of our American culture. When we think of rulers, we think of Presidents and, perhaps (at this time) of the upcoming Presidential election. That may or may not be a happy thought for you given the current state of affairs within our nation. Earlier this week while listening to the radio, I heard that 57% of Democrats would prefer not voting for their party’s leading candidate, Hilary Clinton, while 67% of Republicans would prefer not voting for their party’s leading candidate, Donald Trump. Leaders or potential leaders in this world can be greeted with admiration and excitement, but are often viewed with disgust because they are subject to sin and its grisly effects in this world.
The Palm Sunday narrative, on the other hand, presents Jesus as King—a different kind of King, whose coming we can celebrate and whose rule we experience with nothing other than joy! Let us this morning consider the fact that OUR KING HAS COME! How ought we respond? Our text teaches us that we ought follow Jesus’ guidance, we ought rejoice in Jesus’ promises, and we ought sing Jesus’ praises!
Yes, we ought follow Jesus’ guidance! The events of our text took place on Palm Sunday—just five days before Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Jesus had been in Jericho the day before and had traveled up to Bethany the evening before. It was Palm Sunday morning that Jesus began making His way to Jerusalem, where He would spend the last week of His ministry. We are told in our text: “Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,” and immediately he will send them.’”
In the midst of that introductory statement, almost hidden by the evangelist Matthew and perhaps often overlooked by his readers, is the fact that Jesus revealed His omniscience by directing two of His disciples to go into Bethphage where, He said, they would find a donkey tied together with its colt. My dear friends, how did He know that the donkey would be there? Was He merely guessing, or simply making an assumption? No, Jesus, as true God, is omniscient! He gave His disciples exact details and specific instructions, which were tied to that day’s events. Yet, Jesus’ revelation of His omniscience at this point was instructive both for His disciples and for us. It was and is intended to lead them and us to follow His guidance.
Jesus, who possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth” (cf. Mt. 28:18), and who now sits at God’s “right hand” (cf. Eph. 1:20), knows all things. He has a deep desire to provide us with guidance in our lives—guidance that will inevitably lead to our blessing. He is, after all, our “head,” and we are His “body” (cf. Eph. 1:22-23). He has our best interest in mind and will give us only good guidance and counsel. Those facts ought to lead to a sense of peace and well-being, for this life is often confusing, and we are in need of guidance. Where is that guidance to be found?
That guidance today is found primarily within the written Scripture—the Bible. Jesus tells us: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31b-32). As Paul would later explain: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Note the implications of what both Jesus and Paul say. Truth, freedom, completeness, and competence are all promised to us, if only we listen to and abide in God’s Word! As you approach the many and varied problems of life, you will certainly want to take them to the Lord in prayer (TLH 457:3). But as you pray about these problems be sure to consider what God's Word has to say regarding any subject, for Jesus speaks to you through His Word. OUR KING HAS COME! That means we ought to follow Jesus’ guidance!
That also means that we ought to rejoice in Jesus’ promises! Our text tells us: “All this (that is the securing of the donkey as Jesus’ approached Jerusalem) was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’”
One of the themes of Matthew’s Gospel is that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah, because He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Matthew identifies in his Gospel at least thirty-five different prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, this prophecy of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the back of donkey being one of them. That, by the way, is only a fraction of the over three-hundred messianic prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the person and through the ministry of Jesus surely establishes the credibility of the Bible. Our heavenly Father wants us to know that we can place our trust in what the Bible reveals to us. Paul states that the Old and New Testaments were written by “the apostles and prophets” and form a solid foundation for our faith (cf. Eph. 2:20).
More than that, however, every prophecy by virtue of its predictive nature is also a promise, and every fulfilled prophecy is, therefore, a fulfilled promise! That can and should lead to great rejoicing on our part as we consider all of the promises Jesus has made to us and will now surely fulfill. With regard to the afore mentioned guidance of Jesus, He both commands and promises: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Mt. 7:7-8). For instance, are you in a situation you find perplexing—a situation in which you do not know what to do? James tells us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Jesus promises: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). Jesus promises: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Ps. 50:15). Jesus promises: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you…. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:18, 27). Jesus promises: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16a). Jesus promises: “In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3). Jesus’ promises are intended to give us confidence both in life and as we approach death. Consider the final stanza of one of our familiar evening songs from The Lutheran Hymnal: “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies. Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!” (552:8) One of Satan’s most potent weapons is fear, but Jesus’ powerful promises erase any need for fear. John assures us that “perfect love (that perfect love of God for us in Christ Jesus) casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18). We can live with complete confidence. OUR KING HAS COME! That ought to lead us to rejoice in Jesus’ promises!
Finally, that ought also move us to sing Jesus’ praises! As Jesus approached and then entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, we are told: “So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Himon them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosanna in the highest!’”
The reaction to Jesus that day was phenomenal! Our children’s palm procession at the beginning of the service was a reminder of that day. People were placing their clothing and palm branches on the ground as a veritable carpet upon which Jesus then road. They recognized in Him “the Son of David,” which was one of the Old Testament names given the promised Messiah. They cried out “hosanna,” which could be translated as “hurray” in English. Their hearts were filled with joy, for Jesus’ words and works brought them—especially the poor, lowly, and sinful among them—great joy!
My dear friends, arguably the greatest music ever created has been created by God’s children as they were moved to sing Jesus’ praises! From joyous Christmas carols, to solemn Lenten litanies, to exultant Easter chorales, to the contemporary hymns of praise, Christians have expressed their praise to their Savior for the past two millenniums. Organs, pianos, trumpets, guitars, drums, flutes, and a host of other instruments have played, while voices have joined in to express gratitude and hope for a Savior who first lived, but then died to redeem us and draw us into His kingdom by faith. This is not just tradition, but rather a spontaneous response to a love like none other! Remember John’s simple reminder: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). Where, apart from our Savior God, can we find a love that never ends? Where, apart from our Savior God, can we receive a power that affirms and uplifts the repentant sinner’s heart? Where, apart from our Savior God, can we find reason to sing even in the midst of trials and rejoice even in the midst of troubles? As Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). Where, apart from our Savior God, can you find such unfailing hope—a hope that rests upon the completed work of the Son of God, which bestows by grace through faith the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation?
OUR KING HAS COME! Our King is Jesus! Let us always follow His guidance, rejoice in His promises, and sing His praises! Amen.