Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
There’s a great book that has been out for a few years now,
and it’s a great book about the founding of our nation. It’s written by a man
whose name is David McCullough. The book’s name: John Adams. HBO turned
it into a mini-series as well to kind of fulfill what was written. It’s a great
story about how this country of ours that we love so much was born. All the
method and means that were used to take a colony and throw off the greatest
world power known at that time, England. And then the birth of a very founding
document of our nation, the Constitution. And all of the positioning and
posturing that all the patriots had to do in order to see this through to its
final completion. Fascinating indeed.
It sits as a complete opposite. It sits completely,
diametrically opposed to what you are hearing and reading and seeing portrayed before
you in Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, where the Church in many ways was
founded, and more importantly our salvation was completed. And it was done in a
manner, in a fashion completely opposite of how our nation was founded, and the
method and means by which the patriots and others used in order to create this
nation and the document known as the Constitution.
What happens today that we celebrate? Christ’s entrance into
Jerusalem is markedly different, and we cannot try to bring each into the same
realm. They are to remain separate. They are to remain distinct, for they have
at their very root two totally different outcomes with two totally different
This is earthly, and how this nation started was started
with earthly means, and remind ourselves this nation is not divinely ordained.
This was done by human beings. This, on the other hand, what God is about to
accomplish in Christ Jesus with His road to the Cross and His death upon that
very cursed tree and His glorious resurrection is markedly and distinctively
opposed to the method and means by which this nation was brought about.
The posturing that’s done here is only to benefit the sinner
and not the king. The posturing and positioning of this realm is completely
centered on people who do not deserve such a gift of a kingdom
that is eternal and without end. Totally different than the motivation over
here…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Now in keeping these two separate it must be said very
clearly. You and I as faithful citizens of this country need and must be
involved. We must be at those polls voting. We must be aware of the situations
that are happening within our country, within our state, within our city. We
must be active in the political process, staying aware, and not letting someone
else take care of that. That is critical and crucial.
But as God-fearing Christians in this realm, we must not
ever…mind you, ever…allow this method and means to creep into this
kingdom God has given us, for it was not won for us by these kinds of means and
methods. This is all about positioning and posturing, and if you read that book
as any book of our country’s beginnings, there is a lot of political
maneuvering and a lot of posturing done in order for there to be power
controlled and power thrown off.
It’s totally different over here. It is Palm Sunday, and the
King does not come into the capitol of His nation and the center of the
world’s attention for the sacrificial death of the Lamb with great pomp and
circumstance and power according to the world’s standards. He comes in lowly
and humble, ready to die for all who do not deserve such a sacrifice. The world
looks upon that as ridiculous foolishness. It scoffs and ridicules such a
stance. God’s kingdom says, “This is how it’s done.”
Remember Christ’s life. He did not live it showing Himself
to be the most powerful Man. He showed Himself to be the obedient Son of God,
God in the flesh. He did not garner and gather power and praise from man in
order to fit into this realm as being somebody of worth and note. He completely
threw it all aside to lift you up and me up who deserve not fame in God’s eyes,
nor recognition as His children, and yet He does.
Here we enforce and empower laws and regulations, and there
is justness and so on. Here injustice is before your very eyes, and innocence
being crucified for guilty, willingly, obediently, with no strings attached,
and no other shoe to fall because He does not bring a kingdom like this world
But here is the rub. You and I live in this world here. But
this is what we’re putting all of our faith and hope in, and the temptation is
to bring these two together as if it is to be done the same manner. Meaning, we
have to run the church like the world runs itself. There must be posturing. There
must be positioning. There must be laws and regulations. There must be justice.
I don’t think we really want justice over here the way the world treats it, or
else there is no need for that injustice to have occurred for us.
For if justice were to occur here as it does there, where
would we be in this kingdom, we who don’t deserve that which we are given, we
who follow the King who comes not to garner worldly wealth and power, but to
dispense spiritual wealth in forgiveness and mercy, spiritual power in the
great grace He alone gives us, and that we also misuse and misspend and
under-appreciate? Do we really want to bring this realm into this realm?
But we hate having to look as if we are the most despicable
and despised of the world. That is exactly right. It’s interesting. Follow the
Church’s history if you ever want to find something fascinating. After Christ
died and rose again, the Church was the persecuted, little red-headed
stepchild, as it were, because at every turn there were persecutions by the
Roman Empire. For several hundred years, that is the era and the time of the
Romans throwing them to the lions and all of the martyrdom of all the
At that point, you know the Christians had to wake up every
morning thinking, Why, if we are God’s people and if we’re God’s chosen,
why? And then the pendulum swung to the other direction. Constantine
apprehended the Christian faith, and the Roman Empire became Christian. Then
being a Christian wasn’t a difficult thing. It was a cool thing to be. It was
what everybody was doing.
And then after that glorious time, it fell into disuse again
in that same region of the world when Islam grew. Why were the Christians at
that time also asking themselves the question? “Granddad used to talk
about the glory days of old when the Church was glorious and had all these
people. And now look at us. We can’t meet our budget. We can’t seem to fill all
the pews. What are we doing wrong? We must think in terms of how to incorporate
these principles into this realm. Then we can fix the Church.”
That is satanic. And the reason it is satanic is because
we’re trying to judge the Church, and Christ, and God by what we see and
experience, forgetting what came into Jerusalem that day. A different kind of
kingdom with a different kind of inheritance for different kind of people who
are like everybody else except they’ve been given the gift to see that they’re
truly damned and truly redeemed by the same King.
In America in the 1950’s, church attendance was at its
highest. No, I’m serious. It was at its highest ever in the history of this
nation. We love to fancy a romantic view that when the Declaration of
Independence and that book about John Adams was going that all the people
who came over here came over here with such pious reasons to flee the
oppression of Europe. And many did religiously come here to flee the oppression
of Europe. But the other reason they came here? By golly, they could own their
own land and make their own…Yes, exactly.
So anyway in the 1950’s, it was a very high time for all the
churches. Churches were filled. Stories are regaled to me about how St. Paul
was full and brimming. And then we see other churches that are dying and others
seem to be rising up, and we think, Because we are in a time of when it’s
waning, what must we be doing wrong that we are not like them? Is the them
Interesting, we talked about this in Bible class this
morning, and that is church attendance since the 60’s on to present…which is
about the last 50 years…has remained static at a same percentage rate. And the
reason it’s remained static in a same percentage rate is people are leaving
this and going to this for a time, leaving that and going to this for a time.
And you can trace it. And there is always the bemoaning of why aren’t we like
it once was.
The desire to incorporate this into this, and forgetting
that when Christ came, He came not in pomp, but in lowliness and humility, and
He came not received with such grandiose theme of “Hosanna!” which
means “Save now,” because the same that said, “Save now”
said, “Crucify! Crucify! Because He is not coming in the manner or form I
wish Him to be that brings glory to me in this life. I don’t want the Cross in
my life, for if I have the Cross in my life, I have to suffer for something
that I can’t see any results in this life for suffering.” That is our life
in Christ, isn’t it?
In this life, we will be looked upon as being different. We
will be allocated to the side and disenfranchised by this world, by the people
of our own nation even, because we are markedly different in following the
humble One who rode in on a donkey to die upon that tree for we who do not
deserve it. The difference? Why that brings upon ridicule and scoffing. Yes it
You parents know how often you told your children when they
would complain to you that “So and so doesn’t have to come in at that hour
of the night. So and so’s parents let them do this. So and so’s parents let
them do that.” And you as a parent, holding firm your point of view,
declared to them, “You’re my child, not their child.”
You are God’s child and not the world’s. You stand to
inherit an eternal kingdom full of treasure that is insurmountable, but it is
not seen. You stand in the presence of God right now, and yet you can’t see
Him. You know He brings forgiveness, yet you leave here at times feeling like, What
is God doing to me in allowing this to happen to me and my family? Do not
let Satan draw you into and suck you into this temptation of taking the world’s
method and means and applying them to God’s ways. They are not the same, and
they cannot be the same.
And this morning, it is so crystal clear in Jesus’ entry
into Jerusalem and in the entire passion story of His going to that Cross
willingly, submitting to the humiliation and abject poverty of being the Son of
God whose creatures crucify Him! And yet He redeems the very creatures who
crucified Him because of His great love.
You and I know this is not how the world works. Look at how
it treats people who fall from grace. Look at how we treat one another when
someone else falls from grace. Look at how we posture ourselves in our own
families. In the workplace, you see it…posturing and positioning one’s self.
And we do it in the families because where else do we learn it from in the
workplace except at home? It all comes from home.
But where else do we learn and proclaim forgiveness except
in this place full of sinners so that we can proclaim it at home? It’s here
where everything that the world thinks is turned upon its head, and everything
that God thinks is lifted high. And we have to apprehend it, not with this
between our two ears, but with the faith that God has given us to believe such
When I finished my seminary education, I thought I had the world
by the tail, and I can remember a professor of great wisdom saying, “You
young pastors need to remember the only power you have is the Word of God, and
that’s it. Don’t go posturing yourself over your sheep. Don’t go mitigating
things in order to get your sheep to produce the result that you desire. You
let God do that. You just proclaim faithfully that Word.”
But I can’t tell you how tempting it is at times when I
don’t see things the way I think they ought to be or that I wish they were. It
is not mine. It is God’s. All I can do is proclaim the power of the Word. That
is what changes you and me and will bring about the redemption of our souls
upon our death. Remember very clearly what Zechariah said, “Because of the
blood of My covenant with you…My covenant with you. The blood. Something had to
die in your stead…I will set you free.”
And the same thing with the writer to the Hebrews. “We
have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for
all.” Even for people who will go to their grave cursing this God of yours
and mine. That is how God works. Thanks be to God that He works in such a
manner and brings us such a salvation, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting, Amen.